The 1998 Australian Grand Prix was the opening round of the 1998 FF1M Season and was posted on August 2nd 2009. It was won by Michael Schumacher driving in his first race for Dodgem Racing. It was Dodgem Racing's first ever race victory.
Michael Schumacher converted pole-position into a comfortable lead after the first corner, but it was 4th place Damon Hill who jumped into 2nd place. Mika Hakkinen, who had started 2nd had a bad start and initially dropped to 4th behind Ralf Schumacher, but re-passed him before the end of the lap. Ralf’s teammate Jean Alesi also managed to pass the German for 4th place.
At the first corner, the Jracing car of Olivier Panis touched the back of Johnny Herbert causing Johnny to halt. A traffic jam then preceded which involved other cars such as Alex Wurz, Bruno Junqueria. The action didn’t stop at the first corner, as a rejoining Marc Gene appeared to drive into the AquinoPlus of Mika Salo, with the Spaniard coming off worse.
Things went bad for Mika Hakkinen on lap 3 when he attempted a move around the outside of Hill at turn 6 but locked his rear wheels and spun out of 3rd place. He rejoined, albeit down in 19th place. The next lap saw Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher do a carbon copy of Hakkinen and Hill, with Villeneuve coming off worse.
Further back, Jan Magnussen, Junqueria and Allan McNish were embroiled in a battle for 15th place. Junqueria overtook Magnussen going into turn 3. However, when McNish tried to overtake the Danish driver, they tangled at turn 6 causing both drivers to spin. Both drivers continued, but both would finish the race out of the top ten.
Hakkinen’s fightback was cut-short on lap 8 when he spun trying to avoid the Dark Wolf of Mark Blundell. His race ended for good on lap 35 when his transmission broke. Villeneuve’s fightback was also unsuccessful when a mysterious late pit stop cost him 9th place.
Juan Pablo Montoya’s first race for Mason Motorsport was cut short on lap 16 when his transmission broke. He became the unenviable first retirement of the 1998 FF1M season. Other retirements included Jos Verstappen (lap 30) with an electrical problem, Olivier Panis (lap 32) with a blown engine and Mika Salo with a puncture.
At the front, it was relatively uneventful as Michael Schumacher had a comfortable lead from Damon Hill when the two drivers made their one and only pit stops from 1st and 2nd. Jean Alesi ran 3rd for the first stint but he was the main loser in the pit stop sequence as he dropped behind Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Irvine provided some entertainment in the second half of the race as he fought his way past his teammate before making his second scheduled stop. Then with 9 laps to go, the Ulsterman overtook Mark Blundell for the final point. Blundell was on course for that final point in Dark Wolf’s first race, but he had a disastrous end to the race where he slipped down to 12th place at the finish.
At the front it was Michael Schumacher who took the chequered flag to take Dodgem’s maiden victory in their 11th season of FF1M Michael had controlled the race from start to finish, only losing the lead to Damon Hill for one lap during the pit stops. Hill took 2nd place for Willow Images ahead of Ralf Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella and Jean Alesi.
After being bullied at the start of the race, Johnny Herbert took a creditable 6th place for VTR ahead of Rubens Barrichello, with Irvine taking the final point. Completing the top ten were Alex Wurz and David Coulthard.
Race Starting Grid Australia - Melbourne 1996 (58 Laps) Pole 1 Michael Schumacher 1m 29.707s 2 Mika Hakkinen Row 2 3 1m 29.757s Ralf Schumacher 1m 29.788s 4 Damon Hill Row 3 5 1m 30.424s Jean Alesi 1m 30.564s 6 Jacques Villeneuve Row 4 7 1m 30.765s Jos Verstappen 1m 30.780s 8 Giancarlo Fisichella Row 5 9 1m 30.858s Johnny Herbert 1m 31.023s 10 Rubens Barrichello Row 6 11 1m 31.062s Allan McNish 1m 31.193s 12 Olivier Panis Row 7 13 1m 31.245s Mika Salo 1m 31.246s 14 David Coulthard Row 8 15 1m 31.274s Juan-Pablo Montoya 1m 31.287s 16 Eddie Irvine Row 9 17 1m 31.305s Alexander Wurz 1m 31.391s 18 Mark Blundell Row 10 19 1m 31.482s Jan Magnussen 1m 31.536s 20 Marc Gene Row 11 21 1m 31.779s Kenny Brack 1m 32.121s 22 Bruno Junqueira 1m 32.185s
Race Results Australia - Melbourne 1998 (58 Laps) Pos Driver Time/Speed 1st Michael Schumacher 1h 30m 41.844s Dodgem-Ferrari 2nd Damon Hill +18.995s Willow Image-Ferrari 3rd Ralf Schumacher +20.652s Gui Racing-Ford 4th Giancarlo Fisichella +1m 00.291s AquinoPlus-Peugeot 5th Jean Alesi +1m 02.464s Gui Racing-Ford 6th Johnny Herbert +1m 11.062s VTR-Mecachrome 7th Rubens Barrichello +1m 14.768s Pedersen-Mercedes 8th Eddie Irvine +1m 28.709s VTR-Mecachrome 9th Alexander Wurz -1 Lap J Racing-Ford 10th David Coulthard -1 Lap Mason Mspt-Mercedes 11th Allan McNish -1 Lap FJR-Mecachrome 12th Mark Blundell -1 Lap Dark Wolf-Mugen 13th Jacques Villeneuve -1 Lap Pedersen-Mercedes 14th Bruno Junqueira -1 Lap Maestro Mspt-Peugeot 15th Kenny Brack -1 Lap Willow Image-Ferrari 16th Jan Magnussen -1 Lap Dark Wolf-Mugen 17th Marc Gene -1 Lap Maestro Mspt-Peugeot 18th Mika Salo Puncture AquinoPlus-Peugeot 19th Mika Hakkinen Transmission Dodgem-Ferrari 20th Olivier Panis Engine J Racing-Ford 21st Jos Verstappen Electrical FJR-Mecachrome 22nd Juan-Pablo Montoya Transmission Mason Mspt-Mercedes
Driver Best Laps Australia - Melbourne 1998 (58 Laps) Pos Driver Best Lap 1st Mika Hakkinen 1m 31.182s Dodgem-Ferrari 2nd Jacques Villeneuve +0.381s Pedersen-Mercedes 3rd Michael Schumacher +0.517s Dodgem-Ferrari 4th Ralf Schumacher +0.903s Gui Racing-Ford 5th Eddie Irvine +0.939s VTR-Mecachrome 6th Jos Verstappen +1.008s FJR-Mecachrome 7th Damon Hill +1.061s Willow Image-Ferrari 8th Alexander Wurz +1.214s J Racing-Ford 9th Allan McNish +1.328s FJR-Mecachrome 10th David Coulthard +1.387s Mason Mspt-Mercedes 11th Johnny Herbert +1.513s VTR-Mecachrome 12th Rubens Barrichello +1.514s Pedersen-Mercedes 13th Giancarlo Fisichella +1.622s AquinoPlus-Peugeot 14th Jean Alesi +1.732s Gui Racing-Ford 15th Mika Salo +1.894s AquinoPlus-Peugeot 16th Olivier Panis +1.908s J Racing-Ford 17th Juan-Pablo Montoya +2.095s Mason Mspt-Mercedes 18th Marc Gene +2.151s Maestro Mspt-Peugeot 19th Mark Blundell +2.371s Dark Wolf-Mugen 20th Bruno Junqueira +2.606s Maestro Mspt-Peugeot 21st Kenny Brack +2.791s Willow Image-Ferrari 22nd Jan Magnussen +2.799s Dark Wolf-Mugen