1998 Belgian Grand Prix is one for the history books with the biggest crash in F1, Schumacher’s fury and Eddie Jordan’s team first win.
1998 Belgian Grand Prix, the 13th race of the season on the famous track of Spa-Francorchamps. It’s the 600th GP in Formula 1 for Ferrari, the 30th year anniversary for the first win for McLaren. But on the Belgian circuit, between multiple crashes and the pouring rain, it’s the Jordan Grand Prix team to bring the trophy home.
The result of the qualifying sessions in Spa
In qualifying, Mika Häkkinen took his ninth pole position of the season with a time of 1’48″682. His teammate, David Coulthard, is right after him in P2 while Damon Hill’s Jordan is 3rd. The Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine are 4th and 5th, the German saw his best time cancelled for speeding during a yellow flag. Behind the Rossa, there are the Williams of Jacques Villeneuve, Giancarlo Fisichella’s Benetton and the Jordan of Ralf Schumacher.
The race and the biggest crash to date
On Sunday, it’s pouring in Spa. Everyone fears at the downhill start without the safety car.
Häkkinen leads; Schumacher managed to overtake Coulthard. The Scottish driver, though, loses control of his car and ends up in the wall, bouncing back on the track. As a result, this causes the biggest crash ever in Formula 1, with 13 cars involved. Irvine is the first to hit the McLaren, followed by Mika Salo. Johnny Herbert and Jarno Trulli both spin and Pedro Diniz crashes against the Italian’s car. Olivier Panis touches Rubens Barrichello, who spins and ends up in front of Alexander Wurz. Tora Takagi’s Tyrrell finishes on the wall, his teammate Ricardo Rosset collides with the Prost of Panis and the Stewart of Barrichello. The red flag was inevitable.
At the time, the rules allowed the use of spare cars. Most drivers were able to restart except for Barrichello, who is slightly injured, Rosset, Panis and Salo.
It’s probably one of the most infamous race starts in #F1 history 💥
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 23, 2018
A little over an hour later and the grid is lined up for the second time. The grid is back in qualifying order. When the lights go out Hill immediately overtakes Häkkinen. Seconds later chaos erupts again as Schumacher and Häkkinen touch and the latter collides with the Sauber of Herbert. A few moments later things go from bad to worse for McLaren. Coulthard and the Benneton of Wurz clash while battling for position sending both drivers into the gravel trap. The Scotsman is able to continue and would play a very crucial role later in the race.
Hakkinen’s first corner accident triggered a safety car. Running order as it was behind the safety car, Hill, Schumacher, Irvine, Jean Alesi, Villeneuve, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Ralf Schumacher, Fisichella, Diniz and Jos Verstappen.
After the restart Schumi takes the lead of the race going ahead of Hill, while the other Ferrari of Irvine ends up in ninth position after a spin. The German keeps scoring incredible times, eventually opening up a 16-second gap on Hill. The rain just keeps pouring while Takagi hits the wall in Source, Alesi spins and Villeneuve ends up in the barriers because of aquaplaning. Things change on lap 25 when Coulthard appears ahead of Schumacher, ready to be lapped.
The German tries to pass the McLaren, but suddenly the Scottish slows down on the straight towards Pouhon. The Ferrari driver, with limited visibility due to the spray of water caused by the McLaren tires, bumps into him and reappears from the spray with only three tires.
Schumi completes his lap in these conditions and, once in the box, he storms towards the McLaren box, insulting his rival and accusing him of trying to kill him. Jean Todt and Stefano Domenicali tried to hold the enraged German back and the fight is eventually prevented thanks to the mechanics who keep them apart. The stewards, not noting any braking by the Scottish, take no action. However, a few years after the Belgian GP, the McLaren driver will take his responsibilities for the accident.
A little while later Irvine’s goes out of the race, marking a very disappointing weekend for the Scuderia.
There is another crash between Fischella and Nakano at 300km/h. The Benetton ends up in the middle of the circuit and the safety car is deployed. The race restarts with only eight cars left and torrential rain.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 26, 2023
The first podium for Jordan Grand Prix
At the end of this very chaotic race, Damon Hill wins the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix. It’s his 22nd and last victory in Formula One. Behind him, there is his teammate Ralf Schumacher and Alesi finished third. Frentzen, Diniz and Trulli who brings home the first point for the Prost team.
The victory in Spa is the first win for Jordan after 127 grand prix in F1.