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UNOFFICIAL F3000 INFORMATION

 FIA International F3000 Round 8: Hockenheim (D), 29th July 2000

 

QUALIFYING:

Unbelievably the Hockenheim weekend saw weather even worse than that at Silverstone in April, which ensured qualifying was badly disrupted. Torrential rain an hour before qualifying was due to start left the track unusable, with approximately 1ft of water flooding the pitlane. Initially it was thought qualifying would be postponed until the Saturday of the race, but eventually the rain abated and the floodwater was hosed away. As a result the two qualifying sessions had to be cancelled in favour of a single 45-minute session which got underway at 6.45pm. This was the latest the session could start without the track curfew cutting it short.

The track was still saturated as the cars went out, and Bas Leinders (Kid Jensen Racing) was the first to be caught out with a crash, ending his chances of making the race. Darren Manning (Arden) then crashed, Ananda Mikola (WRT) pulled off with a problem and Christijan Albers (European Arrows) spun into the gravel in the stadium. Of the trio only Manning would scrape into the race in 26th. From the start of the session it was championship co-leader Nicolas Minassian (Super Nova) setting the pace, on provisional pole until a fuel pump failure wrecked his bid after just 20 minutes, leaving him stranded on the grass verge. That decided things for the Frenchman, times improving as the track slowly dried relegating him to 13th at the end of the session. His title rival Bruno Junqueira (Petrobras Junior) had little better luck, ending the day in 12th place after missing the opportunity to set a time when the track was at its best. Ricardo Mauricio (Red Bull Junior) and Viktor Maslov (Arden) then both suffered shunts in the stadium section, although they both scraped into the race.

It was the McLaren junior pairing of Tomas Enge and Tomas Scheckter who timed their laps to perfection. Near the end of the session they were still running on the track, the team ensuring they had enough fuel to avoid necessitating a pit-stop when the conditions were good. The advantages of McLaren's weather forecasting facilities also payed off. As the duo topped the times it soon became apparent that they would not be beaten, as the heavens opened again with about ten minutes remaining. Their positions on the front row were then guaranteed when Sebastien Bourdais (Gauloises Formula) crashed in the first corner, caught out by the wet track and slamming into the tyres backwards. Immediately afterwards the pursuing Junqueira suffered an identical accident, slamming the tyres a few metres away from Bourdais. A marshal running to Bourdais' Lola was very fortunate not to have been hit by Junqueira's machine. The red flags came out, and the 7.30 track curfew meant the action had to be brought to an early close.

McLaren took the first 1-2 in qualifying since Petrobras Junior achieved the feat here a year earlier, while it was Enge's first ever pole and Scheckter shared the front row in only his second International F3000 start. Mark Webber (European Arrows) took third ahead of Bourdais in fourth, while Jeffrey van Hooydonk followed up his A1-Ring pole with fifth on the grid ahead of the ever-improving Fernando Alonso (Astromega). With Minassian and Junqueira in the midfield, Webber had the chance to close the gap from third in the championship and work towards his target of 30 points by season's end.

Only 29 cars entered the Hockenheim round following an acrimonious split between Soheil Ayari and the Coloni team. The Frenchman, complaining that the team would not allow him and his engineer to try their own set-ups, attempted to join the WRT team, only for the move to be blocked by Coloni who claimed Ayari was their contracted driver. Coloni then tried to draft in sacked Astromega driver Fabrice Walfisch as a late replacement, only fo the FIA to refuse as Ayari, registered as Coloni's driver ahead of qualifying, was available to race. Dino Morelli once again raced for the WRT team as a last-minute replacement for Ayari, though his future with the team seems uncertain. Ironically Morelli took the team's best qualifying position of the year with 10th.

 

RACE: TYRE GAMBLE PAYS OFF FOR ENGE

Tomas Enge benefitted from a gamble with a tyre change to win a typically thrilling F3000 round at a wet Hockenheim. For a while it looked like his new team-mate Tomas Scheckter's decision to remain on wets on the drying track would pay off, only for Enge to blast past the South African at the start of the last lap, retaking the lead he held before pitting for slicks, and charge to his first ever win. The McLaren team took a jubilant 1-2, their first in the formula, although the fact that the podium matched the top three in qualifying belied the fact that the race was full of action and drama.

The decision was made to start the race behind the safety car, for the first time in F3000 history, as the track was saturated. A repeat of the pile-up in 1998 that saw Gaston Mazzacane pitched upside down was not wanted, so the drivers had time to experience the track conditions. In Hockenheim this is more important than anywhere else, the tree-lined straights preventing the track from drying out and the spray in the past leading to serious F1 accidents to Didier Pironi and Derek Warwick. So treacherous was the track that rookie Bourdais, on his way to form the dummy grid, had a sizeable accident and threw away his second row start. As the safety car pulled in Enge made a strong getaway, a lead to Scheckter instantly forming. Scheckter found himself under early pressure from Webber, who was almost passed by van Hooydonk into the first corner. The South African soon found himself passed by Webber by the end of lap 1, but instead of being overwhelmed by the field he kept on the tail of Webber at the start of a sensational drive that belied his inexperience. Further back, Junqueira was desperate to fight into the points only for his charge to end with a stupid mistake. On the third lap he ran into the back of David Saelens (Super Nova) while passing Morelli into the Ostkurve. All three cars clattered into the gravel, Junqueira damaging his front wing. All rejoined the track, Junqueira pitting for a new wing and along with Saelens, both now with nothing to lose, gambling on an early change to slick tyres - a move that was made too soon. Junqueira's race would end later in the pits with a gearbox problem. Further back Fabrizio Gollin, Coloni's sole driver this weekend, made a move on Andre Couto (Gauloises Formula) only to hit the Macanese and retire on the spot. Justin Wilson (Nordic), well down the order, decided to gamble on slicks only for the rain to return again. After Andreas Scheld (Fortec) pitched Manning into a spin in the stadium, Wilson and Alonso both spun into retirement in the Sachskurve. Alonso had been running in a strong fifth, and it was a bitter blow for Astromega who only have one point so far.

At the front Enge had maintained a healthy lead from Webber, with Scheckter on the Aussie's tail. Webber in particular suffered on his overheating wet tyres in the stadium section where the track was relatively dry, while his low downforce set-up was no match for McLaren's decision to use gurney flaps. However, after the rain fell heavier and Alonso spun off, Enge's advantage disappeared as the safety car was deployed, now becoming a regular feature in F3000. The safety car remained out for five laps, under which Junqueira and Morelli retired. Morelli had suffered a fuel leak in his car from the tank, which led to petrol burns to his backside. Saelens meanwhile got caught out in the spray behind another car, swerved to avoid it and demolished one of the polystyrene trackside markers.

At the restart all the drivers were ready and close together unlike in the original start, but Enge still pulled away from the outset. Behind him Franck Montagny (DAMS), running in fifth with a low-downforce setup, attempted to pass van Hooydonk at the Ostkurve only to run into the Belgian and remove his own front wing. van Hooydonk scraped back onto the track but was forced to retire, while Montagny pitted for a new nose before retiring at the end of the pitlane when a wheel came loose. The incident and subsequent retirements promoted Andrea Piccini into fifth, the first points of the year desperately needed by the team. Although the rain had stopped, the track was still wet and more drama was to follow. Manning, charging up the field after the earlier incident with Scheld, was unsighted in the spray by Kevin McGarrity (Nordic) approaching the chicane and reared up on the Ulsterman's car. Both continued, but Manning needed a new front nose and McGarrity a new rear wing. While pitting for repairs, Manning's gamble on a change to slicks payed off when he set fastest lap as the track dried, although he was forced to take a stop-go penalty for the accident.

The order was now Enge-Webber-Scheckter-Bernoldi-Piccini-Minassian, but Minassian, who had been up into fifth, was struggling with a badly blistered set of wets. He was soon passed by Kristian Kolby (DAMS). At the front Scheckter, who had been chasing Webber throughout the race, made his move past the struggling Australian. Then the pivotal moment of the race occurred, Enge sacrificing a clear lead to make a stop for slicks, the team being unconvinced that the Czech had made the right choice. Dropping 45 seconds behind the new leader Scheckter, the move at first was not working, a spin on his third lap out of the pits at Jim Clark Kurve not helping his cause. Once the tyres had found some heat however, Enge began to lap 8 seconds faster than wet-shod Scheckter. Scheckter in turn had opened up an 8 second gap to Webber. Behind them, Minassian finally pitted for some fresh tyres, but opted for wets rather than slicks. Bernoldi also pitted, allowing Piccini into third. Enge, banging wheels with Mauricio into turn 1, was charging up the field, easily passing Piccini and then Webber for second with three laps to go. Scheckter had earlier had a quick spin at the Ostkurve, but continued to maintain a healthy lead over Webber. When Enge caught him however there was nothing he could do, the Czech slipping past on the inside across the line to start the final lap.

McLaren therefore took a dominant 1-2 finish, the first since Petrobras Junior dominated the race last year. It was Enge's first win in two and a half seasons of trying, only his second ever podium finish, and he had finally lived up to the promise he showed with his 1998 debut with Auto Sport Racing. Scheckter, in only his second race, matched the position he achieved in his one-off Italian F3000 race but was understandably disappointed, as for many laps it looked as though Enge was too far back to catch him. Webber took third, frustrated not to have made the most of the opportunity to close the points gap to Junqueira and Minassian who both failed to score. In fourth and fifth, Piccini and Kolby both took their first points of the year, a relief for both. Kid Jensen Racing desperately needed Piccini's three points to avoid relegation at season's end, although team manager and ex-Tyrrell engineer Simon Barker told Autosport: "It's a good breakthrough, but it is not enough. We needed third." Piccini had in fact almost lost any chance of a points finish due to a controversial stop-go penalty given to the Italian. Race stewards believed the team had not fitted his tyres when the five-minute signal was sounded before the start. However, rather than throw away any chance of points, KJR opted to ignore the penalty. The gamble played in their favour when the stewards went back on the decision after the race. With fifth, former British F3 star Kolby took the first points of his disappointing rookie season after a demoralising string of non-qualifications. Bernoldi took the final point, but Minassian had charged up to the Brazilian and was denied the championship lead at the line by just two-hundreths of a second. Behind, Andre Couto's dismal third season continued when he crashed in the stadium on the final lap.

The battle for the title honours will now resume at Budapest on 12th August, Minassian and Junqueira both desperate to perform in the two races remaining.

 

QUALIFYING:

Pos

Driver

Team

Time

1

Tomas Enge (CZ)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

 2m11.990s

2

Tomas Scheckter (ZA)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

+ 0.260s

3

Mark Webber (AUS)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

+ 0.271

4

Sebastien Bourdais (F)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

+ 0.319

5

Jeffrey van Hooydonk (B)

Witmeur KTR

+ 0.584

6

Fernando Alonso (E)

Astromega

+ 0.768

7

Andrea Piccini (I)

Kid Jensen Racing

+ 1.091

8

Enrique Bernoldi (BR)

Red Bull Junior

+ 1.306

9

Franck Montagny (F)

DAMS

+ 1.433

10

Dino Morelli (GB)

WRT

+ 1.522

11

David Saelens (B)

Super Nova

+ 1.630

12

Bruno Junqueira (BR)

Petrobras Junior

+ 1.633

13

Nicolas Minassian (F)

Super Nova

+ 1.735

14

Marc Goossens (B)

Astromega

+ 1.944

15

Fabrizio Gollin (I)

Coloni

+ 1.977

16

Andre Couto (MAC)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

+ 2.008

17

Kristian Kolby (DK)

DAMS

+ 2.312

18

Mario Haberfeld (BR)

Fortec

+ 2.677

19

Kevin McGarrity (GB)

Nordic

+ 2.785

20

Jaime Melo Jr (BR)

Petrobras Junior

+ 2.846

21

Yves Olivier (B)

Witmeur KTR

+ 2.902

22

Justin Wilson (GB)

Nordic

+ 3.002

23

Andreas Scheld (D)

Fortec

+ 3.509

24

Ricardo Mauricio (BR)

Red Bull Junior

+ 4.567

25

Viktor Maslov (RUS)

Arden Team Russia

+ 5.036

26

Darren Manning (GB)

Arden Team Russia

+ 5.099

Non-qualifiers:

27

Christijan Albers (NL)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

+ 7.397s

28

Bas Leinders (B)

Kid Jensen Racing

+ 9.771s

29

Ananda Mikola (RI)

WRT

+ 10.919s

NS

Soheil Ayari (F)

Coloni

withdrawn

(All cars Lola B99/50-Zytek)

 

RACE RESULT:

Final classification, Hockenheim (D), 31 laps - 211.575km

Pos

Driver

Team

Time

1

Tomas Enge (CZ)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

1hr14m50.567s

2

Tomas Scheckter (ZA)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

+ 6.316s

3

Mark Webber (AUS)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

+16.323

4

Andrea Piccini (I)

Kid Jensen Racing

+ 18.244

5

Kristian Kolby (DK)

DAMS

+ 20.329

6

Enrique Bernoldi (BR)

Red Bull Junior

+ 29.435

7

Nicolas Minassian (F)

Super Nova

+ 29.454

8

Jaime Melo Jr (BR)

Petrobras Junior

+ 33.017

9

Mario Haberfeld (BR)

Fortec

+ 35.055

10

Marc Goossens (B)

Astromega

+ 41.464

11

Kevin McGarrity (GB)

Nordic

+ 1:07.113

12

Andreas Scheld (D)

Fortec

+ 1:10.324

13

Darren Manning (GB)

Arden Team Russia

+ 1:10.405

14

Ricardo Mauricio (BR)

Red Bull Junior

+ 1:13.862

15

Viktor Maslov (RUS)

Arden Team Russia

+ 1:21.973

16

Yves Olivier (B)

Witmeur KTR

+ 1:37.560

17

Andre Couto (MAC)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

- 1 lap

18

David Saelens (B)

Super Nova

- 1 lap

R

Franck Montagny (F)

DAMS

20 laps; loose wheel

R

Jeffrey van Hooydonk (B)

Witmeur KTR

12 laps; collision

R

Dino Morelli (GB)

WRT

10 laps; fuel leak

R

Bruno Junqueira (BR)

Petrobras Junior

9 laps; gearbox

R

Fernando Alonso (E)

Astromega

6 laps; spin

R

Justin Wilson (GB)

Nordic

5 laps; spin

R

Fabrizio Gollin (I)

Coloni

4 laps; collision

NS

Sebastien Bourdais (F)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

accident on formation lap

Fastest Lap: Manning (2m04.173s, 122.95mph)

(All cars Lola B99/50-Zytek) Key: R=Retired, NC=not classified, dq=disqualified, NS=did not start

(All cars Lola B99/50-Zytek)

 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Standings after Round 8 of 10

Pos

Driver

Team

Points

1=

Bruno Junqueira (BR)

Petrobras Junior

38

 

Nicolas Minassian (F)

Super Nova

38

3

Mark Webber (AUS)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

21

4

Tomas Enge (CZ)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

14

5=

David Saelens (B)

Super Nova

12

 

Justin Wilson (GB)

Nordic

12

7

Darren Manning (GB)

Arden

10

8

Sebastien Bourdais (F)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

9

9

Fabrizio Gollin (I)

Coloni

7

10=

Jamie Davies (GB)

Fortec

6

 

Jaime Melo Jr. (BR)

Petrobras Junior

6

 

Tomas Scheckter (ZA)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

6

13

Franck Montagny (F)

DAMS

5

14=

Andre Couto (MAC)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

4

 

Enrique Bernoldi (BR)

Red Bull Junior

4

16=

Kevin McGarrity (GB)

Nordic

3

 

Stephane Sarrazin (F)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

3

 

Jeffrey van Hooydonk (B)

Witmeur KTR

3

Andrea Piccini (I)

Kid Jensen Racing

3

20

Kristian Kolby (DK)

DAMS

2

21=

Soheil Ayari (F)

Coloni

1

Fernando Alonso (E)

Astromega

1

Scoring: 10-6-4-3-2-1.

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