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Sunday, August 30, 1998 Published at 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK


Hill wins as Schumacher storms out

What a way to treat the boss: Eddie Jordan and drivers

Damon Hill led home Jordan 1-2 in a Belgian Grand Prix which had high drama from the very first corner.


BBC Motor Racing Correspondent Jonathan Legard reports from Spa
Eleven cars crashed out on that first hairpin, then at the re-start world championship leader Mika Hakkinen spun out of the race in the very same place.

It was followed by a series of accidents in the wet conditions, most notably one which led to Michael Schumacher's controversial exit.


Damon Hill: "I got lucky on the first start"
The German tried to confront David Coulthard in the McLaren garage, and had to be held back by race officials.

Tyres flew all over the track

The race began with what is thought to be Formula One's biggest crash in terms of the number of cars involved, if not injury.


Watch scenes from the pile up on the race track
All 11 drivers escaped being seriously hurt after Coulthard spun into a wall and most of the rest of the field then crashed into his McLaren, or each other.

The race was immediately stopped.

Coulthard's McLaren had appeared to slide across the track after the tight first right-hand hairpin corner, La Source.

The Scottish driver, beginning second on the grid, lost control of his McLaren and smashed into the wall to the right of the track.


[ image: Wheels everywhere: Debris littered the track]
Wheels everywhere: Debris littered the track
The race had begun in wet conditions with drivers having to decide which tyres to start with.

Coulthard's car, set up with 'wets', then spun back across the tarmac and banged into the opposite wall, causing chaos on the dangerous circuit.

Debris from the crash - including wheels - flew at high speed across the track.


[ image: Coulthard walks back after the mass pile-up]
Coulthard walks back after the mass pile-up
It littered the track and a fire engine was brought in to clean the road with a hose, but none of the flying car parts went into the crowd at the Spa circuit, which uses normal public roads.

No drivers were seriously injured in the smash although Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was ruled out of the restart with a minor injury.

For three others, the weekend was over since three teams saw both cars damaged, and each is only allowed one spare.

Riccardo Rosset, Mika Salo, and Olivier Panis were the unlucky trio, as the race eventually re-started almost an hour later.

Contenders miss out

Hakkinen's luck ran out at the re-start. He had made a perfect first start and avoided the first lap smash by leading away from the lights.


[ image: Hakkinen's car in no fit state to continue]
Hakkinen's car in no fit state to continue
But second time round he spun at La Source and was hit by Johnny Herbert's car.

The safety car was brought out and Damon Hill led the race as Coulthard recovered from another spin, which was not to be the final incident of the Scot's race.

After the track was cleared and the safety car taken away, the racing finally began with Michael Schumacher putting intense pressure onto Hill.

The German eventually passed the Briton, to take the lead in a race in which a win would have given him the championship lead.

But that was not to be when the twice world champion smashed into the rear of Coulthard's McLaren on lap 25 of the 44-lap race.

The German in his Ferrari was 30 seconds ahead of Hill before he rammed into the back of Coulthard's car in heavy rain and banks of spray, losing his front right wheel in the impact.


[ image: Too close: Coulthard and Irvine in the wet]
Too close: Coulthard and Irvine in the wet
Schumacher managed to steer his car back to the Ferrari pits and retire.

But when he got there he leaped from his smashed car and stormed down the pit lane to confront Coulthard in the McLaren garage.

Schumacher, who has won the race four times, shook off team members who attempted to stop him but was thwarted from a head-to-head confrontation by a mass of people in the garage at McLaren.

Worse still for Ferrari was the retirement of Eddie Irvine,

Hill leads home

Hill recovered the lead after Schumacher's shunt to deliver the British team's first victory in eight years in Formula One, despite yet another accident.


[ image: Hill's first win since 1996]
Hill's first win since 1996
The safety car was again brought out after Italian Giancarlo Fisichella crashed into the Minardi of Shinji Nakano of Japan.

That gave Coulthard a chance to rejoin the remaining six cars after having his car rebuilt in the garage.

But despite the Scot's eventful afternoon, the day belonged to an Englishman and an Irishman.

Damon Hill's win was his first since his world title triumph in 1996.

Team-mate Ralf Schumacher's second place completed a wonderful afternoon for Irish team boss Eddie Jordan.

Veteran Jean Alesi was third.

Results

  • 1 D Hill (Gbr) Jordan 1hr 43mins 47.407secs
  • 2 R Schumacher (Ger) Jordan at 0.932secs
  • 3 J Alesi (Fra) Sauber at 7.240
  • 4 H-H Frentzen (Ger) Williams at 32.242
  • 5 P Diniz (Bra) Arrows at 51.682,
  • 6 J Trulli (Ita) Prost at two laps
  • 7 D Coulthard (Gbr) McLaren at five laps
  • 8 S Nakano (Jpn) Minardi at five laps




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1999 Championship standings

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F1's emotional champion

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Top cat Eddie

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