Monaco: When Williams put their own German on pole

Monaco can produce some exciting races as well as processional events but it is the allure on Monaco and the simple fact that driving modern Formula 1 cars through the principality deifies logic.

Back in the day, when Williams were the team to beat, a young German managed to claim pole position for the 1997 Monaco Grand Prix. It wasn’t the German you may have immediately thought of but he was a very handy racing driver in his own rights and often overlooked by many.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen secured pole position int eh waning moments of qualifying and if you are new to F1, this is what quali looked like back then. The sessions were an hour long and with 12 total laps allowed for each car in that 60-minute timeframe, the strategy played out in epic proportions.

The current day knock-out qualifying is fun but I was not one of the fans who felt that quali needed to be changed. I thoroughly enjoyed the old qualifying format.

The session came down to two Germans and the amazing timing of Ferrari to get Michael Schumacher out with just four seconds to spare as he crossed the line for the final hot lap.

Frentzen did a masterful job of it to secure his first pole position and I enjoyed watching his career and even his time spent at Jordan. The race on Sunday was a different matter but for one moment in time, the world recognized that there was another German on the grid who could hustle a car.


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manny petty

Gorgeous red Ferraris with gold wheels; beautiful blue Prosts; screaming V10 engines; Jordans; pit crews in shorts; wide cars; Villeneuve’s car simply being left parked on-track; non-contrived quali format; shark-nosed Benettons; Stewart Racing’s wacky raised mirrors; no talk about tires, fuel, or ERS; pit boards; lap times the only on-screen graphics; and perhaps best of all, Murray Walker. Man do I miss what F1 used to be!