The 1998 Canadian Grand Prix was a Formula One race held at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 7, 1998. The race was won by Michael Schumacher, however the race is probably best remembered for the crash on the first lap involving Alexander Wurz and Jean Alesi, which resulted in the race being red flagged and restarted.
In Montreal, David Coulthard secured his third pole position of the season. The Scotsman managed to do the fastest time at the very end of the session. Mika Häkkinen was very unlucky during the qualifying session. He encountered a lot of traffic during his quick laps. Michael Schumacher was third, and was happily surprised by his lap time which was only 0.2 seconds behind Coulthard's time. The night before qualifying, Eddie Irvine had released a comment saying that the Canadian Grand Prix would be crucial for Ferrari, with Schumacher expressing the same opinion.
The First Start
At the start of the race Alexander Wurz was squeezed by other cars and was forced to cut across the grass in his Benetton. This meant that he was unable to brake, and therefore the Austrian crashed into Jean Alesi as well as Johnny Herbert and Jarno Trulli. Wurz' car rolled over three times, though luckily he was not injured. The race was stopped and Alesi, Wurz and Trulli all took the restart in their spare cars. Herbert was lucky that his mechanics were able to repair his Sauber, as Alesi took the spare. The only damage to the car proved to be a bent suspension arm.
The Second Start
At the second start Häkkinen's gearbox jammed while further back there was another incident. This time it was Ralf Schumacher who was pushing too hard; he also went across the grass and spun in the middle of the track. This caused mayhem in the pack behind him. Trulli mounted Alesi's car and in total five cars retired after the second start: Häkkinen (gearbox), Ralf Schumacher (spun off), Alesi and Trulli who were involved in the accident, and Toranosuke Takagi who had transmission problems.
Michael Schumacher managed to overtake Giancarlo Fisichella on the first lap but due to all the retirements the safety car was sent out. After five laps, the safety car came back in and the order was Coulthard followed by Michael Schumacher, Fisichella, Jacques Villeneuve, Rubens Barrichello, and Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
David Coulthard vs Michael Schumacher
As the race got under way again, Coulthard and Michael Schumacher started to pull away from the rest of the field. Coulthard led for the first 13 laps until the safety car came out for the second time. Pedro Diniz had gone off the track and when he rejoined he threw a lot of grass and dirt on to the circuit that needed to be removed. When the safety car went back in, there were another three retirements. Mika Salo collided with Herbert who went off for the second time, and Coulthard had a transmission problem.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen vs Michael Schumacher
The accident involving Salo and Herbert sent out the safety car for a third time, and Michael Schumacher took advantage by making a pitstop. When he got back out and yellow flags were waved to show that there was to be no overtaking, Schumacher shot across to the other side of the track and sent Frentzen off the track and onto the grass as he tried to avoid the Ferrari. The Williams driver was thus knocked out of the Grand Prix.
At the restart Fisichella led, ahead of Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Jan Magnussen and Shinji Nakano. Villeneuve immediately tried to go around the outside of Fisichella and take the lead, but he got it all wrong, went off the track and damaged his rear wing. On lap 35, Michael Schumacher was given a 10 second stop-and-go penalty due to the 'incident' with Frentzen. This momentarily put him behind Hill, but Schumacher overtook him and regained second place on lap 38. Then he took the lead on lap 45 when Fisichella went in for his only pit stop. Schumacher then extended his lead over the rest of the pack, and by the time he made his second pit stop to refuel he was able to hold on to his first place, and subsequently finish the race with 16 seconds between himself and second place finisher Fisichella.
Standings after Grand Prix
- Drivers' Championship standings
|1||Template:Country flagicon Mika Häkkinen||46|
|2||Template:Country flagicon Michael Schumacher||34|
|3||Template:Country flagicon David Coulthard||29|
|4||Template:Country flagicon Eddie Irvine||19|
|5||Template:Country flagicon Giancarlo Fisichella||13|
- Constructors' Championship standings
|1||Template:Country flagicon McLaren-Mercedes||75|
|2||Template:Country flagicon Ferrari||53|
|3||Template:Country flagicon Benetton-Playlife||25|
|4||Template:Country flagicon Williams-Mecachrome||16|
|5||Template:Country flagicon Stewart-Ford||5|
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
- Lap leaders: David Coulthard 18 (1-18), Michael Schumacher 27 (19, 44-69), Giancarlo Fisichella 24 (20-43)
- Michael Schumacher received a stop-and-go penalty for colliding with Williams driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen after coming out of the pits. As a result of the accident, Frentzen had to abandon the race, Schumacher lost time due to the penalty, but managed to recover sufficiently to win the race.
- Jan Magnussen scored his only points in his last grand prix.
- Stewart Grand Prix scored their first two car points finish.
- The race was restarted after Alexander Wurz collided with Jean Alesi and barrel-rolled across the turn 1 gravel trap.
- Derek Warwick commentated the Grand Prix alongside Murray Walker; Martin Brundle was racing at Le Mans.