Murray's Memories: European GP, 1999 - Herbert tames Nurburgring

By Murray WalkerFormula 1 Analyst, BBC Sport
Murray's Memories Europe 1999

In all my years of watching grand prix motor racing, I've seen some pretty chaotic races.

One of them was last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when the spectacular setting of the Yas Marina complex truly came alive.

Kimi Raikkonen won for Lotus after Lewis Hamilton's heart-breaking retirement, and Sebastian Vettel rescued a disastrous qualifying with an incident-packed drive through the field to third after starting from the pit lane.

But even that race was relatively uneventful compared with the one I have picked for this episode of Murray's Memories. The 1999 European Grand Prix at Germany's Nurburgring was one of the craziest I can remember.

The drama began at the start when Pedro Diniz barrel-rolled his Sauber over Alex Wurz's Benetton, bringing out the safety car immediately.

At the restart, Heinz-Harald Frentzen's Jordan led the McLarens of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard.

Then down came the rain. Ferrari's Eddie Irvine wanted dry-weather tyres - but his team had wet weather boots ready.

Next, Frenzten was out - rejoining after his pit stop at half-distance, there was a problem with his anti-stall system and the car ground to a halt.

Just five laps later, new race leader Coulthard spun off, so now Ralf Schumacher in the Williams led the field until his pit stop when Giancarlo Fisichello's Benetton took over.

So was this going to be a first ever win for the likeable Italian? Sadly, no - Fisi spun off and burst into tears of frustration.

Now it was Schumacher leading again, only to retire with a tyre blowout.

Could the sixth leader last the race? Yes! And - surprise, surprise - it was the ever-popular Johnny Herbert in his Stewart.

Herbert had cleverly chosen the right tyres all the time and what a euphoric first victory it was for Jackie Stewart's team, with Herbert's team-mate Rubens Barrichello third behind Prost's Jarno Trulli.

It was a truly emotional success for the legendary Stewart.