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Successful protest without effect

Sao Paulo do Brazil, March 29, 1998

How did the Ferrari perform?
A 3rd and an 8th position
At least four F300s in existence

The coverage of the 1998 Brazilian Grand Prix by the international press was dominated by news related to the protest against the revolutionary braking system used by McLaren-Mercedes, which had been described adequately by German journalists as a "Wunderbremse" (= "Prodigious Brake") and that caused quite a confusion when it came to the question of whether or not it was legal to use it in a Formula 1-car.

At the start of the 1998 Formula 1 season, five teams, naturally under the lead of Ferrari, filed a protest against the Anglo-German team's braking system that had actually been declared as conforming with the regulations initially by the FIA's technical official, Charly Whiting. The complain was substantiated by the fact that McLaren-Mercedes' braking system is connected with the steering and enables the driver to brake the wheel on the inside of a turn while driving through the esses - an effect that causes a remarkable increase of the possible speed in the turns. Since this system can be compared to a four-wheel-steering (which is illegal in Formula 1), the five teams decided to file a protest against its use by McLaren-Mercedes. However, the officials in Brazil agreed with the plaintiffs, and so McLaren was forced to part from their "Wunderbremse".

By the way, Jordan and Williams used to use a similar, but obviously less efficient system which had to be removed from their cars as well.


Nevertheless, the weekend became a pure McLaren-Mercedes show: Mika Häkkinen was fastest in each of the three (!) qualifying sessions, gained the pole by setting a lap time of 1:17,092 and did eventually win the race in superior style, followed by teammate David Coulthard who came in on 2nd position.


Although the successful protest did not gain the effect expected by Ferrari since the McLaren proved to be the superior car even without its revolutionary brake, the people from Maranello may well feel satisfied with the results achieved by their team: The new engines, designated as type 47d, did stand the race without any problems. On Saturday, Michael Schumacher set a lap time of 1:18,449 in the qualifying. For a long time, it did look like if he would be the third on the grid on Sunday, but just a few seconds prior to the end of the session, Heinz-Harald Frentzen set a slightly faster time in his Williams, pushing Schumacher to fourth on the grid.


Schumacher's start on Sunday was not that satisfactory since he was passed by teammate Eddie Irvine and Benetton's Alexander Wurz. Later on, he made it to fifth position behind the two McLarens, Wurz and Frentzen.


When the race was over after 72 laps, the German was the lucky third, behind Häkkinen and Coulthard. His second pitstop had earned him this position although it had definitely not been a quick stop: it actually took 13,6 very long seconds after the two-times world champion had stalled the engine.


Unfortunately, Eddie Irvine was not able to keep up with the excellent performance of his teammate. He eventually came in on 8th position just behind Jacques Villeneuve.


Likewise as in Australia, Schumacher drove F300 s/n 184 while Irvine was sitting in s/n 185. The latter could be seen in a race for the first time.

Up to now, at least four F300s are likely to have been constructed: serial numbers 181, 183, 184 and 185, which were already seen as race cars, T-cars or spare chassis. And it is somehow not very likely that s/n 182 is unused in this sequence. gs


1. Häkkinen, 2. Coulthard, 3. Schumacher, 4. Wurz, 5. Frentzen 6. Fisichella, 7. Villeneuve, 8. Irvine

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