Qualifying Report Early on in the session it was already known that the Williams' would not be out until much later into the session. So, early on it was Fisichella and Rosset setting the times. Tyrrell also joined in the fun. One team ...
Early on in the session it was already known that the Williams' would not be out until much later into the session. So, early on it was Fisichella and Rosset setting the times. Tyrrell also joined in the fun. One team that looked unlikely to do much running was Forti, who up until qualifying hadn't run all weekend, with the team reported as being refused engines until they paid for them.... The engines duly arrived on Saturday morning, and were being fitted to the cars.
Eventually Schumacher came out onto the track, and set about the times. He was soon on ple with a 1m27.707 - some 4 seconds better than the previous pole time. Brundle was also out and running well, up to 1m29.477 for second, only for Hill and Villeneuve to come out and battle it out for pole. Hill went second, then Villeneuve got pole, then Hill bettered that and grabbed pole, only for Villeneuve to do the same seconds later with a 1m27.160.
Villeneuve Hill Schumacher Alesi Coulthard Brundle Irvine Salo Verstappen 1m27,160 0.398 0.547 1.539 2.075 2.280 2.428 2.739 2.963
Berger was now also joining in the fun, and soon up to 4th with a 1m28.769 for 6th. Barrichello then banged in a 1m28.531 and took 5th, whilst Hakkinen was going places and up to 4th.
Villeneuve Hill Schumacher Hakkinen Barrichello Alesi Berger Coulhtard Brundle IrvineFrentzen Salo Verstappen Panis Herbert Katayama Diniz RossetLamy Fisich 1m27.160 0.398 0.547 1.175 1.371 1.539 1.609 2.075 2.280 2.428 2.539 2.739 2.963 3.007 3.156 3.732 3.916 4.274 4.829 5.
Schumacher was soon out and having another go at pole. His lap was soon aborted, and he returned to the pits. With 24 minutes to go, Coulthard went out and set a 1m28.966, but still 8th. It was soon reported that Schumacher had damaged his plank as he hit a curb, and was having a new one fitted. Villeneuve was back on the track, and Hill set a new pole time of 1m26.875. Hill attempted to better it, but was off by a 1/10th of a second at the 2nd split, only for him to be held up by Herbert. Schumacher was now busily preparing himself for his next attempt. Luca Badoer was out on the track, and setting the pace with a 4m32.712 - no need to get the calculator out to work out if that was within 107% of pole! There was now only 11 minutes to go, and Badoer managed to put in a 1m35.304 (107% was 1m32.956). Schumacher was also out and setting better times than that - managing a 1m28.250. Montermini was busily spinning off the track and back on again. Alesi was also trying, but not getting very far. Both of the Forti's now found themselves parked next to each other on the circuit after Montermini set a 1m35.206, some 8.331 seconds off the pole time. Villeneuve was next to have a go, but only managed to consolodate 2nd. Hill had a final attempt to rub salt in, and was inside his own time at the 2nd split, only to be 5/100th of a second off at the line. Neither Forti qualified, and Rosset had his times disallowed.
1. Hill 2. Villeneuve 3. Schumacher 4. Hakkinen 5. Alesi 6. Barrichello 7. Berger 8. Brundle 9. Coulthard 10. Irvine 11. Frentzen 12. Katayama 13. Herbert 14. Salo 15. Verstappen 16. Panis 17. Diniz 18. Fisichella 19. Lamy 20. Rosset
Villeneuve made a cracking start and was into the lead. Hill didn't and found himself back in 5th place, with Alesi, Hakkinen and Schumacher also taking him. Alesi sensed blood and had a go at Villeneuve, but didn't quite manage it at the first corner. He did, however continue his charge in 2nd place. Irvine was making up places, and was already 7th - a good start.
Villeneuve Alesi Hakkinen Schumacher Hill Barrichello Irvine Lap 1 1.605 2.663 3.603 4.262 5.023 - Lap 2 2.792 3.993 4.948 5.649 7.181 - Lap 4 5.217 6.689 Retired 11.290 12.464 12.464
Coming up on lap 3, Schumacher's Ferrari suddenly slowed. It was soon all over with the Ferrari into the pits and retiring. The car, apparantly, was jammed in 6th gear. Irvine was soon to follow suit in retiring on lap 6. The Ferrari was belching flames and smoke for quite some time, as he made his way back to the pits. Yet another dreadful day for the Italian team. At the front, Villeneuve was busily extending his lead, and was now some 7 seconds ahead of Alesi. By lap 7, this was up to 8.3 seconds.
Villeneuve Alesi Hakkinen Hill Barrichello Berger Lap 10 10.773 12.276 13.586 19.843 21.154
It was later reported that Irvine's engine lost power (though it didn't seem to affect his speed going around to the pits that much). "I don't know what it was to be honest... It's just one of those things ..... It's unbelievable" said Irvine. Diniz was busy converting his Mugen-Honda into a Mazda by spinning off and onto the track. On lap 15, Rosset retired from the race. The first of the pit stops were about to happen, and Panis was the first with a 13.3 second stop. Brundle was next to stop in 12 seconds.
Villeneuve Alesi Hakkinen Hill Berger Barrichello 19 laps 16.401 19.137 20.325 30.542 (PIT)
Williams were now getting ready in the pits for Villeneuve. Hill, meanwhile, was starting to tackle Hakkinen, and having a go at several places around the circuit. A Ligier had another dusty moment, whilst Lamy was next to retire.
Hill was now swarming all over the McLaren of Hakkinen, as Villeneuve went into the pits. He rejoined behind Hill, putting Alesi into the lead. Hakkinen and Hill soon came upon the Minardi of Fisichella, and had a good clean passing moment. Villeneuve was soon to follow them.
Alesi Hakkinen Hill Villeneuve Berger Barrichello Lap 24 1.663 2.498 3.310 12.038 38.208 Lap 25 1.879 2.529 3.472 12.249 Lap 26 1.478 2.040 3.106
Hill was the next retirement, going off into the gravel trap. At first it looked like a driver error, but it was later reported that it was a locked wheel bearing that pitched him off onto the gravel. "Someting was wrong with the front of the car for 3 or 4 laps..... It just pitched me off the road" Hill later said. Hakkinen was the next to pit, allowing Villeneuve to move up to second behind Alesi.
Alesi Villeneuve Berger Hakkinen Lap 28 4.380 11.680 28.018
Alesi was soon to pit in 10.4 seconds, and rejoined the race behind Hakkinen. This gave Villeneuve the lead again. Panis was next to stop (9.6s), followed by Berger (10.4s).
Villeneuve -> Hakkinen -> Alesi -> Berger -> Barrichello -> Coulthard Lap 30 29.248 3.048 7.615 4.278 9.031
By lap 40, things looked to have settled down. Diniz then gave us a little prod awake, by letting his Ligier give us some smoke and flames to worry about. He was out of the race. Brundle was to pit again (8.9s). Coulthard was next (9.5) from 5th, with Villeneuve still to pit with a 36 second lead over Hakkinen. Alesi and Berger were now embroiled over 3rd place. It was soon to become academic, and Alesi let(!) Berger through when it became clear that his car was not capable of the challenge. He was soon to retire with a problem with the right rear wheel bearing. It certainly didn't look good with the smoke pouring off it in the pits. Alesi was beside himself. Villeneuve now found himself with 19.880 seconds over Berger, who in turn had 19 seconds over Hakkinen. The race then settled down for the last few laps, and soon the Williams coasted to victory over a well beaten opposition.
1. Villeneuve 2. Berger 3. Hakkinen 4. Barrichello 5. Coulthard 6. Brundle 7. Salo 8. Frentzen 9. Herbert 10. Verstappen 11. Fisichella
-- 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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