|1997 British Grand Prix|
Race 9 of 17 in the 1997 Formula One Season
|Date||13 July 1997|
|Official name||L RAC British Grand Prix|
5.140 km (3.194 mi)
|Distance||59 laps, 303.260 km (188.437 mi)|
|Weather||Sunny, Dry Track|
|Driver||Jacques Villeneuve (Willimas-Renault)|
|Driver||Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)|
|Time||1:24.480 on lap 34|
|First||Jacques Villeneuve (Willimas-Renault)|
|Second||Jean Alesi (Benetton-Renault)|
|Third||Alexander Wurz (Benetton-Renault)|
The 1997 British Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Silverstone on 13 July 1997. It was the ninth round of the 1997 Formula One season. Jacques Villeneuve won the race despite being stuck in the pitlane for half a minute during his first pitstop, after a wheelnut problem. The 1997 British Grand Prix at Silverstone is also notable for being the first GP in which Martin Brundle performed his now customary pre-race grid walk.
At the end of the qualifying session on Saturday Williams proved that despite the recent setbacks it is still a great team. Jacques Villeneuve came out when the track was at its busiest but had no problems with slower cars and was able to snatch pole position away from his team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who had grabbed it from Mika Hakkinen just a few minutes before. The McLaren improvement pushed Michael Schumacher's Ferrari down to fourth on the grid which, according to Michael, was where he had expected to be.
Fifth on the grid - just behind his brother Michael - was Ralf Schumacher in his Jordan-Peugeot. He emerged ahead in the incredible battle for fifth-11th places on the grid, seven drivers being covered by 0.12secs. Thus, while Ralf's performance looked quite good, Giancarlo Fisichella's 10th position seemed rather disappointing, although there was but a blink between them.
David Coulthard backed up McLaren's good performance with sixth on the grid, half a second down on Mika. If he had not spun off during Friday's practice he might have completed more laps and had a more competitive car. "The potential was there," said David, "but unfortunately the lap time was not."
Eddie Irvine was seventh on the grid but so close were the top cars that he was only four-tenths slower. Eighth on the grid, behind Coulthard and Irvine, was the leading Benetton driver, Alexander Wurz beating Jean Alesi for the second time in two races.
Jean was "disappointed and frustrated" to be down in 11th position while Wurz was "obviously pleased". Overall the team had little to be cheerful about as once again it had failed to reproduce the impressive kind of times that we have seen on occasion in testing.
The weather cleared through the morning and by two o'clock it was becoming quite a nice day. It was not a nice day for Frentzen because at the end of the parade lap his Williams refused to go into neutral and when Heinz-Harald tried to force the issue the car stalled and the start had to be aborted.
When the grid formed up again Frentzen was at the back of the grid - as the rules dictate.
Up front Villeneuve got away well and Schumacher made a pretty good getaway too but behind them Coulthard simply flew from fifth to be challenging Michael on the inside as the cars dived into the first corner. At the last second David decided that discretion was the better part of valor and let Michael go, slotting into third ahead of Hakkinen, a fast-starting Herbert, Ralf Schumacher and the two Benettons (Alesi ahead of Wurz after a better getaway).
Down at the back of the grid we lost Katayama even before he crossed the startline, the Japanese driver spinning into the pitwall for no obvious reason. Katayama's wreck was still sitting beside the road at Woodcote when the front-runners came through at the end of the first lap and the Race Director sent out the Safety Car. The Safety Car stayed out until the start of lap 5 and then the chase was on again.
It was clear that both Jacques and Michael were going for a two-stop strategy and that Coulthard was on a one-stopper. Behind him it was hard to say as no-one was able to show how fast they could go. Schumacher was the first to stop - on lap 21 - and Villeneuve came in next time around. And then there was drama because the French-Canadian's front left wheel stuck on. It cost him half a minute but thanks to Coulthard's slow progress in the early laps Jacques rejoined in seventh position just behind the Benettons.
Two leaders retired from the race due to mechanical failures. Michael Schumacher led by over 40 seconds before a wheel bearing failure caused retirement. This put Villeneuve back into the lead but he had to stop again and that meant that Mika Hakkinen moved into the lead, albeit only five seconds ahead of the Williams. It would be a chase to the flag. Häkkinen seemed set for his first win but his engine blew while he was holding off Villeneuve, having made one stop to the French-Canadian's two (a strategy ITV's Martin Brundle had earlier commented was unlikely to be a race-winner). Jacques jinked out to avoid the spray of oil, took the lead and then stroked it home for the last seven laps.
Further back, Alexander Wurz scored his first podium finish in only his 3rd Grand Prix, also briefly leading the race during the pitstops. David Coulthard ran 3rd early on, but faded with braking problems. Schumacher's team-mate Eddie Irvine was close behind Villeneuve when both made their second pitstop, but his car failed as he exited the pits. The race was a disaster for Heinz-Harald Frentzen - after stalling on the grid as the race was about to begin, forcing the start to be aborted and having to start from the back of the grid, he then crashed on the first lap.
- Lap leaders: Jacques Villeneuve 36 (1-22, 38-44, 53-59), Michael Schumacher 15 (23-37), Mika Häkkinen 8 (45-52)
Standings after Grand PrixEdit
- Drivers' Championship standings
- Constructors' Championship standings
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
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