Belgian GP flashback: Start chaos and Jordan’s shock 1-2 in 1998

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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.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).