Who's Won? The race started with rain having stopped, but the track was still wet. Most teams started on inters, with Stewart gambling on slicks. Hakkinen made the best start, with Coulthard in 3rd, Alesi (in an amazing move) up to 4th,...
The race started with rain having stopped, but the track was still wet. Most teams started on inters, with Stewart gambling on slicks. Hakkinen made the best start, with Coulthard in 3rd, Alesi (in an amazing move) up to 4th, followed by the Williams', Hill, and Irvine down to 8th. Irvine continued to fall back, as at the front, Hakkinen pulled away from Schumacher. Irvine now started to move up the field again, moving from 10th to 8th in a few laps.
Schumacher now started to fall back, and David Coulthard was on his tail and attacks hard. He finally took him in a blinding move. The rain started to come down again, as Coulthard pulled away from Schumacher and onto Hakkinen. Schumacher must have been in trouble, as Alesi was now also catching the Ferrari.
Irvine continued his progress up the field, taking Hill for 7th place. Villeneuve then hit a puddle, allowing Irvine to take his place. Coulthard continued to move on towards Hakkinen. Irvine was now chasing after Frentzen and took him with a wonderful move on the inside.
Ralf Schumacher came into the pits, and took on more intermediates, whilst on the track his team mate slid on the wet track and fell off. Hakkinen was already lapping the field and took Panis' car with ease, who was in 16th place. Frentzen slips off the track and out of the race. The Stewart team finally admit their mistake, and the cars came in and changed from full slicks to full wets...
This now looked like a good move, as the rain started to fall again and the pit lane got very busy. The field gradually came in in the space of a few laps, with various mixtures of inters and full wets. McLaren kept out for a little while longer.
McLaren then came in, with Coulthard going out on inters, and Hakkinen on wets. Alesi and Irvine pitted at the same time, with Irvine getting the edge and taking Alesi in the pits, and almost coliding with him in the pits as well. Coulthard was now catching Hakkinen well, and it seemed that the inters were the correct choice. Herbert's race was over as he went into the kitty litter, with Salo also spinning off as Rosset also joined in the fun. The rain, as you may have gathered, had now increased, and Hakkinen could now pull away from Coulthard.
Tuero also went off, as Ralf Schumacher battled with Alesi. Ralf got the better of him, and took the place. Villeneuve also then took Alesi, as the French-Scicillian was obviously in some trouble. Ralf had an eventful pit stop, as he came in Patrick Head decided to walk over to the pit wall, and was almost run over by the German. Coulthard was now back up on Hakkinen (the rain was abating), as they came to lap the Benettons. Coulthards race was almost over then as Wurz didn't see him, and almost clobbered him off the track. The rain now really let go again allowing Hakkinen to pull away again, and Coulthard then spun off the track and stuck in the gravel trap.
The pits were now ready for the next batch of stops, with most going for full wets. Trulli span off the track, and Verstappen then followed. The cars were tip-toeing around the sodden track. Hakkinen had a huge moment going over grass, gravel and grass again and back onto the track. Barrichello stuffed it in Club, Panis went off, as did a Minardi. Sensibly the safety car came out.
On lap 50 the race restarted, and Schumacher lapped Fisichella (who he was stuck behind on the safety car laps). Diniz stuffed it and went out of the race, as Nakano also went off again. Then - drama - Hakkinen went off allowing Schumacher to take the lead. Ralf and Wurz battled for 6th, but Wurz at the time had the better of it. Vileneuve had a moment and went off, but rejoined the track. Irvine was now up to Hakkinen.
Had enough drama? No? There was more, as with 3 or so laps to go a Ferrari had a stop/go penalty, and further it was Schumacher. Schumacher continued went around, and around, and around. On the final lap, he pulled into the pits, crossed the timing beacon, won the race and then took his stop/go penalty.
For some reason McLaren chose to appeal the win.
1.Schumacher/Hakkinen * 2.Schumacher/Hakkinen * 3.Irvine 4.Wurz 5.Fisichella 6.Ralf Schumacher
* Schumacher was on top of the podium, but McLaren have appealed.
-- Stephen M Baines