ARA Racefacts Bulletin: CART and F1 Finales, 1998
2 November 1998
AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN NOVEMBER 1, 1998 CART & FORMULA ONE SEASON FINALES Jimmy Vasser's victory (Target Ganassi Reynard-Honda-Firestone) in Sunday's Marlboro 500 CART Fed Ex event at California Speedway ended a seven-race streak of first-time 500-mile racewinners in CART point-paying 500s! Beginning with Jacques Villeneuve's win in the 1995 Indianapolis 500, seven consecutive first-time 500-miler winners took the top step on the podium! Scott Pruett won the 1995 Michigan 500; Jimmy Vasser won the May 1996 Michigan U.S. 500 while Andre Ribeiro won the July 1996 Michigan Marlboro 500; in 1997 Alessandro Zanardi won at Michigan and Mark Blundell at California Speedway, and Greg Moore won the 1998 Michigan U.S. 500! Ganassi Racing has won three of the last eight CART 500-milers, taking one win apiece in 1996 (Vasser in the U.S. 500, in 1997 (Zanardi at Michigan) and 1998 (Vasser at California Speedway)! The other five 1995-1998 CART 500s have been shared by Forsythe, Team Kool Green, PacWest, Patrick Racing, and Tasman. Reynard has won six of the eight 1995-1998 CART 500s with Lola taking the other two; Reynard has a current four-race CART 500-miler win streak, with Lola's last CART 500 win coming on July 28, 1996 at Michigan (Andre Ribeiro, Tasman Lola-Honda-Firestone). Honda has won four of the eight 1995-1998 CART 500s with Ford and Mercedes at two victories apiece. Ford hasn't won a CART 500, however, since Scott Pruett's 1995 Michigan win! After Ford power swept the 1995 CART 500s and Honda power swept the 1996 CART 500s at Michigan, Honda and Mercedes have split the 1997 and 1998 CART 500s, Honda winning at Michigan in 1997 and California in 1998 while Mercedes won California in 1997 and Michigan in 1998! Vasser's Sunday win was the seventh consecutive CART 500 victory for Firestone tires! Goodyear's last CART 500 win was scored by Jacques Villeneuve in the 1995 Indianapolis 500. CART held eight "oval" events in 1998; Jimmy Vasser won three (Nazareth, Milwaukee, California) to lead all drivers! Greg Moore scored two wins (Rio and Michigan) with Michael Andretti (Homestead), Adrian Fernandez (Motegi), and Alessandro Zanardi (Gateway) scoring one win each. Ganassi led the teams in 1998 "oval" wins with four (Vasser three, Zanardi one). Forsythe took two with Moore with Patrick (Fernandez) and Newman/Haas (Andretti) scoring one apiece. Reynard won seven of the eight 1998 "oval" events and has a current seven-race "oval" win streak; Michael Andretti won the 1998 season's first "oval" event at Homestead in the Newman/Haas Swift! Honda won four of the eight 1998 "oval" events (all by Vasser and Zanardi for Ganassi) while Mercedes won twice (Moore for Forsythe) and Ford also took two wins (the first two "ovals" of 1998, Homestead with Andretti and Motegi with Fernandez). Goodyear won only one of the eight 1998 "oval" events, the first at Homestead with Michael Andretti in the Newman/Haas Ford-powered Swift. Firestone has a seven-race "oval" win streak! Finland's Mika Hakkinen (West McLaren-Mercedes-Bridgestone) won the 1998 FIA World Drivers Championship with his victory in the season's final event, the Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka. Hakkinen, age 30 (born September 28, 1968), began competing in F1 in 1991 for Lotus, ranking 15th in points. In 1992 he placed eighth in points for Lotus. In a limited 1993 campaign for McLaren (he served as "test driver" before Michael Andretti left the team), Hakkinen ranked 15th in points. Continuing with McLaren, Mika ranked fourth in 1994 points, seventh in 1995, fifth in 1996 and seventh in 1997. Hakkinen won the Scandinavian, Sweden and Finland Formula Ford 1600 titles in 1987. In 1988 he won the European EFDA Formula GM/Lotus title. He moved on to the British Formula 3 series in 1989, ranking seventh in points before winning the title in 1990! He won the 1991 Nordic Touring Car Championship title driving a BMW. The Drivers title was the tenth for McLaren; it first won the Drivers honors in 1974 and 1976. In the "Ron Dennis era" McLaren has won the 1984, 1985, and 1986 titles and then won a World Championship-record four consecutive Driver titles (1988-1991) with Ayrton Senna (1988, 1990, 1991) and Alain Prost (1989)! The 1998 Drivers title for McLaren means that for the last fifteen years (1984-1998) only three teams have produced World Champion Drivers: McLaren, Williams, and Benetton (1994-1995 with Michael Schumacher)! For the last six years, only Williams and Benetton drivers had won the title! The last team other than McLaren/Williams/Benetton to win a Drivers title? The defunct Brabham team, in 1983, with Nelson Piquet in a BMW-powered car! While only three teams have won the Driver titles for the last fifteen years (1984-1998), five engine manufacturers have powered the cars: Porsche, Honda, Renault, Ford, and Mercedes. Hakkinen is the third consecutive first-time winner of the World Drivers Championship, joining Damon Hill (1996) and Jacques Villeneuve (1997)! This streak of first-time champions ranks tied for third in World Championship history! The longest streak of consecutive first-time World Champions has been five seasons, set from 1978 through 1982 (Mario Andretti, 1978; Jody Scheckter, 1979; Alan Jones, 1980; Nelson Piquet, 1981; Keke Rosberg, 1982)! The 1961-1964 period produced a four-season streak of first-time World Champions (Phil Hill, 1961; Graham Hill, 1962; Jim Clark, 1963; John Surtees, 1964). The current streak ties the streak achieved in the first three years of the series, 1950-1952 (Giuseppe Farina, 1950; Juan Manuel Fangio, 1951; Alberto Ascari, 1952).