16 Aug 1998
On 16th August 1998, Michael Schumacher won the Hungarian Grand Prix. The win was seen as one of the tactical masterstrokes of the then Prancing Horse Technical Director, Ross Brawn, helped by the most successful driver of all time having one of the most amazing days of his career.
Michael was third on the grid, behind the McLaren duo of Hakkinen and Coulthard and he was in that position almost up to half distance. When the Finn seemed to experience some problems, Ross changed the strategy for the German, which had originally been based on the classic two stops. To try and crack McLaren’s grip, he would need to come up with something new. Michael pitted on lap 42 and Coulthard tried to counter the move from the Maranello pit wall, coming in on lap 44, but failed, as the Ferrari man comfortably moved into second place. On lap 46, Hakkinen, struggling more than before, made his second pit stop and at that point, the situation was clear: in order to win, Michael would need to build up a lead of at least 24 seconds before making a third stop. It seemed an impossible task, but the Ferrari man put on an amazing show, doing a 14 lap third stint as if he was running qualifying laps. When the pit stop came, on lap 56, the lead over Coulthard, who had been allowed through by team-mate Hakkinen, who had a suspension problem, was 27 seconds, despite an off-track excursion four laps earlier which had startled all the Ferrari crew. The pit stop team completed the masterpiece with a faultless performance, sending the driver back on track still in the lead. The rest of the race was relatively straightforward for Schumacher, aided by the progressive slowing of Hakkinen who could do no better than finish sixth, having been lapped! Michael’s delight on the podium was understandable and the leap of joy after 105 minutes of racing showed how much adrenalin was still coursing through his body that day….