1996 Belgian Grand Prix
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|Race 13 of 16 in the 1996 Formula One season|
|Date||25 August 1996|
|Official name||LIV Grand Prix de Belgique|
|Location||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium|
|Course||Permanent racing facility|
|Course length||6.968 km (4.330 mi)|
|Distance||44 laps, 306.592 km (190.507 mi)|
|Weather||Overcast and dry with temperatures reaching up to 17 °C (63 °F)|
|Time||1:53.067 on lap 36|
The 1996 Belgian Grand Prix (formally the LIV Grand Prix de Belgique) was a Formula One motor race held on 25 August 1996 at Spa-Francorchamps. It was the thirteenth race of the 1996 Formula One season. The 44-lap race was won by Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher after he started from third position. Jacques Villeneuve finished second for the Williams team and McLaren driver Mika Häkkinen came in third.
- The start of the race was catastrophic for the Sauber team, with both of their drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Johnny Herbert eliminated immediately after a collision at the first corner while trying to avoid hitting Olivier Panis, who was attempting to rejoin the track having spun off at the same corner in a separate incident when he ran into Rubens Barrichello. Panis was also forced to retire on the spot; Barrichello was able to continue, although he had to pit to repair his suspension, putting him two laps behind; however, this proved all to no avail as his suspension collapsed completely on lap 29, forcing him out of the race altogether.
- On lap 10, Jos Verstappen pitted with a sticking throttle. No damage was found and the Dutchman was released from the pits, but spun straight off on his return. The incident brought out the safety car for seven laps, during which time all the drivers besides the McLarens of Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard (both running a one-stop strategy) made pit stops
- Williams driver Jacques Villeneuve, leading the race when the safety car came out, missed his stop on lap 13 (later explaining that he misunderstood the radio instruction to come in due to the confusion brought about by the arrival of the safety car), and Damon Hill in the sister Williams was already on his way into the pits when radioed to stay out on the following lap. Hill was briefly held by the marshalls and then returned to the circuit, but heavily delayed. He went down to thirteenth when he finally got to make his pit stop on lap 16; however, he eventually recovered to 5th place by the end of the race, partly due to David Coulthard spinning his McLaren out of 5th place six laps from the end.
- Footwork/Arrows' team boss Tom Walkinshaw confirmed after the race that the throttle problem that had caused Verstappen to stop shortly before his crash had not recurred, and that the crash was caused by a faulty wheel.
- The Tyrrells of Mika Salo and Ukyo Katayama finished in seventh and eighth places respectively. A fast early stop during the safety car period saw Salo running as high as third at one point.
- Running in fourth place at half distance, Gerhard Berger spun off in his Benetton while trying to pass Eddie Irvine which dropped him to 12th place. After setting a string of fastest laps he eventually recovered, coincidentally thanks in part to Irvine's retirement with gearbox problems, to 6th place by the end of the race.
Championship standings after the race
- Bold text indicates who still has a theoretical chance of becoming World Champion.
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
1996 Hungarian Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
1996 Italian Grand Prix
1995 Belgian Grand Prix
|Belgian Grand Prix||Next race:
1997 Belgian Grand Prix