British Grand Prix 1998 – Race
The fact that the Williams pair were greatly improved this weekend was hidden by two things: the rain and, once again, controversy surrounding yet another Schumacher win. The rights and the wrongs of the Schumacher win are not to be discussed here, suffice to say that how anyone can take a 10 second stop-and-go penalty after the race defies belief!
For Williams fans the weekend got off to a good start with the gradual improvement in the FW20 taking another step forward allowing Jacques Villeneuve to get onto third on the grid. What was perhaps even more amazing about this feat was the fact that the world champion beat one of the previously all dominant McLarens in doing so.
The celebrations were, however, short-lived as the heavens opened and the car evidently does not perform too well in the wet. At the start Villeneuve was passed both Alesi (from 8th on the gird) and Coulthard. This left Villeneuve one place ahead of his team mate, Frentzen.
While the gap between Villeneuve and Frentzen remained a fairly constant second, the gap to the leaders was increasing so that by the 6th lap it was up to 15 seconds. It was also on this lap that Villeneuve lost out to Frentzen and the two Williams drivers swapped places. A couple of laps later Villeneuve ran wide and was passed by a flying Eddie Irvine. Just 3 laps later the manoeuvre was repeated on Frentzen as the pair crossed the line.
Another dreadful race for Frentzen was very shortly about to come to an end as on lap 15 he slid wide into a gravel trap his was never likely to get out of. The final nail in the coffin? Villeneuve was probably wishing that he too could get out of the car and away from the dreadful weather conditions early but he was not so lucky. Villeneuve held on to the bitter end never making much impact, stopping three times due to a poor tyre choice and finishing a distant seventh.
Had the race been dry there was a chance that a good points finish may have been on the cards. Once the rain began to fall that was never going to be a possibility. One can only hope for dry weather in Austria…