French Grand Prix
June 29, 1997 - Circuit de Nevers - Magny-Cours, France
Damon Hill 1996 Winner
Michael Schumacher makes it 2 wins a row
Germany's Michael Schuamcher dominated today's French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours to win his third event in four races and extend his lead in the championship race over Canadian Jacques Villeneuve.
Schumacher swept the weekend, burning the fastest lap during Saturday's qualifying and used the preferential position to his advantage with an excellent start, leading the field into the first turn and maintaining that advantage throughout the event.
Schumacher led throughout the 72-lap race, apart from making his two pit stops, and held a 23-second margin at the end of the event. Rains began falling at the end of the race, but didn't interrupt the event.
At one point, Schumacher's Ferrari slid into a gravel trap but Schuey was able to get the car back under control and back onto the race course before damaging his car.
The win adds to victories in the Monaco and Canadian grand prix, giving the two-time champion a sweep of the season's events in French speaking countries. The victory is also a landmark 25th win for the 28-year-old German, tying him with Jim Clark and Niki Lauda for fifth in all time grand prix victories.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen of Germany qualified and finished second, with Eddie Irvine, Schumacher's Ferrari teammate, earning his fourth podium finish of the season.
"I was astonished by the performance of Michael," said Frentzen, whose career has closely followed Schumacher since finishing one spot ahead of Schumacher in the 1989 German Formula Three championship. "I was pushing very hard to try and stay with him from the start. I was happy with the result because I was desperate for points."
Villeneuve finished a disappointing fourth, followed by Frenchman Jean Alesi and Ralf Schumacher, Michael's younger brother and the third German collecting championship points in today's event.
Schumacher, who was expected to be chasing Villeneuve and his Williams-Renault racer at this point of the season, has a surprisingly strong 14-point lead in the championship and Ferrari has a stunning 13-point lead in the constructor's championship.
The win is the 111th for Ferrari, the most among series constructors. Only two other constructors are close, McLaren with 105 victories and Williams with 99 titles.
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 13th is next on the Formula One schedule.
There have been reports that the grand prix season could be extended from 17 to 18 races with a European Grand Prix being held at Jerez, Spain on October 26th and the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril being held on November 9th.
The Portuguese event was the originally scheduled event, but with repairs mandated by FIA, the Formula One governing body, proceeding slowly, the race was moved to the alternate Jerez circuit. Portuguese officials have lobbied hard to retain the race as the season-closing event, and have promised that repairs will be completed well in advance of the November 9th date. Although there has yet to be an official confirmation, reports have surfaced that both races will be held.
1. Michael Schumacher (Germany), Ferrari
2. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Germany), Williams-Renault, 23.537 seconds behind
3. Eddie Irvine (Britain), Ferrari, one minute, 14.801 seconds behind
4. Jacques Villeneuve (Canada), Williams-Renault, 1:21.784 behind
5. Jean Alesi (France), Benetton-Renault, 1:22.735 behind
6. Ralf Schumacher (Germany), Jordan-Peugeot, 1:29.871 behind
7. David Coulthard (Britain), McLaren-Mercedes, DNF
8. Johnny Herbert (Britain), Sauber-Petronas, one lap behind
9. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy), Jordan-Peugeot, one lap behind
10. Jarno Trulli (Italy), Prost-Mugen Honda, two laps behind
11. Ukyo Katayama (Japan), Minardi-Hart, two laps behind
12. Damon Hill (Britain), Arrows-Yamaha, three laps behind
Time of Race: one hour, 38 minutes, 50.492 seconds
Race speed: 185.638 kilometers per hour/115.35 miles per hour
Fastest lap: 196.380 kph/122.02 mph by Michael Schumacher
Mika Salo (Finland), Tyrrell-Ford
Alexander Wurz (Austria), Benetton-Renault
Pedro Diniz (Brazil), Arrows-Yamaha
Norberto Fontana (Argentina), Sauber-Petronas
Rubens Barrichello (Brazil), Stewart-Ford
Jan Magnussen (Denmark), Stewart-Ford
Mika Hakkinen (Finland), McLaren-Mercedes
Jos Verstappen (Netherlands), Tyrrell-Ford
Shinji Nakano (Japan), Prost-Mugen Honda
Tarso Marques (Brazil), Minardi-Hart