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On This Day: Villeneuve edges Schumacher in crazy Brazil GP

On This Day: Villeneuve edges Schumacher in crazy Brazil GP



On This Day: Villeneuve edges Schumacher in crazy Brazil GP

On This Day: Villeneuve edges Schumacher in crazy Brazil GP

The 1997 Formula 1 season was given a prescient glimpse of things to come as Jacques Villeneuve beat competition from Michael Schumacher to win the Brazil Grand Prix on this day 21 years ago. The race was also notable for Olivier Panis pulling off a shock podium for the Prost team.

Pre-season title favourite Villeneuve had seen his season-opening race in Australia wrecked at the first corner by Schumacher's Ferrari team-mate Eddie Irvine.

It was almost more of the same at Interlagos.

Villeneuve and Schumacher lined up on the front row of the grid, the Canadian having gone half a second quicker on Saturday, but the then two-time world champion forced Villeneuve wide at turn one and into the grass.

Behind them, even more chaotic scenes were unfolding.

Crashes between Giancarlo Fisichella and Damon Hill and Irvine and Jan Magnussen were compounded by the Stewart of Rubens Barrichello failing to get off the line - bringing out a red flag.

Having bounced over grass and gravel, Villeneuve later commented: "There were rocks in the seat and it was not very comfortable. At least the mechanics were able to clean them out. It would have been pretty uncomfortable if the red flag hadn't come out."

It gave Villeneuve another chance from pole, as well as the many other who had also had poor starts.

However, Schumacher once again got the better of Villeneuve off the line as the Williams appeared to bog down somewhat.

Villeneuve managed to stay close enough, however, and regained the lead when they came to the pit straight, going on to take a fairly comfortable victory from there.

Behind him an intriguing story developed as those with Bridgestone tyres on found the Interlagos track much more to their suiting.

Panis was able to pull off a one-stop strategy to jump from fifth on the grid to third as Schumacher lost out behind the McLaren of Mika Hakkinen and eventually finished fifth.

The early tangle between Schumacher and Villeneuve was a sign of things to come, Schumacher infamously spearing into his rival at the season-ending race in Jerez, earning him disqualification from the championship and sealing the title for Villeneuve.

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