Finding a suitable video clip of the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix to make for a memorable post is a bit of a challenge. Many clips are blocked per rights restrictions as held by Formula One Management. This one works to capture the drama from a video standpoint, but has a music overlay of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.” Mute at your own discretion.
The reason, of course, is that the 1998 Belgian GP was one of the more dramatic, surprising and bizarre races in recent memory, and next week’s Belgian Grand Prix marks 15 years since it happened. It all started with a massive crash out of La Source hairpin on the run down to Eau Rouge, where half the 22-car field basically pile-drove into each other in tricky, wet conditions.
Only four cars failed to restart after the chaos, Rubens Barrichello (Stewart), Olivier Panis (Prost), Mika Salo (Arrows) and Ricardo Rosset (Tyrrell). Later in the race as the retirements kept in coming, Michael Schumacher ran into the back of David Coulthard, the German unable to avoid the slowing Coulthard. Schumacher stormed from his Ferrari garage into the McLaren one to hunt down the Scot thereafter.
When the dust was settled the main beneficiary was Jordan Grand Prix, which took an upset first victory in Formula One in its seventh season. Eddie Jordan and crew watched from the pit wall as Damon Hill, the 1996 World Champion for Williams, took his 22nd and last Grand Prix victory ahead of Ralf Schumacher and Sauber’s Jean Alesi in a podium you couldn’t script.
Fifteen years later, Jordan is now Force India (but the team have put up some similar giant-killing acts at Spa), Sauber’s gone through two ownership changes, and every driver in the field is either retired or in another form of motorsport.