1997 Belgian Grand Prix

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Belgium  1997 Belgian Grand Prix
Race details
Race 12 of 17 in the 1997 Formula One season
Spa 1996.jpg
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 with temperatures reaching up to 28 °C (82 °F)[1]
Pole position
Driver Canada Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Renault
Time 1:49.450
Fastest lap
Driver Canada Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Renault
Time 1:52.692 on lap 43
First Germany Michael Schumacher Ferrari
Second Italy Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan-Peugeot
Third Germany Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams-Renault

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.


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 5 Germany Michael Schumacher Ferrari 44 1:33:46.717 3 10
2 12 Italy Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan-Peugeot 44 +26.753 4 6
3 4 Germany Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams-Renault 44 +32.147 7 4
4 16 United Kingdom Johnny Herbert Sauber-Petronas 44 +39.025 11 3
5 3 Canada Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Renault 44 +42.103 1 2
6 8 Austria Gerhard Berger Benetton-Renault 44 +1:03.741 15 1
7 2 Brazil Pedro Diniz Arrows-Yamaha 44 +1:25.931 8  
8 7 France Jean Alesi Benetton-Renault 44 +1:42.008 2  
9 17 Italy Gianni Morbidelli Sauber-Petronas 44 +1:42.582 13  
10 6 United Kingdom Eddie Irvine Ferrari 43 Collision 17  
11 19 Finland Mika Salo Tyrrell-Ford 43 +1 Lap 19  
12 23 Denmark Jan Magnussen Stewart-Ford 43 +1 Lap 18  
13 1 United Kingdom Damon Hill Arrows-Yamaha 42 Wheel Nut 9  
14 20 Japan Ukyo Katayama Minardi-Hart 42 Engine 20  
15 14 Italy Jarno Trulli Prost-Mugen-Honda 42 +2 Laps 14  
DSQ 9 Finland Mika Häkkinen McLaren-Mercedes 44 Disqualified 5  
Ret 18 Netherlands Jos Verstappen Tyrrell-Ford 25 Spun off 21  
Ret 11 Germany Ralf Schumacher Jordan-Peugeot 21 Spun off 6  
Ret 10 United Kingdom David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 19 Spun off 10  
Ret 21 Brazil Tarso Marques Minardi-Hart 18 Spun off 22  
Ret 22 Brazil Rubens Barrichello Stewart-Ford 8 Steering 12  
Ret 15 Japan Shinji Nakano Prost-Mugen-Honda 5 Electrical 16  


Standings after Grand Prix[edit]

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


Previous race:
1997 Hungarian Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1997 season
Next race:
1997 Italian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1996 Belgian Grand Prix
Belgian Grand Prix Next race:
1998 Belgian Grand Prix