French GP 1999

French GP, 1999

After his crash at the Canadian Grand Prix Heinz-Harald Frentzen was still limping when the F1 circus arrived at Magny-Cours. His victory in the French GP was therefore a big surprise, but was conjured up by the Jordan team thanks to poor weather and clever strategy.

The entire French Grand Prix weekend was disrupted by rain and the grid was most unusual with Rubens Barrichello on pole for Stewart and local hero Jean Alesi second in his Sauber. To add to the interest for the locals Olivier Panis qualified third in his Prost-Peugeot. David Coulthard was fourth in his McLaren and Michael Schumacher was fifth in his Ferrari. Mika Hakkinen was a disastrous 14th and Eddie Irvine in the second Ferrari was 17th.

The race was a topsy-turvy affair with Barrichello leading until Coulthard caught and passed him. David then broke down. Barrichello was back in the lead but then Schumacher passed him. The Ferrari then had an electrical problem which lost him a lot of time and so Barrichello took the lead for a third time only to be overtaken by Hakkinen, who had driven a blinding race from the midfield, spun and then done it all over again.

In the closing laps both Hakkinen and Barrichello needed to pit for extra fuel again and everyone expected the third-placed Frentzen to do the same but he had saved enough fuel behind the Safety Car to get to the flag without a second stop, the team having risked giving him a full tank when he pitted. Others tried to same but spun off in the atrocious conditions.

Hakkinen's second place was a good result but without his earlier spin he might have won the race. Barrichello was content with third. In the closing laps Irvine allowed Michael Schumacher to overtake him for fifth place. It did not seem very significant but when Schumacher crashed at the British GP and broke both legs Irvine became Ferrari team leader.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen Jordan-Mugen Honda  72 1h58m24.343  1m40.690 
Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes  72 11.092  1m44.368 14 
16 Rubens Barrichello Stewart-Ford  72 43.432  1m38.441 
Ralf Schumacher Williams-Supertec  72 45.475  1m45.189 16 
Michael Schumacher Ferrari  72 47.881  1m41.127 
Eddie Irvine Ferrari  72 48.901  1m45.218 17 
19 Jarno Trulli Prost-Peugeot  72 57.771  1m42.096 
18 Olivier Panis Prost-Peugeot  72 58.531  1m40.400 
23 Ricardo Zonta BAR-Supertec  72 1m28.764  1m42.228 10 
10 20 Luca Badoer Minardi-Ford  71 1 Lap  1m46.784 20 
11 14 Toranosuke Takagi Arrows  71 1 Lap  1m48.322 22 
12 15 Pedro de la Rosa Arrows  71 1 Lap  1m48.215 21 
Giancarlo Fisichella Benetton-Supertec  42 Spin 1m41.825 
Damon Hill Jordan-Mugen Honda  31 Engine 1m45.334 18 
Alessandro Zanardi Williams-Supertec  26 Engine 1m44.912 15 
22 Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Supertec  25 Spin 1m43.748 12 
10 Alexander Wurz Benetton-Supertec  25 Spin 1m44.319 13 
21 Marc Gene Minardi-Ford  25 Spin 1m46.324 19 
11 Jean Alesi Sauber-Petronas  24 Spin 1m38.881 
David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes  Electrical 1m40.403 
12 Pedro Diniz Sauber-Petronas  Mechanical 1m42.942 11 
17 Johnny Herbert Stewart-Ford  Gearbox 1m42.199