Report Schumacher got away well at the start and into the lead, with Villeneuve following behind, and Fisichella 3rd. Irvine was already off the track with someone elses wing. Magnussen was also out, Panis was pitting along with Hakkinen. An ...
Schumacher got away well at the start and into the lead, with Villeneuve following behind, and Fisichella 3rd. Irvine was already off the track with someone elses wing. Magnussen was also out, Panis was pitting along with Hakkinen. An eventful first lap. Villeneuve joined in the fun on lap 2 going off on his own after over cooking it at the right left flick before the pits, and retiring from the race. Exit the Canadian interest in the race.
At the start Schumacher was putting in the fast times, and pulling a healthy lead out over Fisichella, Alesi, Coulthard, Frentzen and Ralf Schumacher. Alexander Wurz was up to 7th in his first race. Hill made his first stop to try and cure an inbalance on lap 4. Panis, meanwhile, was setting the pace now that he was back in the race. Further down the order Katayama went off in a big way, hitting the armco head on. The safety car was then brought out to recover the car. Hill pitted again, and Frentzen made his first stop.
Once the racing restarted the order was M Schumacher, Fisichella, Alesi, Coulthard, R Schumacher, and Wurz. Barichello, Verstappen and Salo had a merry battle for 7th place, with Herbert just behind. Verstappen made a move on Barrichello, and managed to get by. Salo tried also, but took the long route around the outside. It failed. Whilst this battle was going on, Ralf Schumachers race was over. A rear tyre "exploded" and send the car careering down the armco and into the tyres nose first (again). Wurz was now up to 5th, and Verstappen to 6th. Salo was continuing his battle with Barrichello, and Herbert was now also joining in the fun. Salo had a go, but had to back off when they came across the yellows for Schumacher Jr. At his next attempt he did it, and Herbert also lunged at Barrichello and also took a place. Down two places in a lap.
By lap 22, Schumacher was setting laps in the low 1m20's, whilst fellow German Frentzen was down in 11th suffering from severe blistering (as in Spain). At the front Coulthard was up with Fisichella and Alesi, with Schumacher setting laps in the 1m20's. Fisichella and Alesi pitted from 2nd and third, and came out orders reversed. Coulthard was now up to 2nd, with Wurz third, Alesi 4th, Fisichella 5th and Salo 6th. Wurz was next to pit, with Salo doing likewise. Barrichello had been a little too enthusiastic with his pit stop, and found himself with a 10 second penalty for speeding in the pit lane. The order on lap 27 was now Schumacher, Coulthard, Alesi, Fisichella, Herbert and Wurz. Next to pit was Michael Schumacher, giving Coulthard the lead, and setting laps in the 1m19's!
The order was now Coulthard, Schumacher, Alesi, Fisichella, Herbert, Wurz, Frentzen, Verstappen, Salo and Diniz. On lap 33, Frentzen pitted again with badly blistered tyres. Trulli was the next to retire, and Herbert pitted. Coulthard now had an 8 second lead over Schumacher, whilst Herbert was attacking Fisichella for 4th place, only to pit with very blistered tyres. Sadly, Wurz retired after making a very impressive debut for the Benetton team. Coulthard was soon pitting, and lost the lead to Schumacher. The German was on a two stop strategy, against Coulthards planned one stop. It wouldn't be long until Schumacher had to relinquish the lead. Herbert was next to suffer from enthusiastic pit stops, and find himself with a 10 second penalty. Ferrari were now ready for a stop, with the order Schumacher, Coulthard (10.4 seconds behind), Alesi, Fisichella, Herbert, Frentzen, Panis, Verstappen, Salo and Nakano. Schumacher and Panis pitted at the same time. Panis got away quicker, and delayed the German. Coulthard was back in the lead. Verstappen was also soon pit bound, with Fisichella and Alesi pitting soon.
A little later Schumacher was back in the pits with severely blistered tyres, Frentzen also pitted. The McLaren team decide to take a gamble and bring Coulthard in from his healthy lead to be safe. Unfortunately it didn't pay off, with the car stalling in the pit from an undiagnosed clutch problem. On the track Panis' Prost lost it on the track on turn 4, with the rear letting go, pitching the Prost into the tyres head on. Panis was moving in the car, but did not get out. The safety car was brought out, and the medical team soon arrived. The race continued for a few laps behind the safety car, whilst Panis was removed and treated at the side of the track. The race was soon red flagged.
Race stopped on lap 56 due an accident involving Olivier Panis
1. Schumacher 2. Alesi 3. Fisichella 4. Frentzen 5. Herbert 6. Nakano
Report to follow soon.
The rear end of Panis' car went, and he was pitched into the tyre barrier after turn 4. The race was kept behind the safety car, and on lap 56 the race was stopped.
Initial (unconfirmed) reports from the track indicate that Panis has nothing worse than broken legs. More details to follow.
-- 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