On March 9 1997, the first race of the season was taking place in Australia. The cars to beat were the Williams, which annihilated the opposition in qualifying, taking the front row with Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Michael Schumacher was third on the grid for Ferrari but the gap was a mind-blowing one of over two seconds, while Irvine was fifth.
However, everything changed when it came to the race and the favourite Williams ended up out of the race. Villeneuve was involved in an accident, while Frentzen had a brake disc explode. The win thus went to David Coulthard in the McLaren, ending a drought for the British team that dated back to the days of Ayrton Senna.
Schumacher was second and had this to say after the race. “The podium was our target and we have scored six important points that could be vital when it comes to taking the title.” The title actually escaped him at the very last race of the season, at Jerez de la Frontera, which ended with the accident between Michael and Jacques.
F1 1997 Australian GP highlights
F1 Melbourne 1997 – Michael Schumacher Onboard action