Qualifying : Sunny and warm
Jacques Villeneuve stamped his mark on the field in a big way, setting an incredible
time early in the session. Team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen's
last lap effort was good enough for the front row, but was still
Defending Champion Damon Hill almost didn't qualify, having to manhandle the TWR Arrows on to the last row of the grid. His team-mate Pedro Diniz was given a special exception by the race organizers and allowed to start, even though his qualifying time was outside of 107% of pole. They reasoned that he had consistently run within 107% during free practice and he had mechanical difficulties during the qulifying hour. The two Lola cars however, were nowhere near 107% and the team was on its way home by Saturday afternoon.
The session was stopped briefly after Nicola Larini spun off and Gerhard Berger rolled to a halt. Other incidents included minor off's for Johnny Herbert and Ralf Schumacher, while Olivier Panis came very close to collecting a Minardi as he spun his Prost-Mugen on the last flying lap.
The Starting Grid
|Jacques Villeneuve||Williams-Renault||1m 29.369s|
|Heinz-Harald Frentzen||Williams-Renault||1m 31.123s|
|Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1m 31.472s|
|David Coulthard||McLaren-Mercedes||1m 31.531s|
|Eddie Irvine||Ferrari||1m 31.881s|
|Mika Hakkinen||McLaren-Mercedes||1m 31.971s|
|Johnny Herbert||Sauber-Petronas||1m 32.287s|
|Jean Alesi||Benetton-Renault||1m 32.593s|
|Olivier Panis||Prost-Mugen||1m 32.842s|
|Gerhard Berger||Benetton-Renault||1m 32.870s|
|Rubens Barrichello||Stewart-Ford||1m 33.075s|
|Ralf Schumacher||Jordan-Peugeot||1m 33.130s|
|Nicola Larini||Sauber-Petronas||1m 33.327s|
|Gianni Fisichella||Jordan-Peugeot||1m 33.552s|
|Ukyo Katayama||Minardi-Hart||1m 33.798s|
|Shinji Nakano||Prost-Mugen||1m 33.989s|
|Jarno Trulli||Minardi-Hart||1m 34.120s|
|Mika Salo||Tyrrell-Ford||1m 34.229s|
|Jan Magnussen||Stewart-Ford||1m 34.623s|
|Damon Hill||TWR Arrows-Yamaha||1m 34.806s|
|Jos Verstappen||Tyrrell-Ford||1m 34.943s|
|Pedro Diniz||TWR Arrows-Yamaha||1m 35.972s|
Race : 58 laps, sunny & warm
1996 Winner: Damon Hill (Williams) 1h 32m 50.491s
1996 Winner: Damon Hill (Williams) 1h 32m 50.491s
|David Coulthard||McLaren-Mercedes||1h 30m 28.718s|
|Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1h 30m 48.764s|
|Mika Hakkinen||McLaren-Mercedes||1h 30m 50.895s|
|Gerhard Berger||Benetton-Renault||1h 30m 51.559s|
|Olivier Panis||Prost-Mugen||1h 31m 29.026s|
|Nicola Larini||Sauber-Petronas||1h 32m 04.758s|
|Shinji Nakano||Prost-Mugen||2 laps down|
|Heinz-Harald Frentzen||Williams-Renault||55 laps - brake failure|
|Jarno Trulli||Minardi-Hart||3 laps down|
|Pedro Diniz||TWR Arrows-Yamaha||4 laps down|
|Rubens Barrichello||Stewart-Ford||49 laps - engine|
|Mika Salo||Tyrrell-Ford||42 laps - engine|
|Jan Magnussen||Stewart-Ford||36 laps - suspension|
|Jean Alesi||Benetton-Renault||34 laps - out of fuel|
|Ukyo Katayama||Minardi-Hart||32 laps - fuel injection failure|
|Gianni Fisichella||Jordan-Peugeot||12 laps - spun off|
|Jos Verstappen||Tyrrell-Ford||2 laps - spun off|
|Ralf Schumacher||Jordan-Peugeot||1 lap - suspension arm failure|
|Jacques Villeneuve||Williams-Renault||0 laps - accident|
|Johnny Herbert||Sauber-Petronas||0 laps - accident|
|Eddie Irvine||Ferrari||0 laps - accident|
|Damon Hill||TWR Arrows-Yamaha||0 laps - throttle sensor|
1997: Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams) 1m 30.585s
1996: Jacques Villeneuve (Williams) 1m 33.421s
The Monday headlines should have read "Irvine Wins For McLaren"...
With a suicidal charge into the first corner, Eddie Irvine removed polesitter Jacques Villeneuve, Johnny Herbert and himself from the race. So it was Heinz-Harald Frentzen in his Williams debut, that set the early pace.
A botched pitstop dropped him behind David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher, but the Ferrari was short on fuel and Frentzen found himself in second. But all was not well with the Williams' brakes. For several laps a large cloud of carbon dust appeared when Frentzen braked hard, and with a few laps to go the front left caliper broke apart at the end of the front straight sending the German into the gravel trap. An unlucky finish after an impressive drive.
Meanwhile, up at the front Coulthard was calmly reeling off the laps, unaffected by Schumacher or Frentzen looming in his mirrors. He showed great poise as he gave McLaren their first win since the end of 1993, while teammate Mika Hakkinen added more points from his third place finish.
Notable, if unspectacular performances came from Jarno Trulli in his F1 debut, the Stewart's of Rubens Barichello and Jan Magnussen who looked reasonably competitive in their first ever outing, and Pedro Diniz who managed to keep the Arrows going to the finish.
Disappointments were many, not least
of which was Damon Hill. After scraping into the race,
he ran 1.5s faster in the morning warmup but a faulty throttle
sensor left him stranded during the parade lap. Jos Verstappen
made a dramatic exit while trying to pass the unusually wide Minardi
of Ukyo Katayama, while Jean Alesi ran out of fuel
(somewhat embarrassing since his crew had called him in 5 laps
Both the Jordan-Peugeots fell by the wayside quickly, first Ralf Schumacher had gearbox problems, then Gianni Fisichella got it all wrong while passing Barrichello. Definitely not the start that Eddie Jordan was looking for.
All in all a good race to kick off
the '97 season and a refreshing change at the top of the podium.
Welcome back McLaren
Photo credits : AP/McLaren Intl