Belgian GP Arrows race notes and report

BELGIAN GRAND PRIX RACE RESULTS - 30th AUGUST 1998 The Danka Zepter Arrows Team finished a wet, unpredictable and very exciting Belgian Grand Prix with Pedro Diniz in 5th position. Mika Salo, who was caught in the mass pile-up after the first...


The Danka Zepter Arrows Team finished a wet, unpredictable and very exciting Belgian Grand Prix with Pedro Diniz in 5th position. Mika Salo, who was caught in the mass pile-up after the first corner was not able to compete in the race as his race car was severely damaged and the spare car was already set up for Pedro. Both cars were involved in the big accident at the beginning of the race and Pedro had to use the spare, which was set up for him this weekend. He drove an inspired race and scored some valuable points for the team, who had a very difficult weekend behind them.

Pedro Diniz: " It was a good result, especially after what happened after the first start. I had to deal with ever changing weather conditions, which made it a difficult race for me. It was a really good effort from our team, who started work at 2.30am this morning, to prepare a new spare race car, which in the end I used during the race, as my race car was damaged in the first pile-up. I am just happy that we have something to celebrate after a very traumatic weekend.

Mika Salo: " I have to thank the new regulations about the car safety. I had some mega shunts this weekend and I am still here and not hurt. It was most unfortunate that I was caught up in the mass accident. I hit a Ferrari, which was sideways in front of me first, then I hit a McLaren on my side, which launched me back onto the track and finally a Minardi hit me really hard from behind. It was an amazing feeling with all these wishbones and tyres flying all around me. Naturally I am disappointed that I was not able to participate at the Grand Prix, but the car was set up for Pedro this weekend and, as both cars were severely damaged in the incident I was unable to compete. I am, however, pleased that Pedro was able to bring some well deserved points home to a Team that has worked tirelessly all weekend to help solve our various problems. "

Cold and cloudy weather conditions greeted the Danka Zepter Arrows team as they arrived to compete in the Belgian Grand Prix. Having just completed a three day test at Silverstone, culminating with Pedro Diniz testing the new D-spec engine to high acclaim, the decision was made to use the new spec engine during Saturday's qualifying. Mika Salo finished Friday's Practice Session in 17th and Pedro Diniz in 19th place. Mika had lost a lot of track time in the morning due to a number of small problems. It also took a while to get a balance on the car, however the biggest problem was finding any grip. Pedro was quite happy with his session, although he ran with quite a lot of fuel. He felt that a lot of useful work was being accomplished to find the right set-up for next day's qualifying. Friday's qualifying was also red-flagged at one stage when Villeneuve spun off and crashed heavily into a tyre wall, demolishing his car in the process.

The Danka Zepter Arrows Team completed Saturday's qualifying session with Pedro in 16th and Mika in 18th position. During the morning's first free practice both D-spec engines suffered failures and the team made the decision to revert to the C-spec for all cars. Due to the excellent work from the entire team, Mika was able to join the second session with 15 minutes to go. On his first flying lap he crashed heavily at Eau Rouge. He was then transferred from the Medical Centre to Vervier hospital for precautionary check-ups, but was declared fit to compete in qualifying. In a later quote, Mika praised the team for their hard work, but was sure that his driving after his big accident wasn't as good as usual. However, he was confident that after a good night's rest he would be fine for the race on Sunday. Pedro also was complimentary towards his team who did some sterling work throughout the entire morning. He had some problems balancing the car as it was understeering, however, he was happy for Mika to be able to qualify. Both drivers pointed out that the new D-spec engine did represent a big step for the team and that it was unfortunate for both of them to expire during practice.

Tom Walkinshaw summed it all up by saying: " We had some dramatic moments during Saturday's sessions and I must praise the team for their excellent work on both cars. Naturally we are all greatly relieved that Mika was able to walk away from his heavy accident with only a few scratches on him. We will now concentrate on getting both cars ready for Sunday's race and are hopeful for a good result."

Mika thanked the new car safety regulations from keeping him out of harm's way after some mega shunts on Saturday and today. He described how he was caught up in the major incident at the beginning of the race, running into a Ferrari, hit by a McLaren sideways and finally hit heavily from the back by a Minardi. He said that it was an amazing feeling with all the various wishbones and tyres flying all around his head. Naturally, he was disappointed not to be able to compete in the race, but he was pleased about Pedro's result for the team who had worked incredible long hours over the weekend to help solve their various problems.

Pedro felt that it was a good result, especially after what had happened at the start.. He had to deal with ever changing weather conditions, which made the race difficult for him. He described how the team had worked all night Friday till early morning to prepare the cars for qualifying and again from 2.30am Sunday morning to prepare a new spare race car, which in the end he had to use, as both race cars were damaged after the incident at the first start.

The top three positions for Sunday's race were filled by Hakkinen in pole, Coulthard in second and a surprising Hill in third position.

On a cold and rainy day Coulthard made a very bad start, while both Ferraris and Villeneuve got away well. Hakkinen led out of the hairpin, with Villeneuve second and M.Schumacher third. In the spray Coulthard suddenly rebounds into the path of the field and chaos developed as car after car became involved in a major pile-up. The race was red-flagged and as the driver' hurried back into their respective pits, it became apparent that 13 cars n all were involved in the incident. Four Teams were unable to provide spare cars, so Barrichello, Panis, Rosset and Mika Salo were unable to take part in the restart.

Eighteen cars took the second start and both McLaren's were slow away, so Hill was able to take the lead at the first corner with Irvine with his spare Ferrari in second. Hakkinen and M.Schumacher went into the corner side-by-side and the two cars touched. Hakkinen spun and was hit by Herbert's Sauber, which took both of them out of the race. On the run up the hill to Les Combes M.Schumacher passed Irvine to take second, Alesi was fourth ahead of Villeneuve and Frentzen.

Further round the lap Coulthard and Wurz collided but the McLaren driver was able to rejoin at the tail of the field. As Hakkinen's car was still in the middle of the track the Safety Car was sent out.. It pulled off at the end of lap two and at the restart Villeneuve and Frentzen got ahead of Alesi. On lap 5 Villeneuve spun and dropped behind Frentzen and Alesi.

The rain intensified and on lap eight M.Schumacher attacked Hill after Blanchimont and got ahead as they braked for the Bus Stop chicane. He then began to build an impressive lead of 18 seconds during the course of the next six laps. Verstappen dropped out with an engine problem. On lap 10 Irvine went of at Les Combes and damaged his car. During his subsequent pitstop the team also switches him to wet tyres with Coulthard and R.Schumacher doing the same. Back on the track Takagi went off at the exit of La Source and on lap 14 Frentzen went off and dropped behind Alesi, who also spun.

On lap 16 M.Schumacher, Hill, Alesi, Frentzen and Fisichella all pitted but Villeneuve continued, only to spin at the exit of Raidillon and crashing heavily. M.Schumacher remained in the lead and pulled away to build his lead to 27 seconds by lap 25 when he came up to lap the struggling Coulthard. On the run down the hill to Pouhon Coulthard pulled to the inside of the track to let M.Schumacher through, however the Ferrari driver did not see the McLaren in the spray and ran into the back of it, ripping off his right front wheel. M.Schumacher drove into the pits on three wheels, but the damage was too bad to repair. Coulthard also pitted and there was a confrontation between him and M.Schumacher at the McLaren garage, as a fuming Schumacher demanded an explanation. Coulthard was able to rejoin the race five laps behind.

At the front Hill was left in the lead with behind him, Alesi third and Frentzen fourth, followed by Fisichella and Irvine, however Irvine soon spun off and had to retire. A lap down Pedro Diniz was able to inherit fifth place, with Trulli running in sixth.

On lap 27 Hill had an off at the chicane and moments later R.Schumacher pitted for new tyres. Further back Fisichella was unable to see Nakano and ran into the back of him. The Benetton came to rest in the middle of the track and another Safety Car was sent out. Hill, Alesi and Frentzen pitted immediately, which enabled Pedro Diniz to get onto the same lap as the leaders. The order behind the pace car was Hill, R.Schumacher, Alesi, Frentzen, Pedro Diniz and a lap down, Trulli. Coulthard and Nakano were also still running, but several laps down.

The Safety car remained on the track until the end of lap 32 when the race was restarted. The order remained unchanged to the flag, giving Jordan their very first 1-2 Grand Prix victory. Alesi gave Sauber third and Frentzen in fourth position. Pedro Diniz scored two valuable points for the Danka Zepter Arrows Team and Trulli was able to bring one point home to Prost.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mika Salo , Tom Walkinshaw , Pedro Diniz
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Benetton , Minardi , Jordan