Luxembourg GP 1998: This is revolution!

For this week's recap we're off the Luxembourg Grand Prix, and if you're thinking... "I've never even heard of that" you might know it as the Nurburgring or the sometimes-but-not-always-German Grand Prix. It's changed a number of times, most notably after Niki Lauda's famous accident when the track was far too long to safely marshal and the entire make-up of the track was reimagined.

It's the penultimate round of the 1998 season and the leaders, Schumacher and Hakkinen, are sitting level on points at the top of the table. Despite an all-Ferrari front row, the start resembled a Boxing Day sale with only slightly less desperate scrambling. 

After "long shifting" off the line, Eddie Irvine took the lead heading in to the first corner, followed by Schumacher, Hakkinen and David Coulthard who got the jump on the zippy Benetton of Fisichella. If you were hoping for Ferrari to put on a show you would have been sorely disappointed to see Irvine braking early and leaving Schumacher a generous gap before completing even one lap (which Michael characteristically labelled "getting past" his teammate) and it wasn't long before he had a gap on the second Ferrari who was holding up his main adversary quite handily.

"All is fair in love and war, and this is Revolution!" declared Murray Walker, evoking the visage of Rick from the Young Ones giving the two-fingered solute and that creepy Pearl Jam video from the same year and (almost) the same name

This was the dream scenario for Ferrari, who brought three separate fuel rigs and were taking no chances this weekend. Only a few miles from his home, the Luxembourg Grand Prix may just lay the foundation for a Schumacher championship.

Behind the leaders were the men who would be swapping seats next year, Spare Schumacher and Frenzten, both making flirtatious eyes at each other while Fisichella was doing his best to hang on to the back of Coulthard. After being held up by the Mclaren, Fisichella pitted in the hopes of clearing some track but a slow pitstop and get-away meant his push for a top 4 result was dashed. 

Perhaps it was the prospect of retiring as Truli and Diniz had both done, but something lit a fire in Hakkinen who suddenly surged up behind Irvine with a fierce determination. Irvine tried taking the tightest possible line through the chicanes but banging across the kerbs ironically meant he had even less traction and speed through the corners and it wasn't long before Hakkinen claimed his scalp (which was given the Brian de Palma split-screen treatment) and set about closing the gap to Michael at a rate of 0.8 secs per lap.

Sensing that traffic would be favourable, Ferrari called in their leading driver who emerged just ahead of Irvine in P3 and avoided losing time fighting back for position while Hakkinen was given the message to light up the timing boards, and light them up he did. While Schumacher was heavy with fuel, Mika was able to throw down and pull himself back into the lead after the round of stops, all that on much fresher looking tyres than Michael had enjoyed.

With seemingly perfect conditions for the Mclarens, when Coulthard did eventually pit he had easily cleared Irvine and handed back a set of tyres that were almost fresh enough to return to the store for a credit.

Behind the top three, Irvine wasn't having such an easy time of things. Hassling him was the Williams of Heinz-Harald Frentzen and the Benetton pair of Fisichella and Alexander Wurz were making Eddie look like the slowest Irishman on four wheels. Despite the final round of pitstops putting a few gaps amongst them they'd finish in that order without further incident.

On degrading tyres Michael locked up badly and pitted shortly thereafter for fresh boots, however the win was always on for Mika. Despite the hype from Brundle and Walker, hitting some traffic wasn't enough to wipe off his three second lead and it was clear sailing to the chequered flag.

Surprisingly there were reports that some of the German fans left early. I can't imagine the sight of Spare Schumacher retiring in the Jordan was enough to tip them over the edge, but perhaps they felt that they hadn't paid to see their main man come second and left early to beat the lines at the local Schnitzelhaus, if that's a thing.

This despite the remaining German fans giving Michael a huge cheer for his second place, although the championship standings were starting to look grim for him. On top of taking the lead back in the championship, even if Hakkinen finished second to Michael in the final race he'd still be crowned the drivers' champion for 1998. 

Schumacher definitely has his work cut out for him, and as usual for the 80s/90s it all comes down to Suzuka!