The 1998 Formula One season did not bring Michael Schumacher‘s first Formula 1 title with Scuderia Ferrari, but there were many moment of pure brilliance from the German driver and the Italian team, who were up againt a strong McLaren-Mercedes team.
One of the memorable races from that season was the Hungarian Grand Prix held at the Hungaroring circuit, in Budapest, on 16 August 1998. It was the twelfth race of the 1998 Championship and Michael Schumacher had to finish ahead of his title contender, Mika Hakkinen, who was leading the Drivers’ Championship standings. Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard took full advantage of their McLaren-Mercedes car, which was undoubtedly the most competitive car on the track, to finish first and second in the qualifying session and after a good start the McLaren-Mercedes duo lead the first half of the race.
As Coulthard was clearly stalling Michael in order for Hakkinen to take advantage and build a significant gap in front, Ferrari mastermind Ross Brawn decided to turn things around with another change of strategy which allowed Michael Schumacher to perfectly display his talent and use the sheer pace to get ahead of his rivals. The German driver went on to make three-stops in an excellent strategy change and as a result managed to pass both McLarens before the final pit-stop, but now had to create a sufficient advantage to safely take the last pit stop later in the race. The Ferrari driver had to do 20 laps in qualifying mode, as Ross Brawn informed Schumacher through a radio message that he needed to make up 25 seconds in only 19 laps to be able to come out in front of the two McLarens. A difficult, if not impossible task for anyone, but not for Michael, who showed another brilliant performance and succeeded in constantly recording fastest laps and running more than second faster than both Hakkinen and Coulthard.
With 15 laps to go, the Ferrari driver had built a gap of 27 seconds, more than enough for a clean pit-stop. The McLarens had to bow to the share class of the Schumacher-Brawn performance, as Michael finished nine secunds ahead of David Coulthard. Hungary, 1998 thus remains another significant moment which shows why Michael Schumacher is always considered to be among the very best in Formula 1 history.