Team

The Race That Was: Australia 1999

October 15, 2020
2020
Feature
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The 1999 season began in Australia, and little did Team Silverstone know it back then, but it would begin a successful campaign in which Jordan fought it out with the leading teams.

While victories in France and Italy would launch Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jordan into unlikely title contenders, Australia proved to be the launching pad of a memorable year.

And just like the victory in France, a second-place finish for Frentzen in Australia relied on a combination of expert driving and profiting from the misfortune of rivals.

Jordan arrived in Australia to start the 1999 season with the new Jordan 199 – an evolution of the 198, aerodynamically refined after extensive work in the wind tunnel and design office.

While Qualifying was made tricky by the Bridgestone soft compound holding up surprisingly well and influencing strategic gambles, Frentzen was still able to qualify in P5 compared to Hill’s P9.

As the grid was formed up, there was instant drama. On the formation lap, the two McLarens of David Coulthard and Mika Häkkinen experienced problems, with the former having to pit and the latter damaging his garage in a bizarre incident.

On the second formation lap, Häkkinen and Michael Schumacher were both slow to get off the line, with one of the Arrows stuck on the grid and meanwhile, Rubens Barrichello was forced into the spare Stewart.

And the drama carried on into the race with Turn 1 becoming the scene of a tooth-and-nail fight. Häkkinen led Coulthard comfortably, but Ferrari’s Eddie Irvine was forced into defending hard from Frentzen and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Frentzen would settle into fourth place through the next few corners, chasing Irvine but keeping Jacques Villeneuve behind him.

While Irvine began to pull away on his softer compound tyres, the race was swiftly turned on its head as the leading McLarens hit problems once again.

At the end of lap 13 of 55, Coulthard pulled into the pits to retire with a hydraulic problem, while Häkkinen was forced to slow down and drive conservatively due to throttle problems.

Irvine and Frentzen were now in the hunt for victory – and a Safety Car following a crash for Villeneuve in his BAR closed the field right up.

On lap 17, the race resumed and the ailing Häkkinen was quickly passed by Irvine and Frentzen. There was a brief scare when Ralf Schumacher jumped Frentzen on the restart into Turn 1, but the Jordan driver hit back at Turn 2 with a superb move to return to second.

Irvine and Frentzen were now in the fight for the win, but Jordan was relying on the Ferrari driver to require a second pitstop to truly fight toe to toe for victory.

But on Lap 34, both drivers made their pitstops and it became clear Irvine would not need to pit again.

While Irvine and Frentzen had to carefully drive around blue-flagged cars in an attrition-filled race – with Hill being taken out early on after a clumsy move by Jarno Trulli - Frentzen was still unable to close on Irvine late on, settling for second.

But second in Australia would prove to be the launching pad for a successful Jordan campaign regardless!

The 1999 season began in Australia, and little did Team Silverstone know it back then, but it would begin a successful campaign in which Jordan fought it out with the leading teams.

While victories in France and Italy would launch Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jordan into unlikely title contenders, Australia proved to be the launching pad of a memorable year.

And just like the victory in France, a second-place finish for Frentzen in Australia relied on a combination of expert driving and profiting from the misfortune of rivals.

Jordan arrived in Australia to start the 1999 season with the new Jordan 199 – an evolution of the 198, aerodynamically refined after extensive work in the wind tunnel and design office.

While Qualifying was made tricky by the Bridgestone soft compound holding up surprisingly well and influencing strategic gambles, Frentzen was still able to qualify in P5 compared to Hill’s P9.

As the grid was formed up, there was instant drama. On the formation lap, the two McLarens of David Coulthard and Mika Häkkinen experienced problems, with the former having to pit and the latter damaging his garage in a bizarre incident.

On the second formation lap, Häkkinen and Michael Schumacher were both slow to get off the line, with one of the Arrows stuck on the grid and meanwhile, Rubens Barrichello was forced into the spare Stewart.

And the drama carried on into the race with Turn 1 becoming the scene of a tooth-and-nail fight. Häkkinen led Coulthard comfortably, but Ferrari’s Eddie Irvine was forced into defending hard from Frentzen and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Frentzen would settle into fourth place through the next few corners, chasing Irvine but keeping Jacques Villeneuve behind him.

While Irvine began to pull away on his softer compound tyres, the race was swiftly turned on its head as the leading McLarens hit problems once again.

At the end of lap 13 of 55, Coulthard pulled into the pits to retire with a hydraulic problem, while Häkkinen was forced to slow down and drive conservatively due to throttle problems.

Irvine and Frentzen were now in the hunt for victory – and a Safety Car following a crash for Villeneuve in his BAR closed the field right up.

On lap 17, the race resumed and the ailing Häkkinen was quickly passed by Irvine and Frentzen. There was a brief scare when Ralf Schumacher jumped Frentzen on the restart into Turn 1, but the Jordan driver hit back at Turn 2 with a superb move to return to second.

Irvine and Frentzen were now in the fight for the win, but Jordan was relying on the Ferrari driver to require a second pitstop to truly fight toe to toe for victory.

But on Lap 34, both drivers made their pitstops and it became clear Irvine would not need to pit again.

While Irvine and Frentzen had to carefully drive around blue-flagged cars in an attrition-filled race – with Hill being taken out early on after a clumsy move by Jarno Trulli - Frentzen was still unable to close on Irvine late on, settling for second.

But second in Australia would prove to be the launching pad for a successful Jordan campaign regardless!

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