McLaren drivers Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard fought for pole position but Scuderia Ferrari’s magic powers came back after a lackluster Friday and Michael Schumacher was only a tenth off the McLaren pace on Saturday. It all looked rather fishy. The fact that Eddie Irvine (the World Championship leader) was fourth quickest, half a second behind Michael, suggested that the Maranello team really had found some pace during their endless miles of testing after the Brazilian GP three weeks earlier. Fifth on the grid was Jacques Villeneuve in the BAR, the new team hoping this would mark the start of its much-heralded success. It did not, Villeneuve stalled at the start.
Hakkinen went rocketing off by himself. The Finn – on a different strategy to Coulthard – had a 13 second advantage at the end of lap 17 when he hit the kerb at the exit of the final corner. The car turned to the left and ploughed straight into the concrete wall. Coulthard and Schumacher were left to fight it out for victory.
The 62-lap race at the at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, was won by Ferrrari driver Michael Schumacher, who thus took his first win of the 1999 Formula One season.