Top Stories from the Sports pages of the International Herald Tribune,
Monday, September 28, 1998
Hakkinen Victorious in Luxembourg Grand Prix
By Brad Spurgeon International Herald Tribune
NURBURGRING, Germany - Mika Hakkinen and his McLaren-Mercedes team outdrove and outmaneuvered Michael Schumacher and the Ferrari team on Sunday to win the Luxembourg Grand Prix.
The result ensured that the suspense surrounding who will win the Formula One drivers' title will last until the final race of the season, on Nov. 1 in Japan.
Under ominous rain clouds, Hakkinen got off to a good start from third place on the grid, but remained behind the two Ferraris, driven by Schumacher and Eddie Irvine, which were first and second.
Irvine had immediately overtaken Schumacher at the start of the race. But after Irvine made a driving error at the chicane before the straightaway at the end of the first lap, the German retook the lead to the deafening cheers of his home crowd of 140,000.
By lap 14, Schumacher was running 7.7 seconds ahead of Hakkinen. The Finn put on the pressure and proceeded to close the gap with Schumacher until he was only 5.7 seconds behind after 22 laps. On lap 24 Schumacher made his first pit stop, and it lasted 8.6 seconds. He came out 15.7 seconds behind Hakkinen, but the Finn then set the fastest lap, and gained ground before he stopped in the pits on lap 27.
His stop lasted only 8.7 seconds, and in one of the two decisive moments of the race, he re-entered the track just ahead of Schumacher, causing the Ferrari to swerve slightly as Schumacher braked into the first corner to avoid ramming into Hakkinen's tail end.
After one more lap Hakkinen had a lead of 0.7 seconds. It was the beginning of a war of nerves between the two drivers as the two proceeded to race over the next 10 laps with less than a second between them, with Schumacher pressing his Finnish rival incessantly.
Hakkinen came out the winner as he maintained his position, and never made a mistake. Schumacher, on the other hand, went partly off the track on lap 42 after locking his brakes on a corner.
The German driver finished the race 2.212 seconds behind the Finn, who completed the 67 laps of the 4.556 kilometer-long track (2.831 miles) in 1 hour 32 minutes and 14.789 seconds for an average speed of 198.534 kilometers an hour. David Coulthard, in the other McLaren, came in third, Eddie Irvine in the other Ferrari came in fourth, followed by Heinz-Harald Frentzen in a Williams and Giancarlo Fisichella in a Benetton.
Schumacher, who came to Sunday's race on an equal-points footing with Hakkinen, must now finish either first or second at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka ‹ with Hakkinen finishing no better than third ‹ to win his third drivers' title. Hakkinen goes to Japan with a four-point margin, with 90 points, to 86 for Schumacher.
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