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The 1998 Japanese Grand Prix was the seventeenth and last round of the 1998 FF1M Season and it was held at the Suzuka circuit. It was won by FJR's Heinz Harald Frentzen who dominated the race from start to finish.

Qualifying

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Results

                                Race Starting Grid                              
                                                                              

                                Japan - Suzuka 1998                             
                                     (53 Laps)                                  
                                                                                
                                                                                
                                                                              
        Pole                1                                                   
                   Michael Schumacher                                           
                       1m 31.657s                    2                          
                                           Heinz-Harald Frentzen                
        Row 2               3                   1m 31.731s                      
                      Mika Hakkinen                                             
                       1m 31.796s                    4                          
                                               Eddie Irvine                     
        Row 3               5                   1m 32.076s                      
                     Alexander Wurz                                             
                       1m 32.245s                    6                          
                                              Ralf Schumacher                   
        Row 4               7                   1m 32.280s                      
                     Jos Verstappen                                             
                       1m 32.356s                    8                          
                                            Juan-Pablo Montoya                  
        Row 5               9                   1m 32.370s                      
                       Damon Hill                                               
                       1m 32.576s                   10                          
                                            Jacques Villeneuve                  
        Row 6              11                   1m 32.677s                      
                     David Coulthard                                            
                       1m 32.691s                   12                          
                                              Johnny Herbert                    
        Row 7              13                   1m 32.894s                      
                       Jean Alesi                                               
                       1m 33.256s                   14                          
                                            Rubens Barrichello                  
        Row 8              15                   1m 33.287s                      
                      Olivier Panis                                             
                       1m 33.408s                   16                          
                                                 Mika Salo                      
        Row 9              17                   1m 33.544s                      
                        Marc Gene                                               
                       1m 33.896s                   18                          
                                                Kenny Brack                     
        Row 10             19                   1m 33.937s                      
                      Jan Magnussen                                             
                       1m 33.943s                   20                          
                                           Giancarlo Fisichella                 
        Row 11             21                   1m 34.071s                      
                      Mark Blundell                                             
                       1m 34.246s                   22                          
                                              Bruno Junqueira                   
                                                1m 34.435s


Race

Report

thumb|300px|rightNewly crowned champion Michael Schumacher didn’t get a good getaway and lost the lead immediately to FJR’s Heinz Harald Frentzen and 2nd place to Eddie Irvine. He slotted in 3rd ahead of his brother.

Ralf Schumacher’s teammate Jean Alesi was making up ground after a lowly grid position was challenging Damon Hill for 12th. He overtook him into the Spoon curve but the Willow Images driver got back past at the chicane. But it went wrong for the former world champion as he made contact with the Pedersen of Rubens Barrichello. Both drivers spun but continued creating a traffic jam. Once the traffic cleared, Marc Gene overtook Olivier Panis for 15th place.

Further ahead Jos Verstappen had overtaken Alex Wurz for 6th place at the chicane, but on the next lap, his engine was already smoking which spelt the end of his last race for FJR. It also put a concern on leader Frentzen, who was building a comfortable lead from Irvine.

Lap 5 also saw an engine failure for 3rd placed Michael Schumacher, effectively ending the chance to wrap up his championship year with a win. He held Ralf and Hakkinen up behind the smoke losing them lots of time.

Jacques Villeneuve came under pressure from Johnny Herbert for 6th place on lap 9. Going into the chicane, the VTR driver succeeded. But Villeneuve was in trouble, he went so wide at the chicane, Montoya had a chance to take the Canadian for 7th, but this turned into a collision. They both lost time and handed 7th to Alesi.

Giancarlo Fisichella provided some action on lap 24 as he got in a battle with Kenny Brack. Fisichella got alongside going into the final chicane, Brack foolishly tried to save his position by cutting the chicane but Fisichella already had the position from the Swede. Meanwhile, Brack’s teammate retired with suspension issues, possibly as a result of his earlier collision with Barrichello.

Juan Pablo Montoya had a difficult race running outside the top 8 but his engine also blew up, a sad end to a generally good season for Mason Motorsports.

On lap 40, Eddie Irvine charged past Jacques Villeneuve, but in fact Eddie was three stopping and to make another pitstop whilst Villeneuve was only stopping once and was pacing himself to the finish.

Another driver on a three-stop strategy was Mika Hakkinen and he was pressuring Wurz for the final podium place. A podium would be important for both drivers as Hakkinen needed to secure 4th in the championship whilst Wurz needed to end JRacing’s career on a high. Hakkinen tried on lap 44 but the door got shut. 4 laps later and Hakkinen made a lunge going into the spoon curve. Wurz gave him space but he didn’t make it easy. The Finn eventually got past.

It was a very difficult race for Dark Wolf as Mark Blundell’s engine exploded on lap 21, whilst Jan Magnussen had a frightening collision with Villeneuve late in the race, which nearly resulted in both drivers retiring from the race, but both continued.

In only his third race for FJR, Frentzen dominated the race and took a superb maiden win, maintaining his podium run. The result moved him well ahead of McNish in the championship. Ralf Schumacher finished 2nd ahead of Hakkinen. Wurz ended JRacing’s interesting FF1M career with 4th. Alesi had a good race to 5th ahead of Irvine, Villeneuve and Coulthard.

Results

                                   Race Results                                 
                                                                                
                                Japan - Suzuka 1998                             
                                     (53 Laps)                                  
                                                                                
                Pos   Driver                       Time/Speed                   
                                                                                
                1st   Heinz-Harald Frentzen    1h 23m 52.638s                   
                      FJR-Mecachrome                                            
                2nd   Ralf Schumacher                +18.228s                   
                      Gui Racing-Ford                                           
                3rd   Mika Hakkinen                  +49.345s                   
                      Dodgem-Ferrari                                            
                4th   Alexander Wurz                 +56.965s                   
                      J Racing-Ford                                             
                5th   Jean Alesi                  +1m 23.043s                   
                      Gui Racing-Ford                                           
                6th   Eddie Irvine                +1m 24.856s                   
                      VTR-Mecachrome                                            
                7th   Jacques Villeneuve          +1m 27.578s                   
                      Pedersen-Mercedes                                         
                8th   David Coulthard             +1m 30.989s                   
                      Mason Mspt-Mercedes                                       
                9th   Johnny Herbert                   -1 Lap                   
                      VTR-Mecachrome                                            
               10th   Mika Salo                        -1 Lap                   
                      AquinoPlus-Peugeot                                        
               11th   Olivier Panis                    -1 Lap                   
                      J Racing-Ford                                             
               12th   Giancarlo Fisichella             -1 Lap                   
                      AquinoPlus-Peugeot                                        
               13th   Bruno Junqueira                  -1 Lap                   
                      Maestro Mspt-Peugeot                                      
               14th   Rubens Barrichello               -1 Lap                   
                      Pedersen-Mercedes                                         
               15th   Marc Gene                        -1 Lap                   
                      Maestro Mspt-Peugeot                                      
               16th   Jan Magnussen                    -1 Lap                   
                      Dark Wolf-Mugen                                           
               17th   Kenny Brack                    Oil Leak                   
                      Willow Image-Ferrari                                      
               18th   Juan-Pablo Montoya               Engine                   
                      Mason Mspt-Mercedes                                       
               19th   Damon Hill                   Suspension                   
                      Willow Image-Ferrari                                      
               20th   Mark Blundell                    Engine                   
                      Dark Wolf-Mugen                                           
               21st   Michael Schumacher               Engine                   
                      Dodgem-Ferrari                                            
               22nd   Jos Verstappen               Water Leak                   
                      FJR-Mecachrome

Fastest Laps

                                 Driver Best Laps                               
                                                                                
                                Japan - Suzuka 1998                             
                                     (53 Laps)                                  

                                                                              
                Pos   Driver                         Best Lap                   
                                                                                
                1st   Heinz-Harald Frentzen        1m 32.674s                   
                      FJR-Mecachrome                                            
                2nd   Ralf Schumacher                 +0.195s                   
                      Gui Racing-Ford                                           
                3rd   Mika Hakkinen                   +0.293s                   
                      Dodgem-Ferrari                                            
                4th   Eddie Irvine                    +0.927s                   
                      VTR-Mecachrome                                            
                5th   Alexander Wurz                  +1.131s                   
                      J Racing-Ford                                             
                6th   Jacques Villeneuve              +1.332s                   
                      Pedersen-Mercedes                                         
                7th   Johnny Herbert                  +1.433s                   
                      VTR-Mecachrome                                            
                8th   Jean Alesi                      +1.557s                   
                      Gui Racing-Ford                                           
                9th   David Coulthard                 +1.653s                   
                      Mason Mspt-Mercedes                                       
               10th   Juan-Pablo Montoya              +1.690s                   
                      Mason Mspt-Mercedes                                       
               11th   Giancarlo Fisichella            +1.907s                   
                      AquinoPlus-Peugeot                                        
               12th   Mika Salo                       +1.921s                   
                      AquinoPlus-Peugeot                                        
               13th   Michael Schumacher              +1.960s                   
                      Dodgem-Ferrari                                            
               14th   Olivier Panis                   +1.971s                   
                      J Racing-Ford                                             
               15th   Rubens Barrichello              +2.167s                   
                      Pedersen-Mercedes                                         
               16th   Damon Hill                      +2.492s                   
                      Willow Image-Ferrari                                      
               17th   Marc Gene                       +2.579s                   
                      Maestro Mspt-Peugeot                                      
               18th   Kenny Brack                     +2.787s                   
                      Willow Image-Ferrari                                      
               19th   Jan Magnussen                   +2.870s                   
                      Dark Wolf-Mugen                                           
               20th   Mark Blundell                   +2.885s                   
                      Dark Wolf-Mugen                                           
               21st   Bruno Junqueira                 +2.941s                   
                      Maestro Mspt-Peugeot                                      
               22nd   Jos Verstappen                  +7.226s                   
                      FJR-Mecachrome

Notes

  • First win for Heinz Harald Frentzen
  • Final win for Goodyear
  • Final races for Goodyear, AquinoPlus, Mecachrome, Damon Hill, Mark Blundell and Kenny Brack
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