1997 Luxembourg Grand Prix
|Race 15 of 17 in the 1997 Formula One season|
The Nürburgring in its 1997 configuration
|Date||28 September 1997|
|Official name||V Großer Preis von Luxemburg|
|Location||Nürburgring, Nürburg, Germany|
|Course||Permanent racing facility|
|Course length||4.556 km (2.831 mi)|
|Distance||67 laps, 305.252 km (189.675 mi)|
|Weather||Partially cloudy, mild and dry|
|Time||1:18.805 on lap 32|
The 1997 Luxembourg Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at the Nürburgring, Nürburg, Germany on 28 September 1997. The 67-lap race was the fifteenth round of the 1997 Formula One season and was won by Canadian Jacques Villeneuve driving a Williams-Renault. Though Villeneuve won that year's Drivers' Championship, this turned out to be his final Formula One victory.
Qualifying saw Mika Häkkinen take pole position in the McLaren-Mercedes - the first-ever for the Finnish driver, the first for McLaren since the 1993 Australian Grand Prix, and the first for Mercedes (as an engine supplier or constructor) since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix. Villeneuve was alongside on the front row, while his Williams team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen shared the second row with Giancarlo Fisichella in the Jordan. Michael Schumacher, leading Villeneuve in the Drivers' Championship by one point, was fifth in his Ferrari, sharing the third row with David Coulthard in the second McLaren. The top ten was completed by Gerhard Berger in the Benetton, Ralf Schumacher in the second Jordan, Rubens Barrichello in the Stewart, and Jean Alesi in the second Benetton.
At the start Häkkinen, on his 29th birthday, led away while team-mate Coulthard jumped from sixth to second, ahead of Villeneuve.
Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher moved alongside Fisichella, while his brother Ralf made a fast start to be alongside both cars going into the first corner. However, Ralf squeezed his Jordan team-mate Fisichella for room, leaving the Italian driver with nowhere to go. The resultant collision saw Ralf's car launch into the air, and come down on top of Michael's Ferrari. Also involved was the Minardi of Ukyo Katayama, who was unsighted by the dust and ploughed into Fisichella's car. Ralf, Fisichella and Katayama all retired immediately, while Michael continued for two laps before pulling into the pits with suspension damage.
With Frentzen dropping back after banging wheels with Villeneuve and knocking off his ignition switch, and Berger cutting the first corner to avoid the aforementioned collision, Barrichello and Alesi moved into fourth and fifth respectively, followed by Jan Magnussen in the second Stewart. The top six remained unchanged until the first round of pit stops, during which Alesi was leapfrogged by Magnussen and Damon Hill in the Arrows.
At half-distance, Häkkinen led Coulthard by around 12 seconds, with Villeneuve four seconds behind the Scottish driver. Then, at the start of lap 43, Coulthard's engine blew. Häkkinen suffered the same failure moments later, putting Villeneuve in the lead. Both Stewarts also retired at around this time, Magnussen suffering a driveshaft failure and Barrichello's gearbox breaking, while Hill had stalled during his pit stop. This left all four Renault-powered cars in the top four, with Alesi second, Frentzen third and Berger fourth, while Pedro Diniz moved into fifth in the second Arrows, just ahead of the Prost of Olivier Panis, in his first race back after breaking his legs in Canada.
Villeneuve eventually took the chequered flag 11.7 seconds ahead of Alesi, with Frentzen a further 1.7 seconds back. Berger finished three seconds behind Frentzen, but 27 seconds ahead of Diniz. The Brazilian driver held off Panis, who in turn held off Johnny Herbert in the Sauber and Hill for the final point.
The win gave Villeneuve a nine-point lead over Michael Schumacher in the Drivers' Championship with two races left to run, while Williams extended their lead over Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship to 26 points, needing just six more for their ninth title.
- Lap leaders: Mika Häkkinen 40 (1-28, 32-43), David Coulthard 3 (29-31), Jacques Villeneuve 24 (44-67)
- Last win: Jacques Villeneuve
- First pole position: Mika Häkkinen
- Last points: Yamaha
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.
1997 Austrian Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
1997 Japanese Grand Prix
|Luxembourg Grand Prix||Next race:
1998 Luxembourg Grand Prix