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Win #114 for Ferrari

Bueno Aires, April 12, 1998

Ringing the Bells on Easter Day
In the lead after five laps
Winning on a two-stop strategy

Easter Day is a very important holiday in catholic Italy anyway, but this year the local priest at Maranello even had an additional reason to ring the bells of his church: Michael Schumacher took the win for Ferrari in the Argentine Grand Prix at the Autodromo Oscar Alfredo Galvez in Buenos Aires. Eddie Irvine came in on third position to make this a perfect weekend for the Scuderia.


In qualifying on Saturday, Schumacher had been the only driver to break through the McLaren-Mercedes phalanx which had dominated the two foregoing races so clearly. In Buenos Aires, the German set a time of 1:26,251 that gained him the 2nd position on the grid between David Coulthard (1:25,852) on 1st and Mika Häkkinen (1:26,623) on 3rd. Eddie Irvine absolved his best qualifying lap in 1:26,780 min and hence started from 4th position. The improvement in Ferrari's performance was probably caused by a new Goodyear tire which now finally seems to keep up with the quality of McLaren's Bridgestones.

Right after the start, the situation seemed to be the same as in the foregoing races: Coulthard had a great start, and Häkkinen passed Schumacher very quickly. But the latter was able to counter very soon and overtook Häkkinen after some kilometers. The fifth lap saw one of the race's crucial scenes: David Coulthard was a little too late on the brakes and enabled Schumacher to slip through in a right turn.


The cars of the opponents even touched each other, but obviously the collision did not cause any severe damage (although some debris was left on the track) since both Coulthard and Schumacher were able to continue the race. From this point, Schumacher was in front and continuously improved his lead of Häkkinen who was in 2nd position after Coulthard had spun following the collision with Schumacher. The gap between Schumacher and Häkkinen grew to 12 seconds quite quickly, and in lap #29, Schumacher came into the pits.


His excellent lap times had already indicated that he was running on a two-stop strategy, while the McLaren-Mercedes team had chosen a one-stop strategy.

The crucial question was: Would Schumacher's lead of Häkkinen be sufficient to make a second stop possible without loosing his 1st position?

In lap #53, the world of motorsport did hold its breath: Schumacher steered into the pits for the second time. It took 8,1 seconds to refuel the car and to change the tires, and finally Schumacher was back on the circuit, in lead of Häkkinen by about 100 meters.


In lap #67, the spectators did hold their breath for a second time when Schumacher lost control on the slippery track (it had started to rain in the meantime), but he kept cool and made his way safely across the gravel and via a service lane back to the track.

At the same time, Eddie Irvine was too late on the brakes and lost his 3rd position to Alexander Wurz in the Benetton-Playlife car, but just for a blink: Wurz spun off shortly after, and Eddie was back on 3rd again!


Michael Schumacher drove F300 s/n 184, while Eddie Irvine piloted s/n 185.980412.BuenosAires.005

Final results:
1st Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2nd Mika Häkkinen, McLaren-Mercedes
3rd Eddie Irvine, Ferrari
4th Aleaxander Wurz, Benetton-Playlife
5th Jean Alesi, Sauber-Petronas
6th David Coulthard, McLaren-Mercedes
Text Gregor Schulz
Translation Andreas Birner
Photo Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

Congratulations to the Ferrari Team


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