The XXI Großer Preis von Österreich, otherwise known as the 1997 Austrian Grand Prix, was the fourteenth round of the 1997 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the A1 Ring in Spielberg, Austria, on the 21 September 1997. The race, which was the first to be held in Austria since 1987, would see Jacques Villeneuve secure a strong victory to re-ignite his title hopes.
The return of the Austrian Grand Prix brought with it the return of the ever popular Österreichring to the F1 calendar, although the circuit had been heavily revised. Indeed, the new layout cut out the old Hella-Licht chicane completely, while the pit-complex had been completely rebuilt amid a major branding deal with A1 Telekom Austria.
Qualifying had seen Villeneuve secure pole position late on, snatching top spot on the grid from Mika Häkkinen in the dying moments. It was Jarno Trulli, however, who caused the biggest stir, grabbing third in the spare Prost-Mugen-Honda, despite the fact that the car had been setup for teammate Shinji Nakano, who was down in sixteenth.
There would be heartbreak for the home fans even before the start of the race, for soon-to-be-retired Austrian ace Gerhard Berger was forced to enter the pits after an issue on the formation lap. He duly took off from the pits after the field had launched away from the grid, only to spin as he rejoined on cold tyres.
On track, meanwhile, it was Häkkinen who streaked into the lead off the grid, while Trulli also managed to scramble ahead of Villeneuve to secure second. However, Häkkinen's lead was not to last, with his Mercedes engine destroying itself before the end of the opening tour.
Trulli therefore led a race for the first time in his F1 career, and was able build his advantage with a series of fastest laps. Behind, Villeneuve had managed to slip behind Rubens Barrichello in the Stewart-Ford Cosworth, and was forced to spend the opening laps fending off Jan Magnussen in the second Stewart.
By lap 24 Villeneuve would finally manage to get clear of Barrichello, although he now found himself over ten seconds behind Trulli. With that, however, the Canadian racer began to push on, with a series of fastest laps, combined with a worsening engine issue for Trulli, carrying him back onto the Italian's tail.
Ultimately, however, their battle would be decided in the pitlane, with a stunning in-lap for Villeneuve doing the damage. Indeed, the Canadian ace emerged from the pitlane just ahead of a long running Giancarlo Fisichella, who was doing his best to keep his compatriot Trulli at bay.
With that the race for the win was over, for Villeneuve was able to ease clear of Trulli, before the Italian's race was ended by an engine failure. By that stage the Prost had slipped into the sights of David Coulthard, who had vaulted past the Stewarts during the stops, with the Mugen-Honda duly spraying the Scot with oil when it expired.
Villeneuve duly cruised home to claim a comfortable victory, even surviving a brief scare when Berger dramatically slowed in front of him. Coulthard settled for second ahead of Frentzen, who benefited from a poor decision from Michael Schumacher, who passed the German under yellow flags. The officials duly slapped the #5 Ferrari with a ten second stop-go, dumping the German back to sixth behind Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher.
With neither of the title protagonists scoring major points there had been little change atop the Championship standings, with Michael Schumacher remaining at the head of the hunt. Jacques Villeneuve had managed to reduce the German's advantage, leaving Italy ten behind, with more than double the points of Jean Alesi in third. The Frenchman himself was in an intense fight for third, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen, David Coulthard, Gerhard Berger and Eddie Irvine all within ten points of Alesi.
In the Constructors Championship Williams-Renault had done some serious damage, leaving Italy just a point off the lead. Indeed, it had been a fairly dismal day for the tifosi, with Ferrari's solitary point the only reason that they still held the lead. Behind, Benetton-Renault had maintained their hold on third, with McLaren-Mercedes only able to inch slightly closer in fourth.
The full entry list for the 1997 Austrian Grand Prix is outlined below:
The full qualifying results for the 1997 Austrian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||3||Jacques Villeneuve||Williams-Renault||1:10.304||—||221.364 km/h|
|2||9||Mika Häkkinen||McLaren-Mercedes||1:10.398||+0.094s||221.069 km/h|
|3||14||Jarno Trulli||Prost-Mugen-Honda||1:10.511||+0.207s||220.714 km/h|
|4||4||Heinz-Harald Frentzen||Williams-Renault||1:10.670||+0.366s||220.218 km/h|
|5||22||Rubens Barrichello||Stewart-Ford Cosworth||1:10.700||+0.396s||220.124 km/h|
|6||23||Jan Magnussen||Stewart-Ford Cosworth||1:10.893||+0.589s||219.525 km/h|
|7||1||Damon Hill||Arrows-Yamaha||1:11.025||+0.721s||219.117 km/h|
|8||6||Eddie Irvine||Ferrari||1:11.051||+0.747s||219.037 km/h|
|9||5||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1:11.056||+0.752s||219.022 km/h|
|10||10||David Coulthard||McLaren-Mercedes||1:11.076||+0.772s||218.960 km/h|
|11||11||Ralf Schumacher||Jordan-Peugeot||1:11.186||+0.882s||218.622 km/h|
|12||16||Johnny Herbert||Sauber-Petronas||1:11.210||+0.906s||218.548 km/h|
|13||17||Gianni Morbidelli||Sauber-Petronas||1:11.261||+0.957s||218.392 km/h|
|14||12||Giancarlo Fisichella||Jordan-Peugeot||1:11.299||+0.995s||218.275 km/h|
|15||7||Jean Alesi||Benetton-Renault||1:11.382||+1.078s||218.021 km/h|
|16||15||Shinji Nakano||Prost-Mugen-Honda||1:11.596||+1.292s||217.370 km/h|
|17||2||Pedro Diniz||Arrows-Yamaha||1:11.615||+1.311s||217.312 km/h|
|18||8||Gerhard Berger||Benetton-Renault||1:11.620||+1.316s||217.297 km/h|
|19||20||Ukyo Katayama||Minardi-Hart||1:12.036||+1.732s||216.042 km/h|
|20||18||Jos Verstappen||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:12.230||+1.926s||215.462 km/h|
|21||19||Mika Salo||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:14.246||+3.942s||209.611 km/h|
|107% Time: 1:15.225|
|EXC*||21||Tarso Marques||Minardi-Hart||1:12.304||+2.000s||215.241 km/h|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
- * Marques was excluded from the results of qualifying as his car was underweight.
- * Berger would start the race from the pitlane after an issue on the formation lap.
The full results for the 1997 Austrian Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Diniz and Barrichello were still classified despite retiring as they had completed 90% of the race distance.
- Jacques Villeneuve claimed the twentieth pole position for a car using #3 as its race number.
- Tenth career victory for Jacques Villeneuve.
- Williams secured their 102nd win as a constructor.
- David Coulthard claimed the 30th podium finish for a Mercedes engine.
- Ninth and final fastest lap recorded by Villeneuve.
Another difficult weekend for Michael Schumacher had seen his Championship lead all but eliminated with three rounds to go, leaving Austria with just a point in hand. Jacques Villeneuve had been the man to do the damage, his sixth win of the season moving him onto 67 points, with those two now mathematically the only title pretenders. Behind, Heinz-Harald Frentzen had moved back into third, a point ahead of David Coulthard.
In the Constructors Championship it had been a positive day for Williams-Renault once again, with the Anglo-French alliance moving to the top of the standings. They left Austria with a twelve point lead over former leaders Ferrari, with those two, like their lead drivers, set to duel for the crown among themselves. Behind, Benetton-Renault had lost out to McLaren-Mercedes in the fight for third, although the Italian registered squad still held a nine point advantage over their Anglo-German rivals.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'Austrian GP, 1997', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), https://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr611.html, (Accessed 23/08/2019)
- 'Austria 1997: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1997/autriche/engages.aspx, (Accessed 23/08/2019)
- 'Austria 1997: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1997/autriche/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 23/08/2019)
- 'Grosser Preis von Osterreich 1997 - QUALIFYING', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1997/races/667/austria/qualifying-0.html, (Accessed 23/08/2019)
- 'Austria 1997: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1997/autriche/classement.aspx, (Accessed 23/08/2019)
- '1997 Austrian GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1997&gp=Austrian%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 23/08/2019)
- '14. Austria 1997', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1997/autriche.aspx, (Accessed 23/08/2019)
|V T E||Austrian Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Zeltweg Airfield (1963–1964), Red Bull Ring (1970–1987, 1997-2003, 2014-present)|
|Races||1964 • 1965–1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988–1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004–2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021|
|Red Bull Ring was previously called Österreichring and A1-Ring.|
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