1997 Belgian Grand Prix
|Race 12 of 17 in the 1997 Formula One season|
|Date||August 24, 1997|
|Official name||LV Belgian Grand Prix|
|Location||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
6.968 km (4.330 mi)
|Distance||44 laps, 306.592 km (190.507 mi)|
|Weather||Wet, then drying out|
|Time||1:52.692 on lap 43|
The 1997 Belgian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Spa-Francorchamps on August 24, 1997. The wet weather associated with the circuit came heavily, causing the race to be started behind the safety car for the first time in Formula One history.
The race is regarded by many as one of Michael Schumacher's greatest drives. He started from 3rd on the grid after qualifying had been dominated by Jacques Villeneuve in the dry. In the morning warm up which took place in hot dry weather, Schumacher was only 15th, but conditions to everyone's surprise changed by 20 minutes of heavy rain around half an hour before the race was due to start. This resulted in the field starting behind the safety car.
Of the top runners, both Williams drivers and Jean Alesi started on full wets while the rest of the front runners were on intermediates. The race began after three laps behind the safety car. At the end of the 4th lap, Jacques Villeneuve remained in the lead with Alesi in 2nd and Schumacher in 3rd as in the order which they had started. Schumacher made a brave pass inside Alesi at the La Source hairpin at the start of the 5th lap and then followed this up by passing Villeneuve half way around the same 5th lap. At the end of the next few laps Schumacher led by the following:
- 5th lap - 5.8 seconds over Jacques Villeneuve (full wets)
- 6th lap - 16.9 seconds over Giancarlo Fisichella (intermediates)
- 7th lap - 22.8 seconds over Giancarlo Fisichella (intermediates)
- 8th lap - 28.6 seconds over Giancarlo Fisichella (intermediates)
- 9th lap - 35.2 seconds over Giancarlo Fisichella (intermediates)
- 10th lap - 42.5 seconds over Mika Häkkinen (intermediates)
- 11th lap - 47.2 seconds over Mika Häkkinen (intermediates)
- 12th lap - 63 seconds over Jan Magnussen (intermediates)
- 13th lap - 67 seconds over Jean Alesi (slicks)
At the end of the 14th lap Schumacher stopped for slicks and cruised home to a 26-second win ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella who scored the best result of his career up to this time. His team-mate Ralf Schumacher started from the pit lane - he was sent out to take his place on the grid on dry tyres, but spun and crashed on his way to the grid. Explaining how he crashed out of the race later, he explained to ITV "I had nothing to lose, and I lost it". Michael gained ground over championship rival Jacques Villeneuve, who typically struggled in the wet conditions.
Mika Häkkinen was third on the road, but later disqualified due to a fuel irregularity.
- Lap leaders: Jacques Villeneuve 4 (1-4), Michael Schumacher 40 (5-44)
Standings after Grand Prix
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
1997 Hungarian Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
1997 Italian Grand Prix
1996 Belgian Grand Prix
|Belgian Grand Prix||Next race:
1998 Belgian Grand Prix