Jacques Villeneuve clinched his first Formula One title after a coming together with Schumacher on lap 48
The Canadian went to overtake the Ferrari ace but Schumacher turned in on him and ended up in the gravel and out of the race as Villeneuve went ahead. Villeneuve had dropped from first to third at the start, behind Schumacher and team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
Mika Hakkinen won the race - his first ever victory. Villeneuve was third.
Stewards have decided to take no action over the collision between Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher. The race officials issued a statement that said they had "unanimously concluded it was a racing accident and no further action is necessary." The German appeared to turn in on Villeneuve has he overtook his rival. Schumacher was involved in an incident in Adelaide in 1994 when he collided with Damon Hill and claimed the title ahead of the Briton.
New world champion Jacques Villeneuve accused rival Michael Schumacher of trying to take him out of the race after the two collided in Spain. "I knew Michael was capable of just trying to take me off and that is what he tried to do," said the Williams ace. "When I made the move my chances were less than 50 per cent but there was no point finishing second. It was better to try and perhaps find myself in the gravel than finish second and have heavy shoulders."
Jacques Villeneuve was surprised he was able to finish the race after he and title rival Michael Schumacher collided on lap 48. He also stated that he did suffer problems with his Williams late on in the race and lost speed but still finished third.
Williams ace Jacques Villeneuve has had an inconsistent season but still won the title, although he admitted he made mistakes along the way. Third place in Jerez gave him the crown and he confirmed: "It feels great. It has been an up and down year. We had the most competitive car from the middle of the season but there were times we did not get the job done. I made mistakes, the team made mistakes. To win after the disqualification in Suzuka feels great."
McLaren's Mika Hakkinen secured his first ever grand prix victory at the 96th attempt. The Finn had come agonisingly close on a number of occasions but for once fortune was on his side. Jacques Villeneuve looked set to seal the title with a win but car problems meant Hakkinen could take the lead. Hakkinen's McLaren team-mate David Coulthard also edged ahead of the Canadian to finish second. Damon Hill failed to finish in his Arrows-Yamaha.
David Coulthard did what he set out to do in the final race of the season - finish on the podium. He let team-mate Mika Hakkinen go past late on and both were able to sweep past Jacques Villeneuve's struggling Williams for a McLaren one-two. "It was a nice result and I was happy to be on the podium for the last race. It was what I set out to do and it is good for the team.", said Coulthard.
Eddie Irvine was fifth and Johnny Herbert was eighth in his Sauber.
Williams clinched a record ninth Constructors' Championship in Suzuka but answered their critics by taking the driver crown against the odds.
The Oxfordshire-based outfit had been accused of putting the development of the 1998 car ahead of the 1997 season. Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Harald Frentzen also came under fire but after the Canadian won the title the pit crew donned blond wigs in homage. Frank Williams has already decided to stick with the duo for next season.