Sunday 29 March 1998 Sunday Race FACTS AND INCIDENTS At the start the two McLaren-Mercedes get away well with Mika Hakkinen maintaining his grid advantage to take the lead at the first corner. David Coulthard slots into second place ahead of...
Sunday 29 March 1998 Sunday Race FACTS AND INCIDENTS
At the start the two McLaren-Mercedes get away well with Mika Hakkinen maintaining his grid advantage to take the lead at the first corner. David Coulthard slots into second place ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Eddie Irvine, Alexander Wurz and a slow-starting Michael Schumacher. In the course of the first lap Michael passes Wurz to take back fifth place.
Further back Jacques Villeneuve makes a great start to leap from 10th to seventh at the end of the first lap, helped by the fact that Ralf Schumacher goes off trying to make up places.
The two McLarens quickly establish themselves at the front of the field with a five second advantage by the end of the third lap. After eight laps Hakkinen begins build a gap over Coulthard. At the back of the field Shinji Nakano spins out at the first corner.
Hakkinen sets a string of fastest lap to pull out a lead of four seconds over Coulthard by the end of lap 14. Frentzen stays third but drops back over 10 secs in the first 10 laps. The two Ferraris switch places at the first corner on lap 10, a move which allows Schumacher to attack Williams. Irvine drops away from his team-mate.
In the midfield the order remains static lap 14 when Jean Alesi forces his way past Jarno Trulli. Two laps later Trulli drops behind Damon Hill and Jan Magnussen and the Prost driver pits to retire with mechanical trouble on lap 17.
The order at the front remains unchanged until the first pit stops. These begin on lap 26 when the first drivers running two-stop strategies come into the pits. Schumacher is the first. He is followed on lap 27 by both Frentzen and Irvine and on lap 29 by Villeneuve. The race in the pits puts Schumacher up into fourth place ahead of Frentzen but behind Wurz who is on a one-stop strategy. Irvine and Villeneuve re-emerge from the pits in heavy traffic in the midfield.
Both Arrows cars go out early on with mechanical troubles but in the middle part of the race Jacques Villeneuve makes a big impression as he fights through the midfield, passing Olivier Panis and Irvine.
Coulthard slips backwards and is nine seconds behind Hakkinen when David pits on lap 36. Hakkinen stays out for three more laps before his stop. Mika emerges in the lead with Coulthard three seconds behind. Wurz stays out, running a late one-stop strategy and so is able to run third in the middle section of the race, coming under pressure from Schumacher and Frentzen before his pit stop on lap 46. Giancarlo Fisichella also stops very late and gains places as a result.
The two-stop runners begin to stop again on lap 45 with Frentzen the first to come in. He is followed by Villeneuve on lap 48. Schumacher and Irvine also stop again on laps 53 and 55. Schumacher stalls during his stop but is still able to get out of the pits in third place but he is a minute behind the McLarens.
Wurz's tactic means that he emerges in fourth place ahead of Frentzen. Heinz-Harald is lapped by Hakkinen on lap 68. Fisichella benefits from his strategy to get ahead of Villeneuve. Further back Irvine leads home Jean Alesi.
In the closing laps there are spots of rain and Hakkinen backs off to make sure that he does not make a mistake. This allows David Coulthard to close up to within a second on the last lap.
The only major runners to retire in the second part of the race are Olivier Panis who drops out of 10th place on lap 64 with mechanical problems and Johnny Herbert who retires on lap 67.