Gallery: Showdown between Schumacher, Villeneuve in 1997

Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve were involved in a tight scrap for the 1997 Formula 1 world championship.

And the season concluded with one of the most memorable and controversial finales in F1 history at Jerez. In the end it was Villeneuve who claimed his maiden crown and the last for Williams.

The Canadian became a victim of one of Schumacher's dirty tactics, but manager to steer clear and secure enough points to clinch the title. 


David Coulthard won the opening race of the 1997 F1 season in Australian, claiming McLaren's first victory since Ayrton Senna left the team at end of 1993.

Photo by: LAT Images


However, McLaren wouldn't feature in the title fight as Williams' Villeneuve and Ferrari driver Schumacher emerged as title protagonists.

Photo by: LAT Images


Rubens Barrichello left Jordan to join the Stewart team. Although reliability issues dragged him down, he was able to claim the squad's first podium with a second place finish in a wet Monaco Grand Prix.

Photo by: LAT Images


The season also marked the entry of Bridgestone, which supplied tyres to Stewart, Minardi, Prost and Arrows. Goodyear, however, continued to provide tyres to all leading teams in their penultimate year in F1.

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The modest Arrows team received plenty of attention due to arrival of defending champion Damon Hill. However, the Englishman wasn't able to take the start in the opening race due to technical troubles.

Photo by: Sutton Images


Hill was on course to take an underdog victory in Hungary, but an alternator issue forced him to slow down in the closing laps. He was overtaken by Villeneuve on the final lap and had to settle for second.

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Gerhard Berger claimed his last F1 win in Germany. The victory came on the back of some difficult events in his personal life; he lost his father in a plane crash and himself missed three grands prix after suffering from sinus.

Photo by: Sutton Images


And the victory was memorable one - he claimed pole position, set the fastest lap and led throughout in Germany. It was also the last win for Benetton.

Photo by: Sutton Images


Villeneuve was stripped of points at the penultimate race in Japan for ignoring yellow flags.

Photo by: Williams F1


Meanwhile, Schumacher took full advantage of Villeneuve's disqualification, winning the race to surge to the lead of the championship.

Photo by: Sutton Images


The two drivers were separated by just one point heading into the final round - Schumacher on 78 points as opposed to 78 for Villeneuve.

Photo by: LAT Images


The final qualifying of the season didn't disappoint. Schumacher, Villeneuve, Frentzen set the exact same time - 1m21.072s. The grid was determined in the order in which they set the time.

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Schumacher jumped to the lead at the start of the race and built a decent advantage for him up front. However, after the second round of pitstops, Villeneuve started coming back on him.

Photo by: Renault


Villeneuve attempted a pass over Schumacher on lap 48 and was ahead of the German when the latter shut the door, leading to a collision. Schumacher immediately retired from the race and was later handed disqualified for the season for deliberately causing the incident.

Photo by: LAT Images


Meanwhile, Villeneuve escaped from the incident and finished third, securing enough points to claim the title. He had let pass the McLaren drivers through to take first and second as part of an agreement between the two teams.

Photo by: LAT Images


Interestingly, through the entire length of the 1997 season, Schumacher and Villeneuve never finished on the podium together.

Photo by: LAT Images
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Series Formula 1
Article type Special feature