ABOUT THIS SEASON
If Michael would be able to turn back time and get the chance to relive one day, he would definitely choose October 26th in 1997. He said: “If I could undo one thing during my Formula 1 career, I would choose Jerez.”
Schumacher entered the season’s final Grand Prix, held at Jerez, with a one-point advantage. It was an easy calculation: if he crossed the finishing line before Jacques Villeneuve, he would become world champion for the third time, for the first time with Ferrari. Everything was working out fine for the first 47 laps. But on lap 48 Michael and Villeneuve collided as Villeneuve passed his rival. Michael retired from the race but Villeneuve could continue to drive and became world champion in his second Formula 1 season.
One against all
The international press and most of the paddock were outraged. At first Michael did not understand the irritation, he did not realise that he had made a mistake. “Probably I did not want to admit it“, he confessed later. “I really thought that Jacques Villeneuve had not been in front of me and that I had the right to defend my position.” After the hearing the race stewards also were convinced that it had been an accident. “But in the evening I was not so sure any more. I remember exactly that I was flabbergasted when our president Luca di Montezemolo said to me something like: Man, what were you thinking – and I thought: What? Why am I the idiot now?” During the next weeks Michael realised that he had been wrong, “that it was a mistake“. He was disqualified from the Drivers’ Championship by the FIA.
At the beginning of the season things looked fine: a new car and two new, old friends from the time at Benetton – Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn. Ferrari was on the point of becoming the dream team which will dominate the Formula 1 for several seasons. At Monaco Michael won for the first time of the season and took the lead in the championship. But only for a short time: Villeneuve stroke back at Barcelona. Michael won in Canada and in France and took back the championship lead. But he had to fight hard for his victories.
Turnaround in Austria
The A1-circuit was the turning-point. Michael overtook Heinz-Herald Frentzen during a yellow flag period and got a ten second stop-go penalty. In the end he only became sixth. He did not finish his home GP at the Nürburgring because of a collision with his brother Ralf. Suddenly Villeneuve was leading by nine points. But Villeneuve made a mistake at the last but one race in Suzuka. He ignored the yellow flag again, although he was on probation. At first he was disqualified but his team lodged a protest and he was allowed to compete at the race as a kind of “ghost driver”. But the team withdrew the protest because Williams was afraid of not being allowed to compete at the season final. Therefore Michael entered the season final with a one-point advantage.
The championship final started with an exciting qualifying: Jacques Villeneuve’s, Heinz-Herald Frentzen’s and Michael’s lap times were identical, on the millisecond. The pole position was given to the pilot who first posted the best time. The end of the season final on the 26th of October was also exciting, but without a happy ending.
Courtesy by motorsport-magazin.com
1997 Saison Figures
GRAND PRIX WINS
Ferrari F310 B
ALL GRAND PRIX
The races of 1997