Damon Hill secured his last and first victory for Jordan in 1998 Belgian GP, but the race will be remembered for a massive crash at the start and the incident between Schumacher and Coulthard.
Hakkinen and Coulthard (+0.163) convincingly secured another front row for McLaren in dry conditions – third Hill was 1.046 seconds behind and the fourth Schumacher was already 1.345 seconds slower.
But on Sunday it was raining and Ferrari drivers Schumacher and Irvine were the fastest in front of Hakkinen in McLaren. Despite the heavy rain, it was decided that the race would start without a safety car.
Hakkinen started well and kept the lead in front of the Villeneuve and Schumacher, but behind them Coulthard lost control and vertically hit the wall on the right side of the track after the first corner. Scott then claimed that he lost his car because of contact with Irvine, but he later realized that he had slipped because he had crossed the metal grille on the track edge.
The race was first interrupted after this massive incident involving 13 out of 22 drivers. The three teams finished with both damaged cars, so Salo, Rosset and Panis were left without the possibility of re-starting because the teams had one spare car.
The second start began about an hour after the first, and Hill took the lead, the first time after 1997 Hungarian GP, while Schumacher and Hakkinen fought for the position. The Finn lost control after which Herbert hit him, and both drivers then retired. In the first round, Coulthard and Wurz collided, after which Wurz retired, and Coulthard dropped to the last position.
Schumacher overtook leading Hill in the eighth lap in the Bus Stop chicane, and in lap 24 German had 37 seconds advantage ahead of Hill. Then he approached Coulthard who was one lap behind and Jean Todt visited McLaren’s pitwall to be sure that Coulthard would let Schumacher.
The Scot did not do it immediately, as Schumacher waved his fist at him, and when the drivers came down to the fast Pouhon, Coulthard tried to let Schumacher down and slowed down on the racing line.
Schumacher did not see that Coulthard slowed down and struck him in the rear, broke his rear wing and his right front wheel.
The German said that Coulthard had ‘tried to kill’ him and threatened to ‘kill Coulthard’ and after returning to the pits, he ran to McLaren’s pits trying to physically deal with Coulthard.
In 2003, Coulthard acknowledged his part of the guilt as he explained that he was inexperienced and said he would not do it today: “I lifted to let him pass, but I did it in the water spray on the racing line, which I should not have done.”
Schumacher was also criticized at that time for his part of the guilt and the judges were looking for an explanation of why he was driving into Coulthard’s water spray after Coulthard moved to let him through.
The race was finished by only eight drivers (two were five laps behind the winner) and Damon Hill won in front of Ralf Schumacher in the 1-2 win for Jordan, the first in their history.
Hakkinen’s advantage ahead of Schumacher after this race was still seven points, three races before the end, and McLaren had 23 points more than Ferrari.
RACE – Part 1
RACE – Part 2