Hungarian Grand Prix Report

Hungarian Grand Prix 1998 A real Hum-dinger The race started as qualifying had suggested. The two McLaren's took to the lead, with Irvine taking Hill for 4th, and Schumacher running well in 3rd. The top was completed by Villeneuve, with ...

Hungarian Grand Prix 1998

A real Hum-dinger

The race started as qualifying had suggested. The two McLaren's took to the lead, with Irvine taking Hill for 4th, and Schumacher running well in 3rd. The top was completed by Villeneuve, with Frentzen, Wurz, Alesi, Fisichella, Diniz and Salo behind. The order stayed the same in the top 12 until lap 13, when Irvine pitted and retired with major transmission problems - a lack of 4th, 5th and 6th gear. On the same lap Tuero pulled off at the end of the pit lane.

By lap 19, Hakkinen had lapped Panis, who was now running last in 19th place. The McLaren scythed its way through the field, whilst Coulthard was having a slightly harder battle keeping Schumacher behind. Salo had a major engine blow up, whilst Alesi took an trip across the sand. Hakkinen was rapidly up to lap the 13th place man. Hill made his stop and rejoined in 9th place, in traffic. Schumacher soon also pitted, with Coulthard soon to follow. Coulthard managed to rejoin ahead of the Ferrari, with Villeneuve splitting the pair, but yet to stop. Hakkinen pitted and rejoined the race in the lead. Everything was going McLaren's way.

Wurz soon followed with his pit stop, and had a slight problem removing the fuel nozzle, whilst Frentzen had a problem with Williams' bette noir of the season - the fuel flap wouldn't close... Villeneuve soon came into the pits, releasing Schumacher to chase after Coulthard, and Hill had made up a place on Villeneuve.

On lap 38, Hakkinen had a bit of a moment, whilst Coulthard and Schumacher were up to Ralf Schumacher. Ronzo had apparantly been down to Jordan to ensure there was no funny business. Both got by cleanly. Schumacher continued to hassle Coulthard very hard. Then a bizzare twist took place. Ferrari were ready for another stop - at half distance. Were Ferrari really planning a 3 stop race? He came in and was turned around in 6.8 seconds. McLaren were flustered, and brought in Coulthard, and promptly lost the place. Hakkinen then also came in, and lost the lead. Schumacher - amazingly - was leading.

What followed was a superb demonstration of Ferrari tactics. The car was a clear 1.5 seconds a lap faster than Hakkinen, and rapidly built up a huge lead. Enough to have room for a 3rd stop without any problems. In the pits, Minardi were having a drama when Nakano's refuelling nozzle wouldn't move. Much staring into- and bashing of - the nozzle followed. Eventually the team used Tuero's unneeded nozzle.

Hill pitted from 5th place and rejoined with a clear track ahead. Schumacher then had a moment and had a trip across the sand. It cost him a few seconds, but the McLarens were not in a position to capitalise on it. Schumacher had a clear 3.3 seconds a lap on Hakkinen! Coulthard got by Hakkinen and started to chase after Schumacher - for what it was worth. Hill made his way back to 5th as Villeneuve made his second stop. Meanwhile, Ferrari were getting ready for Schumacher's 3rd stop, and as Schumacher pitted he had 27 seconds over second place Coulthard. He rejoined the race still comfortably in the lead.

It was now clear that Hakkinen had a major problem he was losing time hand over fist. Herbert unlapped himself from Hakkinen, and Villeneuve and Hill were fast approaching. By lap 67, Villeneuve had taken Hakkinen, and Ralf was on the tail of (but a lap down on) Hakkinen, with Hill a few seconds adrift. There was little he could do. Hill and Frentzen made short work of it. The final indignity for the McLaren was to have Schumacher lap him. Secretly, Hakkinen would have been pleased. It meant one less lap in a car that was on the edge of failure.

1.Schumacher 2.Coulthard 3.Villeneuve 4.Hill 5.Frentzen 6.Hakkinen 7.Alesi 8.Fisichella 9.R Schumacher 10.Herbert 11.Diniz 12.Panis 13.Verstappen 14.Takagi 15.Nakano 16.Wurz

-- 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

F1/TouringCars http://www.motorsport.org.uk

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Tiff Needell
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan