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The Anatomy of a Win

By Simon Garvey
April 2 2003

New Page 1

So how did Jordan win their first Grand Prix? Simon Garvey from the Jordan Information website explains the anatomy of Jordan's Greatest Moments.

The 1998 Belgian Grand Prix
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

Damon Hill - Jordan Mugen Honda 198
Ralf Schumacher - Jordan Mugen Honda 198

It started raining early on Saturday morning and didn't stop until well after the crowds had left at the end of what was to be a very eventful day.

Front of Grid
1. Hakinnen-McLaren
2. Coulthard-McLaren
3. Hill-Jordan
4. M Schumacher-Ferrari
5. Irvine-Ferrari
6. Villeneuve-Williams
7. Fisichella-Benetton
8. R Schumacher-Jordan

1st Start
As the lights went out, Hakkinen, from pole, made a good start but Coulthard didn't. Villeneuve, from 6th, made the best start of all and after rounding La Source he was challenging Hakkinen for the lead. Hill suffered too much wheelspin and fell back to around 7th from 3rd. Michael Schumacher made a good enough start to follow Villeneuve and Hakkinen.

Having been touched, Coulthard went sharply right across the mid-field runners, crashing into a concrete barrier. There were wheels and carbon fibre debris flying in all directions but as the drivers begun extricating themselves from their stranded cars it was soon clear that nobody had been badly hurt. While Barrichello's injured arm prevented him from restarting, three other drivers were unable to restart because only one spare car was available - Rosset, Panis and Salo.

It took almost an hour for the wreckage to be cleared, the spare cars hastily readied. Irvine lined up in Schumacher's spare car and Coulthard was in the spare McLaren. Only the Jordan duo escaped the shunt unscathed with Ralf Schumacher neatly parking his car to one side as all hell broke loose to his front and right. Later Ralf recounted "It was quite funny because I just spotted a McLaren sideways in front of me and then I saw the mess going on all around me. So I moved my car left, parked it in neutral and waited, just in time to see an Arrows suddenly missing me by about ten centimetres. Then when everything had settled, I just engaged a gear and went on through."

For Ralf's team mate, Damon Hill, the signs were that luck was on his side today. He had made a terrible first start and was now being given a second chance.

2nd Start
The rain had subsided a little and now all of the front runners, including Hill, were on intermediate rain tyres. This time Hill got it perfectly right and coolly sailed around the outside past the two McLarens as they rounded the La Source hairpin at the second attempt.

Lap 1. Hakkinen snapped round 180 degrees as he exited La Source, there had been some contact with Michael Schumacher's Ferrari and pointing the wrong way, Johnny Herbert's Sauber slammed into him. Both were out on the spot.

Coulthard was off the racing line, struggling to regain control and Wurz couldn't avoid him so both ended up in the gravel trap. Coulthard was just able to get going again, but at the tail of the field.

The safety car was immediately brought out. The top ten order was as follows : Hill, Michael Schumacher, Irvine, Alesi - making a great start from tenth, Villeneuve, Frentzen, Ralf Schumacher, Fisichella, Diniz and Verstappen.

Lap 3. The stranded Sauber and McLaren were quickly moved and the race was on again. Damon's Jordan, on intermediate tyres with the hope that the track would dry progressively, looked confident initially. For the first three or four laps in anger Hill was able to maintain a cushion of just over a second on Schumacher's Ferrari but then the rain got worse and it was soon evident that the Jordan was struggling badly.

Lap 7. Schumacher out braked Hill into the Bus Stop and started to pull away easily.

Lap 8. The sole remaining Stewart piloted by Jos Verstappen goes out with yet another blown Ford V10.

Lap 9. Despite the worsening conditions, Schumacher set the fastest lap of the race, the Ferrari looked by far the best under braking but all was not well with the Italian team. Irvine broke his front wing and a barge board after missing a chicane and clobbering a kerb. A lengthy pit stop remedied the broken bits and pieces, he also took the opportunity to change to full wet tyres.

lap 11. Ralf came into the pits from sixth place to swap his intermediate tyres to full wets. Perfect timing, he only lost a single place.

Lap 16. All the leading runners who were still on intermediates pitted for full wets except Villeneuve. He paid the price a lap later just before his own stop was due, aquaplaning off into the barriers along a straight section of the road. Damon's stop was slightly fraught as the mechanics changed the front wing settings to generate more downforce. The mechanic to his right managed to get his Allen key stuck in the adjuster and needed help from another mechanic to free it. Damon rejoins in 2nd place.

Lap 17. Hill was 22 seconds behind Michael and 22 seconds ahead of Ralf who had emerged a brilliant third after all the stops. The second Jordan was followed by Alesi, Frentzen, Irvine, Diniz and Fisichella. Trulli was behind Fisichella and like Diniz, was on a one-stop strategy. For a few laps things remained fairly uneventful.

Lap 24. Ralf had cut his team mate's lead down to just ten seconds while Michael was now almost 30 seconds ahead of Hill. Coulthard was in ahead of Michael although waiting to be lapped. After over a lap of following Coulthard's spray, Schumacher radioed his pits, and Ferrari team boss, Jean Todt, went down to the McLaren pit to request that Coulthard be told to let Schumacher past.

Michael was unable to see exactly how close to the back of the McLaren he was so that when Coulthard eased off to allow him through the Ferrari's right front wheel hit the McLaren's rear tearing it off and ending Schumacher's race instantly. Both cars managed to limp on, the three-wheeled Ferrari looking amazingly stable considering the damage and they entered the pit lane together, Schumacher to retire and Coulthard to have his car repaired in the vain attempt for an extra point.

The Jordan team and pit crew were just beginning to realise that their cars were now first and second.

With 19 laps to go Damon found himself back in the lead but he was now under severe pressure from his team mate, Ralf. Eddie Jordan rightfully wanted to avoid an embarrassing clash between his two drivers and Ralf was given the order to follow Damon home. With Ralf's contractual problems with the team nobody was sure how he would take this order but he played the team game.

Lap 28. Hill was clearly struggling and he over-shot the Bus Stop chicane, running across the grass. However, he retained his lead after his final stop just as the safety car came out once again in response to an incident between Fisichella's Benetton and Nakano's Minardi. Fisichella hit the back of the Minardi very hard and most of the left hand side of the Benetton was shredded.

Amazingly, Nakano was able to continue after repairs. Irvine was now out too, his Ferrari clipping a kerb and spinning him way off the track into the gravel.

Lap 32. With some twelve laps to go and the safety car back in the pit lane, Hill lead a dutiful Ralf Schumacher and Jean Alesi's Sauber. It was increasingly clear that Ralf was going to honour his team orders, but he was under some pressure from Alesi. Later, Alesi conceded that he wasn't going to take any big risks in trying to pass Ralf so the final 12 laps were something of a procession. Frentzen and Diniz could not stay with these three. Trulli would survive to finish in sixth, earning a valuable first championship point for Prost, albeit two laps down on the leaders.

Lap 44. The race ended on with Damon acknowledging the frantic yellow mass on the Jordan pit wall with a victorious punch in the air. After 127 races and seven years, Jordan had won their first Grand Prix, and with a 1-2 at that.

Despite not being given the chance to win his first race, Ralf was magnamous in the post race interview, "I'm really happy for the team and also for myself. Sometimes you see the possibility to win a race and you're second and you don't realise what you have achieved. In the end I'm still very happy with the whole situation and the second place."

Afterwards Damon said of the victory and his team, "It's a great feeling - everyone's so happy. I've never seen such a happy bunch of people and they thoroughly deserved it."

He also said it was really Eddie Jordan's day. Eddie recalled: "Spa has been very kind to me I have to say, both in F3 and F3000, we've been on pole position here, we were second here last year, but nothing even comes close to this; I think we did style and dignity - Damon lead from the very start and to finish 1-2 you have to be pushing very hard and be competitive. The turn-around has been really phenomenal. Five races or six races ago we were absolute also-rans to being first and second here and scoring points at every race since then. So, yeah - it's a great feeling, I have to say!"

Post race winners' press conference.

Q. Congratulations, Damon, on your first victory since you won the world championship in 1996. It must be a great feeling ...

DH: This is a great day for Jordan. To win our first GP and get a one-two result is a fantastic result. We were strong all weekend, it has been a very exciting race, I am absolutely delighted ... in fact I am lost for words.

Q. Everyone was astonished to see you take the lead at La Source after the second start ...

DH: Well, I got lucky because I had made a mess of the first start --and then it was aborted because of the crash. But I made a beautiful second start and once I got away I was looking good. The trouble was that I had the car set up for a race that [I expected to be] getting drier. That really made it a difficult race for me.

Q. What was your reaction after Michael had passed you when you found him driving slowly round to the pits with only three wheels?

DH: I didn't actually see his car, but I heard by radio that he was out of the race. But you don't have time to be emotional about things like that. It's a very responsible position to be in when you're leading arace, so I focused on doing what I needed to do to hold the lead.

Q. Your team mate Ralf Schumacher stayed close to you after the final restart. Were you at all concerned that he might try to find a way past you?

DH: It was always going to be quite close after the Safety Car had been sent out, and I knew that Ralf would be pushing me all the way to the finish because he didn't have very much space between himself and Jean [Alesi] behind him. So I had to push as hard as I could. Then it started to get a bit drier and the tyres began to go off, so I was under pressure all the way.

Q. How did the battle with Michael go early on?

DH: I don't know what happens here. [Michael] seems to be able to change the weather depending on what he wants. From the start, it looked to me as though he had more down force. I went for the intermediates on the grid and after the restart I went for a lower down force setting in the assumption that it was going to get better. It worked for a few laps and then it started to rain again, and it worked against me. Michael was able to close and then get past. It was quite a tricky race. There was one point when I went to go past a Prost at Stavelot and he didn't see me and we touched. He got a bit of a fright.

Q. At one point you were on the grass at the bus stop ...

DH: It was very tricky conditions today. It was never raining really hard, but it was raining at different parts of the circuit. Some parts were very wet, some parts were not so wet. Visibility was terrible. Lots of incidents, lots of people going off, so there was a hell of a lot to look out for.

Q. Ralf, congratulations on your first podium finish since Argentina last year. How does it feel?

RS: I am obviously very happy, both for the team and for us two. We had a very bad start to this season which made things difficult. It has all turned around now with first and second places here with a bit of luck, I must admit -- but I think this was a good, strong performance. We had to struggle a bit at the beginning because of making the wrong tyre choice, but then it went OK and after the Safety Car made its second appearance we just settled for the one-two. We had to keep pushing, though, because Jean was so close behind.

Q. At the first start, before all those cars began crashing, you seemed to anticipate what was going to happen, and you pulled over and almost stopped. What had you seen?

RS: It was quite funny because I just spotted a McLaren [sideways]in front of me and then I saw the mess going on all around me. So I moved my car left, parked it in neutral and waited ... just in time to see an Arrows suddenly missing me by about ten centimetres. Then when everything had settled, I just engaged a gear and went through.

Q. Jean, was this an equally unexpected first podium for you and Sauber?

JA: Of course, yes. This is unbelievable for the team because so far we hadn't seen such a level of competition between different cars. With so many cars usually finishing the races we have had a problem getting points. It was only in conditions like these that we have a possibility of getting any points at all, so I am really happy for the team that we have taken four really important points.

Q. Once the Safety Car had been withdrawn for the second time, you were able to get close to Damon and Ralf. Were you tempted to try to pass them?

JA: No, to be honest I was able to run behind them at the same speed, but it would have been absolutely impossible to try anything because the visibility was zero. In fact I was quite surprised when the Safety Car was brought in and we were allowed to race again, because I personally believe that it was still extremely dangerous. It was particularly bad on the straights where there were cars abandoned by the side of road andwe were aquaplaning. That could have been extremely dangerous.

Q. But you were really pushing hard towards the end ...

JA: Sometimes Peter [Sauber] was saying 'slow, slow!' That was quite funny for me, but I was very concentrated to stay on the circuit. The conditions were changing non-stop. It was tough, especially at the beginning with intermediates. When I put full wet tyres on it was quite easy except for visibility.


Race Result

1

Damon Hill

Jordan-Mugen-Honda 198

1hour 43min 47.407sec

2

Ralf Schumacher

Jordan-Mugen-Honda 198

+ 0.932sec

3

Jean Alesi

Sauber-Petronas C17

+ 7.240sec

4

Heinz-Harald Frentzen

Williams-Mecachrome FW20

+ 32.242sec

5

Pedro Diniz

Arrows A19

+ 51.682sec

6

Jarno Trulli

Prost-Peugeot AP01

+2 laps

7

David Coulthard

McLaren-Mercedes MP4/13

+5 laps

8

Shinji Nakano

Minardi-Ford M198

+5 laps

R

Giancarlo Fisichella

Benetton-Playlife

+18 laps Accident

R

Eddie Irvine

Ferrari

+19 laps Accident

R

Michael Schumacher

Ferrari

+19 laps Accident

R

Esteban Tuero

Minardi-Ford M198

+27 laps Accident

R

Jacques Villeneuve

Williams-Mecachrome FW20

+28 laps Accident

R

T Takagi

Tyrrell-Ford

+34 laps Accident

R

Jos Verstappen

Stewart-Ford

+36 laps Engine

R

Alex Wurz

Benetton-Playlife

+44 laps Accident

R

Mika Hakkinen

McLaren-Mercedes MP4/13

+44 laps Accident

R

Johnny Herbert

Sauber-Petronas C17

+44 laps Accident

DNS

Olivier Panis

Prost-Peugeot AP01

Accident

DNS

Rubens Barrichello

Stewart-Ford

Accident

DNS

Mika Salo

Arrows A19

Accident

DNS

Ricardo Rosset

Tyrrell-Ford

Accident




















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