French GP race report

Sunday 28 June 1998 Sunday race RACE FACTS At the start of the race Mika Hakkinen makes a good getaway but Michael Schumacher makes a poor start and loses out to the McLaren. Fortunately for Schumacher Jos Verstappen stalls on the...

Sunday 28 June 1998

Sunday race

RACE FACTS

At the start of the race Mika Hakkinen makes a good getaway but Michael Schumacher makes a poor start and loses out to the McLaren. Fortunately for Schumacher Jos Verstappen stalls on the grid and the start is aborted because the Stewart is immobile on the grid.

At the second start the two McLarens make bad starts and Schumacher takes the lead with Eddie Irvine in second place. As Schumacher pulls away from the field, Irvine is unable to keep up but keeps the two McLarens bottled up behind him. Schumacher is able to build a lead of 13secs in 13 laps. Behind him Irvine holds up Hakkinen and Coulthard. Jacques Villeneuve cannot keep up but holds on to fifth place while Ralf Schumacher runs in sixth with his Jordan team mate Damon Hill chasing him along.

The order remains stable down through the field although Johnny Herbert makes up for a bad start in his Sauber by passing the Prost of Olivier Panis and Rubens Barrichello's Stewart.

The first pit stops begin on lap 16 with Ralf Schumacher coming in. Unfortunately both Jordans soon have mechanical trouble and drop out of the running. This puts the Benettons into the running but it is clear that they are running to a three-stop strategy and will have to stop once more than their opposition and as overtaking is difficult the strategy was not very effective.

On lap 21 Hakkinen challenges Irvine and gets ahead but almost immediately he spins and Irvine regains the place. Hakkinen comes into the pits immediately. On lap 22 Schumacher and Coulthard both pit but the McLaren driver has a problem with his refuelling machinery and loses a lot of time.

After the stops Schumacher is well ahead of the field and maintains his advantage over Irvine who is no longer under pressure from the two delayed McLarens. Villeneuve is a lonely fifth while Wurz runs sixth until he stops for the second time on lap 34. This puts Jean Alesi into sixth place.

Irvine pits again on lap 43 and Schumacher stops two laps later. This puts Coulthard into second and Hakkinen third until they pit again: Hakkinen on lap 54 and Coulthard on lap 55. Coulthard again has problems with the refuelling and is sent out for a lap. He comes back to refuel again but there is still a problem as he is back for a fourth stop on lap 63, which drops him to seventh. He fights back to pass Alesi on the last lap for sixth place.

Hakkinen's stop drops him behind Irvine but he chases hard and spends the closing laps pressuring Irvine. He tries to pass several times but fails. His final attempt sees the two cars cross the finishing line side by side.

Coulthard's misfortunes put Villeneuve in a solid fourth place, while Wurz is able to finish fifth. Alesi and Frentzen fight for seventh place but the battles ends with contact being made and Frentzen has to pit and retire from suspension damage. On the last lap, however, Alesi loses sixth place to the recovering Coulthard.

Herbert survives to finish eighth with Fisichella ninth, after a couple of incidents during the race.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Ralf Schumacher , Jos Verstappen , Johnny Herbert , Rubens Barrichello , Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve , Damon Hill
Teams Sauber , McLaren , Benetton , Jordan