Michael Schumacher’s career in Formula 1 spanned more than 20 years, during which time the German scored dozens of outstanding victories that have become classics in motorsport history. However, there were black spots in the Red Baron’s race, races in which Michael did not hesitate to go against the rules for the sake of victory. One of those places is the 1998 Canadian Grand Prix.
We remember how 25 years ago Schumacher in a harmless situation took his rival off the track, received a fine and still won.
In qualifying for the fourth time in a row, the front row remained with the McLarens, and this time David Coulthard was in first: Mika Hakkinen was 0.07sec behind and held on to second. Michael Schumacher showed the third time, losing 0.28 seconds, but everyone else, including Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher, lost 0.6 or more.
Wurtz accident during first launch attempt
Photo: David Taylor/Getty Images
The race got off to a full start only on the second attempt: on the first, Alexander Wurz stepped onto the grass before the first corner, and on returning to the track, collided with Jean Alesi’s wheel, from which the Benetton came spinning on its axis. thrown into the air The car crashed into gravel, also hitting Jarno Trulli on the road. The judges stopped the race with red flags, and the participants in the incident rushed to the pits in search of replacement cars.
However, the second outing was not without its problems. Mika Hakkinen’s transmission stuck, he retired from the fight at the same time as the stoplight, and at the exit of the first corner Ralph Schumacher caught up in the gravel – his Jordan was immediately thrown across the track.
Trulli and Alesi cars after restart
Photo: David Taylor/Getty Images
The rest of the drivers safely passed Ralph’s car, but Wurtz had to go around one of the arrows, took wider and pushed Trulli, who was thrown into Alesi’s car. So, in just an hour, the Austrian rookie took two rivals out of battle at once, along with their spare cars, and, moreover, safely continued the race.
Blockages in Formula 1 are not uncommon:
Schumacher vs. Frentzen
Meanwhile, Coulthard was establishing himself among the leaders, and Fisichella stormed into second position, ahead of Michael, who was faltering at the start. The German, however, was able to counterattack at the end of the circle, so that by the time the field caught up with the safety car, Ferrari was already in second place and Schumacher actively pressured the leader. And on lap 19, the DC car couldn’t hold: the Scotsman also had a transmission failure, and McLaren, not a third of the distance away, lost the second car.
At the same time, Mika Salo and Johnny Herbert challenged him, and the judges neutralized the race for the third time with the safety car. Michael Schumacher, who had no serious rivals left in the fight for victory, immediately pitted to save time at the pit stop. The German came out of the pit lane alongside Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who had not yet stopped and could be a difficult opponent after the restart. And the Ferrari leader decides to fight very hard.
Schumacher pulls Frentzen out of the pits
Photo: images from the television broadcast
Michael, coming out of pit lane, moved as far to the right as possible, leaving no room for his opponent in Williams; the German even had to drive two wheels on the grass. “Ferrari” from there, as if nothing had happened, drove to the first corner, and Frentzen’s car continued: the German’s right tires skidded on the grass, and in the end, his car flew into the gravel and crashed. froze
Williams was furious. Jock Clea actively gesticulated on the bridge and Patrick Head personally went to the Ferrari location to complain to Jean Todt. “We will do everything we can to take Schumacher out of the race, we will not leave it at that,” Head said at the time. Of course, Michael was not thrown out of the race, but he was fined: a 10-second stop-n-go.
Other Schumacher victories:
fight for victory
Schumacher served his penalty on lap 35 and returned to the race in third place. Leading was Giancarlo Fisichella, who remained in front after Jacques Villeneuve’s suicide attack: the defending champion dropped back to the back of the pack, with Damon Hill in second.
“Jordan” Michael did three laps (Hill soon had technical problems, missed the finish line), and on lap 44, when Fisichella went to his only pit stop, Schumacher retook the race leaders. The red baron attacked at such a pace that he retained first place even after his second pit stop and finished with a 16-second lead over Giancarlo, already the Italian’s second consecutive podium finish in Montreal.
Fisichella, Schumacher and Irvine on the podium
Photo: Mike Cooper/Getty Images
Third, 45 seconds behind Fisichella, finished Eddie Irvine, the Irishman losing over a minute to his Ferrari team-mate. And in fourth position is Alex Wurz. After his initial adventures, the Austrian was at the back of the field, but due to the tactic of a pit stop, he was able to recover.
Due to the victory against the background of Hakkinen’s withdrawal, Schumacher reduced the gap to Mika in the overall standings from 22 points to 12, and there will be races in France and Great Britain, after which the gap will be reduced to a minimum. So it looked like Shumi had a very good chance of overtaking the McLaren leader and rehabbing for Sherry-97…
More about the 1998 season: