British GP review

SILVERSTONE, England., July 13, 1997 (AP) - Canadian Jacques Villeneuve was the first to admit he was lucky winning Sunday's British Grand Prix. He was also quick to add he shouldn't have needed the help from Michael Schumacher...

SILVERSTONE, England., July 13, 1997 (AP) - Canadian Jacques Villeneuve was the first to admit he was lucky winning Sunday's British Grand Prix. He was also quick to add he shouldn't have needed the help from Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen. The native of Iberville, Que., almost ruined when a jammed lug nut cost him 33.6 seconds in the pits and turned his early lead into seventh place, came back to win to pull within four points of season leader Schumacher. Schumacher has 47 points and Villeneuve - the pre-season favorite - has 43 after nine of 17 races. It was the 100th Formu- la One win for Williams-Renault, placing it behind all-time leader Ferrari with 111 and McLaren with 105. Villeneuve finished the 59-lap, 303.26-kilometre race in one hour 28 minutes 01.665 seconds with an average speed of 206.703 kmh. Jean Alesi of Benetton was second in 1:28:11.870 followed by teammate Alexander Wurz in 1:28:12.961. "When we lost all that time in the pit stop because we couldn't get the wheel off, I thought at that point the race was a little bit done - for the victory anyway," said Villeneuve. "I knew we couldn't beat Michael if he stayed on the track," he added. Unfortunately for Schumacher - he couldn't. Villeneuve, coming off the pole, and Schumacher ran a close 1-2 early and pushed to a 30-second lead over the rest of the fading field. But when Villeneuve's pit stop went sour after 22 laps, Schumacher shot into a 35-second lead and began pulling away. Then the first breakdown all season hit the German when his Ferrari's left-rear wheel bearing went up in smoke on Lap 38. Villeneuve was back in the lead, clawing out of the pack with Formula One's quickest car. "What happened was a shame," said a poised Schumacher, who had won the last two grand races and three of the last four. "Technical problems happen to the other teams as well, that is racing." Villeneuve shrugged off suggestions of a lucky victory and said Ferrari was due for a breakdown. "Last year they (Ferrari and Schumacher) used to have break- downs quite a lot and they haven't done it this year," Villeneuve added. ``It's great to see it happen to them as well because we have had our share of mechanical problems." Next, disaster struck Hakkinen's McLaren-Mercedes. The affable Finn, still winless in his 88th grand prix, grabbed the lead when Villeneuve pitted after 44 laps. But on the 53rd, Hakkinen's engine blew. "I have experienced every emotion this weekend and I have to say that leading the race gave me the best feeling," he said. "Toward the end of the race I blistered my left fear tire, which allowed Villeneuve to catch me." Villeneuve's patience finally paid off. "I was just waiting for the last few laps to make my move but then he (Hakkinen) broke something before the end," Villeneuve said. "I think I would have made a move toward the end of the race but it would have been very difficult." Defending world champion Damon Hill took sixth to pick up his first point this season in nine races. Hill was wildly cheered by home fans as he crossed the finish line. The race had to be restarted after Heinz-Harald Frentzen in a Williams stalled at the starting line. The race was reduced a lap to 59 instead of 60 and Frentzen was forced to start from the back as a penalty.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Alexander Wurz , Damon Hill
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Benetton