Top Stories from the Sports pages of the International Herald Tribune,
Monday, May 17, 1999

Monaco Victory Makes Schumacher All‹Time Leader at Ferrari

By Brad Spurgeon International Herald Tribune
MONTE CARLO - A week after Prince Rainier III celebrated the 50th anniversary of his reign over the principality, Michael Schumacher on Sunday reclaimed the title of king of its streets by winning his fourth Monaco Grand Prix.

Schumacher led from start to finish. The victory gave him more wins than any driver in the history of his Ferrari team, which has raced in all Formula One seasons since the modern championship began in 1950.

The German driver has recorded 16 of his 35 victories in Ferraris. The previous team record of 15 was held by Niki Lauda of Austria.

Eddie Irvine, Schumacher's Northern Irish team-mate, finished second to make another little piece of team history. It was the first time Ferraris have finished first and second in Monte Carlo.

Schumacher led the 78-lap race around the 3.367-kilometer (2.09-mile) track from the start. He finished with a time of 1 hour, 49 minutes, 31.812 seconds for an average speed of 143.864 kilometers per hour.

Mika Hakkinen of Finland, driving a McLaren, came in third.

''Being a Ferrari driver already means something very special. Winning races with Ferrari is super special,'' said Schumacher, 30.

The victory increased the standing of Schumacher as the leader of the drivers' championship to 26 points. Eddie Irvine is second with 18 points. Hakkinen is third with 14.

Schumacher now has as many victories in Monaco as Alain Prost of France, and one fewer than Graham Hill of Britain. Ayrton Senna of Brazil had six Monaco victories, still the record.

Hakkinen started the race on the pole position under a clear, sunny and warm sky. But Schumacher forced a showdown at the first corner. He charged up beside Hakkinen down the straight. Schumacher held his position as Hakkinen tried to move over and cut in front as they approached the first turn.

The two raced into the corner side by side, almost touching tires. It was a test of nerves and Hakkinen lost, slamming on the brakes first and letting Schumacher pass. Hakkinen thereby lost the benefit of the all-important pole position in Monaco, where overtaking is extremely difficult.

Irvine, right behind in the cloud of smoke from Hakkinen's burning tires, had to brake to avoid a collision. Irvine had started fourth on the grid, just behind David Coulthard, a Scot, in the second McLaren, but like Schumacher he had beaten his rival to the first corner. ''Michael had a good start,'' Hakkinen said.

It was soon clear that Schumacher's Ferrari was faster. After six laps he was four seconds ahead. And after the first 18 laps, he had built the lead up to 12.681 seconds.

The first half of the race was a dog fight between the two leading teams. Then in the space of two laps the advantage shifted sharply to Ferrari.

Coulthard's McLaren had a problem and retired. On lap 39 Hakkinen, who was already more than 27 seconds behind Schumacher, spun off and returned to the track only 1.5 seconds ahead of Irvine, who had just made his first pit stop.

''There was some oil on the circuit,'' Hakkinen said.

Schumacher then led by 45 seconds and was able to come in for a pit stop on lap 42. He was still nearly 25 seconds ahead of Hakkinen when he returned to the track.

Most of the teams made only one pit-stop for a tire change and refueling because the Monaco track is not especially hard on tires.

Irvine, however, was able to make two short stops, and passed Hakkinen when the Finn pitted on lap 50. Hakkinen returned in third place, 18.5 seconds behind Irvine. Irvine then made his second stop on the 56th lap without losing second place.

Hakkinen picked up speed and set the fastest lap of the race with 11 laps remaining, but he was never able to catch Irvine, who finished the race 7.007 seconds ahead.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen finished fourth in a Jordan. Giancarlo Fisichella was fifth in a Benetton, and in sixth, as the last driver to earn a point, was Alexander Wurz in the second Benetton.

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