1 World Drivers’ Championship – All drivers
Jacques Villeneuve took the title by three points although Michael Schumacher was technically disqualified from second place after the season. Third place was closely-fought between Heinz-Harald Frentzen (42 points, one win), David Coulthard (36 points, two wins) and Jean Alesi (36 points, no wins).
2 World Drivers’ Championship – Battle for the title
The chase for the championship was close, if a little artificial thanks to the FIA. Schumacher took a handy ten points from the Japanese round after Villeneuve was controversially disqualified.
3 World Drivers’ Championship – Points systems 1981-present
Had the 2003 points system been used in 1997, Schumacher would have been champion instead of Villeneuve (assuming, of course, that he hadn’t been retroactively thrown out of the championship as he was).
Coulthard would have finished 11 points behind Alesi instead of tying with him, despite winning two races, asking further questions of the appropriateness of the 2003 points system.
4 World Constructors’ Championships – All constructors
Arrows took the number one from champion Damon Hill but couldn’t quite live up to it (although they came within a broken fuel seal of victory at Hungary).
5 World Constructors’ Championships – Battle for the title
Williams took a convincing constructor’s championship win ahead of Ferrari.
6 Drivers’ Average Start Positions
Ricardo Rosset and Vincenzo Sospiri never qualified for the abortive Lola team. Villeneuve’s vastly superior average qualifying position underlines both the superiority of the Williams and his domination of team-mate Frentzen.
7 Drivers’ Top 3 Qualifying Positions
Villeneuve only started outside the top three twice. In constrast Schumacher, struggling with the Ferrari, took ten top-three starts, although that was as many as Frentzen managed.
8 Drivers’ Average Position Changes and Participations
Not only did Benetton stand-in Alexander Wurz qualify well on his three attempts, he proved able to make up places in the races, justifying his full-season drive for 1998.
9 Drivers’ Points per Round and per Finish
Villeneuve lost a lot of points through non-finishes, leading to suggestions that he didn’t make the most of the Williams-Renault package. Even Patrick Head said he’d made “heavy weather” of winning the title.
10 Drivers’ DNFs (totals)
The reliability rate stoof at over 50% in 1997 with fewer than a quarter of participations ending in car failure. Accidents accounted for the majority of other failures to finish.
11 Drivers’ DNFs (by driver)
Stewart had dismal reliability in their first year, with Rubens Barrichello suffering ten failures in the first eleven races alone – at least he came second in the only race he finished! The Benettons proved very reliable, but generally made far less effective use of their Renault engines than Williams did.