The 1998 American Grand Prix was the fifteenth round of the 1998 FF1M Season and it was held at the Laguna Seca Raceway in California. It was the first and so far only race to be held at this race track and it was won by Michael Schumacher to move him closer to the championship.
- FJR replaced Allan McNish for FF1M-3000 runner up Heinz Harald Frentzen for the last three races.
Race Starting Grid United States - Laguna Seca (85 Laps) 1 Pole Juan-Pablo Montoya 2 1m 09.103s Jacques Villeneuve 1m 09.154s 3 Row 2 Michael Schumacher 4 1m 09.202s Heinz-Harald Frentzen 1m 09.220s 5 Row 3 David Coulthard 6 1m 09.511s Ralf Schumacher 1m 09.818s 7 Row 4 Mika Salo 8 1m 10.160s Damon Hill 1m 10.184s 9 Row 5 Rubens Barrichello 10 1m 10.214s Mika Hakkinen 1m 10.327s 11 Row 6 Alexander Wurz 12 1m 10.486s Jos Verstappen 1m 10.660s 13 Row 7 Eddie Irvine 14 1m 10.695s Olivier Panis 1m 10.936s 15 Row 8 Jean Alesi 16 1m 10.939s Marc Gene 1m 11.121s 17 Row 9 Giancarlo Fisichella 18 1m 11.124s Johnny Herbert 1m 11.311s 19 Row 10 Mark Blundell 20 1m 11.844s Jan Magnussen 1m 12.035s 21 Row 11 Bruno Junqueira 22 1m 12.064s Kenny Brack 1m 12.351s
Rain in qualifying meant that Juan Pablo Montoya took pole position ahead of Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher. Montoya had a good start whilst Villeneuve’s wasn’t, as he was beaten by Michael off the line. FJR debutant Heinz Harald Frentzen held on to 4th whilst at the back, Kenny Brack had spun by himself and rejoined. It was FF1M’s first race at Laguna Seca and overtaking appeared to be very difficult. This allowed Montoya to control the race until lap 14 when his engine exploded right in front of Michael. Villeneuve also got baulked a bit giving Michael some breathing space.
The race was processional but there was also a fairly high attrition rate with 9 retirements including Jacques Villeneuve, who lost 2nd place with 15 laps left. Villeneuve’s teammate also retired with engine problems making it a bad race for Pedersen. Other retirements included Mika Hakkinen with a puncture and Coulthard lost 5th place in the dying moments with a water leak.
Michael Schumacher took a controlled win ahead of his brother, increasing the championship lead to 10 points with Dodgem extremely close to winning the constructors championship. Frentzen drove a brilliant first race for FJR to 3rd, FJR’s first podium since the Spanish Grand Prix. Damon Hill was 4th ahead of Irvine, Wurz, Verstappen and Olivier Panis. The Frenchman has been outclassed by Wurz all season, so a point would surely be heart warming for him.
Race Results United States - Laguna Seca (85 Laps) Pos Driver Time/Speed 1st Michael Schumacher 1h 31m 18.652s Dodgem-Ferrari 2nd Ralf Schumacher +41.362s Gui Racing-Ford 3rd Heinz-Harald Frentzen +43.150s FJR-Mecachrome 4th Damon Hill +44.738s Willow Image-Ferrari 5th Eddie Irvine -1 Lap VTR-Mecachrome 6th Alexander Wurz -1 Lap J Racing-Ford 7th Jos Verstappen -1 Lap FJR-Mecachrome 8th Olivier Panis -1 Lap J Racing-Ford 9th Giancarlo Fisichella -1 Lap AquinoPlus-Peugeot 10th Marc Gene -1 Lap Maestro Mspt-Peugeot 11th Jean Alesi -1 Lap Gui Racing-Ford 12th Mika Salo -1 Lap AquinoPlus-Peugeot 13th Kenny Brack -2 Laps Willow Image-Ferrari 14th David Coulthard -3 Laps Mason Mspt-Mercedes 15th Mika Hakkinen Puncture Dodgem-Ferrari 16th Rubens Barrichello Engine Pedersen-Mercedes 17th Jacques Villeneuve Transmission Pedersen-Mercedes 18th Bruno Junqueira Engine Maestro Mspt-Peugeot 19th Jan Magnussen Suspension Dark Wolf-Mugen 20th Johnny Herbert Transmission VTR-Mecachrome 21st Mark Blundell Engine Dark Wolf-Mugen 22nd Juan-Pablo Montoya Engine Mason Mspt-Mercedes
Driver Best Laps United States - Laguna Seca (85 Laps) Pos Driver Best Lap 1st Ralf Schumacher 1m 02.773s Gui Racing-Ford 2nd Michael Schumacher +0.257s Dodgem-Ferrari 3rd Jacques Villeneuve +0.271s Pedersen-Mercedes 4th Heinz-Harald Frentzen +0.431s FJR-Mecachrome 5th Damon Hill +0.529s Willow Image-Ferrari 6th Juan-Pablo Montoya +0.575s Mason Mspt-Mercedes 7th Mika Hakkinen +0.678s Dodgem-Ferrari 8th David Coulthard +0.953s Mason Mspt-Mercedes 9th Eddie Irvine +1.039s VTR-Mecachrome 10th Jos Verstappen +1.078s FJR-Mecachrome 11th Rubens Barrichello +1.118s Pedersen-Mercedes 12th Alexander Wurz +1.232s J Racing-Ford 13th Mika Salo +1.291s AquinoPlus-Peugeot 14th Olivier Panis +1.308s J Racing-Ford 15th Giancarlo Fisichella +1.450s AquinoPlus-Peugeot 16th Jean Alesi +1.489s Gui Racing-Ford 17th Johnny Herbert +1.509s VTR-Mecachrome 18th Marc Gene +1.574s Maestro Mspt-Peugeot 19th Bruno Junqueira +1.711s Maestro Mspt-Peugeot 20th Kenny Brack +2.159s Willow Image-Ferrari 21st Jan Magnussen +2.171s Dark Wolf-Mugen 22nd Mark Blundell +2.281s Dark Wolf-Mugen
- First FF1M podium for Heinz Harald Frentzen