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Sunday, October 26, 1997


Villeneuve wins first title after Schumacher crashes out

Michael Schumacher crashes out as Jacques Villeneuve overtakes

Jacques Villeneuve, from Canada, has won his first Formula One Drivers' Championship after former champ Michael Schumacher collided with his car and spun off during the European Grand Prix.

The German, twice champion before, ended up in a sandpit and was unable to start his car after apparently trying to cut off Villeneuve's manoeuvre as the Williams Renault driver came up on the inside of a bend on lap 48.

[ image: Schumacher couldn't holdback Jacques Villeneuve]
Schumacher couldn't holdback Jacques Villeneuve
Schumacher walked disconsolately back to the pits at Jerez, Spain, as his arch-rival completed the remaining 21 laps, his car virtually undamaged from the collision.

It was a bitter disappointment for Schumacher's Ferrari team, which has not won the Constructors' Championship since 1979, which had started the day with its driver a point ahead of the pack.

Schumacher got off to a flying start and beat Villeneuve, who was in pole position, to the first bend.

He led all the way until the 48th lap when the Canadian came up on his right and tried to overtake him on a corner.

Schumacher moved over in an apparent bid to block off the manoeuvre but came off the worst, damaging his front wheel and skidding into a shingle safety lane.

The French-Canadian, needing only one point to overhaul Schumacher at the top of the drivers' table, eventually came third behind Finland's Mika Hakkinen - winning his first Grand Prix - and David Coulthard, from Britain,.

After the race Villeneuve said: "It's been an up and down year. We had the most competitive car from the middle of the season but there have been times when we did not get the job done. I made a few mistakes, the team made some mistakes.

[ image: Villeneuve gets the checkered flag to win title]
Villeneuve gets the checkered flag to win title
"To win today after the disqualification in Suzuka feels great."

Villeneuve admitted he had taken an enormous gamble when he launched his bold bid to get past Schumacher.

He said: "I was worried when I overtook Michael. I was not surprised when he decided to turn into me. I knew I was taking a big risk. I knew right away Michael was out."

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