TFTV – Story of the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix

Features Tales from the vault

Round thirteen of the 1998 season saw Formula One head to the legendry circuit at Spa. Going into the race Mikka Hakkinen lead the championship from Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard. McLaren had the lead over Ferrari in the

Qualifying Report

Mikia Hakkienen qualified on pole beating David Coulthard and Damon Hill to take his ninth pole after going two tenths faster than Coulthard. Hill started third after being over a second behind the Finn.

Michael Schumacher had taken pole early on, but his fastest lap was disqualified for ignoring yellow flags. Thou his best lap was only good enough for fourth anyway. Schumacher’s Ferrari team-mate, Eddie Irvine, finished the session fifth fastest and Villeneuve was sixth.

Race Report

Hakkienen lead from Coulthard at the start, but then after La Source the Scotsman spins into the wall. Then you see a wall of spray followed by a tangled heap of cars coming towards you. Cars in bits all over the track that put derbisa as they all got caught out on the standing water sliding off.

Lights out again, Hakkinen pulls away but the Jordan of Damon Hill gets alongside and into the lead of the race.  But after exiting La Source, the Finn spins and wrips his front nose off. Hill had the lead over both Michael  Schumacher and Eddie Irvine. Things were not getting better for McLaren as then Coulthard went off, but he managed to rejoin and out came the safety car.

Hill and Michael  Schumacher pulled away on the restart from Irvine. Schumacher got passed Hill at the bus stop on lap seven.  Then the Northern Irishman goes off the track hitting the wall taking his front nose off.  While Michael built his lead at the front of the race, before he pitted along with Hill.

They both rejoined as they were before the stop. But Hill was beginning to come under pressure from Ralf Schumacher, his team-mate.  Michael was trying to get past Coulthard and lap him, but ran into the back of him trying to pass taking a wheel off his Ferrari.

It looked as if Coulthard was trying to lift off the gas and Michael didn’t realise, causing the collision. That went into the pits, as Michael stormed down the pit lane and down to have it out with Coulthard. Then, Irvine crashed out so  both McLaren’s and Ferrari’s were out of the race.

The Jordan’s were leading the race, when Giancarlo Fisichella crashed into the wall with the Bennton catching fire in an repeat of the Coulthard/Schumacher accident. Hill comes into the pits, he rejoins ahead of Ralf.

He pulls away from Ralf but then runs wide at La Source but stays ahead. It then became a battle between Hill and Ralf after the conditions changed again as the rain returned.

But Damon Hill stayed in front to win the Belgian Grand Prix, giving Jordan there first Grand Prix win from Sauber’s Jean Alesi.

What it will be remembered for?

The race will be remembered for that chaotic start and the multiple car pileup which saw the whole field near crash out on the first lap. If we saw that now we would not have a Grand Prix and the race would be cancelled. The race also saw the shunt between Schumacher and Coulthard, that just added to the drama.

But the first Grand Prix win for Jordan is not what comes to mind when you think of the race. That was a huge achievement for the team from Ireland and was the firsts win for Hill since he won the championship in Japan 1996.

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