Monaco GP 1998
MAY 24, 1998
Monaco GP, 1998
Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard both had brushes with barriers during the practice sessions but they lined up first and second on the grid with Hakkinen three-tenths ahead. The Bridgestone tyres were performing well and so Giancarlo Fisichella was able to qualify third in his Benetton, just two tenths behind Coulthard and ahead of the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher.
The German was always a great performer at Monte Carlo but the Ferrari was not good enough and as a result he crashed heavily on Thursday afternoon in Casino Square. He then suffered a mechanical failure at the start of the Saturday morning session and so was ill-prepared for qualifying. In the circumstances, being fourth on the grid was a good performance.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen was fifth for Williams with Alexander Wurz sixth in his Benetton. Eddie Irvine, in the second Ferrari, was seventh while the big surprise of qualifying was Mika Salo, who put his Arrows eighth on the grid.
For once the entire field behaved well as they snaked their way through Ste Devote Corner at the start of the first lap: Hakkinen led Coulthard, Fisichella and Schumacher, while Wurz made a good start to pass Frentzen for fourth place. As at previous races the two McLarens began to pull away quickly from the field, with Hakkinen obviously in control and Coulthard able to stay ahead of the pursuers. Coulthard then began to fight back and closed on Hakkinen but on lap 17 his engine blew, leaving Hakkinen with a 20sec advantage over Fisichella. A few laps later Hakkinen seemed to have lost concentration and glanced the barriers at Ste Devote, but he was able to keep going.
During the pit stops Fisichella dropped behind Wurz and Schumacher. The Ferrari driver was keen to pass Wurz as quickly as possible in order to chase Hakkinen, and tried to bully his way through on lap 37. Wurz refused to back down and the two drivers banged wheels as they went downhill from the Loews Hairpin. At Portier Schumacher barged Wurz out of the way and got ahead. The manoeuvre damaged the rear suspension of the Ferrari and Schumacher was forced to pit, the damage was repaired and Michael rejoined three laps down.
A few laps later Wurz stopped for new tyres but the added grip caused his damaged suspension to collapse at high speed in the tunnel. This left Fisichella second with Irvine third. Hakkinen had already finished, scoring his fourth victory of the season. Mika Salo was the last man not to be lapped while Villeneuve was fifth and Pedro Diniz picked up the final point in his Sauber despite a suicidal challenge on the last lap from a lapped and frustrated Michael Schumacher.
|8||9||Damon Hill||Jordan-Mugen Honda||76||15|
|r||10||Ralf Schumacher||Jordan-Mugen Honda||44||Collision Damage||16|
|r||2||Heinz-Harald Frentzen||Williams-Mecachrome||9||Collision With Irvine||5|