Australian GP 1998

Australian GP, 1998

For a world which was used to Williams-Renault domination, the performance of the two McLaren-Mercedes MP4-13s in Melbourne came as a big shock to the F1 world. Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard qualified side by side on the front row of the grid - split by only four-hundredths of a second - but Michael Schumacher, the nearest challenger, was three-quarters of a second behind in his Ferrari. World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, in the Williams, found himself in fourth place, almost a second slower than the McLarens. The other big surprise in qualifying was Johnny Herbert, who put his Sauber Petronas fifth on the grid.

The race would be even more shocking as the two McLarens pulled away from the field at a rate of three seconds per lap. Schumacher's Ferrari lasted only five laps before he stopped with an engine problem, leaving Villeneuve holding off Giancarlo Fisichella's Benetton, the Italian having pulled off successful overtaking moves on both Herbert and Heinz-Harald Frentzen in the early laps. During the pitstops Fisichella was able to get ahead of Villeneuve but Heinz-Harald Frentzen, in the second Williams, played a better tactical game and emerged ahead of all of them.

In the middle of the race there was a communication problem between McLaren engineers and Hakkinen and the Finn suddenly appeared in the pitlane, thinking he had been called in. He was waved through but by then Coulthard was in the lead. In the closing laps Coulthard was ordered to move over and allow Hakkinen to win. The two had lapped the whole field.

Fisichella was able to pass Frentzen for third but then retired with mechanical failure, leaving Frentzen to finish just ahead of Eddie Irvine's Ferrari which had gambled on a one-stop strategy. Villeneuve finished fifth with Herbert sixth.

Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes  58 1h31m45.996s  
David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes  58 1h31m46.698s  
Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams-Mecachrome  57  
Eddie Irvine Ferrari  57  
Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Mecachrome  57  
15 Johnny Herbert Sauber-Petronas  57  
Alexander Wurz Benetton-Playlife  57  11 
Damon Hill Jordan-Mugen Honda  57  10 
11 Olivier Panis Prost-Peugeot  57  21 
Giancarlo Fisichella Benetton-Playlife  43 Rear Wing 
14 Jean Alesi Sauber-Petronas  41 Engine 12 
12 Jarno Trulli Prost-Peugeot  26 Gearbox 15 
20 Toranosuke Takagi Tyrrell-Ford  25 Gearbox 19 
17 Mika Salo Arrows  23 Electrics 16 
23 Shinji Nakano Minardi-Ford  22 Engine 17 
22 Esteban Tuero Minardi-Ford  Driveshaft 22 
Michael Schumacher Ferrari  Engine 
16 Pedro Diniz Arrows  Gearbox 20 
10 Ralf Schumacher Jordan-Mugen Honda  Collision 
19 Jan Magnussen Stewart-Ford  Collision 18 
21 Ricardo Rosset Tyrrell-Ford  Collision 13 
18 Rubens Barrichello Stewart-Ford  Gearbox 14