Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)
Driver: Mika Häkkinen (Finland)
Team: McLaren Mercedes
Car: McLaren MP4-13
Results: 8 wins, 11 podiums, 9 poles, 6 fastest laps
The season had many rule changes, including the introduction of grooved tyres and making the cars narrower to reduce downforce. After winning the last race of 1997 season, Häkkinen was confident of further success in 1998. With Adrian Newey, the renowned former Williams-Renault designer, now on board at McLaren, Häkkinen found himself in the fastest car for early 1998 season. Häkkinen comfortably won the first two races, with team-mate David Coulthard finishing second in both. With Goodyear making steps forward before Argentina, Michael Schumacher was able to win there and take second at Imola, both slow and twisty circuits. At Spain, however, the fast corners favoured McLaren and again they raced away to another 1-2 finish. A further win for Häkkinen in Monaco gave him a 17 point lead over Coulthard with Schumacher a further 5 points behind.
Schumacher fought back to win the next 3 races, while mistakes and bad luck cost both Häkkinen and Coulthard points. After the British Grand Prix Schumacher had closed the gap to Häkkinen to just 2 points. Wins in Austria and Germany for Häkkinen proved that McLaren still had the strongest car, but a strategic master stroke in Hungary allowed Schumacher to take the win and close the gap to Häkkinen to just 7 points.
The start of the Belgian Grand Prix saw one of the worst accidents in F1, with over half the cars on the grid involved, and four drivers unable to take the restart almost an hour later due to lack of spare cars. An action packed race saw Häkkinen spin out at the restart, whilst Schumacher was leading comfortably before crashing into David Coulthard’s McLaren whilst trying to lap the Scotsman. This led the way for Damon Hill to take Jordan’s first win.
Schumacher bounced back to take a surprise victory at the Italian Grand Prix, and with Häkkinen finishing only fourth after brake problems the championship was level with 2 races to go. This result also brought Ferrari back into the constructors world championship, being just 10 points behind. However, Häkkinen held his nerve, beat Schumacher in a straight fight in Luxembourg and win his 8th Grand Prix of the season in Japan, clinching his first world championship and the constructors championship for McLaren whilst Schumacher stalled on the grid, and later retired with a punctured tyre. Reigning champions Williams had a poor season overall, with only 3 podium finishes.