Motorsport Moments – Schumacher wins from the pitlane at Silverstone
16 July 2021
by Girardo & Co.
July, 1998. In a dramatic and bizarre conclusion to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Michael Schumacher has just won the race from the pitlane while serving a last-minute stop-and-go penalty, much to the chagrin of his bitter championship rival Mika Häkkinen…
Despite the typically British drizzly conditions, the first three quarters of the 1998 British Grand Prix at Silverstone were largely uneventful. The polesitter Mika Häkkinen carved out a decent 49-second lead over the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher, though the Finn’s race was about to unravel. A spin and subsequent damaged front wing on lap 42 rocked the ship and a safety car amid worsening condition shortly afterwards clearly got the better of Häkkinen.
On the restart he made a mistake which gifted the lead to Schumacher. But by no means was this race over. The eagle-eyed stewards believed that Schumacher had unlawfully overtaken Alexander Wurz under safety-car conditions. An agonising 10-second stop-and-go penalty for the German maestro was the result, awarded a staggering 31 minutes after the fact. With three laps in which to serve his penalty though just two laps left to run of the race, Schumacher was brought in by his team on the final lap and actually crossed the finish line prior to stopping in his pit box, thus winning the race on a technicality.
Both the stewards and Ferrari’s championship rivals at McLaren protested, though it turned out that after sifting through the rulebook, the FIA was at fault. Three stewards even had their licenses revoked. Schumacher’s win stood and the Ferrari team had pulled off one of the most ingenious – if unusual – race victories of all time.
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