Report Before the start of the race Schumacher had said that he was woried about the clutch in his car. It was replaced for the race by one of another make. At the start, however, it caused little problem, with Schumacher taking the lead ...
Before the start of the race Schumacher had said that he was woried about the clutch in his car. It was replaced for the race by one of another make. At the start, however, it caused little problem, with Schumacher taking the lead decisively. Hill, on the other hand, made a tardy start on the dusty half of the track, allowing Villeneuve and Alesi to take him. The race was over by this stage for Salo, who had the indignity of being the first retirement with an altercation with Pedro Diniz's Ligier. The latter, however, kept the car going and went back to the pits for remedial work. For the first 6 laps nothing changed at the front, with the order firmly remaining Schumacher, Villeneuve, Alesi, Hill, Irvine, Berger, Hakkinen and Herbert.
Schumacher Villeneuve Alesi Hill Irvine Berger 5 laps 0.746 6.551 7.699 10.738 12.077
Martin Brundle was the next to go off, with a lurid moment involving a neat nosedive into a gravel trap. Schumacher was meanwhile merrily pulling away at the front, with a 1 second lead by lap 9. Hill was now charging and after Alesi, and gaining at a ferocious rate of knots. Villeneuve was also setting about Schumacher in a similar vein, and was the fastest man on the track. Jos Verstappen was the next to go off the track.
Schumacher Villeneuve Alesi Hill Irvine Berger Lap 12 0.787 14.393 15.119 18.310 20.852
Villeneuve was now visibly closing in on Schumacher, whilst Frentzen was the first of the front runners to make a pit stop on lap 14. By lap 15, Schumacher was up to lap Lavaggi, who was lapping some 5 seconds a lap slower than the front of the pack. Lavaggi was doing a wonderful job for the Minardi team in Hungary, ensuring the camera got full view of the sponsors names at every opportunity. The team chose well there.
Schumacher Villeneuve Alesi Hill Lap 16 0.415 18.077 18.453
Berger, meanwhile, was the first of the front runners to take a place, and duly took Irvine for 5th place. Berger was also on a charge and after the Williams of Hill. Herbert was the next of the front runners to pit, in a quick 6.6 seconds. Irvine, meanwhile, was now rapidly falling back from the charging Berger. The Ferrari pit were now ready for a pit stop. Would it be a routine stop for Schumacher, or a terminal stop for Irvine. Villeneuve was now a scant 0.2 seconds behind Schumacher and held 19.5 seconds over Alesi. Schumacher pitted in 7.9 seconds, allowing Villeneuve into the lead, and also allowing Alesi, Hill, and Berger into 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Schumacher rejoined in 5th. Villeneuve was now well and truly setting the pace, and showing that he had been held up by the Ferrari. Williams were now also ready for a stop.
Villeneuve Alesi Hill Berger Schumacher Irvine Lap 20 20.681 21.258 23.554 23.886 27.999
In the end it was Villeneuve who pitted in 7.8 seconds, rejoining the race behind Hill, with Alesi the new race leader. Alesi was the next to pit, and rejoined the race before a McLaren. Hill was now into the lead.
Hill was now setting the pace, with a 1m20.929 on lap 23. For McLaren, however, things suddenly turned pearshaped, with Coulthard going off - he later said that the gearbox seized. It certainly looked that way, with the whole of the rear end now refusing to do anything that David wanted as he battled the car onto the pitstraight - his problems occuring just as he passed the pit lane entrance. Berger joined the tour of the pits, with Williams also ready. Hill managed a clean6.8 second stop - the order of the day for most drivers - and rejoined in 6th. Irvine followed suit into the pit lane. Lamy was also into the pits, and after a lengthy stop retired. Rosset looked set to be the next retirement with a lurid moment whilst being harried by the lapping Sauber of Frentzen. The TWR-Arrows going straight across the gravel and onto the track, where he showered it with stones. Hakkinen joined the pit-frenzy with an 8 second stop.
Positions at lap 26: Villeneuve, Schumacher, Hakkinen (pitted), Alesi, Hill, Berger, Irvine, Herbert, Panis, Frentzen, Barrichello, Rosset (P), Katayama, Lavaggi.
Villeneuve now had a 7.5 second lead over Schumacher, whilst Hill was after Alesi for all it was worth. The pair came upon Rosset, and got by cleanly. Hill then took Alesi into turn 1, as the Benetton went wide, and closed the door far too late to stop a charging Hill. On lap 32 the Ferrari of Irvine went critical with smoke pouring out of the back, forcing Irvine to retire yet again. It was later reported that the gearbox had gone.
On the same lap the funniest moment of the race occured, when Lavaggi got a 10 second speeding penalty - it seemed that the pit lane was the only place he could be occused of that. Hill was now setting the pace of the race with a whole string of fastest laps, begining with a 1m20.735 on lap 32, and reaching 1m20.263 on lap 36. Herbert was next to retire, taking the runners down to 12.
Ferrari were ready for Schumachers next stop. This allowed Hill up to second. The Ferrari mechanics turning Schuey around in 6.9 seconds. He rejoined the race in 3rd, someway ahead of Alesi. Williams were now ready for the next round of stops. Villeneuve was turned around in 7 seconds and rejoined in the lead. Hill was the next to pit, entering some 12 seconds ahead of Schumacher, turned round in 6.7 seconds and rejoined just ahead of Alesi with Schumacher back up to 2nd. The front of the pack were now up onto the Jordan of Barrichello in 7th place, such was the pace at the front - and lack of it further back.
Villeneuve Schumacher Hill Alesi Berger Hakkinen Lap 42 14.328 26.020 28.042 34.865 47.326
Hill was now charging after the Ferrari of Schumacher, and catching at a colosal rate - 1.5 seconds a lap. Alesi pitted in 8.7 seconds. Hill had the gap down to 3.8 seconds on lap 48. Schumacher and Hill came upon Frentzen, who let them both through cleanly. The gap was now 1.9 seconds, as the pair came upon the Minardi of Lavaggi. Berger, meanwhile, was pitting and rejoined just behind Alesi. The Ferrari-Williams train continued to trail Lavaggi, who eventually lets them through, and up to Katayama and Barrichello who were having there own private battle. Barrichello reduced the tension by suddenly pitting and the the 2-3 train took Katayama readily enough. Frentzen was into the pits for a very lengthy stop, which ultimately meant retirement. Schumacher pitted next time around, whilst Hill stayed out.
Order: Villeneuve, Hill, Schumacher, Alesi, Berger, Hakkinen, Panis, Barrichello, Katayama, Rosset, Lavaggi
On lap 56, Villeneuve pitted from the lead (some 23 seconds of it), was done in 6.8 seconds - or so it appeared, until the right-rear wheel nut jammed yet again. He was out in 14.8 seconds, and behind Hill who now found himself in the lead, but yet to stop. Hill continued to pull away from his team-mate, taking it to 15.6 seconds by lap 61. He came upon Lavaggi (yet again), and he lets him through - Hill losing 1.3 seconds in the process. The gap was now 14.8 seconds. By the time he pitted it was a 15.7 second lead, but not enough to prevent Villeneuve retaking the lead. He rejoined the race in 2nd place, with Schumacher behind, and Berger closing fast. For lap after lap Hill tore into Villeneuves lead, as Berger's engine suddenly let go a la Hockeheim. Hill was really setting the pace, and setting it with a fastest lap of 1m20.093s.
Lap 70: Villeneuve, Hill, Schumacher, Alesi, Hakkinen, Panis, Barrichello, Katayama, Rosset, Lavaggi
Just as it looked that the race was steadying out Schumacher's car ground to a halt. Villeneuve and Hill came upon Hakkinen, who let them by, and then to Katayama, who let them go off line to go by. The two Williams' were a tad wobbly for a couple of laps after that. Hill continued to harry Villeneuve to the line, following him in his tyretracks almost to the inch, but to no avail. In the end the Canadian won the race by 0.6 seconds from Hill. The gap between the two now closer in the championship, but sealing the Constructors Championship for Williams.
1. Villeneuve 2. Hill 3. Alesi 4. Hakkinen 5. Panis 6. Barrichello 7. Katayama 8. Rosset 9. Schumacher 10. Lavaggi
-- 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