Australian GP report

Race Report On the parade lap everyone got away cleanly from the line. All seemed well till the current World Champion (who had a torrid time yesterday) pulled off to the side of the track. It was later confirmed that he had suffered a lack of...

Race Report

On the parade lap everyone got away cleanly from the line. All seemed well till the current World Champion (who had a torrid time yesterday) pulled off to the side of the track. It was later confirmed that he had suffered a lack of throttle. The grid formed, and all were ready for the start, and as the lights went out it was Frentzen who took the lead. After a weekend of Villeneuve getting the upper hand on the German it now the Canadians turn to be rattled.

And rattled he was. Going into the first corner Irvine, Herbert and Villeneuve were together in a move that was never going to work. Herbert and Villeneuve retired on the spot, Irvine a few corners later. The two Jordans were also scything their way through the field. It was to be short lived for Ralf Schumacher, as was soon out of the race. H-H continued to pull away at the front and started to produce a good lead over Coulthard in second place and Schumacher in 3rd. By lap 4 Verstappen was also out after leaving the track rather spectacularly for the kitty litter. Nakano also joins in the fun, but doesn't quite understand the rules and survives to try again later.....

By lap 6 it was Frentzen, Coulthard, Schumacher, Hakkinen, Alesi, Berger, Panis, and Larini. On lap 7 Frentzen put in a 1m32.56 for the fastest lap at that point. By lap 10 Frentzen was well and truly in command and pulling out a very useful 16 second lead over Coulthard. Coulthard had Schumacher to worry about behind him with a gap of only 1 second. By lap 12 Frentzen had 17 seconds over Coulthard. Behind Coulthard it was a lot closer with the top 6 covered by a handful of seconds. Diniz decided on lap 13 to join in the off roadsters, and survived to tell the tale. Fisichella meanwhile made a far more lurid move on Barrichello and spun off in front of him and out. He had dived down the inside of the Stewart, but had no time left to brake, and so locked up and out...........

Frentzen was firmly in control at the front when he came upon backmarkers on lap 16. By lap 18 he had pitted and was out again. This allowed David Coulthard into the lead with Schumacher behind in 2nd. Frentzen was now after Schumacher and made some progress over a few laps.

The order was now Coulthard, Schumacher, Frentzen, Hakkinen, Alesi, Berger, Larini, Barrichello, Panis, Salo, Magnussen, and Katayama. Schumacher was busy getting messages to the pit by hand actions. By lap 24 Coulthard was pulling away from Frentzen, but not from Schumacher too well. They then came upon Katayama and managed to scrap through, closely followed by a battle with Barrichello who let them through with no problems.

On lap 28, Coulthard showed that he mean business by setting a 1m31.412 fastest lap. On lap 29, Berger pitted from 6th place, with Ferrari ready for Schumacher. The order was now Coulthard, Schumacher, Frentzen, Hakkinen, Alesi and Berger. On lap 31, Schumacher pitted and was out in around 11 seconds. He was now charging back, and wanted to get by Nakano, who in the process of giving the space was forced off the track by Schumacher. Word was now coming that Alesi had been given the "IN" board for many laps, but resolutely was refusing to obey it. He was to rue that move on lap 33 when he pulled off the track - out of fuel........

By lap 34, Frentzen was back in the lead after stops, and set a 1m30.780 fastest lap. By lap 38 he had pulled out a useful gap over Coulthard in second place of 23 seconds, with Schumacher and Hakkinen in pursuit. On lap 41 Williams were ready for a pit stop, and duly he pitted for his second stop compared to the others 1. Head was not impressed with the progress of his charge, but was even more disgusted with a locking right rear wheel costing the team an extra 7 seconds. Coulthard and Schumacher had took the place.......

It was now Coulthard, Schumacher, Frentzen, Hakkinen, Berger and Panis making up the top 6, with Frentzen making some progress but not enough it was thought. Through the forties Coulthard kept Schumacher in check, and he in turn kept Frentzen in check. None of them seemed interested in making a move on the other. As lap 51 appeared Frentzen started to push on Schumacher, when Schumacher pitted! The team had had a problem with the fuel rig earlier, and was now paying the price, with a late splash and dash. This, however, was nothing compared to Frentzens drama on lap 56 when his left front brake disk exploded and spun him off the track. It was a cruel blow for the German. And so Coulthard now had 23 seconds over Schumacher and sailed to a well deserved victory. The first for McLaren since 1993, and the first for Mercedes for 40 years......

Coulthard Schumacher Hakkinen Berger Panis Larini Nakano Frentzen Trulli Diniz

-- 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


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Tiff Needell
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Jordan