The car was a development of the B196, from which both drivers had found difficult to extract maximum performance in 1996. The B197 proved competitive at nearly every race, but only scored one win when Berger made his faultless return to the cockpit at Hockenheim. The main problem with the car was its inability to bring its tyres up to temperature on low-grip circuits, particularly in qualifying. However, Berger and Alesi did secure one pole position each during the course of the season. By the end of the season, it was clear that Benetton would adopt a new driver line-up for 1998, with Berger retiring and Alesi moving to Sauber.
The team eventually finished third in the Constructors' Championship, with 67 points. The Benetton B197 can still be seen competing in the EuroBoss series.