The Monaco Grand Prix has always been a special event in the Formula One World Championship race calendar, the glamour and elegance surrounding the weekend atmosfere making it one of the most prestigious races.
For the Scuderia Ferrari fans, the Monaco GP did not always bring the best results as far as the Italian team is concerned, but the 1997 edition will forever remain in the memory of the milions of tifosi, thanks to the brilliant driving of the legendary Michael Schumacher. The German driver was simply devastating in rainy weather and wet conditions, outperforming the rest of the field with amazing ease and it was just one of the many memorable moments of Michael Schumacher in similar conditions. That is why they called him ‘The Rainmaster’.
The Ferrari man started from second place on the grip, after he qualified behind Heinz-Harald Frentzen from Williams-Renault and ahead of the other Williams driver, Jacques Villeneuve, who was leading the Drivers’ Championship standings before the Monte Carlo event. However, the race on Sunday was a totally different story, as with 30 minutes to go before the scheduled start, rain began to fall. Michael took full advantage and perfectly analyzed the track conditions during the recognition laps, by trying out two cars in order to evaluate the ideal set-up for the start of the race. These were the moments when his brilliance and also his instinct proved to be decisive, by making the perfect decision quickly and effectively. While Williams decided to run both cars with dry tyres, Michael chose to set his car for intermediate weather conditions and once again made the right call.
The German driver was simply unstoppable from the very beginning, constantly building an impressive gap. He had a 6.6 seconds advantage by the end of the first lap, a lead which increased to 15.7 seconds at the end of lap three and over 22 seconds by the end of the fifth lap. While both Williams-Renault drivers were involved in incidents that forced them to retire, just like the two McLaren-Mercedes cars of David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen, Schumacher was carrying out one of his best performances and won the Monaco Grand Prix with over 53 seconds ahead of Rubens Barrichello (Stewart-Ford) and his Ferrari teammate Eddie Irvine.
The 1997 Monte Carlo race was yet another brilliant display of talent and inspiration from the German world champion, an example of clever thinking and skilful driving in extreme conditions. Scuderia Ferrari were without a win on the glamorous Monte Carlo circuit in sixteen years before this moment. Step forward, Michael Schumacher.