1998 Monaco
Grand Prix
Monte Carlo
2.092 miles

May 24th 1998

Qualifying - Race - Analysis

Qualifying : Cloudy, warm

Fisichella impressed

1997 Pole: Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams) 1m 18.216s

The Starting Grid

Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes BS 1m 19.798s
David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes BS 1m 20.137s
Giancarlo Fisichella Benetton-Playlife BS 1m 20.368s
Michael Schumacher Ferrari GY 1m 20.702s
Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams-Mecachrome GY 1m 20.729s
Alexander Wurz Benetton-Playlife BS 1m 20.955s
Eddie Irvine Ferrari GY 1m 21.712s
Mika Salo TWR Arrows BS 1m 22.144s
Johnny Herbert Sauber-Petronas GY 1m 22.157s
Jarno Trulli Prost-Peugeot BS 1m 22.238s
Jean Alesi Sauber-Petronas BS 1m 22.257s
Pedro Diniz TWR Arrows BS 1m 22.355s
Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Mecachrome GY 1m 22.468s
Rubens Barrichello Stewart-Ford BS 1m 22.540s
Damon Hill Jordan-Mugen Honda GY 1m 23.151s
Ralf Schumacher Jordan-Mugen Honda GY 1m 23.263s
Jan Magnussen Stewart-Ford BS 1m 23.411s
Olivier Panis Prost-Peugeot BS 1m 23.536s
Shinji Nakano Minardi-Ford BS 1m 23.957s
Tora Takagi Tyrrell-Ford GY 1m 24.024s
Esteban Tuero Minardi-Ford BS 1m 24.031s
107 % rule time: 1m 25.383s  
Ricardo Rosset Tyrrell-Ford GY 1m 25.737s (DNQ)

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Race : 78 laps - cloudy, warm

The Start

1997 Winner: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) 2h 00m 05.654s wet track

The Result

Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes BS 1h 51m 23.595s
Giancarlo Fisichella Benetton-Playlife BS 1h 51m 35.070s
Eddie Irvine Ferrari GY 1h 52m 04.973s
Mika Salo TWR Arrows BS 1h 52m 23.958s
Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Mecachrome GY 1 lap down
Pedro Diniz TWR Arrows BS 1 lap down
Johnny Herbert Sauber-Petronas GY 1 lap down
Damon Hill Jordan-Mugen Honda GY 2 laps down
Shinji Nakano Minardi-Ford BS 2 laps down
Michael Schumacher Ferrari GY 2 laps down
Tora Takagi Tyrrell-Ford GY 2 laps down
Jean Alesi Sauber-Petronas GY 72 laps - gearbox
Jarno Trulli Prost-Peugeot BS 56 laps - gearbox
Olivier Panis Prost-Peugeot BS 49 laps - wheel bearing
Ralf Schumacher Jordan-Mugen Honda GY 44 laps - hit barrier
Alexander Wurz Benetton-Playlife BS 42 laps - crash/suspension failure
Jan Magnussen Stewart-Ford BS 30 laps - rear suspension
David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes BS 17 laps - engine failure
Rubens Barrichello Stewart-Ford BS 11 laps - rear suspension
Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams-Mecachrome GY 9 laps - collision w/Irvine
Esteban Tuero Minardi-Ford BS 0 laps - hit barrier

Fastest Lap :
Mika Hakkinen (McLaren) 1m 24.275s
Lap Record : 1994: Michael Schumacher (Benetton) 1m 21.076s

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Frentzen loses out to Irvine

Analysis :
Mika Hakinnen's only threat disappeared when McLaren teammate David Coulthard's Mercedes engine exploded after 17 laps. From there the Finn could cruise to his fourth win of the season and consolidate his lead in the championship.
Behind him the Benettons were putting on a show. Giancarlo Fisichella drove a great race (only spoiled by clipping the barriers at La Rascasse) while Alexander Wurz engaged in a titanic struggle with Michael Schumache. After going wheel to wheel and swapping positions several times in successive corners, however the pair's cars fell out from under them as a result. First Schumacher's rear suspension collapsed as he completed the lap, close enough to the pit entrance to limp in. His pit crew worked wonders and changed the trackrod getting him back on the track two laps down. Wurz was less fortunate, as he entered the tunnel the suspension gave way sending him heavily into the barriers, fortunately without injury.
With the German out of contention, Ferrari looked to Eddie Irvine, who despite a run in with Heinz-Harald Frentzen, drove a solid race to third place. Meanwhile, Tom Walkinshaw was being sent into orbit by the performance of his drivers. Up until now they had had trouble finishing half the race, but the streets of Monaco were kind as Mika Salo ran strongly all weekend on his way to 4th, while Pedro Diniz took the last point. It may not be until Hungary, however that we see the TWR cars in the points again.
Williams took a chance and loaded Jacques Villeneuve up with fuel at the start, allowing him to keep going as those in front pitted. The gamble paid off and he was rewarded with fifth - barely fitting for the reigning world champion.

Another trophy for Mika

Winning championships needs luck as well as skill and at this point, Hakkinen has both. It will need a swift and decisive response from Coulthard and Schumacher in the next race or two to stop the momentum from carrying the Finn further ahead, and ultimately out of reach.

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Photo credits : AP