Belgian GP 1998
AUGUST 30, 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.
|1||9||Damon Hill||Jordan-Mugen Honda||44||1h43m47.407||1m49.728||3|
|2||10||Ralf Schumacher||Jordan-Mugen Honda||44||0.932||1m50.501||8|
|6||12||Jarno Trulli||Prost-Peugeot||42||2 Laps||1m52.572||13|
|7||7||David Coulthard||McLaren-Mercedes||39||5 Laps||1m48.845||2|
|8||23||Shinji Nakano||Minardi-Ford||39||5 Laps||1m55.084||21|