Belgian GP 1998

Belgian GP, 1998

In qualifying Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard ended up putting their McLarens a full second ahead of Michael Schumacher's Ferrari, who was also behind the fast-improving Jordan-Mugen Honda of Damon Hill.

Schumacher is at his best in the wet and so when Sunday morning dawned cold, damp and miserable he was delighted and was duly fastest in the warm-up. The weather was very bad as the start approached but the race went on as planned - at least until just after the first corner when Coulthard, who had made a bad beginning, suddenly speared out of the spray and crashed heavily into the wall on the run down towards Eau Rouge. The McLaren rebounded into the path of the field and there was chaos as car after car smashed into the wreckage. Thirteen cars were involved and a red flag came out to halt the race there and then. There were only 18 cars left for the second start - four teams having crashed both cars.

At the second start both McLarens set off badly and Hill came from third to lead Eddie Irvine's Ferrari into the first corner. At the exit Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher made contact and the McLaren spun and was hit by Johnny Herbert's Sauber. Both were out. Schumacher's car was undamaged and he immediately passed Irvine to be second. McLaren's misfortunes continued when Coulthard and Alexander Wurz collided. The Scotsman had to pit for repairs.

With Hakkinen's car in the middle of the road a Safety Car was deployed. At the restart Schumacher attacked Hill and quickly took the lead, racing away from the field at three seconds a lap. There were many spins in the next few laps as the rain intensified, including Irvine who damaged his Ferrari. When all his rivals came in for wet tyres Villeneuve stayed out and crashed heavily soon afterwards.

Schumacher's lead was up to nearly 40secs when he came up to lap Coulthard. In the spray Schumacher misjudged the situation and smashed into the back of the McLaren. Without his right front wheel Schumacher drove to the pits and then stormed down to the McLaren pit to scream abuse at Coulthard. While all this was happening Eddie Jordan's team found itself in the remarkable position of running 1-2 (Damon Hill followed by Ralf Schumacher) with Jean Alesi's Sauber third.

Further back in the field Irvine spun out and even Hill had an off but he kept going nonetheless while Giancarlo Fisichella's hopes of a good finish ended when he failed to see Shinji Nakano's Minardi in a ball of spray and ran into the Japanese driver, destroying the Benetton but avoiding injury. With the wrecked Benetton in the middle of the track the Safety Car was deployed again, setting up a dash to the finish. The order, however, remained unchanged giving Jordan its first Formula 1 victory. An ecstatic Alesi finished third with the remaining points going to survivors Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams), Pedro Diniz (Arrows) and Jarno Trulli (Prost) after a dramatic day's racing.

Damon Hill Jordan-Mugen Honda  44 1h43m47.407  1m49.728 
10 Ralf Schumacher Jordan-Mugen Honda  44 0.932  1m50.501 
14 Jean Alesi Sauber-Petronas  44 7.240  1m51.189 10 
Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams-Mecachrome  44 32.242  1m50.686 
16 Pedro Diniz Arrows  44 51.682  1m53.037 16 
12 Jarno Trulli Prost-Peugeot  42 2 Laps  1m52.572 13 
David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes  39 5 Laps  1m48.845 
23 Shinji Nakano Minardi-Ford  39 5 Laps  1m55.084 21 
Giancarlo Fisichella Benetton-Playlife  26 Accident 1m50.462 
Eddie Irvine Ferrari  25 Accident 1m50.189 
Michael Schumacher Ferrari  25 Accident 1m49.797 
22 Esteban Tuero Minardi-Ford  17 Electrical 1m55.520 22 
Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Mecachrome  16 Accident 1m50.204 
20 Toranosuke Takagi Tyrrell-Ford  10 Accident 1m53.237 19 
19 Jan Magnussen Stewart-Ford  Engine 1m53.149 17 
18 Rubens Barrichello Stewart-Ford  Accident 1m52.670 14 
Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes  Accident 1m48.682 
15 Johnny Herbert Sauber-Petronas  Accident 1m51.851 12 
11 Olivier Panis Prost-Peugeot  Accident 1m52.784 15 
21 Ricardo Rosset Tyrrell-Ford  Accident 1m54.850 20 
17 Mika Salo Arrows  Accident 1m53.207 18 
Alexander Wurz Benetton-Playlife  Accident 1m51.648 11