Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Damon Hill GBR 1h32:50.491 198.736 2. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 38.020 197.388 3. Eddie Irvine IRL 1:02.571 196.528 4. Gerhard Berger AUT 1:17.037 196.025 5. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1:35.071 195.401 6. Mika Salo FIN 1 lap 194.865 7. Olivier Panis FRA 1 lap 194.472 8. H.-H. Frentzen GER 1 lap 193.953 9. Ricardo Rosset BRA 2 laps 190.816 10. Pedro Diniz BRA 2 laps 190.678 11. Ukyo Katayama JPN 3 laps 188.411 Not classified: Pedro Lamy POR 16 laps 176.631 Michael Schumacher GER 26 laps 191.971 Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 26 laps 187.957 Rubens Barrichello BRA 29 laps 194.533 David Coulthard SCO 34 laps 191.258 Jos Verstappen HOL 43 laps 189.549 Jean Alesi FRA 49 laps 196.035 Martin Brundle GBR 57 laps 163.865 Not restarted: Johnny Herbert GBR Not qualified: Luca Badoer ITA Andrea Montermini ITA Fastest Lap: Jacques Villeneuve 1:33:421 204.313The two Fortis did not make it to the starting grid, because of the new 107 percent rule in the qualifying. During the confirmation lap, Heinz-Harald Frentzen had to stop his car. The first race lap was stopped by a red flag: Martin Brundle stepped out of a totally damaged Jordan wreck with no injuries, involved were David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert. A restart was necessary. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, being the first driver of the Sauber team had priority in taking the spare car, so Johnny Herberts race was over before it was (re)started.
The race was dominated by the new F1 driver Villeneuve who was safely ahead of Hill and the later retiring Schumacher. According to technical problems, Villeneuve had to slow down and let Hill pass just a few laps before winning his first grand prix. Schumacher had to give up because of brake problems at the right front wheel. After a good start, Alesi crashed his car in lap 9 in a hurried attempt to overtake Irvine whose car had no remarkable damage. A calm race drove Berger and Hakkinen with whom Barrichello fought for position before retiring. Mika Salo was not awaited to finish ahead of Frentzen and Panis and started the season like in 95 with a remarkable result. A disappointing weekend for Coulthard who seemed to have not yet come together with his car. The Jordans test results in Estoril and the practice times in Melbourne promised better results for both Martin Brundle and Rubens Barrichello. But we can not judge their prospect for this season just by the races outcome.
In Melbourne, the new 107 percent regulation was applied to the Fortis. Their qualifying time was over the time limit and so they were not admitted to the race. We have to see, how the officials will decide, when for the first time a runner from the front rows is not able to establish a qualifying time good enough for the race. It could well be that a car has a spin in his outlap and then he has few chances to get on the grid for the race. I am curious to see how they decide if a Ferrari or a Benetton had to watch the race from the outside...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Damon Hill GBR 1h49:52.976 167.673 2. Jean Alesi FRA 17.982 167.217 3. Michael Schumacher GER 1 lap 165.122 4. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1 lap 164.735 5. Mika Salo FIN 1 lap 164.480 6. Olivier Panis FRA 1 lap 164.289 7. Eddie Irvine IRL 1 lap 163.368 8. Pedro Diniz BRA 2 laps 162.094 9. Ukyo Katayama JPN 2 laps 161.288 10. Pedro Lamy POR 3 laps 160.348 11. Luca Badoer ITA 4 laps 156.800 12. Martin Brundle GBR 7 laps 161.890 Not classified: Rubens Barrichello BRA 12 laps 161.736 H.-H. Frentzen GER 35 laps 154.106 David Coulthard SCO 42 laps 151.268 Johnny Herbert GBR 43 laps 149.513 Jacques Villeneuve CAN 45 laps 155.929 Gerhard Berger AUT 45 laps 151.270 Andrea Montermini ITA 45 laps 144.124 Ricardo Rosset BRA 47 laps 152.761 Jos Verstappen HOL 52 laps 151.570 Tarso(sp?) Marques BRA 71 laps Not qualified: All drivers qualified for the race. Fastest lap: Damon Hill 1:21.547 190.932Short before the start of the race, a heavy rainshower came down, so the track was enormouslly slippery for the first part of the race. Damon Hill took advantage of his pole position and managed to open up a gap of about 15 seconds in the first couple of laps and after that he was in control of the race. A group of four, later five was fighting for second position, lead by Villeneuve, chased by Alesi and Barrichello, with Schumacher in the back end of their slipstream and even Frentzen could close up to the back end of that tail. This was the first time Schumacher and Frentzen were fighting for position in Formula One and Frentzen did a superb job in the wet, but he did not succeed in overtaking Schumacher. Frentzen had to stop in the mid part of the race, as Verstappen had to. The flying Dutchman has to be mentioned, as he was the man who put in fastest lap after fastest lap in this early part of the race. He was the second one to step out of the car, after the newcomer Marques giving up after damaging his car in his very first lap in a Formula One car. But his practice performance was more promising and it was there where he justified replacing Fisichella in the Minardi.
While Berger stopped his car in the pit with technical problems, Alesi started another attack on second place man Villeneuve. Alesi stepped out on the straight, braked a little too hard, so his back started to come round, but he recovered. Villeneuve tried to defend his position so they went side by side into the corner, but the Canadian came on the wet part of the track and lost grip; he ended up in the gravel and Barrichello, Schumacher and Frentzen, who have watched the manouver in secure distance could move up one place. At that time the track was partially drying up and Coulthard was the first to take the risk and change to slicks. He was able to run at the speed of the better drivers on wet tyres, but the Scotsman was trapped in the gravel a few laps later after spinning off.
The first top drivers to come to the pits were Schumacher, Frentzen and Barrichello, but they dropped down the order and Frentzen dropped even out. Hill was the first front driver to change to slicks and though Alesi followed him for the rest of the race, the distance between those two remained at about 15-20 seconds, except for the pit stop period of Hill, when Alesi lead the race for a few laps. After all drivers had changed tyres at least once, Barrichello was able to close down on Schumacher. He tried to overtake the reigning world champion but his impatience made him spin off at the same place where Villeneuve did earlier on.
So Hill, Alesi and Schumacher were the podium finishers followed by Hakkinen, who drove a consistent race race as well as the other Finn Salo behind him and Panis inheriting the final point. Irvine again as in Australia brought home the second Ferrari. Final comment on the weekend is that the Jordans again promised a lot more in qualifying than what they could score with Barrichello as well as Brundle spinning off. Villeneuve showed a great wet weather performance until his spin off. The surprising of the weekend was the Arrows team. Verstappen showed great practicing and qualifying times and especially in the race until his retirement, he was one of the fastest drivers on the track. Rumours were heard that Tom Walkinshaw is to come to the Arrows team. The Brit is now involved in the Ligier team that, despite their first championship point scored today by Panis, seems to dissolve a little with Briatore selling his shares and Walkinshaw leaving to Arrows. We will see what is to come...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Damon Hill GBR 1h54:55.322 160.013 2. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 12.167 159.731 3. Jean Alesi FRA 14.754 159.671 4. Rubens Barrichello BRA 55.131 158.743 5. Eddie Irvine IRL 1:04.991 158.519 6. Jos Verstappen HOL 1:08.913 158.429 7. David Coulthard SCO 1:13.400 158.327 8. Olivier Panis FRA 1:14.295 158.307 9. Johnny Herbert GBR 1 lap 155.859 10. Andrea Montermini ITA 3 laps 152.433 Not classified: Gerhard Berger AUT 16 laps 157.452 Michael Schumacher GER 26 laps 154.594 Pedro Lamy POR 33 laps 152.441 Mika Salo FIN 36 laps 121.095 Martin Brundle GBR 38 laps 151.140 Tarso(sp?) Marques BRA 39 laps 151.257 H.-H. Frentzen GER 40 laps 151.301 Pedro Diniz BRA 43 laps 160.227 Ukyo Katayama JPN 44 laps 161.321 Ricardo Rosset BRA 48 laps 157.504 Luca Badoer ITA 48 laps 155.120 Mika Hakkinen FIN 53 laps 162.575 Not qualified: All drivers qualified for the race. Fastest lap: Jean Alesi 1:29.413 171.478After a clean start from everybody, Mika Hakkinen was the first one to retire with the other Finn Mika Salo struggling with engine problems and finding himself out of the race quite a bit later. Like in Brasil, Hill was again comfortable in control of the race with Schumacher, Alesi and Berger following. Villeneuve who fell back to nineth place after a miserable start worked his way up the order to fifth place. The pace car had to catch the field according to one of the Fortis being found upside down in the gravel bed. Badoer climbed out of the car unhurt. During this pace car period, a strange thing happened: While breaking into a corner, suddenly the Ligier of Diniz exhaled a huge amount of fuel. The car was catching fire and slid off the track where it came to a halt. Diniz managed to escape the car "just" with a shock, but nobody could imagine, how this could have happened and where the fuel came from. This is clearly a thing to be examined.
Though Hill lost his advantage over the trio of Schumacher, Alesi and Berger and these three lost their advantage over Villeneuve after being gathered behind the pace car, neither of the lucky ones could take profit of these circumstances. The order remained the same and not even the pit stops changed the positions of the drivers. Marques made it a little further into the Grand Prix than in Brasil, but this time he braked too late in lap 33 and took Martin Brundle with him out of the race.
After the second round of pit stops Schumacher did not make it very far. He has again lost a part of the rear wing, as he has in the qualifying session in Australia. Additionally his engine power suddenly seemed to have dropped and he went back in the pits and stepped out of the car. Jean Alesi had a free road ahead of him and was able to reduce the gap to Hill, but he stalled the engine in the pits and with this he lost all chances to challenge Hill for victory. Berger had to stop the car because of engine problems, so Villeneuve was second place man positioned behind his team mate Hill, who was able to make his way safely to the victory. Barrichello managed to finish behind Alesi and succeeded with his race strategy of just one pit stop. Irvine was able to win the battle for fifth position against Verstappen, Coulthard and Panis.
It is again Verstappen who has to be mentioned. Over the whole weekend he was able to put in fast laps as well as in Brasil, but this time his efforts paid out. He could score his first point in this season for the team now lead by Tom Walkinshaw who surely will bring the team another step further with his experience and let alone his money.
The advantage that Hill has in the championship is tremendous. But it appears not to be so big on the track. To my opinion, the difference between the Williams and the following teams is less than it has been in the last couple of years and even the gap between the following teams down to the last rows of the grid (except the Fortis) has never been so small. It is down to the reliability of the Williams team and their drivers that they can come to the Nürburgring with such an enormous gap and we will see how the cars will perform after three weeks of intense testing...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1h33:26.473 196.006 2. Michael Schumacher GER 0.762 195.980 3. David Coulthard SCO 32.834 194.865 4. Damon Hill GBR 33.511 194.842 5. Rubens Barrichello BRA 33.713 194.835 6. Martin Brundle GBR 55.567 194.083 7. Johnny Herbert GBR 1:18.027 193.316 8. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1:18.438 193.302 9. Gerhard Berger AUT 1:21.061 193.213 10. Mika Salo FIN 1 lap 192.740 11. Pedro Diniz BRA 1 lap 190.684 12. Ukyo Katayama JPN 2 laps 189.982 13. Ricardo Rosset BRA 2 laps 189.903 14. Pedro Lamy POR 2 laps 188.911 15. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 2 laps 188.195 Not classified: H.-H. Frentzen GER 8 laps 191.506 Jos Verstappen HOL 29 laps 193.208 Olivier Panis FRA 61 laps 183.512 Eddie Irvine IRL 61 laps 182.247 Jean Alesi FRA 66 laps 169.797 Not qualified: Andrea Montermini ITA Luca Badoer ITA Fastest lap: Damon Hill 1:21.363 201.585Polesitter Damon Hill made a bad start, enabling other drivers to improve in position in the first meters of the Grand Prix. The Benettons of Berger as well as Alesi did start even worse with Berger having some kind of front lock-up. For this reason he had to steer to the pits at the end of lap one, but the team could fix the problem, so he was given the chance to continue. Alesi was absolutely impatient in returning to his grid position after his bad start. He ran into Salo's car at the beginning of lap two with the result of no result for him at the Grand Prix of Europe. After all the start troubles, Villeneuve was in the lead and he was able to pull away from the rest of the field. Coulthard, who made a tremendous start from the third row found himself in second position leading a tight group of a couple of cars with Barrichello, Schumacher, Hill, Hakkinen and Frentzen following. The second Ferrrari was taken out of the race by Ligier driver Panis who braked too late. But Irvine admitted that he had problems with the engine as well as with the clutch of his Ferrari.
Hill rapidly did make it past Schumacher, but he was stuck behind Barrichello. The Peugeot engine showed an impressive performance disabling Hill to overtake on the straight. At around lap 13, Barrichello even was able to open up a small gap to Hill. The Brit was the first of the front runners to come to the pits where the Williams crew not only was refueling and changing tyres, but they made some adjustments at the wings of Hills car. So he needed more than ten extra seconds for his pit stop coming back to the track in eleventh position. The other drivers made regular pit stops with not much time lost, but even these single seconds changed the order: Villeneuve was still leading ahead of the closing down Schumacher, Hakkinen, his teammate Coulthard and Barrichello.
Mika Hakkinen got a ten second penalty for pit lane speeding. A beginners mistake, one would think, but as he did the same thing after the second pit stop, there had to be a malfunction in his speed-button-system. Bad luck for the Mercedes driver who showed an improved performance compared to the last races. We can just guess how far he could have been up the order with not having to stop twice due to speeding.
Hill was struggling making his way back up the order and after being held up by Brundle, who was fighting for position, I probably should remind, Hill did not have the necessary patience for Diniz and so after having contact, both drivers had to take their way across the gravel with Brundle and other drivers again going past Hill. Meanwhile Schumacher was able to get into the slipstream of Villeneuve, but the World Champion was slower on the straight so there was no chance for him improving in position.
For the rest of the race it was tight between those two, but Schumacher could not overtake on the straight and Villeneuve got it right in lapping the traffic, so the Canadian made it to his first Formula One Grand Prix victory. Hill provided a lot of tension in the last part of the race, because he could overtake a couple of cars, but his often mentioned weakness in dealing with traffic denied him from finishing on the podium. On the last lap he had the chance to get past last year teammate Coulthard, but the McLaren-Mercedes driver knows Hill very well and he knew how to defend his third place.
Though Hill made mistakes this weekend, at least he was able to score points and in doing so constantly, you become a world champion. He still has a safe lead over Villeneuve who will for the first time drive on a circuit known to him next weekend in Imola. The Williams cars can not be beaten by other drivers at the moment except they make mistakes like Hill did today. Behind the Williams cars there is a large group of potential podium finishers. But these teams struggle with the reliability of the cars or of the drivers like in Alesi's case. The Benettons every weekend look strong, but they are not able to get the strength to the checkered flag. The Ferrari appears to better than it is. Due to Schumachers total commitment and his ability to drive the hell out of his car, they are able to follow Villeneuve. Ferrari announced some improvements for next week in Imola and it is there where we will see how Schumacher and Irvine will perform in front of their new Ferraristi-home crowd...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Damon Hill GBR 1h35:26.156 193.761 2. Michael Schumacher GER 16.460 193.205 3. Gerhard Berger AUT 46.891 192.187 4. Eddie Irvine IRL 1:01.583 191.699 5. Rubens Barrichello BRA 1:18.490 191.141 6. Jean Alesi FRA 1 lap 190.106 7. Pedro Diniz BRA 1 lap 188.474 8. Mika Hakkinen FIN 2 laps 188.829 9. Pedro Lamy POR 2 laps 184.603 10. Luca Badoer ITA 4 laps 180.057 11. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 6 laps 190.513 Not classified: Olivier Panis FRA 9 laps 188.950 Ukyo Katayama JPN 18 laps 189.431 David Coulthard SCO 19 laps 191.424 Ricardo Rosset BRA 23 laps 186.185 Jos Verstappen HOL 25 laps 189.708 Martin Brundle GBR 27 laps 189.136 H.-H. Frentzen GER 31 laps 189.763 Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 33 laps 186.182 Johnny Herbert GBR 38 laps 174.809 Mika Salo FIN 40 laps 191.307 Not qualified: Andrea Montermini ITA Fastest Lap: Damon Hill 1:28.931 198.032The start of the San Marino Grand Prix was a real cracker. Coulthard who had qualified in fourth position managed to snatch the lead away from everybody. Schumacher was not able to take advantage of his first Ferrari pole and Hill could pass him. Salo did a tremendous start and came up to fourth, Villneuve damaged his left rear tyre in a battle with Alesi resulting in Villeneuve had to let pass the whole field and had to come to the pits for new tyres after lap one. He joined the race in last position and with a 50 second gap to the next runner in front of him.
Though Schumacher did not make a good start, he was able to come back up to second in the first laps and he was right in the back of Coulthard. These two opened up a small gap over Hill, who had more fuel on board and so wasn't quite able to follow. Salo had to let Berger through in lap two, but he was able to hold that fifth position in front of Barrichello. The World Champion was a bit faster than the leader Coulthard, but it was not enough for an attack. So he had to sit and wait the things to develop. And Things did not develop in the favour of Schumacher. The two leaders were not able to increase the gap to Hill, who seemed to have much more fuel on board.
Alesi was the first one of the top cars to come to the pits. He not just refueled and changed tires, but also changed the stering wheel. As Schumacher did stop later than Coulthard, he took the lead for the first time and he gained that necessary second in the pits, so he came back on the track in front of Coulthard. Poor Mika Salo had to give up due to an engine blow-up denying him the reward for a great first part of the race.
Damon Hill was going round and round the track and everybody was wondering when will this guy come in for fuel, how much did he have on board at the start of the race. It was nearly half distance through the San Marino Grand Prix when race leader Hill came in and he went out right in front of Schumacher, who again seemed to be a little bit faster, but not enough to overtake. Again Schumacher had to wait for the pit stops and he decided to come in and try it with that strategy rather than being stuck behind Hill.
During the second round of pit stops, we had to watch pictures we don't want to see. Again like two years ago a mechanic was hurt during a pit stop. It turned out to be a member of the Arrows team and it is said that Verstappen tried to drive off the pits with the refuelling not quite completed. Probably it is bad luck, that such an incident again happened at Imola, but one could also see the very narrow pit lane as a reason for this. Last time they decided only to let the team personel that is working on the car for a very small time span before and after the stop out of the garage to have minimal number of people standing in the way, but you could see very tight incidents several times, when the divers were accelerating very hard out of the pits, swinging the back of theirs cars to one side and/or the other. Luckily the mechanic was not seriously injured, but they have to think about this problem especially in Imola and probably even more for the forthcoming Grand Prix in Monaco, where the pit lane is even narrower.
After these pit stops, Schumacher saw himself struggling in putting laps on the drivers, who were amongst each other fighting for position. For not paying attention to the leading cars, Hakkinen, who had a black weekend and Diniz were given a 10 second penalty for blocking. Later Alesi was the man in the way of Schumacher. In contrast to that, Hill seemed to have a free road ahead of him and so after his last pit stop he had an advantage of about 20 seconds over Schumacher and this gap remained to the checkered flag. Schumacher crossed the line although some hundred meters earlier, suddenly his right front wheel stopped turning and he had to be careful for the last corners.
Meanwhile Coulthard had an electrical problem that made him give up his secure third place which was inherited by Berger. Irvine drove a calm race and scored again points. So did Barrichello in fifth place. Finally ending in sixth position was Alesi who made a couple of mistakes throughout the race including the contact with Villeneuve in the first lap, spinning and a pit lane speeding penalty. But he was not the only one to get that penalty. Several drivers had to come to the pits for an extra ten seconds. Probably some drivers did not recognize that the pit speed was reduced to 80 kph for this Grand Prix. In the closing laps of the race, we had quite a lot retirements with Villeneuve being the most important. He drove a good race after his tire damage in the first lap and managed to go up the classification to the final point scoring sixth position, but with only few laps to go, his job was done and he was not rewarded for his efforts. Among the other retirements was Hakkinen, who stopped the car with a smokey engine in the last lap.
The Arrows team was not able to get one car to the checkered flag and did not repeat their great performances of the last Grand Prixs. The Saubers as well did stop on the track far from the end of the race. As their Ford engine lacks of a lot of power, the team has to run with less wings and the drivers have to go to the extreme. Before the season started one thought that Sauber is among the teams regularly placed in the points, but Ford very early decided to support the Steward team next season and they are already giving much of this years money to the development of that team instead of putting it into the improvement of this years engine. Sauber have to pay the price and so the top driver Frentzen has not yet been able to score some points in this season. Hopefully this team can survive this hard year and go for it next season with a different engine manufacturer.
So we saw a great performance of the Ferrari during qualifying, when the Maranello runners could use the new improved engine. In the reace itself, they did not trust the stability of the new motor and used the old one. They told that in two weeks time in Monaco, the new engine should be ready for the race. With Schumacher at the wheel this is a great prospect...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Olivier Panis FRA 2h00:45.629 124.014 2. David Coulthard SCO 4.828 123.931 3. Johnny Herbert GBR 37.503 123.375 4. H.-H. Frentzen GER 1 lap 122.773 5. Mika Salo FIN 5 laps 122.846 6. Mika Hakkinen FIN 5 laps 122.836 7. Eddie Irvine IRL 7 laps 119.467 Not classified: Jacques Villeneuve CAN 9 laps 122.173 Jean Alesi FRA 15 laps 120.819 Luca Badoer ITA 15 laps 111.111 Damon Hill GBR 35 laps 116.171 Martin Brundle GBR 45 laps 109.144 Gerhard Berger AUT 66 laps 106.096 Pedro Diniz BRA 70 laps 97.620 Ricardo Rosset BRA 72 laps 95.218 Ukyo Katayama JPN 73 laps 96.222 Michael Schumacher GER 75 laps Rubens Barrichello BRA 75 laps Jos Verstappen HOL 75 laps Pedro Lamy POR 75 laps Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 75 laps Qualified, but did not start: Andrea Montermini ITA Fastest Lap: Jean Alesi 1:25.205 140.611One thing before I start: The race at Monaco was unbelievable!!
After it had rained between the last practice on Sunday morning and the race, an additional accomodation session of 15 minutes was held at noon in order to enable the drivers to find a wet weather setup. Something must have happened to Montermini during this session, because he did not take his place on the starting grid. At the time of the start of the race, the track was still moist and slippery, but the rain had stopped.
Damon Hill had the better start, so he could overtake pole sitter Schumacher in the first meters of this years grand prix. The field managed to come round the first corner, except for some back markers including both Minardis and Verstappen, who could not wait to get out of their cars. The driving machine Schumacher surprised all the crowd watching the race by misjudging his grip on the inner curb after the Loews hairpin and crashed into the barrier. So after the first lap, just 16 cars were remaining.
Hill, as ever, was able to pull away from the field and nobody really could follow. Second place man Alesi was losing nearly two seconds a lap in the first minutes of the race and Berger followed the Frenchman in a secure distance. In lap 12, Berger stopped his Benetton with gear box problems, ending his weekend that had not started too bad with his qualifying performance, but again ended very early due to technical problems. Till that point of the race only 12 cars were still in the race (if you count the Forti of Badoer as "in the race").
After Bergers bad luck, Irvine and Frentzens battle was for third position. Frentzen was clearly the faster of the two, but as the Monte Carlo circuit is the tightest one, there was no way for Frentzen. The German driver became impatient after a while and tried the impossible. The result was a damaged front wing on Frentzens car. Irvine luckily got away with it. Frentzen rejoined the race in 11th and last position (disregarding Badoer).
As Hill had easily pulled away and was in front quite comfortably, everybody was expecting the race to be over, but a surprising engine blow-up took Hills Williams out of the race and denied Damon Hill from following his father Graham Hill, who had won the race in Monaco several times in the sixties and seventies. Hill has to wait another year to win the worlds most famous grand prix and to get the cup out of the hand of prince Rainier. The first engine failure of a Renault powered Williams in this season took out the leader of the race and more was still to come.
Alesi inherited the lead from Hill and Irvine and Panis were fighting for the second position. Panis got impatient as Frentzen did before and tried it on the inside of the Loews hairpin. Irvine saw Panis very late and tried to shut the door; it could not be seen on television, whether the two touched or if Irvine simply could not come round the corner. The result was Panis in second position and Irvine stopped at the barrier. But neither of the two damaged his car and even Irvine kept his engine running and managed to come back to the race again. The Irishman losened his safety belt in the belief that his race was over, but as the marshalls pushed him out of the dangerous area and his engine was still running he went to the pits and let the team fix his problem. Ironically he came out of the pits right in front of Panis but two laps down. This time he let Panis through.
Meanwhile race leader Alesi stopped his car in the pits after a previous pit stop did not solve the problem with his right rear tyre. Villeneuves weekend ended with Badoer not seeing him when he tried to lap the Brazilian. The Canadian was not successful this weekend; after he qualified way back on the grid, he got stuck in the race in a group of cars around fifth position, but Badoers mistake denied him from scoring points. By that time it was clearly that the race would not be ended by the projected 78 laps, but by the two hour limit.
With about fifteen minutes to go, only 7 cars were running and Frentzen who was lapped after his early wing damage was the last one of them, hoping that he could score his first points in this season for the Sauber team, if somebody of the remainders fell out. And so it proved to come: Irvine spun in the Portier corner and got to a halt in the wrong direction. So he tried to turn around with a powerslide, but in that moment, Salo and Hakkinen came round the corner. These two had been involved in a fight for position nearly all race long and did not know what was going on behind the corner. When they saw Irvine doing the donut, it was already too late. Salo could not avoid Irvine and Hakkinen completed a three car rear-end collision known from inner cities. Luckily, this crash was not very far from the finish, so the two Finns were classified and scored points.
Frentzen said thank you and moved up to fourth position behind his teammate Herbert who drove an even race from start to finish and deserved the four points he scored. The Sauber team now finally got into the points and showed a little progress, but the engine still seems to lack power. Especially Frentzen drove a tremendous race until his incident with Irvine, but after the track dried out, he was not able to further improve. So these efforts came more from a very talented (esp. wet-weather) driver that has not yet had the chance to show his real potential in a front row car than from the improving Ford engine.
With only two minutes to go, Panis lead over Coulthard by three seconds and normally this is it. But not so this time in Monaco: On the one hand, Coulthard reduced the gap, on the other hand some raindrops started falling that could provide further confusion and if this was not enough, Panis was very, very low on fuel. So the viewer was under tension till the last meters of the grand prix. Some higher power decided that the race had seen enough drama and so the rain waited till the race and the slow down lap was over, then coming down even more. Coulthard said a second place is better than giving away the points in a risky manoeuver and the fuel of Panis was enough to go round the track waving the French flag to the cheering audience.
So we had a surprise winner, but you can not say that Panis only inherited the victory. He showed strong performances in the practice sessions, but had bad luck in the qualifying so he had to start from fourteenth position. During the race he constantly was one of the quickest cars on the track and he was one of the few cars that were able to overtake on the very narrow track. Therefore he deserves his victory.
After the most exciting qualifying session for a long time with Schumacher and Hill battling for pole, we saw a race that did not excite me less. In order to have more races with such a tension, we need modifications: It must be a wet race on a tight circuit, so Frentzen can cope with the front runners. There must not be a corner named Portier, so probably the Ferraris have better luck. Finally we need accidental, but regular engine failures in Hills car, so we can see at least for a few times a different person on top of the winners podium...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Michael Schumacher GER 1h59:49.307 153.785 2. Jean Alesi FRA 45.302 152.822 3. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 48.388 152.757 4. H.-H. Frentzen GER 1 lap 151.081 5. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1 lap 150.004 6. Pedro Diniz BRA 2 laps 148.142 Not classified: Jos Verstappen HOL 18 laps 150.938 Rubens Barrichello BRA 20 laps 150.569 Gerhard Berger AUT 21 laps 151.194 Johnny Herbert GBR 45 laps 150.028 Martin Brundle GBR 48 laps 149.221 Mika Salo FIN 49 laps 136.570 Damon Hill GBR 55 laps 147.649 Ukyo Katayama JPN 57 laps 137.576 Eddie Irvine IRL 64 laps 142.271 Olivier Panis FRA 64 laps 114.771 Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 64 laps 92.703 David Coulthard SCO 65 laps Ricardo Rosset BRA 65 laps Pedro Lamy POR 65 laps Not qualified: Andrea Montermini ITA Luca Badoer ITA Fastest Lap: Michael Schumacher 1:45.517 161.274He did it!!! The first victory for Schumacher in the Ferrari.
But let's go through the order. The Fortis changed the color outfit of their cars. With a new sponsor, they painted their cars in green and white, but this also did not help them to get their cars on the grid. So just 20 cars started their attempts for victory at the Spanish Grand Prix. It has to be discussed whether the race should have better been started behind the pace car because of the heavy rainfall. Do they always need serious crashs before thinking about reducing the endangerment of the drivers, mechanics and marshalls?!
As in Monte Carlo last time, some cars did not really make it into the race. The two Minardis were again both out before they completed the first lap. Lamy and Coulthard had to step out of their cars as well as Irvine and last time winner Panis. Salo started from the pit lane and probably this was better for him, keeping him out of the mid-field battles with no visibilities.
Hill made a bad start and Schumacher's was much more worse, so Villeneuve and Alesi went into the first corner in front of Hill, Berger, Barrichello and Schumacher. Herbert lost his 7th place due to spinning off, but he got out of the gravel and rejoined the race a little further behind. Schumacher overtook Barrichello in lap three and it was this lap, when Hill for the first time went off track. The championship leader rejoined in fifth position behind the reigning world champion. But he did not see Schumachers red rear light for long. The German drove tremendous, passed Berger and closed up to the leading two cars of Villeneuve and Alesi. The Frenchman was clearly the faster of these two, but there was no room and no vivsibility for a manoeuver.
Hill tried other manoeuvers: While braking, the rear end of his car came round and he had to take a trip through the gravel for the secod time. In lap ten, he spun at the entry to the starting straight. This time he crashed into the pit lane barrier and damaged his car. His race was over. Meanwhile at the front Alesi was stuck behind Villeneuve and Schumacher joined the battle. But Schumacher did not wait for long. He shot in the inside of Alesi at the Seat corner and did the same to Villeneuve a couple of laps later.
He extended his lead by up to five seconds per lap and the first Ferrari-Schumacher win was only endangered by his dare-devilish driving style and his engine that was running only on 8 to 9 cylinders from the middle of the race on. But finally he got through.
Behind Schumacher only the drop-outs and the pit stops provided some action. Villeneuve lost his second place to Alesi during the pitstop period and Berger dropped down the order to the end after he had damaged his car as a result of a driver error. Barrichello made a very late pit stop and till this pit stop, he drove a good race. But soon afterwards he stepped out of his car because of clutch problems. After the mechanics did their best to fix the problem, Barrichellojumped into his car again and rejoined the race though being a couple of laps down, because there were only seven runners beside him and in case of two other retirements he had a prospect to score a point. But the next retirement was he himself.
The last one to step out of the car early was Verstappen, who was one of the few not to recover after a spin-off. So the Dutchman enabled Diniz, who is not known for his extraordinary driving abilities, but for his million dollar sponsor connections, to score his first ever Formula One championship point in his career. Hakkinen was rewarded two points for a equalized race with one sole highlight. He was the last one to come in for the one and only pit stop and surprised the viewers with the tank capacity of the McLaren-Mercedes. Besides Hakkinen seems to have learnt his lesson from Imola, where he got a penalty for not letting race leaders through. In this race, he was very generous, when Schumacher, Alesi or Villeneuve came to put a lap on him. Frentzen scored three points for his calm race that was a big contrast to his furious race in Monaco. The podium finishers were the before mentioned Villeneuve as third, Alesi as second and Schumacher as the winner of this race.
As the Ferrari crew announced some improvements and changes for the next Grand Prix in Canada and as that Grand Prix seems to suit the Ferrari (Alesi won in 95 in a Ferrari), the fans can hope for more tension and who knows what will be the gap between Hill and his championship rival(s) in two weeks time...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Damon Hill GBR 1h36:03.465 2. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 4.183 3. Jean Alesi FRA 54.656 4. David Coulthard SCO 1:03.673 5. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1 lap 6. Martin Brundle GBR 1 lap 7. Johnny Herbert GBR 1 lap 8. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 2 laps Not classified: Luca Badoer ITA 24 laps Pedro Lamy POR 24 laps Gerhard Berger AUT 26 laps Michael Schumacher GER 27 laps Mika Salo FIN 29 laps Olivier Panis FRA 29 laps Pedro Diniz BRA 30 laps Andrea Montermini ITA 46 laps Rubens Barrichello BRA 46 laps H.-H. Frentzen GER 49 laps Jos Verstappen HOL 58 laps Ukyo Katayama JPN 62 laps Ricardo Rosset BRA 62 laps Eddie Irvine IRL 67 laps Not qualified: All drivers qualified for the race. Fastest lap: Jacques Villeneuve 1:21.916Due to the European Football Championship, I had no time to write my comment on this event and now I'm not delighted to do it. So, this time no comment, just very short: Schumachers car was nto started on time, so he had to follow the field in the parade lap and start from the back. Immediately after a pit stop his drive shaft broke into pieces and ended his race. Easy ten points for Hill!
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Damon Hill GBR 1h36:28.795 2. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 8.127 3. Jean Alesi FRA 46.442 4. Gerhard Berger AUT 46.859 5. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1:02.774 6. David Coulthard SCO 1 lap 7. Olivier Panis FRA 1 lap 8. Martin Brundle GBR 1 lap 9. Rubens Barrichello BRA 1 lap 10. Mika Salo FIN 2 laps 11. Johnny Herbert GBR 2 laps 12. Ricardo Rosset BRA 3 laps 13. Pedro Lamy POR 3 laps Not classified: H.-H. Frentzen GER 15 laps Ukyo Katayama JPN 38 laps Luca Badoer ITA 42 laps Pedro Diniz BRA 43 laps Jos Verstappen HOL 61 laps Eddie Irvine IRL 66 laps Andrea Montermini ITA 69 laps Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 69 laps Michael Schumacher GER 72 laps Not qualified: All drivers qualified for the race. Fastest lap: Jacques Villeneuve 1:18.610Again only a short overview: Schumacher drove his Ferrari in the qualifying to the pole, but already in the warm up lap he blew his engine. With Irvine as well dropping out in the early laps, a view on the laps per team-chart down at this page becomes a nightmare for Ferraristi! Again an easy victory for Hill. It's gettin kinda boring...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1h33:00.874 199.576 2. Gerhard Berger AUT 19.026 198.898 3. Mika Hakkinen FIN 50.830 197.775 4. Rubens Barrichello BRA 1:06.716 197.218 5. David Coulthard SCO 1:22.507 196.669 6. Martin Brundle GBR 1 lap 195.711 7. Mika Salo FIN 1 lap 194.998 8. H.-H. Frentzen GER 1 lap 194.257 9. Johnny Herbert GBR 1 lap 194.229 10. Jos Verstappen HOL 1 lap 194.055 11. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA 1 lap 190.868 Not classified: Jean Alesi FRA 17 laps 197.481 Olivier Panis FRA 21 laps 188.803 Pedro Diniz BRA 23 laps 191.031 Damon Hill GBR 35 laps 199.706 Pedro Lamy POR 40 laps 190.219 Ricardo Rosset BRA 48 laps 191.432 Ukyo Katayama JPN 49 laps 191.499 Eddie Irvine IRL 56 laps 194.344 Michael Schumacher GER 58 laps 142.885 Not qualified: Luca Badoer ITA Andrea Montermini ITA Fastest Lap: Jacques Villeneuve 1:29.288 204.497Both Ferraris out in the early laps. Hill out because of his back stepping sideways. Villeneuve getting easy 10 points. Hakkinen on the podium for the first time after his crash in Melbourne last year.
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Damon Hill GBR 1h21:43.417 225.410 2. Jean Alesi FRA 11.452 224.884 3. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 33.926 223.861 4. Michael Schumacher GER 41.517 223.517 5. David Coulthard SCO 42.196 223.486 6. Rubens Barrichello BRA 1:42.099 220.812 7. Olivier Panis FRA 1:43.912 220.732 8. H.-H. Frentzen GER 1 lap 220.070 9. Mika Salo FIN 1 lap 218.646 10. Martin Brundle GBR 1 lap 216.826 11. Ricardo Rosset BRA 1 lap 216.006 12. Pedro Lamy POR 2 laps 214.284 13. Gerhard Berger AUT 3 laps 225.395 Not classified: Eddie Irvine IRL 11 laps 221.912 Johnny Herbert GBR 20 laps 204.791 Pedro Diniz BRA 26 laps 221.368 Ukyo Katayama JPN 26 laps 218.416 Mika Hakkinen FIN 32 laps 223.281 Jos Verstappen HOL 45 laps Not qualified: Giovanni Lavaggi ITA Did not take part in qualifying: Luca Badoer ITA Andrea Montermini ITA Fastest lap: Damon Hill 1:46.504 230.628Bad start from Hill, so Berger and Alesi managed to overtake him. Hakkinen had a gearbox problem in lap 13, so his promising new engine did not make it very far. Hill was stuck behind the two Benettons and so he decided to make an early pit stop. Berger and Alesi as well as Schumacher and Villeneuve were on a one-stop race, Hill and the McLarens planned to do two. When Berger came in, Hill was able to overtake and managed to pull away, but he had to stop once more. Meanwhile Irvine's engine spit out a lot of oil and took him out of the race. Does anyone remember when Irvine saw the checkered flag for the last time? It was way back on the fifth of May in Imola when he finished fourth. After Hill made his final pit stop he was able to catch up to Berger quite rapidly, but Berger did all to defend his leading position. Hill had no chance to overtake, but luck was on his side: Berger had a massive engine blow-up in lap 43. So Hill again finished first and only thanks to his bad start the race became quite tight. If he got away cleanly from the grid, he would have been miles ahead of the field. Alesi finished second and Villeneuve were the other podium finishers and Schumacher did save his fourth place in front of Coulthard. The Scotsman pushed Schumacher all race long and even after his second pitstop, he let the gap between Schumacher and himself vanish in a couple of laps. But Schumacher knew how to defend his three points in front of his home crowd. Barrichello was theone to score the final point.
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1h46:21.134 172.372 2. Damon Hill GBR 0.771 172.351 3. Jean Alesi FRA 1:24.212 170.127 4. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1 lap 169.538 5. Olivier Panis FRA 1 lap 168.046 6. Rubens Barrichello BRA 2 laps 167.544 7. Ukyo Katayama JPN 3 laps 164.914 8. Ricardo Rosset BRA 3 laps 164.464 9. Michael Schumacher GER 7 laps 170.872 10. Giovanni Lavaggi ITA 8 laps 161.608 Not classified: Gerhard Berger AUT 13 laps 170.411 H.-H. Frentzen GER 27 laps 166.529 Johnny Herbert GBR 42 laps 169.678 Eddie Irvine IRL 46 laps 169.669 Pedro Lamy POR 53 laps 163.852 David Coulthard SCO 54 laps 170.186 Jos Verstappen HOL 67 laps 166.252 Martin Brundle GBR 72 laps 164.855 Pedro Diniz BRA 76 laps 163.376 Mika Salo FIN 77 laps Not qualified: All drivers qualified for the race. Fastest lap: Damon Hill 1:20.093 178.352Schumacher managed to qualify in pole position, 55 thousandths ahead of Hill. In the second row stood Villeneuve and Irvine. The Benettons filled the third row. Also remarkably that the Saubers with their revised engine managed to qualify both in the top ten.
Schumacher took advantage of his grid position and Hill on the dirty inner line fell back behind Villeneuve and even Alesi, who both came from the cleaner outer line. Schumacher and Villeneuve managed to pull away from Alesi, who held up the clearly quicker Hill. The first round of it stops saw Schumacher come out directly behind Berger and in the following lap, Vileneuve was slightly faster and could come out in front of these two. Hill had bad luck and again was stuck behind Alesi. So we had Villeneuve pulling away from Schumacher, Alesi holding up Hill and Berger coming nearer.
Then came a short camera appearance of Coulthard, who was wobbling down the starting straight with a car that was beyonds his control. His differential had broken. The second Ferrari of Irvine drove a suitable race till lap 31, when his engine again refused to work. Quite a losing streak of 7 races since the San Marino Grand Prix, where he saw the checkered flag for the last time. The next retirements were the two Saubers. Especially Herbert showed a clearly improved competitiveness, but the reliability was not on their side.
The following laps saw Hill passing Alesi, whose second set of tires was not the best and he also was struggling with brake problems. So Hill was able to hunt down Schumacher, Berger catched up to Alesi. Hill got ahead of Schumacher and his aim was Villeneuve and the victory in Hungary. Berger as well managed to pass Alesi, but he was denied success by again a major blow-up of the Renault engine. Bad luck for Berger, who suffered the same problem in the last Grand Prix.
Hill reduced the gap to Villeneuve in the remaining laps until he was in the gearbox of Villeneuve, but that was the end of his efforts. The Hungarian circuit is not designed for overtaking maneuvers and Hill prefered to secure the constructors championship for Williams and not to take the risc. Schumacher's Ferrari stopped with only seven laps to go, so he could not step on the winners podium. Alesi inherited the third place with Hakkinen, Panis and Barrichello being the other point scorers.
The qualifying performance of the Ferraris was quite promising, but they have to work on the reliability of their cars. It can not be that teams like the Tyrrells with their former "Spin Doctor" Katayama manage to finish more Grand Prix laps than the multi million Scuderia team. The Saubers as well seemed to have improved engine performance on the cost of reliability. You can decide for yourself which outcome is better: Finishing inbetween the back markers or not finishing but being competitive for the points for half a race distance. The Fortis seem to have left the Grand Prix stage of 1996 reminaing only twenty cars on the grid, presuming that Lavaggi stays within the 107%. Rumours are that three cars per team are to be allowed, but will there be a team that makes use of this posibility? Or will the top teams not taking the additional work, but the backmarker teams use the third car as bonus advertising surface...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Michael Schumacher GER 1h28:15.125 208.442 2. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 5.602 208.222 3. Mika Hakkinen FIN 15.710 207.826 4. Jean Alesi FRA 19.125 207.692 5. Damon Hill GBR 29.179 207.300 6. Gerhard Berger AUT 29.896 207.272 7. Mika Salo FIN 1:00.754 206.078 8. Ukyo Katayama JPN 1:40.227 204.570 9. Ricardo Rosset BRA 1 lap 203.442 10. Pedro Lamy POR 1 lap 202.789 Not classified: David Coulthard SCO 7 laps 205.348 Martin Brundle GBR 10 laps 201.314 Eddie Irvine IRL 15 laps 201.094 Rubens Barrichello BRA 15 laps 187.794 Pedro Diniz BRA 22 laps 196.843 Jos Verstappen HOL 33 laps 208.994 Olivier Panis FRA 44 laps Johnny Herbert GBR 44 laps H.-H. Frentzen GER 44 laps Not qualified: Giovanni Lavaggi ITA Fastest lap: Gerhard Berger 1:53.067 221.857Villeneuve took profit of his second pole position of this year and went first in the first corner. Hill had to let Schumacher through and found himself third heading down towards Eau Rouge. Behind him the two McLarens, the two Benettons, Martin Brundle and Eddie Irvine.
In the midfield, there was a crash at the entry of La Source hairpin bend resulting in the two Saubers and Panis out of the race and Barrichellos car damaged so he had to steer to the pits after the first lap.
Hill did lose his third position to Coulthard on the flat out way to Les Combes; the Scot went the long way round and gained one place. Schumacher pushed Villeneuve hard so these two were pulling slightly away. Surprisingly Hill was not able to follow Coulthard and one thought he might have problems. This theory seemed to be proved by some smoke coming out of Hills car through the Bus Stop Chicane.
In lap 11, Jos Verstappen came to the pits and as it later turned out, he had problems with a stuck throttle. He rejoined the track, but it would have been better if he had not. Half a lap later he suffered a horrible accident at Stavelot. The remains of his car looked terrifying, but he was able to step out of his car on his own. He stumbled away and had to be guided by a marshall. It is not yet known whether he suffered severe injuries; let's hope the best for the Dutchman, who did not finish many grand prixs this year, but it seems as it is not his fault this time.
As a result of the debris of Verstappen's car lying on the track, the safety car came out and Schumacher was the one with the most luck. It was this lap, when he planed anyway to come to the pits and in contrast to Villeneuve and most the other drivers, he went in and out before he catched up with the safety car. He rejoined the track in sixth position. Villeneuve had to come a lap later and all the cars that were gathered behind the safety car could easily pass by. The one with the least luck was again Hill. Somehow he managed to miss the pit lane entry and rejoined behind Hakkinen as third, but he finally came in one lap later and then rejoined in eleventh position. When the safety car left the track, we had the following line-up: Coulthard and Hakkinen who still did not stop, Schumacher, the lapped Barrichello, Alesi and Villeneuve. On the way to La Source, Barrichello moved well out of the way so Alesi could get passed, but Villeneuve tried to overtake these two. Three cars side to side into the hairpin, Villeneuve came in first, but he was too fast, so Alesi could recapture fourth position for the moment. The Canadian decided this battle for himself on the straight after Eau Rouge. Salo was another man to take maximum profit of the safety car period. He found himself in sixth position. Berger lost another position when he was overtaken by Irvine who, believe it or not, was still in the race. Brundle in ninth, Katayama, Hill, Lamy, Diniz, Rosset and Barrichello were the other remaining drivers at this point.
Berger became too impatient behind Irvine and spun into the Bus Stop Chicane, so he had to continue in 11th position. As the McLarens had to be refuelled as well, Schumacher lead the race by a few seconds to Villeneuve. Coulthard came back to the track behind, Hakkinen in front of Hill. At that time Mika Salo found himself in fourth position, but not for long. At that time even Irvine in the second Ferrari was racing, but not for long. In lap 29 again smoke exited his engine and he had to give up for the eighth time in a row. Well, it really is time for him to finish again!!!
The second round of pit stops saw Schumacher come in first and when Villeneuve came back on the track after his pit stop it was a really tight fight. He came out right in front of Schumacher, but the Ferrari did not have to accelerate from a stand still, so the red runner had a greater momentum and took the first place from the Canadian. Schumacher could defend this position till the checkered flag. Alesi lost his third place to Hakkinen who did not have to stop for a second time. Hill and Berger took the last championship points from Salo who had to leave Belgium without scoring a point. Coulthard crashed only 7 laps before scoring points; he would have finished fifth in front of Hill.
The Saubers did not make it very far this time and it is even more bitter, as Frentzen as well as Herbert showed better performances during the practice sessions. One must wonder how irvine manages to motivate himself for every Grand Prix when he again and again sees the smoke in his mirrors coming out of his engine. But noone will ask for him, because all Ferraristi are glad and happy of winning the second Grand Prix this year. Especially after such an unawaited victory like the one of this weekend. Schumacher could not really compete with the Williams during the qualifying session of Saturday and furthermore he suffered a heavy crash on the Friday free practice. The drivers championship still is not decided between the Williams drivers, the battle for third place is as well very tight between Alesi and Schumacher.
One man that has deserved to be mentioned is Kai Ebel. You do not need to watch comedy shows anymore if you see this guy with his pre- and post-race interviews for RTL Television. This time Jean Todt was his victim. Todt was hurrying to the podium, but Ebel did not let him escape. He and his camera man had to ask another of Ebels so important questions. He asked: When did you start thinking about the victory? The response of Todt was brilliant. He replied: Fantastic, beautiful! An absolutely stoned voice translated this important sentence into German and Ebel was satisfied that he did another one of his never beaten interviews...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Michael Schumacher GER 1h13:43.632 236.064 2. Jean Alesi FRA 18.265 235.143 3. Mika Hakkinen FIN 1:06.635 232.738 4. Martin Brundle GBR 1:25.217 231.820 5. Rubens Barrichello BRA 1.25.475 231.815 6. Pedro Diniz BRA 1 lap 230.951 7. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1 lap 230.079 8. Jos Verstappen HOL 1 lap 228.833 9. Johnny Herbert GBR 2 laps 230.837 10. Ukyo Katayama JPN 2 laps 222.922 Not classified: Ricardo Rosset BRA 17 laps 223.925 Eddie Irvine IRL 30 laps 233.451 Pedro Lamy POR 41 laps 221.212 Mika Salo FIN 44 laps 225.751 H.-H. Frentzen GER 46 laps 225.473 Damon Hill GBR 48 laps 231.297 Giovanni Lavaggi ITA 48 laps 213.712 Gerhard Berger AUT 49 laps 225.089 Olivier Panis FRA 51 laps 210.246 David Coulthard SCO 52 laps 211.786 Not qualified: All drivers qualified Fastest Lap: Michael Schumacher 1:26.110 241.226
Polesitter and championship leader Hill made a slightly worse start than his teammate Villeneuve and he concentrated on defending his first position against the Canadian. This opened enough space for Alesi, who had a dream start to slip through and take the lead. Behind him, Hill and Villeneuve were fighting for secons position, but Villeneuve did not make it on the right way through the first chicane. In doing so, he damaged his car, resulting in dropping back and having not won this Grand Prix. Behind this trio came the two McLarens who had overtaken Schumacher and Berger overtook the other Ferrari of Irvine. Surprisingly the field made its way through the first chicane without greater damage to any car.
Still in the first lap, Alesi took a wrong line into the first Lesmo corner enabling Hill to slip through again. But the Frenchman did not give up his strive for the lead. On the way to the Ascari chicane, he pulled out and going side by side with Hill through the first part of the chicane, but Hill was determined to win and take the world championship, so he defended. Before the first lap was completed, Villeneuve had to pay for missing the first chicane. He dropped back behind Hakkinen. McLaren teammate Coulthard missed on the second lap the second chicane and he had to forget about his hopes for this race. He had been fastest in the Sunday morning practice.
Hill managed to pull away from Alesi and Hakkinen, followed with a slight gap by Schumacher, who has overtaken Villeneuve. But more drama was to come: In lap three, Hakkinen touched the tyre stacks in the second chicane, damaged his front wing and caused trouble for the following cars who struggled avoiding tyres of the stack rolling all over the track. But noone except the Finn himself got damaged. He tried to go on for another lap, but then decided to come to the pit for a wing change. Lap 5 saw Berger stopping his car on the side of the road due to hydraulical problems and meanwhile, about a kilometer ahead psycho-Hill justified his nick-name. On the exit of the first chicane, he clipped a tyre stack and as a result spun. Though he managed to come to a halt on the track in the right direction still in the first position, he could not continue because his right front suspension was broken. Therefore we saw not for the first time a Damon that made unforced errors under pressure. He wanted to win, but he was not pushed from second placeman Alesi. As his teammate and championship rival Villeneuve had damaged his car earlier and could not anymore run at the pace of the leaders, the decision for the drivers championship 1996 was postponed.
The '97 Williams driver Frentzen followed his predecessor and gave up as well after touching the tyre stack. Schumacher closed down to Alesi lap for lap, but later he was stuck in the slipstream of Alesi with no chance to overtake. After all the trouble of the first lap settled down, Ediie Irvine found himself in a fabulous third place. Until short before the first round of pit stops he held this position, but then he made a drivers error that was very popular in Monza: he touched the tyre stacks. The last time he saw the checkered flag within a F1 racecar is now over four months ago. He can only hope for the last two grand prixs. I hope he can at least once more prove that he earns to drive for Scuderia.
Alesi came in for his pitstop first. Everything went right and he rejoined in second position in front of Hakkinen, who has made his way up again after his early unscheduled pitstop. Schumacher had enough fuel on board to come in two laps later. He nearly missed to reduce his speed to 120km/h at the pit lane entry, needed two tenths less for refuelling and nearly hit mechanics of the neighbouring pitcrew by nailing the throttle and sliding his back around. This commitment made him come out again in first position. In the following laps, he easily increased the gap to Alesi and it was clear that only technical problems could stop him. But it was he himself, who took the breath of all the viewers. Like the aforementioned, he touched the tyre stack at the entry of the first chicane. It was some extraterrestrial force, you can say, that made him get away with it. Or simply it was the day of Michael Schumacher. In a pre-start interview with RTL's beloved Kai Ebel, he announced that he and his wife Corinna are going to be parents. It was his first drive in Monza for Ferrari and he profited of several competitors dropping out. Why not then hitting the tyres with no damage.
Nothing and nobody could stop him and a huge crowd celebated him afterwards. Jean Alesi, who has tried for several years to win in Monza for Ferrari and was so close to it, but never succeeded, came in second in the Benetton. Mika Hakkinen came third and finished for the tenth time in this season in the points. Brundle and Barrichello, the two Jordans, came next. Diniz did score the last remaining point and his efforts should be mentioned this time. In this year, he developped from a nameless driver that was in Formula One because of the sponsor dollars of his dad to a driver that has to be respected. Though he took a shortcut through the gravelbed in the first lap, he fought with Herbert and Verstappen for a long time, succeeded and kept a constant distance to the Jordans.
I want to finish with another episode of Kai Ebel's amazing interviews. Before the start he spotted Berger sitting at the side of the track and he was the one for today's magic interview. Kai Ebel asked about the crash in the morning practice and finished the interview with the question by asking what the bandages on Bergers hands are for. Berger answered with a twinkle in his eye: It simply looks good...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 1h40:22.915 182.423 2. Damon Hill GBR 19.966 181.820 3. Michael Schumacher GER 53.765 180.809 4. Jean Alesi FRA 55.109 180.769 5. Eddie Irvine IRL 1:27.389 179.814 6. Gerhard Berger AUT 1:33.141 179.645 7. H.-H. Frentzen GER 1 lap 178.311 8. Johnny Herbert GBR 1 lap 178.215 9. Martin Brundle GBR 1 lap 178.095 10. Olivier Panis FRA 1 lap 177.711 11. Mika Salo FIN 1 lap 177.607 12. Ukyo Katayama JPN 2 laps 176.401 13. David Coulthard SCO 2 laps 175.427 14. Ricardo Rosset BRA 3 laps 173.968 15. Giovanni Lavaggi ITA 5 laps 169.098 16. Pedro Lamy POR 5 laps 168.212 11. Luca Badoer ITA 4 laps 156.800 Not classified: Mika Hakkinen FIN 18 laps 177.494 Jos Verstappen HOL 23 laps 177.112 Pedro Diniz BRA 24 laps 173.720 Rubens Barrichello BRA 29 laps 178.466 Not qualified: All drivers qualified for the race. Fastest lap: Jacques Villeneuve 1:22.873 189.398Hill did not make it! Irvine did it!
Though Hill did take a very good start and Villeneuve lost two places at the start, he could not take advantage of his lead in the beginning of the race. Villeneuve was trapped behind Alesi and Schumacher and in this position, a driver has only two possibilities that could help out of this situation: 1. traffic (This trio came up to lap Lavaggi. Alesi could pass him before the tight uphill chicane and Schumacher was stuck. So the smart German knew that there is no easy and secure way around Lavaggi until the starting straight and wanted to back up slightly just to know that he will not have to brake in the middle of the "Parabolica" corner and that he will be coming at full speed out of the corner with Villeneuve behind him. But the Canadian did not want to play that game. He surprised Schumacher with a courageous move, so they went side by side through the fast corner with Villeneuve on the outside nearly losing it and Schumacher on the inside struggling for speed and grip. Probably Lavaggi came again into play when he gave a little bit of slipstream to Villeneuve, but more likely it was down to the power of the Renault engine that Villeneuve left Schumacher behind him.) 2. pit stops (Alesi obviously lost out with his two stop strategy compared to Villeneuve).
So we found a Villeneuve in the second position who was racing at enormous speed and you could clearly see that he had not given up the battle for this years world championship. Lap per lap he catched up to his teammate until he was within a second to Hill. Then, he again was stuck and he again used possibility two. He made a faster pitstop and came back onto the track right in front of his rival Hill. He pulled away from Hill who secured his second position.
This leaves us with the following situation for the last Grand Prix at Suzuka: Hill leads with 9 points. That means Villeneuve has to win and Hill must not score a point. This sounds to be a quite secure thing for Hill, but what if Hills car will have a failure and the track in Japan does not fit to Schumachers Ferrari, who is the most likely one to interfere in the all Williams battles for Grand Prix victories. Is there anyone to really challenge a troublefree Williams? I think not. So Hill must set his hopes in the reliability of his car and his mental strength :-)
Back to the race in Estoril. The last podium position remained to be fought out. It was won by Schumacher, in fact by Schumachers pit crew. The German drove his Ferrari directly behind the rear wing of Alesis Benetton into the pits and came back out first. Schumacher was clearly faster on the track, but Alesi made one pit stop less, so Schumacher had to make up this additional 30 seconds. Unbelievable but true: Next came Irvine. Yes, he finished!! He showed clearly better performance all weekend long and was rewarded not only with a finish, but with fifth position and two points. Let's hope that Ferrari will involve Irvine more into their testing programme next year and not only rely their main attention to Schumacher. Berger scored the last point in front of the Saubers of Frentzen and Herbert. Lamy was 16th and the last classified driver with five laps down as his team mate Lavaggi. Only that lamy could not get away from the starting grid and had to start with the race being in its second lap.
Remarkable that there was no major crash in this years Grand Prix as everyone can recall the pictures of the last years. Patrese doing a salto mortale at 150 mph on the starting straight after he touched Bergers back wheels, or Katayama flying and spinning through the air above the heads of the other drivers at the start of last years Grand Prix. This year we had only minor bumps with Hakkinen running in the back of his teammate Coulthard at the chicane, Schumacher kissing the back of Alesi and the Frenchman himself missing the pitlane entry and running over the curbs there.
The contract negotiations for next year are being held in these days. Confirmed are Villeneuve and Frentzen for Williams, Schumacher and Irvine for Ferrari, Hakkinen and Coulthard for McLaren, Herbert for Sauber, Panis for Ligier, Ralf Schumacher for Jordan and very likely Jörg Müller for Arrows. Berger and Alesi will stay with Benetton, but you never know. Now it is up to Hill to decide whether he will take a seat in either Jordan (to help Schumacher, the younger one and fight Schumacher the older one) or the new Steward Racing team or whether he will retire from Formula One. Rumours say that Renault wants to keep the world champion and tries to free up a seat for him in the Benetton team, but it is only rumours. So now is the time for you to go and get your sponsor millions to secure your seat in one of the teams...
Name Nat Race Time Speed 1. Damon Hill GBR 1h32:33.791 197.520 2. Michael Schumacher GER 1.883 197.453 3. Mika Hakkinen FIN 3.212 197.405 4. Gerhard Berger AUT 26.526 196.581 5. Martin Brundle GBR 1:07.120 195.161 6. H.-H. Frentzen GER 1:21.186 194.674 7. Olivier Panis FRA 1:24.510 194.559 8. David Coulthard SCO 1:25.233 194.534 9. Rubens Barrichello BRA 1:41.065 193.989 10. Johnny Herbert GBR 1:41.799 193.964 11. Jos Verstappen HOL 1 lap 192.019 12. Pedro Lamy POR 2 laps 189.027 13. Ricardo Rosset BRA 2 laps 187.868 Not classified: Eddie Irvine IRL 13 laps 195.813 Ukyo Katayama JPN 15 laps 190.241 Jacques Villeneuve CAN 16 laps 196.125 Mika Salo FIN 32 laps 190.092 Pedro Diniz BRA 39 laps 191.192 Jean Alesi FRA 52 laps Not qualified: Giovanni Lavaggi ITA Fastest lap: Jacques Villeneuve 1:44.043 202.900
After Villeneuve made a horrible start, only a miracle could help from Hill winning the championship. Villeneuve fought hard to come back, but on the one hand, the other drivers could not be overtaken by him, on the other hand he had a tire coming off the back of his car, so his performance didn't make any difference. And despite everything around him, Hill kept cool, won the race and crowned his career.
Schumacher, the 1995 champion came in second and Hakkinen was third. Berger finished fourth although he had a pit stop more, because of a front wing damage. Brundle was next and Frentzen was able to hand over a goodbye present to his employer, Mr. Sauber, in form of one championship point.
The only major highlights of this race was Villeneuve's bad start and Villeneuve being overtaken by his rear wheel. But nevertheless the bad luck of Villeneuve, Hill without any question deserves the title. He won eight races, he showed a more stable mind compared to last year and he improved his approach to backmarkers that are to be lapped (but still he can improve a lot in this last point). People say that he shows his deficits if he's under pressure and he only won, when he was leading by miles, but I say it is not easy to get in the position of being in the first spot and miles in front of the rivals. This deserves respect. He might not be the best driver, but he is not one of the worst either.
His rival and teammate Villeneuve finished an impressive first season and came very close to winning the title. He is one of the men of the future. Schumachers first year with Ferrari was excactly what he predicted: About three wins, some finishes in the points and a lot of problems. The engine lacked of a couple of horsepower but in contrast to the last years, it was not the centre of Ferraris problems. If they want to score more points in 1997, they have to improve the reliability of the parts around the engine and if they want to fight for the championship, there is nothing else, but dragging more horsepower out of the engine. Lets hope they can start testing before the first race in 1997 and probably even with two cars.
The Benetton team lost ground to Williams compared to last year in two ways: the reliability and the quality of chasis. Their new drivers had problems in this season and often were denied an earned victory (Berger in Hockenheim or Alesi in Monte Carlo). The McLarens did come close to the Benettons and made up ground to the teams ahead, but how did an Autralian rock band say: It's a long way to the top. I don't think they will fight for the title in 97, but probably in 98 when Renault retires and Williams and Benetton have to start a cooperation with a different engine manufacturer (provided that Mercedes stays with them and can improve and provided the drivers develop as well and will be able to test during the winter (remember Hakkinens crash last year in Australia?!)).
The Jordan chasis seemed to be the major deficit of the Jordan team. Although the Peugeot engine delivered overall straight line top speeds above all others, the laptimes were clearly down. They lost ground to the top teams as well as Ligier. Though they had their first win for a long time with Panis winning Monaco this year, they dropped further back this season. Their reliability was promising in the first races, but they only had six finishes in the last nine races. As Ford concentrated more on preparing for the next season, Sauber had a great lack of power all season long. They could have scored more points with a better engine. Tyrrell showed a promising performance in the first races, but with the other teams gaining reliability, they could not score anymore points. With Tom Walkinshaw taking over the lead of the Arrows/Footwork team in the middle of the season, we hoped that could help the team, but if at all, it will be next year.
The Minardi team fought its way through the season with one constant reliable driver and the other seat being taken by four different drivers throughout the season. They should get a reward for their strive, but at least they should find enough sponsors for next year. Forti was struggling with financial problems and had to give up in July. They could not afford taking the risc of damaging cars in untimed sessions and were miles from being competitive.
Next year will see at least one new team. Paul Steward was engaged in the British touring car trophy and now tries to take the step to the top class of motorsport. With Ford on their side, they have a experienced manufacturer, provided Ford is more engaged than this year with Sauber. Lets wait for things to come...
1. Damon Hill GBR 97 pts 2. Jacques Villeneuve CAN 78 pts 3. Michael Schumacher GER 59 pts 4. Jean Alesi FRA 47 pts 5. Mika Hakkinen FIN 31 pts 6. Gerhard Berger AUT 21 pts 7. David Coulthard SCO 18 pts 8. Rubens Barrichello BRA 14 pts 9. Olivier Panis FRA 13 pts 10. Eddie Irvine IRL 11 pts 11. Martin Brundle GBR 8 pts 12. H.-H. Frentzen GER 7 pts 13. Mika Salo FIN 5 pts 14. Johnny Herbert GBR 4 pts 15. Pedro Diniz BRA 2 pts 16. Jos Verstappen HOL 1 pt No points for (best finish in brackets): Ukyo Katayama JPN (7) Giancarlo Fisichella ITA (8) Ricardo Rosset BRA (8) Pedro Lamy POR (9) Andrea Montermini ITA (10) Luca Badoer ITA (10) Giovanni Lavaggi ITA (10) Tarso Marques BRA (-)
1. Williams Renault 175 pts 2. Benetton Renault 70 pts 3. Ferrari 68 pts 4. McLaren Mercedes 49 pts 5. Jordan Peugeot 22 pts 6. Ligier Mugen 15 pts 7. Sauber Ford 11 pts 8. Tyrrell Yamaha 5 pts 9. Footwork Hart 1 pt No points for (best finish in brackets): Minardi Ford (8) Forti Ford (10)
1. Jacques Villeneuve 937 laps 92.4% 2. Mika Hakkinen 899 laps 88.7% 3. Damon Hill 841 laps 82.9% 4. Jean Alesi 814 laps 80.2% 5. Rubens Barrichello 784 laps 77.3% 6. Gerhard Berger 769 laps 75.8% 7. David Coulthard 738 laps 72.8% 8. Olivier Panis 729 laps 71.9% 9. Michael Schumacher 721 laps 71.1% 10. Johnny Herbert 717 laps 70.7% 11. Heinz-Harald Frentzen 711 laps 70.1% 12. Martin Brundle 705 laps 69.5% 13. Mika Salo 693 laps 68.3% 14. Pedro Lamy 645 laps 63.6% 15. Pedro Diniz 617 laps 60.8% 16. Ukyo Katayama 616 laps 60.7% 17. Ricardo Rosset 614 laps 60.6% 18. Eddie Irvine 575 laps 56.7% 19. Jos Verstappen 480 laps 47.3% 20. Luca Badoer 283 laps 67.1% 21. Giancarlo Fisichella 257 laps 48.5% 22. Giovanni Lavaggi 139 laps 69.5% 23. Andrea Montermini 119 laps 41.9% 24. Tarso(sp?) Marques 33 and 3/4 of a lap 23.6%The percentage displays how much of the races they qualified for was completed by the respective drivers.
1. Williams Renault 1778 laps 2. McLaren Mercedes-Benz 1637 laps 3. Benetton Renault 1583 laps 4. Jordan Peugeot 1489 laps 4. Sauber Ford 1428 laps 6. Ligier Mugen 1346 laps 7. Tyrrell Yamaha 1309 laps 8. Ferrari 1296 laps 9. Footwork Hart 1094 laps 10. Minardi Ford 1074 3/4 laps 11. Forti Ford 402 laps