Italian GP Report

At the start of the race Frentzen got away well, but it was the Williams of Zanardi that made the star start, and was up to 2nd, just behind Hakkinen. Ralf Schumacher didn't make quite as good a start, and took a detour over the chicane, whilst...

At the start of the race Frentzen got away well, but it was the Williams of Zanardi that made the star start, and was up to 2nd, just behind Hakkinen. Ralf Schumacher didn't make quite as good a start, and took a detour over the chicane, whilst further back an Arrows and a Minardi touched. H-H Frentzen soon took Zanardi for second, whilst Marc Gene was off the circuit. Where was Coulthard? Down in 5th place, and falling back...

The Benetton's had a reversal of fortunes compared to recently, and were not looking good. Fisichella's was out of the race on lap 2 with some sort of mechanical failure by the look of it, whilst Pedro de la Rosa was into the pits after his failed lunge at Gene removed the latter Spaniard from the race. Also joining the early bath squad was Pedro Diniz.

Hakkinen Frentzen Zanardi R.Schumacher Salo  Coulthard
Lap 3    1.909    3.687   4.431        5.037 5.778
Lap 5    3.016    5.556   6.048        6.803 7.343

de la Rosa's Arrows, suitably repaired, was off the track again now, and seemingly out of the race with broken front suspension. Wurz, in the sole remaining Benetton, was having a bad race, having to be very defensive to keep the Prost of Panis behind him, whilst just behind them Zonta and Herbert were battling as well.

Hakkinen Frentzen Zanardi R.Schumacher Salo  Coulthard
Lap 10   5.002    8.319   9.159        9.995 11.066

Rubens Barrichello soon disposed of David Coulthard, and was in the points. Coulthard was now just ahead of Irvine. Wurz was soon touring to retirement, as the Benetton took the shortcut over the chicane and something disagreed with the journey. He finally pulled in to retire just by the pit wall.

On lap 17, Panis made his first of two stops, closely followed a lap later by Trulli. Alex Zanardi was now in trouble, and signalled to let Ralf by into third. Meanwhile, further back, Barrichello was on a charge and took the Ferrari of Salo, and then all over the back of Zanardi.

Hakkinen Frentzen R.Schumacher Zanardi Barrichello Salo Lap 23 7.152 10.173 14.909 15.522 16.453

There then followed a totally bizarre accident, as the Arrows of Takagi broke too late in a desperate lunge on Badoer, and launched onto the rear wheel of the Minardi. The pair joined together, with the Arrows up in the air, for what seemed ages, before the Arrows crashed down, whilst the Minardi of Badoer was damaged enough to retire. Takagi survived and made his way back to the pits for repairs.

Whilst this was going on, Barrichello got ahead of Zanardi, followed by Salo also taking the Italian. After such a good start, the Italian's car was letting him down.

Hakkinen Frentzen R.Schumacher Barrichello Salo    Coulthard
Lap 28   7.999    10.337       16.739      20.198  21.458

The second bizarre accident of the race now occurred, with Hakkinen - apparently for no reason at all - spun off at the chicane, threw his doll (well, his steering wheel) out of the car, and off to the bushes where the Italian camera teams showed him crying at the lead he had now lost. Frentzen was now in the lead as the pit stops came up. Barrichello and Zanardi were amongst the first to pit, whilst Panis (who was on a 2 stopper) was setting the fastest lap of the race at that point.

Frentzen R.Schumacher Salo   Coulthard Irvine Hill
Lap 32   2.702        15.062 17.100    19.848 20.940

Ralf Schumacher, Alesi and Hill all pitted, followed a lap later by Frentzen, who rejoined just behind Salo and Coulthard, who were now the leaders - but yet to stop. Irvine then made his stop, followed by Salo and Coulthard who pitted together. The Ferrari crew made a better job of it, and Salo kept his position over Coulthard. Coulthard, however, then proceeded to lose a place to Barrichello. Things were not looking good for the Woking concern.

Frentzen R.Schumacher Salo   Barrichello Coulthard Irvine
Lap 37   5.753        15.256 16.839      17.343    21.409

Over the next few laps, Barrichello and Coulthard battled for position, but the Brazilian had the edge. The battle continued for the rest of the race, but the McLaren never managed to get ahead of the Stewart. Frentzen kept it all together, and won from Ralf Schumacher by 3.2 seconds.

Frentzen R.Schumacher Salo   Barrichello Coulthard Irvine
Lap 53   3.272        11.932 17.630      18.142    27.402

7th: Zanardi 8th: Villeneuve 9th: Alesi 10th: Hill 11th: Panis -- Stephen M Baines http://www.vollans.demon.co.uk

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Pedro de la Rosa , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Marc Gene , Alex Zanardi , Pedro Diniz
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Minardi