Japanese Grand Prix
October 12, 1997 - Suzuka International Course - Suzuka, Japan
Damon Hill 1996 Winner
With Jacques Villeneuve having a mathematical chance of winning the driver's championship, the scene was set for the final race of the 1996 season. Points leader Damon Hill got a good start while Villeneuve spun his wheels, allowing five other cars to get past him by the first turn. Villeneuve moved into fourth on lap 12 with a brilliant braking maneuver past Eddie Irvine. Things seemed to be falling into place for Hill while Villeneuve's woes continued. First he pitted for what he thought was a wheel puncture, only to learn there was nothing wrong. Then, six laps later, he lost a wheel, bringing his chase for the championship to an end.
Damon Hill led from start to finish for his 21st career victory and his first ever world championship. Michael Schumacher finished second, holding off a challenge from Mika Hakkinen.