Canadian Grand Prix 1997 – Race

Yet another race goes by without both cars finishing let alone finishing in the top six. Local boy Villeneuve lucked out on pole by the slimmest of margins and then went out early in the race, while Frentzen blew any chances he had by ruining a set of tyres early on.

Schumacher led the field away from Villeneuve. Frentzen was, once again, slow to start and immediately dropped to 6th. At the end of the second lap he unthinkable happened when Villeneuve misjudged the last corner and went straight on into the wall. Villeneuve got out of the car and banged his helmet in disbelief. But it was true – he would take no points away from Canada and the spectators were robbed of a chance to see their hero in action.

Just a couple of laps later the safety car was out by which point Frentzen had already dropped to 7th with badly blistered tyres. As the safety car went in so did Frentzen for a new set of Goodyears. He rejoined in 17th place with everything to do. Surprisingly this he did. After a couple of lacklustre performances recently, where Frentzen has been seemingly stuck in 8th/9th position with no way forward, in this race he got it right. Frentzen quickly carved his way through the traffic. By lap 20 he was in 11th, three laps later he was 9th, four more and he was 7th and by lap 32, when he made his first scheduled stop, he was 6th.

Helped by attrition and good fortune Frentzen was able to make his way to third, behind Coulthard and Schumacher. He made his second (scheduled) stop on lap 50, rejoining 4th.

Oliver Pains then put his car against the wall on lap 51 – an accident that broke both his legs and red flagged the race.

Fourth place for Frentzen – having worked his way up from 17th – wasn’t a bad performance, one wonders what might have been had he not made such a mess of his first set of tyres. Whether Frank Williams and Patrick Head feel the same way is a different matter entirely and one can only assume that they will be less than happy that only one car finished in the points once again. Without stronger finishes Williams chances of retaining the constructors championship are looking very slim indeed.

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