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1997 Australian Grand Prix

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1997 Australian Grand Prix
Race 1 of 17 in the 1997 Formula One World Championship
Albert Lake Park Street Circuit in Melbourne, Australia.svg
Race details
Date 9 March 1997
Official name LXII Qantas Australian Grand Prix
Location Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Albert Park, Melbourne
Course Temporary Street Circuit
Course length 5.302 km (3.295 mi)
Distance 58 laps, 307.516 km (191.110 mi)
Weather Partly Cloudy, Dry
Pole position
Driver Williams-Renault
Time 1:29.369
Fastest lap
Driver Germany Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams-Renault
Time 1:30.585 on lap 36
First McLaren-Mercedes
Second Ferrari
Third McLaren-Mercedes

The 1997 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 9 March 1997 at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in Albert Park, Melbourne. It was the first race of the 1997 FIA Formula One World Championship. It was the second Grand Prix to be hosted in Melbourne. The 58-lap race was won by McLaren driver David Coulthard after starting from fourth position. Michael Schumacher finished second for the Ferrari and Coulthard's teammate Mika Häkkinen was third.



Two new teams came into Formula One in 1997: Stewart and Lola. Footwork reverted to their old name of Arrows and acquired Yamaha engines, while Ligier were bought by Alain Prost and changed their name to Prost Grand Prix. Tyrrell acquired Ford engines.

The change that dominated the drivers line up was Damon Hill's surprise sacking from Williams having just won the World Championship. He joined Tom Walkinshaw and the newly purchased Arrows team. In the week up to the race, there were rumours, which proved to be unfounded, of Hill having left Arrows due to the poor performance of the car.[1] Pedro Diniz brought significant sponsorship backing, and was hired as Hill's teammate. Williams retained Jacques Villeneuve and replaced Hill with Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

Villeneuve was the bookmaker's favourite heading into the new season. He said that being the favourite put "extra pressure, but it's good pressure [on me]".[2][3]

Ferrari retained Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine, Benetton kept Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger and McLaren retained Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard. The Jordan team had two new drivers in Giancarlo Fisichella, previously at Minardi, and Ralf Schumacher, brother of Michael. The new Prost Grand Prix team kept Olivier Panis and signed Japanese rookie driver Shinji Nakano. Sauber kept Johnny Herbert and the loss of Frentzen saw Peter Sauber sign Ferrari test driver Nicola Larini. Tyrrell retained Mika Salo for a third year and added Jos Verstappen to the team from Arrows. Minardi with V8 Hart engines signed Ukyo Katayama and Italian driver Jarno Trulli. Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Olivier Panis were both making their 50th race entry, and Johnny Herbert was making his 100th race entry.

The new Stewart Grand Prix team had signed Rubens Barrichello and Danish driver Jan Magnussen. Lola recruited ex-Footwork Arrows driver Ricardo Rosset and former Benetton test driver Vincenzo Sospiri.

Bridgestone also made their first official appearance in Formula 1, breaking Goodyear's reign as a sole tyre supplier which began in 1992. They provided tyres for Minardi, Arrows, Prost, Stewart and Lola. Previously, the company had produced Formula One tyres at the 1976 and 1977 Japanese Grand Prix for Japanese entrants such as Kazuyoshi Hoshino's Heros Racing and Kojima.

The British television coverage switched to ITV for the 1997 season and beyond, after 18 years of regular coverage for the BBC. Former driver Martin Brundle joined Murray Walker in the commentary box.

In the build-up to the weekend, Michael Schumacher said that the circuit "wasn't particularly special", resulting in some criticism from locals.[4] There were also protests in the lead-up to the race, with protestors pouring diesel on to the track the week before the race.[4] A strike also meant that there was no tram shuttle service running, with spectators forced to catch buses to the track. Jeff Kennett, the Premier of Victoria, labelling them "bloody minded" and that they will have to "incur the wrath of the community".[4]

Practice and qualifying

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve took his fourth career pole position with a lap of 1:29.369, while Heinz-Harald Frentzen could only manage a 1:31.121 to fill the remaining spot on the front row. Only six drivers managed to qualify within 3 seconds of the pole position time. The session was red flagged with just over two minutes remaining after a collision between Gerhard Berger and Nicola Larini on the straight between turns 10 and 11. This resulted in many of the cars effectively having to complete a one-lap sprint to post a lap time before the end of the session. Damon Hill struggled during the session, only just qualifying inside of the 107% limit due to an oil leak which hampered the lap times. Both of the Lola cars failed to make the qualifying limit and were over ten seconds slower than Villeneuve in their first and only F1 qualifying session, as the team had to withdraw from the next race due to a lack of funds. Pedro Diniz was also outside of the 107% time, but he was permitted to race as he had set a time in practice within the 107% time.


On the parade lap, Damon Hill's throttle jammed, leaving him stranded on the track and causing him to retire from the race. At the first corner, Eddie Irvine misjudged his braking, hitting both Villeneuve and Herbert - all three retired from the race. Williams adopted a two-stop strategy, while most other teams were going for one-stop races. Jos Verstappen spun off on lap two while attempting to overtake Ukyo Katayama. Frentzen quickly built up a lead: 2.7secs on the first lap, 3.7s on the second, 5.3s on the third and 7.2s on the fourth. Both of the Jordan cars soon retired from the race, Ralf Schumacher suffering a gearbox problem and Fisichella spinning off the track while passing Barrichello. By lap 12, however, Frentzen eased off, and for the next six laps the gap between first and second stayed at 17-18s. Frentzen pitted on lap 18 and rejoined third.

Jean Alesi retired from the race after running out of fuel, to the fury of his Benetton team, who had been trying to call him into the pits for 5 laps. In the laps that followed he was able to close up on Coulthard and Schumacher. Frentzen lost time in traffic, struggling with his brakes. Coulthard and Schumacher pitted in mid-race and so Frentzen moved ahead again and ran very quickly for a few laps before he began to fade again. On lap 40 he came in for his second stop. The gap to Coulthard was only 23secs, and with the time in the pitlane being around 22-24secs it was unclear whether he could emerge ahead. In the end, his pit stop was delayed for several seconds by a right rear tire problem, allowing Coulthard and Schumacher to move ahead. At the front David Coulthard continued to keep away from these incidents to lead the race, followed by Michael Schumacher and Frentzen. Frentzen closed up on Coulthard and Schumacher who were by then running together but Schumacher had to make an unscheduled fuel stop towards the end of the race, promoting Frentzen to second. Large quantities of dust had been coming from Frentzen's brakes for some time and with three laps to go a brake disc failed, sending him into the gravel trap at the end of the start/finish straight. Coulthard went on to take his second career win. It was McLaren's first win since Ayrton Senna won the 1993 Australian Grand Prix. It was also their first win with Mercedes as an engine supplier, and Mercedes' first victory as an engine manufacturer since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix.



Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
1 3 Canada Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Renault 1:29.369
2 4 Germany Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams-Renault 1:31.123 +1.754
3 5 Germany Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1:31.472 +2.103
4 10 United Kingdom David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.531 +2.162
5 6 United Kingdom Eddie Irvine Ferrari 1:31.881 +2.512
6 9 Finland Mika Häkkinen McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.971 +2.602
7 16 United Kingdom Johnny Herbert Sauber-Petronas 1:32.287 +2.918
8 7 France Jean Alesi Benetton-Renault 1:32.593 +3.224
9 14 France Olivier Panis Prost-Mugen-Honda 1:32.842 +3.473
10 8 Austria Gerhard Berger Benetton-Renault 1:32.870 +3.501
11 22 Brazil Rubens Barrichello Stewart-Ford 1:33.075 +3.706
12 11 Germany Ralf Schumacher Jordan-Peugeot 1:33.130 +3.761
13 17 Italy Nicola Larini Sauber-Petronas 1:33.327 +3.958
14 12 Italy Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan-Peugeot 1:33.552 +4.183
15 20 Japan Ukyo Katayama Minardi-Hart 1:33.798 +4.429
16 15 Japan Shinji Nakano Prost-Mugen-Honda 1:33.989 +4.620
17 21 Italy Jarno Trulli Minardi-Hart 1:34.120 +4.751
18 19 Finland Mika Salo Tyrrell-Ford 1:34.229 +4.860
19 23 Denmark Jan Magnussen Stewart-Ford 1:34.623 +5.254
20 1 United Kingdom Damon Hill Arrows-Yamaha 1:34.806 +5.437
21 18 Netherlands Jos Verstappen Tyrrell-Ford 1:34.943 +5.574
107% time: 1:35.625
22 2 Brazil Pedro Diniz Arrows-Yamaha 1:35.972 +6.603
DNQ 24 Italy Vincenzo Sospiri Lola-Ford 1:40.972 +11.603
DNQ 25 Brazil Ricardo Rosset Lola-Ford 1:42.086 +12.717


Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 10 United Kingdom David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 58 1:30:28.718 4 10
2 5 Germany Michael Schumacher Ferrari 58 +20.046 3 6
3 9 Finland Mika Häkkinen McLaren-Mercedes 58 +22.177 6 4
4 8 Austria Gerhard Berger Benetton-Renault 58 +22.841 10 3
5 14 France Olivier Panis Prost-Mugen-Honda 58 +1:00.308 9 2
6 17 Italy Nicola Larini Sauber-Petronas 58 +1:36.040 13 1
7 15 Japan Shinji Nakano Prost-Mugen-Honda 56 +2 Laps 16  
8 4 Germany Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams-Renault 55 Brakes 2  
9 21 Italy Jarno Trulli Minardi-Hart 55 +3 Laps 17  
10 2 Brazil Pedro Diniz Arrows-Yamaha 54 +4 Laps 22  
Ret 22 Brazil Rubens Barrichello Stewart-Ford 49 Engine 11  
Ret 19 Finland Mika Salo Tyrrell-Ford 42 Engine 18  
Ret 23 Denmark Jan Magnussen Stewart-Ford 36 Suspension 19  
Ret 7 France Jean Alesi Benetton-Renault 34 Out of Fuel 8  
Ret 20 Japan Ukyo Katayama Minardi-Hart 32 Electrical 15  
Ret 12 Italy Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan-Peugeot 14 Spun Off 14  
Ret 18 Netherlands Jos Verstappen Tyrrell-Ford 2 Spun Off 21  
Ret 11 Germany Ralf Schumacher Jordan-Peugeot 1 Gearbox 12  
Ret 3 Canada Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Renault 0 Collision 1  
Ret 6 United Kingdom Eddie Irvine Ferrari 0 Collision 5  
Ret 16 United Kingdom Johnny Herbert Sauber-Petronas 0 Collision 7  
DNS 1 United Kingdom Damon Hill Arrows-Yamaha 0 Throttle 20  

Championship standings after the race

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


  1. ^ Rosenthal, Jim (8 March 1997). F1: Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Live (Television production). London, England: ITV. Event occurs at 11:25–11:40.
  2. ^ Goodman, Louise (8 March 1997). F1: Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Live (Television production). London, England: ITV. Event occurs at 03:10–03:20.
  3. ^ Goodman, Louise (8 March 1997). F1: Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Live (Television production). London, England: ITV. Event occurs at 15:04–16:04.
  4. ^ a b c Rosenthal, Jim (8 March 1997). F1: Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Live (Television production). London, England: ITV. Event occurs at 09:30–11:15.
  5. ^ "1997 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying". Chicane F1. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
  6. ^ "1997 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying". Grand Prix Racing. Archived from the original on 25 November 2006. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
  7. ^ "1997 Australian Grand Prix". Archived from the original on 29 October 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  8. ^ "1997 Australian Grand Prix". Chicane F1. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
  9. ^ a b "Australia 1997 - Championship • STATS F1". Retrieved 6 March 2019.

Race Details: "1997 Australian Grand Prix". Chicane F1. Retrieved 2 August 2007.

Previous race:
1996 Japanese Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1997 season
Next race:
1997 Brazilian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1996 Australian Grand Prix
Australian Grand Prix Next race:
1998 Australian Grand Prix
Preceded by
1996 Australian Grand Prix
Formula One Promotional Trophy
for Race Promoter

Succeeded by
1998 San Marino Grand Prix
This page was last edited on 25 October 2020, at 05:42
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