Classic Grand Prix - Europe 1999


Valued Member
Since its winter, why not revisit past races. As I've said, I loved 1999 and one of the best races of 1999 was a chaotic wet race at the Nurburgring.

Ferrari were suffering without their leader Schumacher, who was sitting out his last Grand Prix. Eddie Irvine was challenging for the title, but qualified 9th behind Villeneuve, Hill, Fisichella, Panis, Ralf Schumacher, Hakkinen, Coulthard and Jordan's pole sitter Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

A nasty crash involving Damon Hill, Alex Wurz and particularly Pedro Diniz ensured a period under the Safety Car. Hakkinen had got in front of his team-mate and chased down Frentzen, whilst Irvine came through the field.

However, the rain was to change everything. Ralf Schumacher passed Coulthard, as Hakkinen pitted in front of them. Irvine pitted, and ended up on three wheels. Hakkinen needed to pit again as the rain stopped. Irvine was down in 12th with his title rival 13th.

Coulthard followed Frentzen into the pits on lap 32, but came out behind. He led soon afterwards as the Jordan came to a shuddering halt, ending Frentzen's title pretensions. (He would have been level with Irvine had full points been awarded on lap 32!) Coulthard's lead would not last either, he span off 5 laps later, with Ralf Schumacher taking the lead.

The prodigal brother was to suffer a puncture soon afterwards, giving Giancarlo Fisichella the lead. Fisi spun off on lap 48, however, leaving Herbert, Trulli, Barrichello and Minardi's Luca Badoer ahead of the slowing Schu Jnr.

Badoer already held the record for most Grand Prix without a point scored, and he was in his best position in his career. However, it was all to go up in smoke with a Minardi transmission failure. Ralf took over 4th and held it, with Jacques Villeneuve in 5th for BAR. Badoer's career would end pointless, 4 races and 10 years later.

BAR's first point was not forthcoming either as another failure left the 1997 Champion on the sidelines. This left Marc Gene in the other Minardi in 5th with the Championship challengers behind in 6th and 7th. Hakkinen got past Irvine 4 laps from the end and set about Gene, who he passed on the penultimate lap. Thus, Hakkinen took 2 points to Irvine's 0, whilst Minardi failed to secure 9th place in the Championship ahead of Arrows.

So, almost by elimination, Johnny Herbert crossed the line ahead and won his first race since 1995, and his third and last overall. Jarno Trulli secured his first podium; he would not achieve a better result until 2004. Jackie Stewart's team scored its only win (ironically amidst a form dip) and Rubens Barrichello would win a wet, chaotic Grand Prix in Germany 10 months later.

Whether Jordan's electrical woes were what finally sent Eddie insane or whether the leader's hokey-cokey dignified F1 is irrelevant. The 1999 European GP was wonderfully entertaining, and had a result no-one could have predicted.

It also gave everyone one last enjoyable swim, for the shark was coming back, ready to devour F1 for 5 long years.
Top Bottom