Formula One Hits All Time Low It has to be said that this was a race of a most tedious nature. If ever there was a race that anyone could point at and say, Formula One needs to change, this would be it. A race that promised so much in the end...
Formula One Hits All Time Low
It has to be said that this was a race of a most tedious nature. If ever there was a race that anyone could point at and say, Formula One needs to change, this would be it. A race that promised so much in the end had little to say for it. It is a shame that the whole build up to the race would get more coverage than the race itself deserved. Compared with the last race, or indead the last race in Germany, this was a total contrast.
The race started cleanly. All the cars got away, no-one hit anyone else, and no-one showed any interest in overtaking. Maybe they all were worried about Bernies threats of life-bans to those who dared to try such a thing. Hill pulled out quite a lead into the first corner, and indead over the whole first lap. It looked like it could be Hill's day. Salo was out on the first lap, and Irvine was up to sixth, Herbert up to 8th. Going into the first corner on the second lap, Hill lost it and ended up in the gravel. "I was pitched into oversteer very early.... I wasn't overdoing it in the corner, and.... I was pitched into oversteer and I was off.... Its pretty devistating for the championship" said a crestfallen Hill. Indeed that was it for the race. The car just lost it on the entrance to the corner, it had barely even started to turn. On lap 6, Gerhard Berger recieved a jump start penalty (the only one of the race), and Schumacher had a 3.5 second lead over the Williams of Coulthard, and 6 over Barrichello in 3rd.
Lap 7: Schumacher Coulthard Barrichello Hakkinen Irvine Alesi
Nothing much at all was happening in the top 5, the only interest appearing to be a battle for 6th between Alesi, Blundell, Panis and Herbert, but little in the way of overtaking. On lap 12, Alesi came in for a very early pit stop. Ferrari were not ready for him, and the stop took 25 seconds. He was back in the following lap, and pulled into the garage, though Ferrari insisted he wasn't retiring. He officially retired one the others had done another 6 laps..... Martini was also out of the race.
Lap 12: Schumacher Coulthard +4.288 Barrichello +7.70 Hakkinen +10.090 Irvine +23.038 Blundell +25.972
On lap 14, the Ligier of Panis comes in for an eternity, as the car shows little interest in being bullied back into the race (the engine was running all the time, though), and was so reluctant, that as it left the pit lane it packed in completely. Another one out. On lap 15, Schumacher laps Montermini in 15th place. The Herbert, Frentzen and Berger battle starts to liven up a bit, further down the pack. Barrichello came in for an 11.1 second stop. Lavaggi slows to a crawl to allow others through, though they probably didn't realise that was why he was so off pace. Berger, meanwhile, attacks Frentzen, though he doesn't get by. Berger really put the pressure on the young German. Irvine decides, along with Barrichello, that this is where the fun is, and joins in. Eventually, on lap 18, the Ferrari gets by the Sauber, and moves up to 8th. The Ferrari then picks off Irvine (and Frentzen follows suit). Blundell, in 4th place, retires with a broken engine. Berger continues his charge, and takes 5th place from Herbert.
Lap 18: Schumacher Coulthard +5.607 Hakkinen +13.213 Barrichello +37.530 Berger +41.895 Herbert +43.176
On lap 19, Schumacher comes in for a very short 8.3 second stop. Is it a very late 2 stop, or a ridiculously short one stop? Only time would tell (eventually). On lap 20, Hakkinen comes in for a 14.7 second fuel stop. On lap 21, Barrichello is out, and Schumacher sets a fastest lap of 1m49.116s. On lap 23, Coulthard comes in for his one and only stop, 15.5 seconds, and Schumacher regains the lead.
Lap 24: Schumacher Coulthard Hakkinen Berger Herbert Frentzen
On lap 28, Suzuki has a very big moment and punctures his left rear tyre in the process. On lap 29, Irvine comes in for his stop. By now, Schumacher had a 22 second lead over the young Scotsman Coulthard. Lavaggi and Badoer both retire on lap 30.
Lap 30: Schumacher Coulthard Hakkinen Berger Herbert Frentzen Boullion Katayama Irvine Suzuki Montermini Badoer Lavaggi Moreno
On lap 34, Frentzen retires with a very smoky engine, and Hakkinen retires the same way in sympathy. Schumacher comes in for his second stop in 7.2 seconds and keeps the lead. Bernie would be proud.
Lap 40: Schumacher Coulthard Berger Herbert Boullion Irvine Suzuki Katayama Montermini
On to lap 42, and Schumacher has a 11 second lead over Coulthard, who has a 56 second lead over Berger. On lap 43, Irvine retires from 6th - the problems hitting the car over thw whole race taking there toll.
Finish: Schumacher 222.120kph Coulthard Berger Herbert Boullion Suzuki Katayama Montermini Irvine
Schumacher stops just past the line, and fights off a countryman who wants to give him a flag (it could have been a Brit wanting to get him disqualified, but I doubt it). Suzuki senses the TV viewers dissapointment, and his car catches fire, there then followed an amuzing minute or so of watching him trying to put the fire out.
-- Stephen M Baines
"[The Autosport sticker] started to peel off in the middle of Eau Rouge and it distracted me. In fact it was the first thing to hit the barrier" Tiff Needell - Jaguar XJR-15 Challenge - Interview with Autosport