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Formula 1 Special feature

The race that unearthed Schumacher's greatest rival

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The 1997 European GP, which Formula 1 is streaming today, will forever be remembered for the famous tangle between Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve that decided the outcome of the world championship. But it was also notable for the first time GP winner who would become Schumacher's most respected adversary

The 1997 European Grand Prix at Jerez can be seen as a defining race in one of Michael Schumacher's great rivalries - but not the one you may think. While it was the final, futile act in Schumacher's fight against Jacques Villeneuve, the race also gave rise to the man he would later call "the best opponent I've had".

Mika Hakkinen had been at risk of fading into F1 'nearly-man' territory nearing the end of the 1997 season. Seven years on from his titanic tussle with Schumacher at the Macau Grand Prix, the Finn had enjoyed a solid grand prix career as a podium regular for McLaren.

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