The 2020 Austrian GP is almost upon us, so in the build-up to F1’s return, here are some moments from previous editions. During the 1997 Austrian Grand Prix, Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine was battling Benetton’s Jean Alesi for 4th place. At the time, the two were side-by-side heading into a corner.
They exited side-by-side as well, until they collided and the Frenchman was sent flying. Once he landed, his broken car ended up in the gravel trap. To further rub salt in the wound, Irvine was able to continue onwards until he stopped with far too much damage.
What did Jean Alesi say?
When he spoke after the race, a furious Alesi said, “I’m extremely upset because he tried to overtake me from the outside. Suddenly my car flew up.”
What angered him even more was the fact that the stewards investigated him for the incident and not Irvine. Fortunately for the French driver, the FIA eventually dropped the investigation and deemed it a racing incident. The irate Frenchman was convinced that his rival’s antics were “dangerous and extremely rude”.
Meanwhile, Jacques Villeneuve won the race ahead of David Coulthard and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Apparently the qualifying was quite topsy-turvy since the Bridgestone clad teams greatly benefitted compared to the Goodyear-shod teams. Villeneuve put the car on pole, against the odds, and dominated the proceedings.
There was heartbreak for Mika Häkkinen, who lead after the start before his engine went kaput on the opening lap itself lap. As a result, Jarno Trulli inherited the lead before Villeneuve took over for good. Then, Trulli’s own engine popped and sprayed oil out the track. Stewart driver Rubens Barrichello found out the hard way, how slippery it was and he spun out of the race in the closing laps.
The remaining point-scorers were Giancarlo Fisichella and the Schumacher brothers, with Ralf leading Michael. Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert, Gianni Morbidelli, and Gerhard Berger completed the Top 10. Incidentally, the 1997 season was Berger’s last before he announced his retirement from Formula One. Ukyo Katayama and Jos Verstappen completed the 12 race finishers.