The 1999 French Grand Prix, otherwise advertised as the LXXXV Mobil 1 Grand Prix de France, was the seventh round of the 1999 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours in Magny-Cours, France, on the 27 June 1999. The race would see Heinz-Harald Frentzen claim a surprise victory for Jordan-Mugen-Honda, who gambled on an ambitious fuel strategy in worsening conditions.
Qualifying would also produce a shock result, with heavy rain opening the door for Rubens Barrichello to claim the first pole position for Stewart-Ford Cosworth. Jean Alesi was second ahead of Olivier Panis, while title contenders Mika Häkkinen and Michael Schumacher could only muster fourteenth and sixth respectively.
It was dry on race day but with dark clouds on the horizon, with Barricello sprinting into an early lead. Alesi, in contrast, made a poor start and ensured that the field got rather compressed, allowing David Coulthard to challenge for second.
Häkkinen was also the move early on, carving his way into the top ten before the end of the opening lap. Further overtakes carried him past Johnny Herbert and Panis to secure sixth, before catching fifth placed Schumacher on lap nine.
Häkkinen made his move around the outside of the German at the Adelaide hairpin, only for the Ferrari to hold on with the inside line. A lap later and Häkkinen tried the same move, only to sell Schumacher a dummy and scythe across to the inside of the hairpin, and duly exited the corner ahead of the German.
Out front, meanwhile, Coulthard had managed to grab the lead from Barrichello with a lunge at the hairpin, only for an electrical failure to end his race on lap ten. Häkkinen, meanwhile, would drop Schumacher and attack Heinz-Harald Frentzen, and duly took third, before latching onto the back of Alesi to challenge for second.
It took several laps for Häkkinen to get past the Sauber-Petronas, allowing Barrichello to increase his lead up ahead. Yet, once the Finn broke clear it was only a matter of time until the Stewart was caught, with the McLaren-Mercedes looking ominously quick.
It was at that moment that rain began to fall, with Eddie Irvine coming in so early that Ferrari were caught out, costing him three quarters of a minute. Yet, the rest of the field would stay out on their grooved slicks, until Giancarlo Fisichella spun, with a downpour following as the leaders swept into the pits together.
The order remained unchanged after the stops, before Alesi spun out of the race to bring out the Safety Car, which stayed out as rain continued to pound the circuit. Indeed, it was only when the rain eased that the Mercedes slipped back into the pits, with Barrichello coming under immediate pressure from Häkkinen.
Ultimately, Häkkinen's attempted lunge into the Adelaide Hairpin at the first attempt failed, with the Finn clambering over the kerb and sending himself into a pirouette. He recovered having slipped to seventh, and would be well placed to see rival Schumacher ease past Frentzen up ahead.
A few laps later and Schumacher was attacking Barrichello for the lead, and duly made an aggressive lunge at Adelaide, only for the Brazilian to cut back inside as the German slid wide. He subsequently made the move stick on the following lap, only for an electrical failure a few laps later to end his hopes of the win.
Häkkinen picked his way through to the lead on lap 60, before he and Barrichello peeled off into the pits for a quick splash-and-dash. Frentzen, meanwhile, would stay out having saved fuel during the safety car period, with the Jordan suddenly holding a fair lead.
Ultimately Frentzen would cross the line to claim victory, his advantage over Häkkinen enough to ensure that he could save more fuel in the closing stages. Barrichello, meanwhile, was a distant third ahead of Ralf Schumacher, while Michael Schumacher claimed fifth ahead of teammate Irvine, still suffering from electrical issues.
Mika Häkkinen overturned a six point deficit with victory to leave Canada with a four point lead, with the Finn holding 34 points at the end of the weekend. Indeed, had Michael Schumacher not crashed out the German would still have led the Championship, but would instead leave Canada in second, four off the leader. Eddie Irvine was still in third, nine behind the defending Champion, while Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Giancarlo Fisichella completed the top five.
In the Constructors Championship it was still Ferrari who led the way, although McLaren-Mercedes had done a lot of damage. Indeed, the Anglo-German squad left Canada nine behind the Scuderia, with those two set to duel for the crown for a second straight season. Elsewhere, Jordan-Mugen-Honda had retained third ahead of Benetton-Playlife, while Williams-Supertec completed the top five.
The full entry list for the 1999 French Grand Prix is outlined below:
The full qualifying results for the 1999 French Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||16||Rubens Barrichello||Stewart-Ford Cosworth||1:38.441||—||155.423 km/h|
|2||11||Jean Alesi||Sauber-Petronas||1:38.881||+0.440s||154.731 km/h|
|3||18||Olivier Panis||Prost-Peugeot||1:40.400||+1.959s||152.390 km/h|
|4||2||David Coulthard||McLaren-Mercedes||1:40.403||+1.959s||152.386 km/h|
|5||8||Heinz-Harald Frentzen||Jordan-Mugen-Honda||1:40.690||+2.249s||151.952 km/h|
|6||3||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1:41.127||+2.686s||151.295 km/h|
|7||9||Giancarlo Fisichella||Benetton-Playlife||1:41.825||+3.384s||150.258 km/h|
|8||19||Jarno Trulli||Prost-Peugeot||1:42.096||+3.655s||149.859 km/h|
|9||17||Johnny Herbert||Stewart-Ford Cosworth||1:42.199||+3.758s||149.708 km/h|
|10||23||Ricardo Zonta||BAR-Supertec||1:42.228||+3.787s||149.665 km/h|
|11||12||Pedro Diniz||Sauber-Petronas||1:42.942||+4.501s||148.627 km/h|
|12||22||Jacques Villeneuve||BAR-Supertec||1:43.748||+5.307s||147.473 km/h|
|13||10||Alexander Wurz||Benetton-Playlife||1:44.319||+5.878s||146.666 km/h|
|14||1||Mika Häkkinen||McLaren-Mercedes||1:44.368||+5.927s||146.597 km/h|
|15||5||Alex Zanardi||Williams-Supertec||1:44.912||+6.471s||145.837 km/h|
|16||6||Ralf Schumacher||Williams-Supertec||1:45.189||+6.748s||145.452 km/h|
|17||4||Eddie Irvine||Ferrari||1:45.218||+6.777s||145.412 km/h|
|107% Time: 1:45.331*|
|NC||7||Damon Hill||Jordan-Mugen-Honda||1:45.334||+6.893s||145.252 km/h|
|NC||21||Marc Gené||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:46.324||+7.883s||143.900 km/h|
|NC||20||Luca Badoer||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:46.784||+8.343s||143.280 km/h|
|NC||14||Pedro de la Rosa||Arrows||1:48.215||+9.774s||141.385 km/h|
|NC||15||Tora Takagi||Arrows||1:48.322||+9.881s||141.246 km/h|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
- * The 107% Rule was not enforced due to the conditions, although the bottom five were instead ordered on practice times.
|20||Pedro de la Rosa|
The full results for the 1999 French Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Takagi was disqualified from the race after using an illegal set of tyres.
- 100th Grand Prix to feature a Mercedes engine.
- Rubens Barrichello claimed the first (and only) pole position for Stewart.
- Second career victory for Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
- Second win for Jordan as a constructor.
Mika Häkkinen extended his Championship lead over Michael Schumacher after his podium finish, leaving France with an eight point advantage. The German himself had reduced the damage by limping across the line in fifth, with teammate Eddie Irvine losing more ground in third. Behind Heinz-Harald Frentzen had moved onto the Brit's tail after his second win, while Ralf Schumacher completed the top five.
In the Constructors Championship Ferrari had just held onto their lead, leaving France on 58 points and with a six point lead. McLaren-Mercedes were their closest challengers, having chipped away at the Scuderia's lead, with those two both holding double the points of Jordan-Mugen-Honda in third. The Irish squad themselves were in a lonely third after claiming victory, as Williams-Supertec moved ahead of Benetton-Playlife in the latest round of leap-frog between the two former Champions.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'French GP, 1999', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), https://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr637.html, (Accessed 27/08/2019)
- 'France 1999: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1999/france/engages.aspx, (Accessed 27/08/2019)
- 'France 1999: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1999/france/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 27/08/2019)
- 'Mobil 1 Grand Prix de France 1999 - QUALIFYING', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1999/races/693/france/qualifying-0.html, (Accessed 27/08/2019)
- 'France 1999: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1999/france/classement.aspx, (Accessed 27/08/2019)
- '7. France 1999', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1999/france.aspx, (Accessed 27/08/2019)
- '1999 French GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1999&gp=French%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 27/08/2019)
|V T E||French Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Reims (1950–1951, 1953–1954, 1956, 1958–1961, 1963, 1966)
Rouen-Les-Essarts (1952, 1957, 1962, 1964, 1968)
Charade Circuit (1965, 1969–1970, 1972)
Bugatti Circuit (1967)
Circuit Paul Ricard (1971, 1973, 1975–1976, 1978, 1980, 1982–1983, 1985–1990, 2018–2019)
Dijon-Prenois (1974, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1984)
Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours (1991–2008)
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