Hello and welcome to Turbos and Tantrums, an attempt to tell the story of modern Formula One, which for various reasons expanded on in the introduction I have declared to begin with the 1981 season – largely because you’ve got to start somewhere.

For each season, I’ll start with a review of the teams and drivers competing in the new season, and proceed through each race chronologially, making an attempt to avoid writing with hindsight or anticipating events yet to come. No “the first of many victories to come” or “this would turn out to be his last victory in F1 even though he continued driving for several years”. Just the story of the season unfolding as it did at the time.

The aim, such as it is, is to look at the narrative of the ongoing seasons. Although we may know who won the championship in a given year, it may surprise some and come as a nice reminder to others the way in which that was achieved, the characters and “sub-plots” woven through the main championship battles and so on.


1994 Brazilian Grand Prix

220px-Circuit_Interlagos.svgAutódromo José Carlos Pace, Interlagos
27 March 1994

Ayrton Senna had won his home race unexpectedly in 1993, driving a masterful tactical race while Alain Prost got it all wrong. And how here he was in Williams blue instead of McLaren red, driving what was expected to be the best car out there once more: expectations in Sao Paulo could hardly have been higher. For the rest of the world’s media, there was a sense of eager anticipation to see how all the changes over the winter would play out on the track.

JJ Lehto had injured his neck in a pre-season testing accident, so he would have to wait to make his Benetton debut; instead, Dutch test-driver Jos Verstappen 94 brz berettawas given his big break; he would hope to make the most of it. He would join Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Roland Ratzenberger and Oliviers Panis and Beretta in making their first F1 appearances. Elsewhere, the Larrousse team arrived with a different version of their livery (left) from the launch: now predominantly green with no red at all, while McLaren’s fly-by-wire throttle was ruled illegal and they had to hurriedly fit a cable throttle, causing the team and drivers all sorts of problems.

94 verstappen6. Jos Verstappen nl

Born in the far south of the Netherlands, Jos karted from an early age and won his first title at just 12. In 1991 he moved into car racing, beginning with Formula Opel Lotus. He won his debut season and was signed by Dutch Formula 3 outfit Van Amersfoort Racing. During the European winter season, he flew around the world to race in New Zealand before returning to win the German F3 title in 1993. That success was rewarded with a Footwork test at Estoril alongside Christian Fittipaldi and Gil de Ferran, and he seized the opportunity, lapping fast enough to have qualified tenth for the Portuguese Grand Prix. Every single F1 team except Williams and Ferrari promptly got in touch to enquire about availability, and he signed terms with Benetton as their official test driver. With Lehto out, he makes his F1 debut just short of his 24th birthday.


94 brz sennaThe home fans were rewarded with a cracking battle for pole position between their hero and Michael Schumacher, whose new Benetton looked very quick indeed. In the end, though, it was Senna who prevailed by 0.3s to take his first Williams pole, with Schumacher alongside. Jean Alesi was third in the new Ferrari – very encouraging for the Maranello team, but still over a second off Schumacher’s time, with a flu-struck Hill fourth after losing Friday’s times when his cockpit fire extinguisher went off. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was a magnificent fifth in his first-ever race, and alongside him was an equally magnificent Gianni Morbidelli showing he’d lost none of his speed in his year off, and furthermore that the new Footwork was rather nippy too. Wendlinger was seventh in the second Sauber, then Häkkinen, Verstappen and Katayama rounding out the top ten. Berger and Brundle were down in 17th and 18th places after both experiencing a raft of technical troubles, and the back row of the grid was made up of Gachot’s Pacific and Brabham’s Simtek, with their respective team-mates Belmondo and Ratzenberger failing to qualify. Of the other new boys, the Oliviers were 19th (Panis) and 23rd (Beretta).

94 brz startWith clouds gathering and rain forecast, the cars lined up on Sunday in front of the usual bumper crowds. When the green lights went on, off they went – Senna got a great start to keep the lead, but Schumacher was a little sluggish off the line, losing second to Alesi and having to fend off Hill. Further back, Berger got a cracking start to jump from 17th to 9th at the first corner, as did Häkkinen to split the two Saubers. Further back, on lap two, Eric Bernard had a spin and, in taking avoiding action, Olivier Beretta and Bertrand Gachot collided, putting both out.

As Senna stretched out a lead, Schumacher challenged Alesi for second place and there was a fine fight for several laps until the German finally got past, aggressively chopped off Alesi’s attempt to come back, and set off to close the now 4s gap to Senna. Although he managed to quickly pull out a 4s gap of his own back to Alesi, he couldn’t make any 94 brz hakkimpression on Senna.  The front three were spread out, but Hill in fourth now had Häkkinen and the two Saubers right on his gearbox. Now Schumacher got his foot down again, posting fastest laps on lap 5 and 6 to close to within 2.5s, only for Senna to respond and pull back out again – while Berger’s excellent start was all for naught as his engine gave up on lap 6, as did the equally-impressive Morbidelli’s gearbox. On lap 14, it was Mika Häkkinen’s turn to pull 94 brz blundellin to the pits with a dead engine – more work for the Peugeot technicians to do.

By lap 16, the first of the early pit-stoppers were coming in: Brundle, Wendlinger, Alesi, Verstappen (who blotted his copybook by stalling), Irvine – but Senna and Schumacher stayed out, the Benetton sliding around as Michael drove on the ragged edge to try and get to grips with Senna. By lap 20, he was right up behind, and on the next lap, both cars came diving into the pits together – and once again it was the Williams crew who came off second best: Schumacher came back on the circuit in the lead, with Senna rejoining just in front of a lapped Verstappen. By the end of the next lap, Schumacher was over 2.5s ahead, despite having to dodge debris left all over the track when Mark Blundell’s Tyrrell wheel fell off at speed when he was running sixth. Hill hadn’t stopped and was a rather lonely third, with Alesi fourth, Katayama fifth and Martini sixth – some impressive running from the Tyrrell and Minardi-BMS teams, though they soon lost the places again once they made their stops.

With Blundell’s bodywork finally cleared from the track after several hairy laps, things settled down a little at the front as Schumacher began to pull out a commanding lead, 94 brz crashbut there was an cracking battle going on over 5th place between Wendlinger and Barrichello. Attention was focussed further back on lap 34, when Irvine moved to lap Eric Bernard just as Verstappen tried to overtake both. Verstappen was forced wide, put two wheels on the grass, then slewed back across the track, collecting both the Jordan and Ligier and side-swiping Martin Brundle’s McLaren into the bargain. The stricken Benetton launched into the air, barrel-rolled, landed on its three remaining wheels and slithered to a stop in the gravel trap. It was a scary-looking accident but mercifully nobody was hurt, although once again there was carbon-fibre scattered across the track.

94 brz schuOn lap 39, Damon Hill made his sole stop of the race and was lapped by Schumacher in the process, and a few laps later Senna was in for his second, followed by Schumacher the following lap – once again, Benetton did the better pit work and the gap extended to 9s. Senna now had it all to do on the track and would be giving it 100% in front of his home fans (and new employers). With 19 laps to go he had the gap down to 5.5s, but Schumacher responded and brought it back up to 6.3s – the Benetton clearly in control and it looked as if Senna would have to accept second place.

Accept it he would not, though, and was pushing as hard as ever when, on lap 55, he pushed too hard, overcooked it, spun and stalled. He was out of the race, and Schumacher had a clear run to the finish, a lap ahead of the rest of the field and all he 94 brz senna walkshad to do was maintain his concentration and not break down. As the fans began streaming out of the stadium, the racing seemed to fizzle out too, and Schumacher was able to cruise to his third Grand Prix win, with Hill a distant second, Alesi third. Rubens Barrichello took a fine fourth place – his best-ever finish and as many points as Jordan got in all of 1993. Equally encouraging was Ukyo Katayama’s fifth place, two points on the board for Tyrrell after a pointless ’93, and Karl Wendlinger picked up the last point for Sauber. The remaining drivers finishing were Herbert, Martini, Comas, Lamy, Panis and Brabham – the Simtek driver four laps down but fulfilling his pre-race target of simply finishing.

94 brz podium

Six teams in the top six and plenty of talking points from the race: Benetton’s pace had surprised most: not that they were fast, but that they seemed to have the mighty Williams-Renaults well in hand. It looked as if a tasty Schumacher-Senna title battle was in the offing for the rest of the season, with Ferrari also looking like they might be getting back to some sort of form.


Drivers’ Championship

1 Michael Schumacher 10
2 Damon Hill 6
3 Jean Alesi 4
4 Rubens Barrichello 3
5 Ukyo Katayama 2
6 Karl Wendlinger 1

Constructors’ Championship

1 Benetton-Ford 10
2 Williams-Renault 6
3 Ferrari 4
4 Jordan-Hart 3
5 Tyrrell-Yamaha 2
6 Sauber-Mercedes 1




94 pacific

Keith Wiggins founded Pacific in 1984 as a Formula Ford team with Marlboro backing and Reynard cars, and won their inaugural seasons in both European and Benelux FF series with Norwegian driver Harald Huysman. Moving into British FF2000, they next ran Bertrand Gachot and again won the title at their first attempt, with two more titles for JJ Lehto in 1987 in Formula Ford and in F3 in 1988. Having won everything they’d entered so far, Wiggins moved the team straight up into F3000, still with the Marlboro/Reynard package, and signed Eddie Irvine alongside Lehto. Results were harder to come by in F3000 but after a couple of rough years, 1991 again saw Pacific on top – this time it was Christian Fittipaldi at the wheel. 1992 was another lean year, but by then Wiggins had already decided to make the step up into F1. Although sponsor trouble delayed his entry until 1994 – with young Scot David Coulthard driving a Pacific to fourth overall in 1993’s F3000 series – this may prove a blessing in disguise as the team will benefit from the electronics ban.

With talented alumnus Gachot making a welcome return to F1 racing, nobody expects them to win the title at the first time of asking, but there’s considerable excitement to see what they can do.

94 belmondo33. Paul Belmondo fr

Belmondo was last seen in F1 in the first half of 1992 driving the difficult March-Ilmor, and mostly serving as a yardstick by which Karl Wendlinger’s talent was measured. Despite his lack of success, the son of a film star has managed to raise finances for another crack at the big time, and has been filling his time driving sports car and endurance racing with about as much success as he found in F1.

94 gachot34. Bertrand Gachot fr

Gachot has never quite lived up to his promise, thanks not least to consistently finding himself in uncompetitive cars – EuroBrun, Onyx, Coloni. He showed what he could do in the 1991 Jordan before his moment of madness in that London taxi, and paid the penance with a 1992 season in the dreadful Venturi-Larrousse. Rather than take yet another backmarker drive in 1993, he opted to join the new Pacific Grand Prix outfit and help them prepare for their assault on Formula One.


94 Simtek

Simtek – “Simulation Technology” – originated as an engineering consultancy firm founded by Nick Wirth and Max Mosley and, initially working out of Wirth’s garage, began by working on a chassis for BMW’s ultimately abandoned 1990 F1 programme. Simtek also began running BMW’s touring car squad, and by the time Max Mosley sold his share to take up the post as President of the FIA in 1992 the old BMW F1 chassis had been updated and sold to Andrea Moda, while the firm had dabbled in CART, Group C sportscars and F3000. Another opportunity to enter F1 came along in the shape of the putative Bravo team, but the principal died before anything could be done. When the FIA announced the ban on expensive electronic driver aids for 1994, Nick Wirth and his team saw the chance to enter F1 under their own name. Securing the investment of the great Sir Jack Brabham, whose son David would become the team’s lead driver, the team needed a second driver to pay the bills. Andrea de Cesaris and F3000 ace Gil de Ferran were heavily backed, as was Jean-Marc Gounon who was unavailable but in the end the seat went to mature Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger.

94 brabham31. David Brabham au

Sir Jack’s youngest son had last been seen in Formula One in 1990, driving for his dad’s old team without much success. Dropped at the end of the year, he had swapped places with Martin Brundle, moving to the TWR Jaguar sportscar team as well as entering a number of other sportscar and endurance events, including winning the Spa 24h race with Nissan. He will be looking forward to making a return to F1, and hoping for better results this time.


94 Ratzenberger32. Roland Ratzenberger at

Salzburg native Ratzenberger first came to wider notice outside German Formula Ford when he entered the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch in 1986 – and the similarity of his name to popular youth TV character Roland Rat helped him gain local notice and move to the UK to progress his career. However, success in single-seaters proved elusive and he found more joy in BTCC and endurance racing. In 1990 he moved to Japan in the hopes of kick-starting his single-seater career, finishing 7th overall in 1992’s F3000 championship. By this time he was seen as somewhat “over the hill”, but was nonetheless able to raise enough funds for a five-race deal with Simtek. At 33, this is unlikely to lead to a long F1 career, but he seems delighted just to be here.


94 Sauber

The Sauber squad are widely held to be playing the part of John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way for Mercedes Benz. The connection is less shady and more explicit this year, with the German marque’s name on the Ilmor-built engine and a driver line-up of two of the three musketeers of the early-90s Mercedes sportscar team. The team’s debut year went well enough, with reliability the main factor behind not scoring more often. The new car, the C13, is still a little light on sponsors – financial magazine Broker are the title sponsor but they will be hoping to attract more – but it looks neat enough and if the team do as well as they should, it will help immensely in balancing the books

94 Merc Boys

29. Karl Wendlinger at (left)

Often described as the most talented of the Wendlinger-Schumacher-Frentzen trio, Karl hasn’t had the breaks that Michael has, but will be hoping that his Sauber team are on an upward trajectory with the help of his old Mercedes employers. Wendlinger out-scored Lehto in 1993, though he rarely blew him away – a reflection of JJ’s talent – and he seemed to improve as the season went on. He never quite managed to haul the car onto the podium as he had with the March in 1992, but his results were consistent.

30. Heinz-Harald Frentzen de (right)

Mönchengladbach is known for the exploits of its football team in the 1970s and 80s but young Heinz-Harald was only interested in racing. He was clearly talented early on, winning the German Junior Kart title at 14 in 1981. With his father running the team and acting as his manager. Next was Formula Ford 2000 in 1986, followed by joining Jochen Mass’ Formula Opel Lotus team in 1988. Rookie champion, he moved straight on to F3 where the German national motorsports committee supported him and Schumacher in response to Bernie Ecclestone’s push to encourage more Germans into F1. Frentzen and Schumacher had several bad-tempered clashes on their way to joint second place to that man Wendlinger in the final standings. 1990 saw HHF joining Eddie Jordan racing in Formula 3000 and partnering Eddie Irvine. Results were poor, but he had more success in his “hobby” drive for the Mercedes sportscar team. Finally, for 1994 he will become the last of the three men to make his F1 debut.


94 Ferrari

Surely a contender for one of the most beautiful Ferrari F1 cars ever built, the 412T1 might also turn out to be one of the most important. Fans and bosses alike are surely losing patience with the team’s apparent inability to overcome its doldrums and get back to winning. The man tasked with turning it around is Jean Todt, who has now been in the job half a year and the 1994 season will be judged on how well he has succeeded. As things stand, regular visits to the podium would count as an improvement but what the fans really want is wins. Can Ferrari finally start delivering them again?

94 alesi27. Jean Alesi fr

The last few years have not been kind to Jean, who undoubtedly has the talent to be winning races and could even have had a championship by now if he’d joined Williams back in 1991. However, if he regrets joining Ferrari, he’s never shown it either off the track or on it, where he never gives less than 100%. The Tifosi have taken their “new Villeneuve” to their collective bosom and even the most flinty-hearted neutral would like to see such a talented driver break his duck.


94 berger28. Gerhard Berger at

The lanky Austrian has needed all his famous good humour to deal with the switch from the efficient, organised McLaren to the hot mess that is Ferrari’s internal politics. Fortunately for him, he knows the score and concentrates on getting his head down and enjoying the racing. By now one of the sport’s elder statesmen, he has lost none of his speed or hunger to win, and will hope to be the one to bring success back to the Scuderia after the lean years.


94 ligier

Ligier in 1993 had one of their best seasons in a long while, but over the winter everything seemed to fall apart – new owner Cyril de Rouvre was imprisoned on fraud charges, and Tom Walkinshaw was actively trying to buy the team out in order to transfer their Renault engine contract to his Benetton team. With both drivers getting out of dodge, the team were left to pick up the pieces as best they could. The good news was that they retained their engines and will field a revised version of the successful JS39 chassis. The team have also reverted to their usual Francophone driver policy, with Eric Bernard making a popular return after two years off, joined by F3000 champion Olivier Panis

94 bernard25. Eric Bernard fr

It’s been a long road back to F1 for Eric Bernard after breaking his leg badly in 1991. 1992 saw him slowly regaining fitness and returning to racing, and his backing from Elf petrol helped him get the Ligier testing job in 1993. With thousands of miles of development on the JS39 car, the team’s straitened circumstances meant he was an ideal contender for the race seat when it became available.

94 panis26. Olivier Panis fr

Born in the outskirts of Lyon, young Olivier took the tried and tested route for young French drivers coming in to F1; through karts and French Formula 3 to International Formula 3000. In his first season in 1992, his Apomatox car was unreliable and he only finished twice, but in 1993 a move to the successful DAMS team saw a cracking battle with Pedro Lamy for the title, with Panis coming out on top by just one point.

Minardi Scuderia Italia-Ford

94 minardi

And so begins a new chapter in the little Italian team’s history – becoming a slightly bigger Italian team by merging with the Scuderia Italia squad. Great care seems to have been taken to present the team as an equal partnership, from the new name (though the Constructor is officially Minardi, which will undoubtedly be what everyone calls them) to the new livery, studiously avoiding the black/yellow/white of Minardi and the red/white of Scuderia Italia. One driver from each component team was selected – in both cases the older, more experienced of the two, with Luca Badoer taking over testing duties.

The team begin the season with the M193B, revised for the new technical regulations, with Minardi’s Aldo Costa and Scuderia Italia’s Gustav Brunner co-operating on a new car for later in the season. The optics look good, but how well with the teams meld, and will the partnership bear fruit?

94 martini23. Pierluigi Martini it

Pint-sized Pierluigi started 1993 without a drive, but was able to benefit from Fabrizio Barbazza’s financial woes to return to his old team for a third stint. Over the years he has become known as “Mr Minardi” and he never seems to be fazed by the team’s permanent penury and lack of form – while always the best bet to take advantage of any upturn in the team’s fortunes. There can be few more appropriate drivers to lead the team into their new situation.


94 alboreto24. Michele Alboreto it

His Ferrari days seem a long time ago now, and the unfortunate Michele seems to have had nothing but bad luck ever since, between losing his Tyrrell drive over sponsorship and going from the frying-pan of Footwork into the fire of Lola BMS. At 38, he must be looking at wrapping up his career soon, but will be hoping that the new Minardi outfit gives him the opportunity to do so on a high note.