Race Report For the second year running, the European Grand Prix was in Germany. For the second year running the race was an absolute blinder. The race started with the weather threatening to do the job it did last year. In the end it did not,...
For the second year running, the European Grand Prix was in Germany. For the second year running the race was an absolute blinder. The race started with the weather threatening to do the job it did last year. In the end it did not, but the race worked well without help from the skies.
Coulthard made a cracking start to the race - almost looking too good - up to second by the start of the first corner, and even put his nose into the lead for around 20 yards. Villeneuve, however, was the one who lead the race, with Barrichello 3rd. Hill? He was already down to 5th place. The Benettons were an even bigger mystery, being nowhere of significance by the end of the first lap.
1st Coulthard Barrichello Schumacher Hill Hakkinen 1 lap 0.790 1.490 2.025 2.326 3.007 2 laps 1.593 2.524 3.264 3.929 4.540 3 laps 2.568 3.338 3.908 4.243 5.477
By the end of lap 2, Alesi was making an impact on the race. Unfortunately it was on Salo, with whom his car had a sudden attraction to the side pod. Berger was also not in the thick end of the race, having already pitted. Hill at this early stage of the race was all over the Ferrari of Schumacher. At the front, Villeneuve was pulling away, and setting fastest laps - a 1m22.841 on lap 3. On lap 5 Hill made a lie of the claims that he is unable to pass Schumacher on the track, by taking him in a brilliantly decisive move. By the end of lap 3, Berger was now settled into 18th place, and using the space available to show what he is capable of, setting a string of fastest laps. Villeneuve continued to pull a lead over the McLaren, and was some 3.8 seconds clear by the end of lap 6:
Villeneuve Coulthard Barrichello Hill Schumacher Hakkinen 6 laps 3.806 4.841 5.296 5.938 7.703
Panis' Ligier was suddenly slow, as was Irvine's Ferrari. Panis appeared to be suffering from the same disease which befel Alesi, this time he was having a sudden affection for the side pod of Irvine. It would be a move that removed Irvine from the race.
By the end of lap 7 Hill was all over Barrichello. The Jordan driver, however, was not going to let the Williams have it easy and was making his car very wide indead. Meanwhile Berger continued to set fastest laps, and Villeneuve was having an easy time of it at the front of the pack.
1st Villeneuve 8 Laps 2nd Coulthard 5.112 3rd Barrichello 5.854 4th Hill 6.362 5th Schumacher 6.859 6th Hakkinen 7.987 7th Frentzen 8th Brundle 9th Herbert 10th Verstappen 11th Diniz 12th Sa;p 13th Lamy 14th Rosset 15th Fisichella 16th Berger 17th Katayama 18th Panis (PIT) 19th Irvine (PIT) 20th Alesi (PIT)
By the end of lap 10 Villeneuve had extended his lead even further, and was now up to an 8.6 second lead. Further back, Hill was all over the back of Barrichello and dived to the left and right trying to find a way by. Schumacher also made the most of this, he also ducking and diving trying to find a way past the Williams. Hakkinen in 6th also senses the Ferrari being held up and joins in the fun. What will people say? Drivers fighting for places in an F1 race? Surely not.... By lap 14 Hill and Barrichello were totally inseperable all over the circuit. The Jordan, Williams and Ferrari were all over each other, yet never actually conceding a place. Villeneuve continued his lonely job at the front of the pack, he extended his lead over Coulthard to 11.412 seconds. By lap 17 the battle for 3rd was really boiling over with Barrichello flinging his Jordan all over the place trying to keep those behind behind. On lap 19 Hill dropped back from the Jordan quite noticably. The Williams team were also ready for a stop. It later emerged that Hill suspected he had a puncture. Positions lap 20:
Villeneuve Coulthard Barrichello Hill Schumacher Hakkinen 20 laps 12.508 16.111 17.274 17.718 18.407
Frentzen pitted in 8.2 seconds on lap 20. On lap 21 and "In" board went out for Hill. He did so the following lap with a lengthy 20.9 seconds stop whilst Patrick Head checked the rear of the car for suspension damage. Brundle, Herbert, Berger & Verstappen all pit, whilst Hill rejoined in 11th place - some 55 seconds behind the leader. On lap 22 Schumacher pitted for new rubber and fuel in just 7.7 seconds. The race was effectively over for Hill - he had very little chance of joining in the fun of what was to come. The pit stops continued to come in thick and fast, with Coulthard & Barrichello stopping in 9.8 and 12.5 seconds respectively. Coulthard rejoined the track just ahead of Schumacher. The Germans tyres were now warm, however, and he soon picked him off. Lap 25:
Villeneuve Hakkinen Schumacher Coulthard Barrichello Frentzen 25 laps PIT 37.394 39.115 44.532 45.184
Hakkinen just rejoined ahead of Coulthard. Villeneuve then went for his stop, a reasonable 8.9 seconds. Positions on lap 27:
1. Villeneuve 2. Schumacher 3. Hakkinen 4. Coulthard 5. Barrichello 6. Frentzen 7. Salo 8. Diniz 9. Brundle 10. Hill 11. Herbert 12. Verstappen 13. Rosset 14. Lamy 15. Berger 16. Fisichella 17. Katayama
By the end of lap 28, Villeneuve's lead over Schumacher was 8.745 seconds. Hill was desparate to make progress and made a lunge at Brundle's Jordan. He took the place, but not without Brundle trying to take it back again. Hill was now up to Diniz and both ended up in the gravel. Hill had the inside of the corner, and had the line. Diniz saw things differently, and squeezed Hill until he had no option but to go onto the grass. Hill then launched across the track and both went off. The Williams did recover, and was back in 10th place again. Schumacher was making progress at the front, and setting fastest laps. In one lap he gained 2 seconds, taking the lead down to 3.8 seconds. Hakkinen wasn't going to have a fun day today, however. His McLaren was awarded the Speedy Gonzales award for pitting, and was urged to collect his trophy from the pits. He did this in the obligatory 10 seconds. Hill was again making progress, and was now up to Verstappen. Verstappen misses a corner under pressure, allowing the Englishman to slip ahead. Hill was now after Frentzen's 8th place. Villeneuve came upon Diniz to lap him. Diniz didn't seem to appreciate that the Williams was a faster car than his, and decided to try and keep him back. This he did with customary aplomb, and allowed Schumacher to make yet more ground on the Williams.
Villeneuve Schumacher Coulthard Barrichello Frentzen Hakkinen 37 laps 0.663 13.636 17.480 24.677 26.868
Hill was still down in 8th place at this point, but he was lapping far faster than all those in front of him. On lap 39, Hill set a 1m22.695 and was catching Brundle fast.
1. Villeneuve 2. Schumacher 3. Coulthard 4. Barrichello 5. Frentzen 6. Hakkinen 7. Brundle 8. Hill 9. Herbert 10. Salo 11. Berger 12. Rosset 13. Diniz 14. Lamy 15. Verstappen 16. Fisichella 17. Katayama
The battle between Villeneuve and Schumacher continued to hot up. Further back, the battle between Hill and Brundle likewise was building up. Frentzen pitted in 7.8s. With 25 laps to go both the Ferrari and Williams teams were ready for pit stops. It would be Hill to pit first, in 8.2s. Salo also pitted in 8.1 seconds. Schumacher joins in the train and does his in 8.5 seconds and rejoins behind Coulthard (who was yet to make his second stop). Hakkinen pitted in 8.4 seconds, whilst Lamy managed a 9.6 seconds. Berger did a beauty, only to then stall and in the end take 20 seconds to get going. Schumacher was now all over Coulthard, whilst Villeneuve pitted during this window, allowing him to rejoin still in the lead. Rosset, meanwhile, had a blinder of a pit stop - a scant 7.4 seconds. Coulthard finally pitted, allowing Schumacher ahead, whilst Coulthard rejoined behind Brundle. Lap 46:
1. Villeneuve 2. Schumacher 3. Coulthard 4. Brundle 5. Barrichello 6. Hakkinen 7. Hill 8. Frentzen 9. Salo 10. Herbert 11. Berger 12. Rosset 13. Diniz 14. Fisichella 15. Lamy 16. Katayama
Brundle finally made his stop in 8.7 seconds.
Villeneuve Schumacher Coulthard Barrichello Hakkinen Hill 48 laps 2.683 26.605 29.834 36.272 36.666
Hakkinen's day, however, just got worse. He received his second speeding ticket of the day... By lap 52, the action was really reaching fever point, with Schumacher all over Villeneuve. Hill was the fastest man, setting a 1m21.598. Fisichella managed to block Villeneuve, allowing the German to catch up. Schumacher tried to take Villeneuve but failed, whilst eventually both got past the Minardi. Schumacher in his battling locks his wheels several times. Hill sets a 1m21.363s. Frentzen's car had a worrying moment, suddenly snapping sideways (no-one was especially near him at the time) and slewed across the track, and then the gravel pit, and rejoined the track. He pulled into the pits for a health check at the end of the lap. Hill was now ahead of Barrichello and after Coulthard.
By lap 61, the battles of the race were twofold. Coulthard and Hill were squared up for 3rd, whilst Villeneuve and Schumacher had similar fun at the front for 1st. The battle for lead got closer still as they came up against a whole gaggle of back markers, including Berger(!), Katayama, Salo and Rosset. Schumacher pushed and pushed as they stuggled to find a way by. On many ocassions the Ferrari appeared to be sneaking a look at how the Williams gear box worked for use of its own. Villeneuve took Salo, with Schumacher close behind. They were now to come across Berger and Katayama. Berger took Katayama for his place, whilst the two leaders also take Katayama, and head after Berger and Rosset. Villeneuve was now all over the curbs trying to keep ahead. Into the last lap, and Villeneuve had a 0.2 second lead over Schumacher and the German didn't let up for a second. To the line it could have been either, but eventually it was Villeneuve who took the flag. The battle for third was even closer, with Coulthard, Hill and Barrichello all battling to the line. At the final corner it looked like all three were going to go off and hand third to Brundle, but in the end they kept it together and finished.
1. Villeneuve 2. Schumacher 3. Coulthard 4. Hill 5. Barrichello 6. Brundle 7. Herbert 8. Hakkinen 9. Berger 10. Salo 11. Diniz 12. Katayama 13. Rosset 14. Lamy 15. 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