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1997 FIA Formula 1 Season

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1997 FIA Formula 1 Season
Photo Credit: LAT Photographic Archive.
Champion Constructor: Williams Renault (GB,GB, 9,9)
Putative Constructor: Williams Renault (GB)
Champion Driver: Jacques Villeneuve (CA,1,1)
Putative Driver: Jacques Villeneuve (CA)
Putative Constructor Entry Specification: Model FW19, 3.00-liter, ten-cylinder vee, aluminum alloy engine, DOHC, fuel injection, six-speed transverse semi-automatic, ventilated carbon ceramic disc brakes, carbon fibre monocoque, double wishbone independent suspension, power assisted steering, 760 horsepower (Patrick Head, Adrian Newey).

The FIA in 1997 mandates the right the review the designated engine control software utilized by a given entry. The Formula 1 community stands stunned after Williams unceremoniously releases defending champion Damon Hill from the payroll during the postseason. Former F1 champion Alain Prost purchases the assets of Ligier in the offseason and rebrands the same as his eponymous team. In a fabulously memorable season for the ages, a year long battle in 1997 between Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve in the Williams comes down to the season finale at Jerez in October where Schumacher, nursing a one point lead in the drivers' chase, reverts to form after attempting an intentional dump of Villeneuve at Curva Dry Sack that miserably ends in disaster for the German pilot and his professional reputation. Villeneuve proceeds on to his maiden title as Williams with the FW19 entry sails through the campaign for its second consecutive constructors' crown and supplants mighty Scuderia Ferrari as the modern era all-time leader among the constructors with nine championships. The FIA, theretofore generally lenient upon prodigal Schumacher, strikes his name from the final championship results. McLaren scores its first victory in fifty races over three seasons at Melbourne in March. The constructors scratch their heads in frustration at Hungary in August after the FIA inexplicably deems the torque-control engine system utilized by Scuderia Ferrari as not meeting the definition of traction control and thus legal within the regulations. Michael Schumacher executes a masterful and flawless run in the rain at ever perilous Spa in August. F1 makes its inaugural visit to the Styrian Mountains and the A1 Ring at Knittelfeld, Austria in September. The 1997 drivers' chase takes on heightened drama after Jacques Villeneuve suffers a disqualification for ignoring yellow flags during qualifying at the season penultimate contest at Suzuka in October, handing the points lead to Michael Schumacher with one race remaining. New Racing Makes: French Prost. British Stewart.

HeM applies the Putative Model to all racing seasons for two primary purposes: First, to effectively normalize all racing seasons for empirical comparison across the decades, and second, to step clear of series organizers which score season championships primarily out of commercial interest or to attract manufacturer participation. The Putative Model simply scores all seasons in the same fashion as a standard track and field meeting, with the only purpose of tracking what takes place at the finishing stripe If the Putative Champion differs from the nominal Series Champion, please note the (SC) notation below.

Williams Renault148     Villeneuve J106
Scuderia Ferrari124     Frentzen53
Benetton Renault81     Alesi46
McLaren Mercedes75     Coulthard44
Jordan Peugeot37     Hakkinen32
Prost Mugen24     Berger32

Noteworthy 1997 Races

1997 LV Grand Prix de Monaco Monte Carlo1997 1997 LV Grand Prix de Monaco At Monaco for the Grand Prix (262.5 kilometers) in May, the race come to an Italian Scuderia Ferrari F310B under Michael Schumacher (DE) in rainy conditions in 2:00:05.7 (average 64.79 mph), under fifty-four seconds ahead of a Stewart entry. Schumacher outsmarts the field prior to the start by swapping out his entry for another better suited for wet conditions before masterfully leading wire-to-wire through the raindrops for a comfortable victory. Schumacher wins in the principality for the third time as the Scuderia celebrates its first triumph on the streets since the 1981 season. Photo Credit: LAT Photographic Archive.
1997 Grand Prix of Canada Montréal, Quebec1997 1997 Grand Prix of Canada At Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian Grand Prix (305 kilometers) in June, an Italian Scuderia Ferrari F310B under Michael Schumacher (DE) takes race honors in 1:17:40.6 (average 114.58 mph), under three seconds ahead of a Benetton driven by Jean Alesi. After David Coulthard in his McLaren bests Schumacher during the first round of service, the latter moves back out front on Lap 51 of 69 after race leader Coulthard stalls his entry during his succeeding service. Prost driver Olivier Panis next suffers a terrible shunt, prompting race officials to red flag the contest three laps later to the benefit of Schumacher. Photo Credit: LAT Photographic Archive.
1997 Hungarian Grand Prix Mogyoród, Hungary1997 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix At the Hungaroring for the Grand Prix (305.5 kilometers) in August, a British Williams FW19 Renault under Jacques Villeneuve (CA) takes the flag in 1:45:47.1 (average 107.68 mph), under ten seconds ahead of an Arrows driven by Damon Hill. Villeneuve moves out front after making a memorable pass in the grass around slowing race leader Hill, suffering from hydraulic gremlins, just as the pair begins the final circuit. Photo Credit: LAT Photographic Archive.
1997 European Grand Prix Jerez, Spain1997 1997 European Grand Prix At the season finale at Jerez for the European Grand Prix (305.5 kilometers) in October, a British McLaren MP4-12 Mercedes under Mika Häkkinen (FI) notches a victory in 1:38:57.8 (average 115.10 mph), under two seconds ahead of a companion McLaren driven by David Coulthard. With the F1 drivers’ title on the line, Jacques Villeneuve must finish ahead of Michael Schumacher in sixth position or higher to claim the drivers' crown. Schumacher in his Ferrari leads the first 47 of 69 laps before Villeneuve in his Williams attempts an inside passing move at Curva Dry Sack on Lap 48, pulling his nose even with Schumacher before the latter on cue intentionally veers his entry into the left side pod of Villeneuve. Villeneuve dramatically manages to catch and maintain control over his entry while Schumacher glumly slews off the circuit and retires, gifting the Canadian his maiden F1 drivers’ championship. Villeneuve, nursing home his damaged entry, wisely allows the McLarens through on the final circuit to settle matters, and Häkkinen secures his maiden F1 victory as the race stewards promptly disqualify Schumacher from the championship result while allowing him to keep his season race statistics. Schumacher without contrition denies any malicious intent in the incident yet accepts the FIA decision as Villeneuve becomes the third driver to win the F1 title and the Indianapolis 500 (Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi). Photo Credit: LAT Photographic Archive.