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Previously on TJ13:
OTD Lite: 1998 – Schumacher wins at Magny-Cours
Schumacher took his third win of the season and second on the trot beating teammate Eddie Irvine by 19s and Mika Häkkinen by 19.01s. It was Ferrari’s first 1-2 since the 1990 Spanish Grand Prix with Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell.
Schumacher qualified in second, 0.2s behind Häkkinen but a stall by Jos Verstappen at the start of the race caused a restart. In the restart both Schumacher and Irvine shot past Irvine and this allowed the German to put as much as 1s per lap into title rival Häkkinen while a slower Irvine was holding the Fin and his teammate Coulthard up.
On lap 20 Häkkinen tried to pass Irvine but he failed in is attempt and ended up driving through a gravel trap forcing him to pit. His other opportunity came on the last lap as Irvine was slow through the chicane (final corner) but the Irishman managed to keep Häkkinen behind to beat him by 0.01s.
Time to say “good-bye”?
It appears time is up for Jenson Button. While McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier seemed keen to keep Button prior to the Canadian Grand prix the same cannot be said for Ron Dennis and the latter may have been starting to whisper in Boullier’s ear.
In Canada Boullier stated, “Since I have joined McLaren I have found out what a great competitor he is and what a good asset he is for the team. I more and more appreciate what he can do. I’m very pleased and when the time comes to sit down then I would love to carry on with him.”
In Austria, when asked about Button and Magnussen’s future he was a bit more coy merely stating, “it is a question where I cannot say yes and I cannot say no. We are lucky to have two drivers who want to commit to us for the future. We have some contractual options we can pick up, so we are not in a rush to decide our future driver line-up. We are evaluating and assessing every strategy for the future.”
This hardly sounds like an endorsement for either of them but in an interview with Sky’s F1 Show McLaren boss, Ron Dennis, did not mince his words.
Asked about his drivers he said, “I am happy with the drivers in the sense, I think they are giving their best. I am sure Kevin has given a big wakeup call to Jenson.”
Dennis believes this is great because it shows they’ve made the right choice with Magnussen but of Jenson he said he needs to do better, “.. we say ‘come on Jenson’, you are a world champion, absolutely one thing that you can do on a consistent basis, and should be doing is to beat your team mate.”
“Do I want him to try harder? Of course I do, you know, he is a highly paid Grand Prix driver and yes we’re not giving him the best car, yes it is challenging for him to win in this car to say the least but he’s got to do his bit and Kevin has to make it as difficult as possible.”
Asked if he would like to see Hamilton back in the team he said, “We want to win races and we will always hope the best available drivers would wish to drive our cars and I think that the key word is ‘available’. People have contracts and we respect those contracts but I mean, if Lewis would be in a position to drive for us next year as any of the other top drivers, if they were in that position, we would love to have them on board but no one should ever feel threatened, either the driver or an engineer, all we want to do is win, and we have to take considered positions and considered decisions on that process.”
Perhaps it is time for Button to say good-bye and accept the inevitable rather than trying to push for a drive that is not there, as Barrichello did.