On this day in #F1: 25th October

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio.

– 1997: Three into One doesn’t fit!

The Formula One circus arrived in Jerez, Southern Spain, for the final race of the 1997 season, The European Grand Prix.

Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve were the main protagonists, with everybody else merely bit part players for the main show.

Villeneuve-Schumacher_1996_Belgium

They had left Suzuka with the Williams driver a point ahead and arrived at a cool Spanish track with Villeneuve one point behind in the standings. Fear not, I shall explain.

In qualifying at Suzuka, Villeneuve passed waved yellow flags after Jos Verstappen’s Tyrrell came to a halt beside the track. Nine drivers ignored the instruction to slow down but Villeneuve had infringed this rule twice previously in the season. The FIA penalised him and he would have to start at the back of the grid.

Williams appealed the decision, and therefore he started from pole position with the intention of affecting Schumacher’s race. Villeneuve would eventually finish in fifth position with the Ferrari driver winning the race. It was these two points that he lost when the FIA Court of Appeal rejected his appeal and he was disqualified from the results.

There was no love lost between the two teams and their respective drivers. For this reason, at the season finale, tensions were running understandably high.

Early in qualifying Villeneuve set a time of 1m 21.072. Less than fifteen minutes later Schumacher stopped the timing beam at 1m 21.072 also. He had been faster on his first and second splits but lost a little time at the chicane where yellow flags were held out after his brother Ralf had spun off.

With ten minutes of the session to run Frentzen – Villeneuve’s team-mate – went out for his final run. He was quicker through the first two splits but got the car sideways at the chicane, losing him a little time. His final qualifying time was – 1m 21.072.

For the first time since Formula One began, the top three all shared the same time. The rules for this happening are simple. First come – first served. Therefore Villeneuve would take pole position from Schumacher in second and Frenzten in third.

Villeneuve : “It’s very surprising, but I guess it’s the best way to have the championship settled. I’m actually surprised that the lap was quick enough for pole. I made a few mistakes and the wind was strong, so I didn’t push too hard because I didn’t know what it was going to do.

Schumacher: “I had the situation under control. I knew from my dashboard read-out I was going to do a 1m 21.0s, but I didn’t know if it was going to be in front or behind Jacques. To have us both on the front row is what I was looking for. It proves we are all competing on a very high level.

Frentzen: “I think next year we need four numbers after the dot.

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4 responses to “On this day in #F1: 25th October

  1. “I think next year we need four numbers after the dot.”
    How delightfully technical… 😉
    I would have liked to know what happened in the race – or is that for tomorrow…?

    • I remember this session, it was amazing that the 3 main protagonists could all record the same time. Frentzen as Villeneuve’s main gunner of course. Sounds like Villeneuve could have been 3rd without the yellow flag..

      Quite funny the events of the race. I hadn’t seen 94 as I was too young, but I instantly knew what MSc was trying to do, as Brundle pointed out. Great move from Villeneuve. I was a bit surprised at what happened near the end as well as I didn’t see 95 either (until I got F1 for Playstation!). Maybe a bit like 2010? As Villeneuve should have had the title sewn up earlier in the season, but it led to a thrilling climax.

      Also, it was the end of an era (wide track cars, slicks), and 98 Melbourne saw the Newey McLarens 1 second clear on the front row (and team orders enter the debate once more). Maybe we are in a similar situation here today with the V8 engines. Same in 2014 with Newey RB? For what its worth, I never knew why the changes happened in 98 – cars were able to overtake in the slicks and wide track era, a lot more than followed anyway. Safety?

      • Exactly that, safety.
        Narrower tracks meant slower corner speeds and add grooved tyres too.
        They soon overcame that!
        One particular consequence of narrow cars was higher top speeds on he straights, lol
        The FIA !!

    • Sorry BJF, I’d not even thought about part 2, just try to bring a little interest to the OTDs.
      This was the race that Schumi would attempt to take out JV to win the WDC.
      🙂

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