Melbourne, Australia 3/8/1998, 58 laps
Finally, we made it through the long hard, F1-less period. The winter Olympics at Nagano offered a good training in watching sports on tv long after midnight and prepared us for the Melbourne event: The Formula One season of 1998 has begun!! Nobody really knew what to expect from the first race. Rumours were that the McLarens could be improved a lot through the winter, but also the development of the Ferrari seemed to be promising. Not to forget the Williams who were always at the top for at least the last decade. The Benettons with their new young drivers were good for surprises in both directions, positive or negative. The Jordans and the Prosts will probably need some races to optimize their package with the new engine manufacturers.
The training was dominated by the McLarens with Mika Hakkinen slightly ahead of David Coulthard and then a big gap to Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve. Johnny Herbert was able to qualify as fifth, only milliseconds ahead of Frentzen, but, the Sauber was ahead of the Williams!!
Tuero started as first driver into the 98 season: He made a jump start and was later on penalized for that with ten seconds in the pits. At the front nothing changed till the first corner, where Coulthard missed the exit a little bit, went on the grass with two wheels and had to lift the throttle. Schumacher, the third tried to use this opportunity and tried hard to pass the Scot, but Coulthard managed to hold him off. Within the first lap, we saw the first retirements: Magnussen braked too late and crashed into Ralf Schumachers back, The following Takagi (or was it Barrichello?) somehow lost control over his car and spun out and into Schumachers Jordan. The next few laps saw two McLarens pulling off quite easily, Schumacher opening up a gap on Villeneuve, who was pushed by Fisichella and Herbert. In lap 5, Schumacher's Ferrari engine blew up. The only threat to the McLarens had to give up ind lap five and so the McLarens could only be stopped by a drivers error or a mechanical problem.
As more drivers had mechanical problems or spun off, there was few traffic on the track. The pitstops brought few interessting moments as well. The only thing to mention is that Frentzten and Irvine were on a one stop strategy and with this were able to pass Villeneuve and his followers. The sole surprise was when Hakkinen came into the pits, but did not stop at the McLarens box, but went right on through. After the race, the chief of Mercedes told us that the team caused this hoax by calling Hakkinen in by mistake. As Hakkinen was so much in front of thirdplaceman Frentzen, he came back on the track in second position. The McLaren forced Coulthard to slow down and let Hakkinen pass to establish the original ranking. Hakkinen finally passed the checkered flag first, followed by Coulthard within a second. Frentzen was able to hold off the clear faster Irvine and received the final podium place. Villeneuve was able to hold off Herbert, who scored the final point. The other drivers to finish were Wurz, Hill and Panis.
The superiorty of the McLarens was terrible. The last time when both cars from the leading team lapped all other cars was a couple of years ago, when the Williams team showed such a strong performance. As Coulthard won in Australia last year as well, probably we can hope that Melbourne is a McLaren track and the next race will be different and more interesting. I heard that some teams protested against the braking system that the McLarens used, so we have to wait whether this is true.
Name Nat Race Time 1. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1h31:45.996 2. David Coulthard SCO 0.700 3. H.H. Frentzen GER 1 lap 4. Eddie Irvine IRL 1 lap 5. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1 lap 6. Johnny Herbert ENG 1 lap 7. Alexander Wurz AUT 1 lap 8. Damon Hill ENG 1 lap 9. Olivier Panis FRA 1 lap Not classified: Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 15 laps Jean Alesi FRA 17 laps Jarno Trulli ITA 32 laps Ricardo Rosset BRA 33 laps Mika Salo FIN 35 laps Esteban Tuero ARG 36 laps Shinji Nakano JPN 50 laps Michael Schumacher GER 53 laps Pedro Diniz BRA 56 laps Rubens Barrichello BRA 57 laps Jan Magnussen DEN 57 laps Ralf Schumacher GER 57 laps Toranosuke Takagi JPN 57 laps Fastest Lap: Mika Hakkinen FIN 1:31.640
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Interlagos, Brasil 3/29/1998, 72 laps
There was much talking about the braking system of the McLarens before the race, but on the track, the McLarens proved that they are not ahead because of one specialty like tyres or the braking system, but because of their whole car and the drivers and the team. Both McLaren driversstarted from the front row and like in Melbourne, they pulled away easily. The race was decided after 50 metres when it was clear that Coulthard could not pass Hakkinen in the first corner. The Finn won the second race of the season and extended his lead in the drivers championship.
Now to the field. It was a little more interesting than the battle for victory. Frentzen started from the 3rd position ahead of Michael Schumacher, who did not get away from the grid at all. The world champion of '95 lost two positions within the first kilometer; Alexander Wurz, who had not driven in Interlagos before, passed him as well as Eddie Irvine, who came from sixth and went up to fourth before the first corner. As Schumacher was able to fight back and overtake Wurz in the early stages, the Ferrari team orders or the superior driving qualities of Michael Schumacher brought him back to fourth position. He was chasing Frentzen, but could not overtake. Thanks to the advertising breaks of RTL that seem to be scheduled for the pit stop times, we missed the change of the position when Schumacher went into third.
As hardly any overtaking manoeuvers took place, the only interesting aspects were the pit stops. The Benettons stopped only once and in doing so, both of their drivers finished in the points. Wurz finished fourth, Fisichella sixth and these two show that the Benetton's young guns of 98 are hot shots in contrast to the young guns of Jordan in 97. A point that should be mentioned is that Jacques Villeneuve, the reigning world champion, had big problems in the qualifying and his finishing position of the race was better, but just outside the points.
Name Nat Race Time 1. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1h37:11.747 2. David Coulthard SCO 1.100 3. Michael Schumacher GER 1:00.500 4. Alexander Wurz AUT 1:07.400 5. H.H. Frentzen GER 1 lap 6. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 1 lap 7. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1 lap 8. Eddie Irvine IRL 1 lap 9. Jean Alesi FRA 1 lap 10. Damon Hill ENG 2 laps 11. Jan Magnussen DEN 2 laps Not classified: Johnny Herbert ENG 5 laps Olivier Panis FRA 9 laps Rubens Barrichello BRA 16 laps Ricardo Rosset BRA 20 laps Esteban Tuero ARG 28 laps Pedro Diniz BRA 46 laps Toranosuke Takagi JPN 53 laps Mika Salo FIN 54 laps Jarno Trulli ITA 55 laps Shinji Nakano JPN 69 laps Ralf Schumacher GER 72 lapsBack to the top
Buenos Aires, Argentina 4/12/1998, 72 laps
The tension is back! After two boring races, the season was hottened up again by the Ferraris. Schumacher was able to qualify in second position, in front of Hakkinen who has dominated the season so far. Only one of the McLarens was ahead of the rest of the field. During the starting action of the Grand Prix, Schumacher lost his position to Mika Hakkinen, but within a couple of laps, he could get back his second position and furthermore hunt down the leader Coulthard.
The Scot misjudged the braking point at one corner twice and at the second time, Schumacher slipped through. Coulthard tried to slamshut the door and the two cars touched heavily, but this time (in contrast to Jerez last year) both cars could go on. Schumacher took the lead and his car seemed not to have suffered any damage, Coulthard's car spread a little debris on the track and the McLaren driver lost a couple of places, but he was able to rejoin the track and go on.
Eddie Irvine, the second Ferrari driver who showed a great performance during the qualifying (on his best lap, he was clearly faster than Schumacher, but threw away this lap in the last corners) lost one position at the start to Frentzen, but as his teammate, he was able to get back his grid position quite early and he was even in the position to push Hakkinen for the first ten laps or so. Michael Schumacher was able to open up a gap of more than ten seconds over Hakkinen quite rapidly, but then failed to extend his lead, so he dropped back behind Hakkinen after he made his first out of two pitstops. As the McLarens were on a one-stop strategy, Hakkinen showed that he was ready to win the third Grand Prix of this season in a row.
After Hakkinen came into the pits, the red Ferrari of Michael Schumacher lead again the field by about ten seconds. This time he was able to extend his lead to about twenty seconds, when he closed up to a group of four drivers fighting against each other. The Ferrari crew worked great and called him in for his final stop and managed to get him out right in front of Hakkinen who, in the second half of the race, was not able to push as hard as in the early stages. Third placeman Irvine was very quick in the first ten laps, but afterwards he could not quite keep up the pace of the leading duo. After his second pitstop, he was clearly slower than the man behind him, Wurz and the young Austrian was able to overtake Irvine without big problems, but not much later, Wurz spun his car at the end of the starting straight and had to let Irvine through.
Alesi in his Sauber started from 11th position, but at the time of the first pit stops, he was well positioned in the points. His Sauber was able to follow the car of the world champion Villeneuve and even could have gone faster, but could not pass the Canadian. He took profit out of the pit stops and kept in front of the pushing Coulthard and even passed Coulthard "in the pits". Coulthard was hit by Villeneuve who started a manoeuver on him, but again was able to continue. Villeneuve retired. In the last laps, it seemed as if the track became a little wet and slippery and loads of cars went off track. Amongst them Coulthard, but for the third time he rejoined the track and got the final point. The most important driver who went off track was the leader Michael Schumacher. But at that point he had opened up a gap of about fifteen seconds to Hakkinen and could afford to go the long way through the gravel and back onto the track without losing the lead. After this heart stopping moment, he slowed down a little and reduced his efforts to following Fisichella, who, after sliding off as well, was the next to be lapped.
Finally Michael Schumacher crossed the checkered flag way in front of Hakkinen and the Ulsterman Irvine. Wurz showed that he is a very promising talent, Alesi lost the right one of his extra flaps during the race and three time off track man Coulthard finished in the points. The new Japanese driver Takagi managed to surprised us during the qualifying when he suddenly was fourth and finally qualified in 13th position. A great performance for the Tyrrells who have not been that good fr quite a while. Ralf Schumacher was able to outqualify his teammate Damon Hill for the third time in this season, but as well for the third time, he was not able to finish. This time, after qualifying in a brilliant 5th position, he had a bad start and dropped back to 13th. Then he was stuck behind Barrichello for quite a while before he spun off massively. After coming into the pits for new tyres, he drove a couple of laps and then again spun massively. As both these spins were so enormously, I anticipate that he had technical problems somewhere in the car. If my guess is wrong, then this guy should chill a little and try to finish. His finish:retirement quota is 7:13. This leaves him so room for improvement...
Name Nat Race Time 1. Michael Schumacher GER 1h48:36.175 2. Mika Hakkinen FIN 22.800 3. Eddie Irvine IRL 57.745 4. Alexander Wurz AUT 1:08.134 5. Jean Alesi FRA 1:18.286 6. David Coulthard SCO 1:19.751 7. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 1:28.438 8. Damon Hill ENG 1 lap 9. H.H. Frentzen GER 1 lap 10. Rubens Barrichello BRA 2 laps 11. Jarno Trulli ITA 2 laps 12. Toranosuke Takagi JPN 2 laps 13. Shinji Nakano JPN 3 laps 14. Ricardo Rosset BRA 4 laps 15. Olivier Panis FRA 7 laps Not classified: Esteban Tuero ARG 9 laps Jacques Villeneuve CAN 20 laps Johnny Herbert ENG 26 laps Ralf Schumacher GER 50 laps Mika Salo FIN 54 laps Jan Magnussen DEN 55 laps Pedro Diniz BRA 59 lapsBack to the top
Imola, San Marino 4/26/1998, 62 laps
Coulthard all over San Marino! After qulifying in the pole position, the Scotsman wins the race unchallenged. His team rival and momentary championship leader Mika Hakkinen had to stop his car after 17 laps because of gearbox problems and Coulthard himself had to take it easy in the last laps to keep his gearbox from exploding for the same reasons. Unexpectedly we saw the first technical problems at a McLaren in this season.
The Ferraris were able to prove that they are the second team at the moment and that they are ready to take whatever points the McLarens left over. Not only that Michael Schumacher tried to follow the McLarens and was able to come close to Coulthard in the last laps, but also Eddie Irvine, again, finished on the podium. With Coulthard and Frentzen, he is the only driver that finished all races. Remarkable reliability of the Ferrari and of Irvine! At the moment, the Ferrari team may not be a winnering team, but they have stable package as they have not had for more than ten years.
Mentioning not-winning teams: The Williams have problems with the driving stability at the rear of their car. The drivers Frentzen and Villeneuve do their best to keep the car on the track, but the Williams are in trouble as they have not been for more than a decade now. They are far from winning and only with their good drivers, they can finish in the points repeatedly. At the beginning of the race, the Williams of Frentzen was hunted by both Benettons, who could obviously have gone faster, but Frentzen was in control. In lap 17, both Benettons retired; one drivers error and one engine blow-up. The next man, who was not expected to be in the position to follow a Williams car, was Alesi in the Sauber. In the first part of the race, he pushed Frentzen as the Benettons did, and for the rest of the race, he was not far behind Frentzen.
First man out of the points is Ralf Schumacher, who may well be satisfied to at least finish. In the first three races, he retired early, but this time he made it to the checkered flag. His teammate Damon Hill was very unlucky. Though he lost a lot of ground with a pitstop in lap 1, he fought back and went up the order until he was in front of his Jordan teammate, but 5 laps before the checkered flag, Hill had to retire and drove his car right into the pits.
The backmarkers Tuero and Takagi show more and more that they deserve their seat in Formula One despite they do not have helluva experience. The Stewards need some result soon. Since Barrichellos second place in Monte Carlo last year, the team had a lot more moments of downs than ups.
One last thing: I'm not sure whether Christian Danner only did the commentating job for this one race or whether Jochen Maas could not stand Heiko Wasser's blabla any longer and is out of this job. Danner, who is still an active racing driver in the German touring car championship and who drove (drives?) a couple of races in the CART series, had some new aspects to tell to the viewers and tried to keep Wasser from talking bullshit a couple of times, so he is a good replacement, but: Hey you people at RTL! You changed the wrong man!! Wasser should go and not Maas!!
Name Nat Race Time 1. David Coulthard SCO 1h34:24.593 2. Michael Schumacher GER 4.554 3. Eddie Irvine IRL 51.776 4. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 54.590 5. H.H. Frentzen GER 1:17.477 6. Jean Alesi FRA 1 lap 7. Ralf Schumacher GER 2 laps 8. Esteban Tuero ARG 2 laps 9. Mika Salo FIN 2 laps 10. Damon Hill ENG 5 laps Not classified: Olivier Panis FRA 6 laps Ricardo Rosset BRA 14 laps Toranosuke Takagi JPN 22 laps Jarno Trulli ITA 28 laps Shinji Nakano JPN 35 laps Pedro Diniz BRA 44 laps Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 45 laps Mika Hakkinen FIN 45 laps Alexander Wurz AUT 45 laps Johnny Herbert ENG 50 laps Jan Magnussen DEN 54 laps Rubens Barrichello BRA 62 lapsBack to the top
Barcelona, Spain 5/10/1998, 64 laps
The McLarens did a perfect weekend. Hakkinen was the best. Nothing more to say concerning the first two positions. Though Michael Schumacher had to come in for a superflous 10 second pit stop penalty, he was able to finish as the best of the rest. The only threat of this result came from his teammate Irvine and the Ulsterman's new friend Fisichella. Irvine had the best start in the field and managed to come from 5th on the grid up to 3rd. In the first round of pit stops, he lost a little time, but managed to keep Fisichella behind him. When Michael Schumacher came out of the pits right in front of these two, Irvine blocked Fisico a little so that top priority Ferrari driver could take third position and in doing so move up two places. One lap later, Fisichella again was faster on the straight, but Irvine blocked the inside so that Fisichella had to go round the outside. Fisichella was in front, but Irvine did not want to give way, so both went into the gravel and out of the race. Sad that Irvine denied himself and Fisichella from good and well earned points, unbelievable what this person does for the Ferrari team. Michael Schumacher has the ideal second, supporting driver!!
Alexander Wurz was not quite able to challenge Schumacher, but finished in a secure fourth position. The surprise of the outcome of the Spanish Grand Prix is the 5th position of Rubens Barrichello. Only in my comment of the last race, I remarked that the Stewards need urgently a result and this weekend, after a good qualifying, Barrichello was able to finish in the points. Another prove that the teams are not separated by seconds, but only tenths apart.
Other remarkable incidents: The Arrows team is still struggling with reliability. I've never seen before both cars of the one team having a engine blow-up at exactly the same place on the circuit. Rosset in the Tyrrell did not make it that far. His weekend was over after the qualifying session. He was not able to break the 107% barrier. A little further up the field, but also struggling is the Williams team. Frentzen qualified thirteenth, Villeneuve tenth, and Frentzens car spun in the first lap. Practically his race was over with this incident, but Frentzen showed great motivation to race and fought his way up to 8th position. Great effort with this car. The hope of the Williams team are focussed on a new car, which is said to be ready for the Canadian Grand Prix. Last thing I'd like to point out: 16 drivers made it to the classification with only 21 started. This seems to me being a reliability record.
Name Nat Race Time 1. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1h33:37.621 2. David Coulthard SCO 9.439 3. Michael Schumacher GER 47.049 4. Alexander Wurz AUT 1:02.538 5. Rubens Barrichello BRA 1 lap 6. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1 lap 7. Johnny Herbert ENG 1 lap 8. H.H. Frentzen GER 2 laps 9. Jarno Trulli ITA 2 laps 10. Jean Alesi FRA 2 laps 11. Ralf Schumacher GER 2 laps 12. Jan Magnussen DEN 2 laps 13. Toranosuke Takagi JPN 2 laps 14. Shinji Nakano JPN 2 laps 15. Esteban Tuero ARG 2 laps 16. Olivier Panis FRA 5 laps Not classified: Damon Hill ENG 19 laps Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 37 laps Eddie Irvine IRL 37 laps Mika Salo FIN 44 laps Pedro Diniz BRA 45 laps Not qualified (outside 107%): Ricardo Rosset BRABack to the top
Monaco, Monte Carlo 5/24/1998, 78 laps
Hakkinen took his first win at Monaco. Unchallenged. His teammate retired after an engine failure in the early stages of the race. Michael Schumacher was stuck behind the Benetton of Fisichella, but again was able to take profit of his pit stop performance. He came out in front of Fisichella, but behind Wurz who had not yet stopped. Schumacher started an unnecessary manoeuver on Wurz at the Loews hairpin. Wurz did nto want to give way, fought back and they touched several times in the following corners. The result of this: Schumacher finally was able to overtake, but damaged his left rear suspension and had to come to the pits. Schumacher stepped out of his car, but was told to get back in. Schumacher lost more than two laps, but then he was able to rejoin the race in the last position and from then on, he was the fastest man on the track. The other participant of this incident was not very lucky as well. Few laps later, Wurz came out of the tunnel only on three tires wildly sliding across the track and hitting exactly the barrier where his fellow countryman Wendlinger crashed heavily few years ago. But Wurz was not hurt.
Fisichella had no problems with Irvine who was unchallenged as well. The surprise of the Monte Carlo Grand Prix of 1998 was the team performance of the Arrows: Up to now, they only finished once, but this weekend both drivers not only qualified in the better midfield, but even more, both drivers finished in the points. Salo surely took advantage of the retirements of other drivers, but he had no problem to keep world champion Villeneuve behind him. Diniz, whose driving abilities are often doubted. was able to qualify ahead of Villeneuve and finished directly behind the Canadian and scoring the final point. Alesi followed Salo for a long time, but only 5 laps before the checkered flag fell, Alesi had to stop his car, after the Sauber showed signs of smoke for a couple of laps before.
After his long repairs in the pits, Michael Schumacher was able to fight back and in the end was able to overtake Takagi and consequently he was not classified last, but tenth.
After the Stewards showed a remarkable performance at the last Grand Prix, this time both drivers retired in the early stages of the race with technical problems. Again a terrifying weekend for the Jordan team as well. As so often before this season, Hill drove way back in the field and Ralf Schumacher retired. Ricardo Rosset, for the second time in a row, was not able to qualify. It is questioningly whether he or Jos Verstappen will be in the Tyrrell car at the next Grand Prix. The only hope for the Ferrari and the racing fans is that Ferrari steps out of the contract with Goodyear and puts on the Bridgestone rubbers. By not doing this step, there won't be much hopes for a car challenging the McLarens.
Name Nat Race Time 1. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1h51:23.595 2. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 11.475 3. Eddie Irvine IRL 41.378 4. Mika Salo FIN 1:00.363 5. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1 lap 6. Pedro Diniz BRA 1 lap 7. Johnny Herbert ENG 1 lap 8. Damon Hill ENG 2 laps 9. Shinji Nakano JPN 2 laps 10. Michael Schumacher GER 2 laps 11. Toranosuke Takagi JPN 2 laps 12. Jean Alesi FRA 6 laps Not classified: Jarno Trulli ITA 22 laps Olivier Panis FRA 29 laps Ralf Schumacher GER 34 laps Alexander Wurz AUT 36 laps Jan Magnussen DEN 48 laps David Coulthard SCO 61 laps Rubens Barrichello BRA 67 laps H.H. Frentzen GER 69 laps Esteban Tuero ARG 78 laps Not qualified (outside 107%): Ricardo Rosset BRABack to the top
Montreal, Canada 6/7/1998, 69 laps
The new Goodyear tyre enabled the Ferraris, the Jordans and the Williams to close the gap to the McLarens slightly, but as ever, the McLarens qualify first and second.
I will get the report for the Canadian GP ready as soon as I have the time. In the last weeks some things came across and kept me from updating this page: My birthday, the organization of the Dodecathlon '98 , the football WC, the "Bergkirchweih", my work, last not least my studies, etc.
Well, finally here it comes: Still a short version, but instead with pictures. The first start was halted, because Wurz, after braking too late, crashed into Alesi, got airborne and tumbled into the gravel. The race was red-flagged.
First corner of the race
The second start brought another incident. After Ralf Schumacher did not come off the starting grid in the first start, this time he wanted to win the race in the first corner. His back snapped round and he stopped headed in the wrong direction. It's not sure whether this or the general tightness of the first corner was the reason for the midfielders crashing into each other. Hakkinen, when accelerating off the grid, could not shift to second and was stuck in first gear. His race was over after a couple of meters. Ralf Schumacher's clutch did not survive the first lap, Trulli, Alesi and Takagi wrecked their cars in the incident. Irvine came with a defect tyre into the pits and rejoined in last position.
First corner of the race - second try
This time, the race continued, but the pace car came out for some laps. This period was followed by intense fighting mainly between leader Coulthard and Schumacher, but also for positions by, for example, the Williams. Soon, the race was interrupted again: Diniz slid off the track and came back, but this is not enough to be mentioned. The reason for telling you is that he took that much gravel and grass with him back on the track and spread it everywhere, so that the pace car came out again. It has to be emphasized: Noone could be blamed for that, not even Diniz!
Diniz dusts the track
When the pace car left the track, there still were 52 laps to go out of 69. Again only few laps later, the current leader Coulthard slowed down. But the audience did not have the time to ask for the reason, because more wrecks were seen on the screens: Salo crashed somewhat heavily into the barrier and Johnny Herbert spun at the hairpin.
Mika Salo's wreck
Because of Salo's wreck and debris, the pace car came out for the umpteenth time. Michael Schumacher used this for his first pitstop. The Ferrari team miscalculated the time needed for the pit stop a little bit and when Schumacher rushed out of the pits, he pushed Frentzen into the dirt at top speed heading towards the first corner. Not only that Schumacher pushed Frentzen out, it was a very high speed incident and Frentzen was very, very lucky not to hit anything. Frentzen was cool enough to, ehile still slithering and spinning through the gravel, to wildly wave at Schumacher.
Frentzen being pushed out
So this time the pace car could stay out. From the replay it could not be determined, whether Schumacher must have seen Frentzen and whether Frentzen was ahead of Schumacher after the latter left the pits. In this case, Schmacher passed his countryman under yellow flags. When the pace car left, the field went only some hundred metres without incident. Still on the starting straight, Villeneuve tried to pass the leader Fisichella and went round the outside, but he braked much too late and therefore went right on through the gravel, over the track and into the dust on the other side. When he rejoined, Schumacher and Hill managed to pass the Canadian. Still not at race speed, Villeneuve was in the way of some drivers. Villeneuve avoided a Prost, crossed the track and Esteban Tuero did not react right. He ran into the back of Villeneuve and damaged his front and the Williams' front wing.
Villeneuve's mistake and the consequences
The consequence was that Villeneuve came into the pits, but his rear wing could not be fixed in a short time, but as so many cars were already out of the race, Villeneuve came out again though being down a couple of laps. After all these incidents, it has to be pointed out, that meanwhile a formula one race was to be raced for. Leader of the race was Fisichella in front of Schumacher, Hill, blabla Then Schumacher was fined a 10 second penalty for his earlier incident with Frentzen. When he rejoined, Hill had slipped through; Magnussen stayed behind, because the Dane was as well in the pits. Schumacher made up ground to Hill and when Schumacher tried to overtake the Brit, Hill started weaving from left to right to left to prevent being passed. This is not a manoeuver of sportsmanship, but do you remember Schumacher in Belgium two years ago? Michael did the same to Hill and then it was even wet and slippery. So Schumacher has no reason to complain and people like Lauda, who consider ramming others into the gravel for the benefit of the improvement of the own situation as an appropriate means without hesitation, can not be taken seriously. Only short after Schumacher nevertheless passed Hill, the Brit had massive problems with his car and had to come to the pits several times. Fisichella came in for his first pit stop very late and when he rejoined, the ranking was the following: Schumacher, Fisichella, Barrichello, Irvine, Wurz, Magnussen, Nakano, Rosset, Tuero, Diniz, Hill (who had then already retired) and Villeneuve (at this point not quite in the classement, but still racing). Schumacher did one fastest lap after another, but he was on a two-stop strategy and Fisichella was on a one-stop-strategy, so it was not decided, whether his lead would be sufficient. When Schumacher came out after his second pit stop, it showed that the Ferrari team this time had calculated the necessary time on the tenth of a second. He rejoined right in front of Fisichella, not besides as with Frentzen at his first pit stop. The young Italian was not able to do anything about it and at that point it was decided that he would not win this GP. In the following laps, Schumacher easily pulled away and the most interessting thing on the track was the fight for the last championship point between Magnussen(!) on a Steward(!!) and Nakano (!!!) on a Minardi(!!!!!!!!). I really can not remember when a Minardi was fighting for points! Sadly, the Minardi did not have the power to overtake the Steward and none of the drivers ahead retired. The Minardi would really have deserved this point for their yearlong fight for survival in the GP circus. Villeneuve, in the final laps of the race, lapped at the pace of the leaders and stayed 6 laps behind Schumacher. To be classified officially, you need to finish not less than 10 percent less than the winner does. In Montreal the race is 69 laps long, so you can be lapped six times and you are still classified. So did Jacques Villeneuve. Behind Schumacher and Fisichella, Irvine crossed the finish line as third. Remarkable, as Irvine was last after the first lap of the race. Fourth was Wurz, followed by Barrichello and the second Magnussen.
Name Nat Race Time 1. Michael Schumacher GER 1h40:57.355 2. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 16.662 3. Eddie Irvine IRL 1:00.058 4. Alexander Wurz AUT 1:03.232 5. Rubens Barrichello BRA 1:21.512 6. Jan Magnussen DEN 1 lap 7. Shinji Nakano JPN 1 lap 8. Ricardo Rosset BRA 1 lap 9. Pedro Diniz BRA 1 lap 10. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 6 laps Not classified: Esteban Tuero ARG 16 laps Damon Hill ENG 27 laps Olivier Panis FRA 30 laps H.H. Frentzen GER 49 laps David Coulthard SCO 51 laps Johnny Herbert ENG 51 laps Mika Salo FIN 51 laps Jean Alesi FRA 69 laps Mika Hakkinen FIN 69 laps Ralf Schumacher GER 69 laps Toranosuke Takagi JPN 69 laps Jarno Trulli ITA 69 lapsBack to the top
Magny Cours, France 6/28/1998, 72 laps
This time only a short commentary to a boring race; I slept in twice. Verstappen replaced Magnussen at Steward. Schumacher qualified second, but at the restart (Verstappen was not able to drive away in the first try), he not only held his position, but passed Hakkinen. Irvine came from fourth and went the other way round both McLarens so that two red ones were leading the Grand Prix into the first corner.
Schumacher pulled away and kept a secure distance to his follower Irvine till the checkered flag. The Ulsterman had to fight a little with Hakkinen within the last ten laps, but the Finn prefered to take the four points rather than ending in the gravel. The other McLaren had massive problems in the pits. The refueling device would not fit in the right place and made Coulthard go out again with no new fuel on board. One lap later as the Scot came in again, the pit crew again had problems in refueling, but finally made it. As a result, Coulthard lost many positions, but in the end, after fighting hard and driving best laps, he was able to score a single point.
Name Nat Race Time 1. Michael Schumacher GER 1h34:45.026 2. Eddie Irvine IRL 19.575 3. Mika Hakkinen FIN 19.747 4. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1:06.965 5. Alexander Wurz AUT 1 lap 6. David Coulthard SCO 1 lap 7. Jean Alesi FRA 1 lap 8. Johnny Herbert ENG 1 lap 9. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 1 lap 10. Rubens Barrichello BRA 2 laps 11. Olivier Panis FRA 2 laps 12. Jos Verstappen HOL 2 laps 13. Mika Salo FIN 2 laps 14. Pedro Diniz BRA 2 laps 15. H.H. Frentzen GER 3 laps 16. Ralf Schumacher GER 3 laps 17. Shinji Nakano JPN 6 laps Not classified: Toranosuke Takagi JPN 11 laps Jarno Trulli ITA 16 laps Esteban Tuero ARG 30 laps Damon Hill ENG 32 laps Ricardo Rosset BRA 55 lapsBack to the top
Silverstone, Great Britain 7/12/1998, 60 laps
Michael Schumacher proved that he is the man of the rain. And again he proved that he always can find gaps in the racing rules.
Hakkinen started fine and saved his pole position into Cobbs corner. Michael Schumacher came second, but not much later had to give way to David Coulthard. Eddie Irvine made a bad start, but fought hard, but fair in the first laps and finally came back to fourth position.
Jacques Villeneuve, who showed a promising time in qualifying could not quite keep up with the pace at the front. Frentzen, who had to push hard to challenge Irvine, was the second after Damon Hill who spun of the track because of the very British weather: Rain came down. Sometimes very heavy, sometimes hardly anything. Most of the drivers spun at least once throughout the race and the lucky ones made it back onto the track. To name the most important: Both McLarens spun off in the middle of the race; Hakkinen was able to recover, Coulthard had bad luck: He was stuck in the gravel. Villeneuve spun whilst fighting with Ralf Schumacher for the last championship points. The young German, who only qualified 21st made up some positions within the initial laps, permanently improved and finally finished sixth, scoring the first point for Jordan in the 98 season.
The pit stops did not change much concerning positions, so we had Hakkinen leading Michael Schumacher and his teammate Irvine in front of the great performing Sauber of Alesi (Herbert spun off earlier, but also was heading for points) and the two Bennettons. After the rain became too heavy, the safety car had to come out and the field gathered in the following order: Hakkinen, Fisichella (1 lap down), Takagi (2 or 3 laps down), Michael Schumacher, Wurz (1 lap down), Irvine, Ralf Schumacher(1 lap down), Villeneuve (1 lap down), Nakano (2 laps down), Alesi. Within this pace car period, Takagi decided to come into the pits, so only Fisichella remained between the leading two. As everybody was keen on keeping the tyre temperature up, the drivers were weaving left and right. Some drivers more than others. The one who did this most was Michael Schumacher. Most of the time the German prefered not to drive in the spray of Fisichella and several times he sped up and braked again. When the safety car turned its lights off, Hakkinen knew that nobody was allowed to overtake before the starting line. In order to keep Schumacher from overtaking Fisichella AND himself by braking late into Cobbs corner, Hakkinen slowed down and let the safety car pull away. As soon as the safety car was out of the way, Hakkinen pushed hard to open up a gap to Fisichella, who was slower than the McLaren and the Ferrari. BUT: Hakkinen is allowed to pull away from Fisichella before the starting line, but Schumacher is not allowed to overtake Fisichella before the starting line. As expected, Schumacher was able to brake late into Cobbs corner and overtook Fisichella, but at that point Hakkinen was in front by two seconds. To my view, this was a very smart move by Hakkinen, but read on why it did not pay out:
Schumacher closed the gap to Hakkinen within one lap and pushed very hard. Was it the pressure of the Ferrari or was it a mistake that Hakkinen misjudged the braking point and went into the dirt for the second time. Again, he was able to rejoin the track, but meanwhile Schumacher had slipped through.
From this point on, Schumacher drove away and Hakkinen had even problems to keep Irvine behind. Three laps before the checkered flag fell, the Ferrari crew in the pits became active again. Noboday really knew what was about to happen. Suddenly Irvine dropped back from Hakkinen. Within two laps, the Ulsterman lost six seconds and he had problems to keep Wurz from unlapping himself. Confusion was clarified when there were only two and a half laps to go and a 10 second penalty for Schumacher was announced. He was accused for overtaking within the safety car period. (I reviewed the tape of the race, but was unable to find prove of that.) But Schumacher did not come in. He started his penultimate lap and Hakkinen was 20 seconds behind. At the end of this lap, he again did not come in and started his final lap leading by 23 seconds. Schumacher was driving the wheels off his Ferrari wildly sliding through the corners. At the end of the last lap, Schumacher finally came in for his penalty and with doing so, Schumacher only had to go slowly into the pits. As he crossed the finish line in the pits, the way out of the pits did not count anymore. When a time penalty is announced, the driver has a range of 3 laps to come in for this penalty and Schumacher used this range to its extent: He came in at the end, but within this 3 lap window, so the protest of the McLaren teamwas rejected. Crazy end of this race...
Name Nat Race Time 1. Michael Schumacher GER 1h47:02.450 2. Mika Hakkinen FIN 12.400 3. Eddie Irvine IRL 19.100 4. Alexander Wurz AUT 1 lap 5. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 1 lap 6. Ralf Schumacher GER 1 lap 7. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1 lap 8. Shinji Nakano JPN 2 laps 9. Toranosuke Takagi JPN 4 laps Not classified: Jean Alesi FRA 7 laps Pedro Diniz BRA 15 laps Olivier Panis FRA 20 laps Rubens Barrichello BRA 21 laps Jos Verstappen HOL 22 laps Jarno Trulli ITA 23 laps David Coulthard SCO 23 laps Ricardo Rosset BRA 31 laps Esteban Tuero ARG 31 laps Mika Salo FIN 33 laps Johnny Herbert ENG 33 laps H.H. Frentzen GER 45 laps Damon Hill ENG 47 lapsBack to the top
Zeltweg, Austria 7/26/1998, 71 laps
The Ferraris were on the pace, but Schumacher made a mistake, so the McLarens scored maximum points.
Name Nat Race Time 1. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1h30:44.086 2. David Coulthard SCO 5.289 3. Michael Schumacher GER 39.093 4. Eddie Irvine IRL 43.977 5. Ralf Schumacher GER 50.655 6. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 53.202 7. Damon Hill ENG 1:13.624 8. Johnny Herbert ENG 1 lap 9. Alexander Wurz AUT 1 lap 10. Jarno Trulli ITA 1 lap 11. Shinji Nakano JPN 1 lap 12. Ricardo Rosset BRA 2 laps Not classified: Jos Verstappen HOL 20 laps Esteban Tuero ARG 41 laps Jean Alesi FRA 50 laps Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 50 laps H.H. Frentzen GER 55 laps Rubens Barrichello BRA 63 laps Pedro Diniz BRA 68 laps Mika Salo FIN 70 laps Olivier Panis FRA 71 laps Toranosuke Takagi JPN 71 lapsBack to the top
Hockenheim, Germany 8/2/1998, 45 laps
The McLarens dominate again. In contrast to the development of the season during the last races, the Ferraris were surprisingly far behind. This time Schumacher and Irvine were not chasing the McLarens, but they had to battle for points.
Name Nat Race Time 1. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1h20:47.984 2. David Coulthard SCO 0.427 3. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 2.578 4. Damon Hill ENG 7.185 5. Michael Schumacher GER 12.613 6. Ralf Schumacher GER 29.739 7. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 31.027 8. Eddie Irvine IRL 31.650 9. H.H. Frentzen GER 32.785 10. Jean Alesi FRA 48.372 11. Alexander Wurz AUT 57.995 12. Jarno Trulli ITA 1 lap 13. Toranosuke Takagi JPN 1 lap 14. Mika Salo FIN 1 lap 15. Olivier Panis FRA 1 lap 16. Esteban Tuero ARG 2 laps Not classified: Johnny Herbert ENG 8 laps Shinji Nakano JPN 9 laps Rubens Barrichello BRA 18 laps Jos Verstappen HOL 21 laps Pedro Diniz BRA 43 laps Not started: Ricardo Rosset BRABack to the top
Hungaroring, Hungary 8/16/1998, 77 laps
After the qualifying, when the McLarens were fastest, the only hope for some tension was that michael Schumacher might do a good start and go in between or even in front of the McLarens. At the start, Schumacher did not get off the grid initially and nearly lost his position to the Hungaroring expert Hill, but in the end was able to outaccelerate the Brit. Irvine, as mostly in the past races, made a perfect start and at the end of the starting straight went round the outside of Hill. But as expected, the McLarens lead the field unchallenged. Though Schumacher kept up with the pace of the McLarens of Hakkinen and Coulthard, the Hungarian track leaves no opportunity for overtaking. The first pitstop showed that Schumacher appeared to be on the same strategy as the McLarens, but he was not able to take advantage of the stops. He even was held up by Villeneuve, who came in late and in the meantime was positioned between Coulthard and Schumacher.
Then the second round of pitstops turned a boring race into a Schumacher presentation of Formula One driving. Schumacher came in one lap before Coulthard and stopped for less than seven seconds. Coulthard stood more than eight seconds in the pits and lost his second position. A few laps later, leader Hakkinen came in and needed even a couple of tenths more than his teammate and Schumacher could pass him as well. At this point, it was suspected that Schumacher plans with three pitstops. From this point on, Schumacher was no longer slowed down by other cars than drivers being lapped. He could open up his gap by 2 to 4 seconds towards Hakkinen (per lap!). The Finn obviously had some kind of problem and finally the McLaren team decided to let Coulthard pass the championship leader. But the Scot as well was not able to keep up with the laptimes of Schumacher. The Ferrari driver pulled out a gap towards Coulthard big enough for an additional pitstop. He could even afford to slide off the track after pushing too hard. Luckily he was able to come back on the track and go on as if nothing had happened. Schumachers victory was secured, Coulthard could finish second, but Hakkinen lost more and more time. Not only Villeneuve could overtake Hakkinen, but as well Hill and Frentzen passed him, so that he finished only 6th. Probably most depressing for the Finn, Schumacher was able to lap his championship rival.
Other remarkable performances were those of Villeneuve, who again showed an upward tendency within the Williams team. Hills fourth place proved the advances in the Jordan team as well as Hills expertship concerning this special track (remember: Hill could dominate this GP last year in the hopelessly underpowered Arrows!!). Frentzen finally could finish in the points again after a streak of bad luck. Especially remarkable as he was suffering from heavy illness-related physical weakness.
After two victories in a row for Hakkinen, the championship seemed decided as in the early stages of the season, but today, Schumacher stroke back. After this race, the drivers ranking seems open again.
Name Nat Race Time 1. Michael Schumacher GER 1h45:25.550 2. David Coulthard SCO 9.433 3. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 44.444 4. Damon Hill ENG 55.075 5. H.H. Frentzen GER 56.510 6. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1 lap 7. Jean Alesi FRA 1 lap 8. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 1 lap 9. Ralf Schumacher GER 1 lap 10. Johnny Herbert ENG 1 lap 11. Pedro Diniz BRA 3 laps 12. Olivier Panis FRA 3 laps 13. Jos Verstappen HOL 3 laps 14. Toranosuke Takagi JPN 3 laps 15. Shinji Nakano JPN 3 laps 16. Alexander Wurz AUT 8 laps Not classified: Rubens Barrichello BRA 23 laps Jarno Trulli ITA 49 laps Mika Salo FIN 59 laps Eddie Irvine IRL 64 laps Esteban Tuero ARG 64 laps Not qualified: Ricardo Rosset BRABack to the top
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium 8/30/1998, 44 laps
We saw the front row of the starting grid as so often this year: Hakkinen on pole, followed by Coulthard. But this time Hill was able to qualify third in front of Michael Schumacher, Irvine and Villeneuve. On Sunday at 14.00 in Spa, the surface of the track was wet, but the officials decided a still start.
Hill did not come off the grid very well and in doing so, he was a little in the way of the Ferraris. Especially Irvine made a very good start and was able to overtake Hill, Schumacher and Coulthard on the short sprint to the hairpin. But Villeneuve took the most profit out of the start: As the drivers in front of him pulled to the inside, he had a clear track and went round the outside of all drivers, but Hakkinen. He shut the door right to the first corner right in front of the nose of Coulthard. On the inside of the Scotsman was Irvine. The next seconds brought drama, but the reason for it could not be clarified till the point when I write these lines. As the camera did not follow these leaders round the corner, but preferred to watch whether the back field as well makes it round the "La Source" hairpin, we could not see how Coulthard and Irvine went through "La Source". What is for sure is that Schumacher, though being clearly behind these two at the entry of the hairpin, left it in front of these two. The viewers saw Hakkinen leading Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher down to "Eau Rouge". The rest of the field was hidden in a huge amount of spray. Therefore we missed, why Coulthard suddenly diagonally shot across the track, crashed into the barrier and was thrown back again. Then other cars hit him and crashed into the most expensive car crash of man's history. The only one able to avoid the wrecks was backmarker Tuero who could stop his car early enough. Surprisingly none of the drivers was seriously injured.
We have to wait for comments from Irvine, Coulthard and others involved before judging what happened. As a result of the crash, Wurz, Salo, Rosset and Panis could not take part in the restart because of the lack of a second spare car. After nearly one hour delay, teh drivers were ready for the second start. This time, Hill had more luck: He started fairly well and on his wet tyres, he sprinted down to La Source fastest. He went round the outside of Hakkinen and turned in first. Irvine again started well, but found no way round Hakkinen and so was stuck in the inside behind Hakkinen. Coulthard, like Villeneuve, did not come off and so there was room for Michael Schumacher on the outside. The Ferrari driver used this space and at the entry of the hairpin, he was at the side of Hakkinen. When Schumacher turned in, he left room for Hakkinen, but not an inch more as the width of that McLaren. Hakkinen would have needed to brake to a standstill and then turn right exactly besides the inner wall. In doing so, Hakkinen would have lost the momentum urgently needed for the drag down to Eau Rouge and not only Schumacher would have passed him, but as well others racing round the outside. Hakkinen knew that and decided to go round La Source in a more aggressive way as well. From his point of view, he had left enough room for Schumacher on the outside, as well as from Schumachers point of view, the German had left enough space on the inside. The result of the championship leaders going through La Source was that Schumachers right back wheel touched Hakkinens left front and the Finn spun. Most of the following drivers were able to avoid Mika, but finally it was Herbert whose back slid across the front of the McLaren. As only these two drivers stood in the way of the racing field, the officials decided to send out the safety car till the debris was cleared off the track. Later in this first lap, the other McLaren had contact as well. Together with Wurz, he slid through the gravel at one point of the track, but in contrast to the Austrian, David could rejoin the track at the end of the field. When the cars were gathered behind the safety car, we saw a field lead by Hill in front of the Ferraris of Schumacher and Irvine. The Ferraris changed the order in the initial lap after Irvine had slipped through the inside during the incident with Schumacher and Hakkinen. Alesi was next, followed by the Williams duo Villeneuve and Frentzen and the other Jordan of Ralf Schumacher.
Hill was able to hold off Schumacher during the first laps after the safety car left the track, but Schumacher, the dare-devil shot out of the spray and outbraked Hill into the bus stop chicane. In the following laps, nothing much happened: Schumacher was easily in control of the race and the only remaining McLaren of Coulthard was in last position, by far not able to race at the pace of the leaders and even having trouble in fighting with backmarkers whilst moving up the order. The rain began to fall more and more heavy and all drivers who started on intermediates, one after the other changed to rain tyres. Villeneuve did not come into the pits early enough. On the long straight, he lost control over his car due to aqua-planing and slid into the barrier. As a result of the horrible weather, when the challenger would have been totally blinded by the spray of the rival, there was no real one-on-one fight for position.
In this relatively quiet period of the race, we were waken up by another crash: Schumacher was to lap Coulthard. Like a madman he was waving with his hands towards Coulthard and the marshalls. He felt that Coulthard blocked him. But in the same way as the person in the spray closing up to a driver does not see anything, the other driver being closed up to can not see anything in his mirrors but spray. So it is a difficult task to overtake and even to lap a driver. As said before, Schumacher closed up on Coulthard and disappeared in the sprayof the Scotsman. Suddenly the Ferrari emerged and bashed into the back of Coulthard. This situation could not be clarified as well. Whether Coulthard lifted the throttle to enable Schumacher to lap him or what else was the reason for Schumacher suddenly being much faster than Coulthard. The Ferrari driver however did go into the back of the McLaren slightly displaced, his front wing and his right front wheel broke away and whizzed through the air. Nevertheless Schumacher still could steer his car and slowly went back to his pit, followed by Coulthard, who lost his back wing. After the Ferrari stopped in the garage, the German loosened his belt, stepped out of his car and went right down to the McLaren garage. Obviously he thought that Coulthard was the only person responsible for the crash. Schumacher could only be stopped by the united force of McLaren and Ferrari crew members, otherwise he most likely would have done physical harm to Coulthard.
At this weekend, it could be observed what years of media overkill and RTL-supported Formula 1 interest in Germany focussed only on one person has done to Michael Schumacher. On the one hand, he expects all drivers to respect him as greatest driver ever on earth and to express their respect in always leaving enough space for him and not complaining when the master of racemanship cuts across others fronts (incident with Hakkinen) and on the other hand, he is not able to handle the situation when others give him the demanded respect (Coulthard moving over to let him overtake). Probably my thoughts are not just, but they are not only based on what happened today. Remember how he was dealing with his rivals Hill few years ago or the end of last years season with the incident at Jerez with Villeneuve. As most of his actions are backed by RTL commentators and therefore the opinion-building force in Germany and of course by hords of stubborn, German (in the ugly sense) Schumacher-fans (not F1 or race fans), he was able to transfer his conscience towards accepting and judging his deeds as hard but fair fighting. This determination and his uncontested driving abilities make him the most wanted driver, but if he had not sat in a Ferrari, race fans all over the world would have already condemned him long ago. It can only be hoped that some higher force makes Schumacher a bit more considerate.
In the same lap as the Coulthard-Schumacher incident, Irvine left the track unplanned. His back came round and Irvine could not regain control over his car. This period of the race brought an enormous lack of grip and visibility and resulted in the new race leader Damon Hill missing the entry of the bus stop chicane (he went over the grass and lost only a couple of seconds) and even more dramatic in an accident very similar to the one of Coulthard and Schumacher. As well at the entry of the bus stop chicane, Shinji Nakano probably braked a little early and Fisichella who wanted to put a lap on the Japanese, braked a little late. The result this time: Fisichella lost his left front wheel and slid on straight through the chicane and came to a halt with his car burning where the circuit comes out of the chicane. Till the debris was cleared off the track, we saw another pace car period. As only six competitors were running at this point the McLaren team restored Coulthards car and sent him back on the track. Though he was five laps down, he could have inherited a point with another driver retiring. The Minardi team saw the same possibility and repaired Nakanos car and the Japanese joined as well five laps down.
The remaining field gathered behind the pace car again and consisted of the following drivers: Hill leading his teammate Ralf Schumacher, Jean Alesi in the Sauber, Frentzen in his Williams, Pedro Diniz in the TWR Arrows, the very slow Trulli and five laps down the two aforementioned. When teh pace car left the track, Ralf Schumacher tried to make a move on Hill into La Source hairpin, nearly crashed his teammate and then probably was slwoed doen by team orders. Only understandable when Eddie Jordan, facing the first (double!!) victory of his team did not want to see Ralf Schumacher what he did to his teammate last year in Argentina: Crashing into his car. Alesi could race at the speed of teh leading Jordans, but his visibility was still limited and he did not risk his podium finish. Fourth placeman Frentzen was heavily struggling with finding grip on the track, but at no point was challenged by next man Diniz. Last man in the points was Jarno Trulli who lost about ten seconds a lap, finally was two laps down on winner Hill, but still three laps ahead of Coulthard who lapped at the pace of Hill after his car was restored, but did not earn a point for his efforts.
Of course, it could be said that Hill only inherited the victory in Spa, but he showed how quick he was in the Saturday session when he outqualified both Schumachers. The outcome of the race is also not only based on luck, but on ability. Ralf Schumacher, after the last pace car period, was in the position to challenge Hill, but not before. It is a great team effort that the Jordan team finished one and two and Ralf should be happy about that and accept that it would not have been worth risking this outcome in favour of him being in front of Hill. Jean Alesi, also formerly a driver for Eddie Jordan, completed a totally unexpected podium personnel. Frentzen deserved the points for his efforts and confirmed the upward trend of himself and the Williams team. Diniz scored points in the way he uses to score points: Mostly he is not one of the fastest, but if loads of other drivers retire, he is there to score. Diniz being in the same lap as the winner proves that he has abilities. Trulli finally scored the last point, but clearly had problems in the latter stages of the race when he lapped ten seconds a lap slower than the others.
The most satifying view of the weekend was Eddie Jordan jumping around like a madman after his drivers both had crossed the line and securing the first victory for his team.
Biggest starting crash ever
Frentzen drifting wildly
Eddie Jordan's Joy
Name Nat Race Time 1. Damon Hill ENG 1h43:47.407 2. Ralf Schumacher GER 0.932 3. Jean Alesi FRA 1.??? 4. H.H. Frentzen GER 32.242 5. Pedro Diniz BRA 51.682 6. Jarno Trulli ITA 2 laps 7. David Coulthard SCO 5 laps 8. Shinji Nakano JPN 5 laps Not classified: Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 18 laps Eddie Irvine IRL 19 laps Michael Schumacher GER 19 laps Esteban Tuero ARG 27 laps Jacques Villeneuve CAN 28 laps Toranosuke Takagi JPN 34 laps Jos Verstappen HOL 36 laps Rubens Barrichello BRA 44 laps Mika Hakkinen FIN 44 laps Johnny Herbert ENG 44 laps Olivier Panis FRA 44 laps Ricardo Rosset BRA 44 laps Mika Salo FIN 44 laps Alexander Wurz AUT 44 lapsBack to the top
Monza, Italy 9/13/1998, 44 laps
Michael Schumacher was able to qualify in the pole position, but could not take profit of his grid position. As well as the other driver on the front row, Jacques Villeneuve, he made a relatively bad start. Recognizing that, he tried to block the McLarens in his back. Schumacher pulled to the right, where Hakkinentried to slip through between Schumacher and Villeneuve. As Schumacher pulled to the right, Hakkinen had to do so as well in order to prevent from crashing into the Ferrari and in doing so, Villeneuve had to give way and pull over as well. These three left a big gap on the left part of the track, where Coulthard slipped through and Irvine as well could overtake two cars. Luckily, Schumachers drastic pull to the right did not cause a crash, so the field went into the first chicane as follows: Hakkinen leading Coulthard, Irvine, Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher.
Within the first laps, the McLarens opened up a gap of more than four seconds very easy, but after Schumacher had passed Villeneuve and Irvine, the situation changed slightly. The McLarens lead, but lap by lap, Schumacher was coming closer about a tenth of a second per lap. The McLaren team needed some time for the decision to let Coulthard pass and pull away from Hakkinen who seemed to have some sort of a problem. Schumacher closed the gap to Hakkinen down to a bit more than a second when Coulthard's engine blew up. Probably the smoke confused the followers Hakkinen and Schumacher a little; fact is that Schumacher attacked Hakkinen into the second chicane, Hakkinen tried to defend by driving on the center of the track and by braking late. Schumacher backed off a little and chose the ideal line while Hakkinen missed the brake point and could not turn in. He ran wide across the chicane, and lost his speed out of the chicane. Schumacher saw all that from behind, chose an ideal line and came out of the chicane faster so that he was able to outaccelerate Hakkinen into the first "Lesmo". In the period of the race afterwards, Schumacher pulled away slightly. The pitstops brought no change except for Hakkinen seemed to be the faster.
Like Schumacher in the early stages of the race, Hakkinen closed down the gap tenth by tenth per lap. Just before Hakkinen caught the slipstream of the leader, he completely missed the entry of the second chicane. Hakkinen went right on through the gravel with his rear end ahead. Luckily, he did not hit any wall, was able to keep the engine running and did no severe damage to his car that kept him from continuing. He lost a lot of time and had some brake problem afterward, but could continue. As some weeks ago, a way slow Hakkinen dropped back second by second in the remaining laps and could only hope that the race is finished soon. Irvine was the first to take profit of Hakkinen's incident and easily overtook the Finn. Next up was Ralf Schumacher in his Jordan. If the race had lasted one lap longer, Alesi and probably even Hill could have passed the championship leader as well, but after 53 laps, Hakkinen was still in front of them and so they came in fifth and sixth.
Hill, who started from 12th position, had a really good start of the race and made his way up the grid. His best position was even ahead of sixth qualified teammate Ralf Schumacher, but as the Brit was on a two stop strategy, he dropped back again and finally finished sixth. Secondplaceman on the starting grid Jacques Villeneuve surprised us all with his qualifying performance. In the race he could not quite repeat that and dropped back behind the McLarens and the Ferraris.
The outcome of this race is a tie in the drivers championship between Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen. The second drivers of these teams are separated by ten points and this is the gap in the constructors championship which seems open again. With a big gap, the followers have a tight fight as well. In the drivers championship six drivers are separated by 7 points and in the constructors championship the teams Williams, Benetton and Jordan are within three points. With two remaining races, we have an exciting battle for the championship and, interesting as well, the fight for positions behind.
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Michael Schumacher GER 1h17:09.672 237.593 2. Eddie Irvine IRL 37.977 235.660 3. Ralf Schumacher GER 41.152 235.500 4. Mika Hakkinen FIN 55.671 234.770 5. Jean Alesi FRA 1:01.672 234.460 6. Damon Hill ENG 1:06.608 234.219 7. H.H. Frentzen GER 1 lap 233.031 8. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 1 lap 233.002 9. Toranosuke Takagi JPN 1 lap 229.831 10. Rubens Barrichello BRA 1 lap 229.518 11. Esteban Tuero ARG 2 laps 226.169 12. Ricardo Rosset BRA 2 laps 225.555 13. Jarno Trulli ITA 3 laps 223.278 Not classified: Jos Verstappen HOL 14 laps 228.310 Jacques Villeneuve CAN 16 laps 234.671 Mika Salo FIN 21 laps 230.205 Alexander Wurz AUT 29 laps 232.709 David Coulthard SCO 37 laps 237.729 Olivier Panis FRA 38 laps 172.962 Shinji Nakano JPN 40 laps 225.691 Johnny Herbert ENG 41 laps 228.069 Pedro Diniz BRA 43 laps 226.004
Schumacher after his victory
Irvine securing the Ferrari double victory
The podium at Monza Jean Todt, Eddie Irvine, Michael and Ralf Schumacher (from left to right)
Nürburgring, Germany / Luxemburg 9/27/1998, 67 laps
The Ferraris surprised with an all red front row. It was unexpected that Schumacher could easily keep the McLarens behind in the qualifying, but Irvine's second grid position was the real surprise. Everybody thought that this would be perfect conditions for the Ferrari team, but Hakkinen beat them all.
The only change that the start brought was that Coulthard managed to go up to 4th position; Irvine being faster at the start proved to be no real problem. It was clear that the Ulsterman had to give up the leading position to his teammate and Irvine did so at the end of the first lap: At the entry of the chicane, Irvine had problems, could not hold the line and Schumacher slipped through. Persistently, Irvine had problems with this chicane and had to let through Hakkinen as well as Coulthard.
Schumacher came in for new tyres a couple of laps earlier than Hakkinen, who used these laps to make up ground. When Hakkinen left the pits, he came out right in front of Schumacher. Perfect timing of the McLaren team.
In the consequent laps, Schumacher was right at the rear wing of Hakkinen, but had no real opportunity to overtake. Like with the first set of tyres, Schumacher could keep up with the pace of Hakkinen for about 15 laps, but afterwards his tyres seemed to be a slight problem. Due to the better fuel consumption of the McLaren, Hakkinen's second pit stop was way shorter and so Schumacher was not even in the position to challenge the Finn anymore. Coulthards third position with Irvine fourth resulted in a 15 point lead for McLaren in the constructors championship. That means unless Ferrari scores maximum points and both McLarens do not score at Suzuka, the constructors title is secured for the McLarens, but you'll never know...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1h32:14.789 198.534 2. Michael Schumacher GER 2.212 198.455 3. David Coulthard SCO 34.164 197.316 4. Eddie Irvine IRL 58.183 196.469 5. H.H. Frentzen GER 1:00.248 196.396 6. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 1:01.360 196.357 7. Alexander Wurz AUT 1:04.790 196.237 8. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1 lap 195.360 9. Damon Hill ENG 1 lap 195.281 10. Jean Alesi FRA 1 lap 195.055 11. Rubens Barrichello BRA 2 laps 192.127 12. Olivier Panis FRA 2 laps 192.084 13. Jos Verstappen HOL 2 laps 191.293 14. Mika Salo FIN 2 laps 191.272 15. Shinji Nakano JPN 2 laps 191.163 16. Toranosuke Takagi JPN 2 laps 191.140 Not classified: Esteban Tuero ARG 11 laps 164.859 Ralf Schumacher GER 14 laps 190.662 Johnny Herbert ENG 30 laps 194.342 Ricardo Rosset BRA 31 laps 188.635 Jarno Trulli ITA 61 laps 187.346 Pedro Diniz BRA 61 laps 187.180
Schumacher, Hakkinen and Coulthard after the champagne shower
Suzuka, Japan 11/1/1998, 53 laps
After five weeks of testing and improving the cars, Schumacher qualified first with quite a gap ahead of his rival Hakkinen and again a gap to Coulthard and Irvine. Behind the two top teams on the grid were the Williams of Frentzen and Villeneuve and the Jordans of Ralf Schumacher and Hill.
After the warm-up lap, the field gathered on the grid and waited for the lights to be turned on one after the other and then being allowed to start. Within this waiting period immediately before the last light went on, Trulli stalled his engine and the start had to be cancelled. After a period of about five minutes, the field was again ready to go on the second warm-up lap. Trulli, who had caused the restart, had to adress himself to the back of the field, when the drivers came to a halt on the starting straight. Again the same light procedure and again yellow flags were waved to signify a stalled engine. This time it was pole sitter Michael Schumacher, who had caused the mess, and like Trulli, he had to start from the back. After the third warm-up lap the field managed to get away quite cleanly. Schumacher outaccelerated his surrounding competitors easily, but nearly ran into Johnny Herbert, who could not come off the grid.
Schumacher nearly running into Herbert
In the above picture, the camera followed Michael Schumacher, therefore his car is quite sharp. The cars surrounding him are a little blurred, as they were slightly slower at this point. The blue-green car at the left front of Schumachers car though is blurred very much. It is Johnny Herbert standing still on his starting grid position. A lucky Michael Schumacher not only managed to avoid Herberts car, but passed about five cars before the first corner. At the front of the field, Hakkinen came off well enough to keep Irvine far enough behind him, so that the Ulsterman could not ram the Finn into the dirt. Hakkinen opened up a gap within the first S-es and Irvine could not close it again.
Michael Schumacher had no problems whatsoever to improve his position till he was seventh. Damon Hill was the first one to defend his pointscoring position. Damon himself was challenging Villeneuve for fifth position, so there was no reason for letting Schumacher through. As the Ferrari driver had no chance to pass the Brit for a couple of laps, he went into the pits for fresh tyres. Within this round of pitstops, he not only passed Hill, but also Villeneuve and Coulthard. Irvine, who was about five seconds behind the leader Hakkinen came in for new tyres earlier than the Finn, but the Ferrari crew decided to show some sportsmanship and did a quite regular pitstop. They could have called Irvine in, stop his car just for a moment and sending him back on the track. If Hakkinen made a regular stop, Hakkinen would have come out behind Irvine so the second Ferrari driver could have blocked him. If Hakkinen, on the other hand, came in for a "splash & dash" stop only, he would not have enough fuel on board. Either my thoughts are unrealistic, or the Ferrari crew decided to show sportsmanship. Either way, I'm ok with it.
So after the first round of pitstops, we saw Hakkinen leading with a big enough gap ahead of Irvine and about 20 more seconds behind, the championship rival Schumacher in third position. But Schumacher drove the wheels off that Ferrari and took more than a second out of that lead of Hakkinen per lap. So he was getting closer and closer to Irvine who surely would not have hold him up. But before this could have happened - Schumacher was about 15 seconds behind - we saw the wreck of a backmarker on the track. It was Takagi's Tyrrell and in the slow motion, the audience saw a somewhat strange accident: Tuero being way behind Takagi, completely misjudged the breaking point at the chicane right before the starting straight. Tuero went right in the back of Takagi, wheels touched, Tuero went high and debris was all over the track.
Tuero running into the back of Takagi
On the picture above, you can see the amount of debris being clipsed off both cars and being left everywhere around the chicane. While the tv showed the replay, cars passed the area of the accident, amongst them Michael Schumacher. When the tv picture was focussed on the live action again, a Ferrari in trouble could be seen.
Schumacher's tyre dissolving
The world champion of '94 and '95 for more than 30 laps drove the wheels off that Ferrari and kept a lot of people's hopes of him winning this years title alive. But in lap 31, halfway down the starting straight, the right rear tyre of Michael Schumacher dissolved at top speed. Parts of the tyre went about 20 metres high into the sky, as could be seen from the photo above (If you don't believe it, review your video tape of the incident!!). The German proved his brilliant car control by getting that broke down car round the first corner, but there was no way to get it back to the pits, so the red Ferrari had to be halted in the grass and Schumacher had to face that he had not won the '98 championship. When he stepped out of the car, he sat down on a wall, watched the race for a while and disappointment was written all over his face.
Sad Ferrari driver after retirement
The tv commentators claimed that Schumachers driving style had been the reason for the puncture, but I'd say that Schumacher picked up some of the debris of the Tuero/Takagi incident and damaged his tyre with it. To my opinion, it would be a strange coincidence that his tyre failed less than half a minute after, and less than two corners further ahead of the Minardi/Tyrrell incident.
At the moment when Schumachers tyre failed for whatever reson, Hakkinen was '98 world champion. He could have stopped his car, but the Finn went on. He won his eighth race in this season, his ninth race of his career and his first drivers world champion title. Irvine came in second at Suzuka, Coulthard passed the finish line as third. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who for the whole race, was able to keep his rivals behind him on the track, failed in doing so within the last metres of the race. Within the area of the ultimate chicane of the season, Hill snatched fourth place away from Frentzen. Villeneuve scored the last point. When Hakkinen stepped out of the car in the parc fermé, Michael Schumacher was the first to congratulate Mika. What an end of the season compared to last year.
Irvine, world champion Hakkinen and Coulthard
The season is over, McLaren - Mercedes are constructors world champions of 1998 and their top driver Mika Hakkinen is this years drivers world champion. The McLaren team started extremely well into the season and after three races the season seemed to become a boring one as with the McLaren team, two components came together: A great car and the superior Bridgestone tyres. Ferrari, Michael Schumacher and Goodyear needed till the middle of the season to close that gap. From then on, it outcome of the strive for the drivers title was open. For Ferrari, there was even a way of winning the constructors championship at some point. But McLaren fought back and won both titles. McLaren improved their car over the winter and improved the reliability of it compared to last year. For Ferrari, the years of retirements of the early 90ies are gone. In the third year with the drivers Schumacher, Irvine, the team again improved reliability and with it managed to score more points than a year before. Sadly, this step forward was not as big as the one McLaren had done. In '99, it's really time for Ferrari to win a title, because noone knows how long Michael Schumacher stays with Ferrari and if Schumacher leaves, there is no driver that can win in a Ferrari against Schumacher in a competitive car. But it not only depends on Schumacher, but also on the money that the teams will have at their hands in '99. Who knows how much Mercedes on the one hand or Fiat/Ferrari will spend for their F1 activities?
The Williams team, as well as the aforementioned, improved reliability - Villeneuve is this years drivers that completed most laps of all - but they were struggling the whole year with the balance of their car, especially in the back. Only in this last race they could secure third place in the constructors championship with only 38 points. Nearly 100 points behind Ferrari; this shows that we had only two teams forming the absolute top. Fourth finished the Jordan team only one point ahead of Benetton. The Irish team with the yellow runners scored nearly half of this years points in the crazy race at Spa. Considering this, the Jordans did not get closer to the top, but they did not looser much ground either. For the Benettons, their fifth place can not be seen as a success. With two new, young drivers, the team continued its slow but steady downward spiral that started when Michael Schumacher left the team. But there is hope for the team: With their young drivers gaining experience, the team can take profit of it. More or less, the Sauber team belongs to this midfield. The Swiss team was a lot of time at the pace of the Jordans and Benettons and even earned a pole position at Austria, but they did not have the luck to show that in the points table.
The Prost team once belonged to this midfield as well, but these times are over. The French team only scored one point this season and with it went one step back in reliability and in the team hierarchy. Even the Stewards scored more points, but they still have a massive reliability problem. The Ford engine seemed to be the main problem. The Arrows team scored remarkable six points. Remarkable when you see how fast they are. Last year, Tyrrell was the team that finished secondmost laps, in numbers: Over 80%! This year their ratio was as low as 55%. Surely part of that can be blamed on Takagi who did his first year in F1. More can be accounted on Rosset, who several times showed that he should not be in Formula One. Last team, as in the last years, is Minardi. The Italian team has to struggle to get their budget together every year and every year as well, they have to struggle not to loose too much ground on the rest of the field. Somehow they managed not to fall behind the 107%-barrier in the qualifying. Tuero misjudged some situations in the season, but all in all, I hope we will see him next year again.
Name Nat Race Time 1. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1h27:22.535 2. Eddie Irvine IRL 6.491 3. David Coulthard SCO 27.662 4. Damon Hill ENG 1:13.491 5. H.H. Frentzen GER 1:13.857 6. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1:15.867 7. Jean Alesi FRA 1:36.053 8. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 1:41.301 9. Alexander Wurz AUT 1 lap 10. Johnny Herbert ENG 1 lap 11. Olivier Panis FRA 1 lap 12. Jarno Trulli ITA 3 laps Not classified: Shinji Nakano JPN 11 laps Michael Schumacher GER 20 laps Toranosuke Takagi JPN 23 laps Esteban Tuero ARG 23 laps Rubens Barrichello BRA 26 laps Jos Verstappen HOL 30 laps Mika Salo FIN 37 laps Ralf Schumacher GER 38 laps Pedro Diniz BRA 49 laps Not qualified: Ricardo Rosset BRABack to the top
1. (1) Mika Hakkinen FIN 100 pts 2. (2) Michael Schumacher GER 86 pts 3. (3) David Coulthard SCO 56 pts 4. (4) Eddie Irvine IRL 47 pts 5. (5) Jacques Villeneuve CAN 21 pts 6. (7) Damon Hill ENG 20 pts 7. (6) Alexander Wurz AUT 17 pts (9) H.-H. Frentzen GER 17 pts 8. (8) Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 16 pts 10. (10) Ralf Schumacher GER 14 pts 11. (11) Jean Alesi FRA 9 pts 12. (12) Rubens Barrichello BRA 4 pts 13. (13) Mika Salo FIN 3 pts (13) Pedro Diniz BRA 3 pt 15. (15) Johnny Herbert ENG 1 pt (15) Jan Magnussen DEN 1 pt (15) Jarno Trulli ITA 1 pt No points for (best finish in brackets): (7) Shinji Nakano JAP (8) Esteban Tuero ARG (8) Ricardo Rosset BRA (9) Olivier Panis FRA (9) Toranosuke Takagi JAP (12) Jos Verstappen HOL
1. (1) McLaren ENG 156 pts 2. (2) Ferrari ITA 133 pts 3. (3) Williams ENG 38 pts 4. (5) Jordan IRL 34 pts 5. (4) Benetton ENG 33 pts 6. (6) Sauber SUI 10 pts 7. (7) Arrows ENG 6 pts 8. (8) Stewart ENG 5 pts 9. (9) Prost FRA 1 pt No points for (best finish in brackets): (7) Minardi ITA (8) Tyrrell ENG
1. (2) Jacques Villeneuve CAN 939 laps 92.4% 2. (1) Michael Schumacher GER 921 laps 90.6% 3. (3) Eddie Irvine IRL 893 laps 87.9% 4. (4) Damon Hill ENG 878 laps 86.4% 5. (5) Jean Alesi FRA 860 laps 84.6% 6. (6) Mika Hakkinen FIN 858 laps 84.4% 7. (7) Andreas Wurz AUT 849 laps 83.6% 8. (8) Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 845 laps 83.2% 9. (9) David Coulthard SCO 837 laps 82.4% 10. (10) H.-H. Frentzen GER 801 laps 78.8% 11. (11) Shinji Nakano JAP 768 laps 75.6% 12. (12) Olivier Panis FRA 748 laps 73.6% 13. (13) Johnny Herbert ENG 721 laps 71.0% 14. (14) Ralf Schumacher GER 700 laps 68.9% 15. (15) Toranosuke Takagi JAP 660 laps 65.0% 16. (16) Jarno Trulli ITA 641 laps 63.1% 17. (18) Esteban Tuero ARG 614 laps 60.4% 18. (17) Rubens Barrichello BRA 612 laps 60.2% 19. (19) Mika Salo FIN 504 laps 49.6% 20. (20) Pedro Diniz BRA 479 laps 47.1% 21. (21) Ricardo Rosset BRA 464 laps 45.7% 22. (22) Jos Verstappen HOL 390 laps 72% 23. (23) Jan Magnussen DEN 256 laps 54% out of 1016 laps, whereas Verstappen and Magnussen did not compete throughout the whole season and Rosset did not qualify five times
1. (1) Ferrari ITA 1814 laps 89,3% 2. (2) Williams ENG 1740 laps 85.6% 3. (3) McLaren ENG 1695 laps 83.4% 4. (3) Benetton ITA 1694 laps 83.4% 5. (6) Sauber SUI 1581 laps 77.8% 6. (5) Jordan IRL 1578 laps 77.6% 7. (7) Prost FRA 1389 laps 68.4% 8. (8) Minardi ITA 1382 laps 68.0% 9. (9) Stewart ENG 1258 laps 61.9% 10. (10) Tyrrell ENG 1124 laps 55.3% 11. (11) Arrows ENG 983 laps 48.4%