Welcome

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.

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1994 San Marino Grand Prix

1280px-Imola.svg

Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola
1 May 1994

The teams arrived for the third race of the season and the first in Europe with the loyal Tifosi delighted at the pace of the Ferraris so far and even daring to hope for a first win since 1990. Their hero Alesi was still missing, but an Italian in the shape of Nicola Larini was an acceptable substitute – and would hopefully go a little further this time. JJ Lehto was back for Benetton, while the third driver of Jordan number 15 in as many races would be veteran Andrea de Cesaris.

Controversy, too, as Senna had spent the majority of the Pacific GP sitting by the pitwall watching, and had come away convinced from the engine sounds that Schumacher’s Benetton was running some kind of banned electronic engine-management system.


93deces

15. Andrea de Cesaris it

Dropped by the Tyrrell team after his dreadful 1993 campaign in which not only did the team fail to score but he was generally outperformed by Ukyo Katayama, that seemed to be it for the Italian journeyman. However, with Suzuki’s sponsors only interested in backing him in Japan, it was to team old boy de Cesaris that Eddie Jordan turned to cover for the suspended Irvine in Imola and Monaco.

 


San Marino Grand Prix Imola (ITA) 29-01 5 1994

The fast, sweeping Imola circuit would be a test for the twitchy 1994-spec cars and their drivers, and this was underlined in Friday’s first qualifying session when Rubens Barrichello clipped the kerb at Variante Bassa and was launched across the track in mid-air at some 140mph before thudding into a tyre barrier and rolling over. He was treated trackside by medics and flown to hospital. With a broken nose and his arm in plaster, he was back at the track the next day, but far worse was to come. Early on in the Saturday session, Roland Ratzenberger suffered a front wing failure on his Simtek at some 190mph at the Villeneuve curve and slammed head-on into the concrete wall. He too was airlifted to hospital and after the track had been cleared the 94 smr ratzisession was restarted. Some teams including Williams and Benetton decided not to continue, and that evening it was announced that the Austrian rookie had died of his injuries. He was the first driver killed since Elio de Angelis in 1986, and the first killed at a race weekend with all the attendant marshals and medical facilities since Riccardo Paletti and Gilles Villeneuve in 1982.

There was naturally discussion on whether to continue with the race, both at an official level and an individual one. Ayrton Senna was particularly affected by the news – especially as he was a close friend of the injured Barrichello, and broke down in front of FIA Doctor Sid Watkins, who tried to persuade him to take the rest of the weekend off and go fishing. Senna, along with the rest of the paddock – even the shaken Simtek team – decided after much soul-searching that “the show must go on”, and so they lined up on Sunday.

94 smr startSenna took his 65th career pole, and would start alongside Schumacher, with Berger lifting Tifosi hearts with 3rd ahead of Hill. Lehto made his Benetton debut in an excellent 5th with Larini 6th in the second Ferrari. Behind them were Frentzen, Häkkinen, Katayama and Wendlinger making up the top ten. De Cesaris was a disappointed 21st sandwiched by the equally disappointed Lotus team-mates, with David Brabham starting 24th in the Simtek and Gachot 25th in the Pacific. Before his accident, Ratzenberger had set a time good enough for 26th on the grid and the space was left empty out of respect, meaning that Jean-Paul Belmondo and the injured Barrichello were the only drivers not to qualify for the race.

Race day was dry and sunny but the atmosphere was subdued as the cars lined up for the start. The lights went green and away they went – except JJ Lehto who, rusty with his 94 smr lamystarts, stalled. Pedro Lamy arrived unsighted and ploughed into the back of the Benetton at almost full speed, scattering carbon-fibre all over the start-finish straight and sending debris flying over the catch fencing, causing minor injuries to nine spectators before finally coming to rest, two-wheeled, beyond the pit lane exit. To everyone’s relief, the Portuguese driver and the Finn both climbed out of their cars and headed back to the pits. While all this was going on, Senna had taken the lead, followed by Schumacher, Berger, Hill and Frentzen, and with the Safety Car making its third-ever F1 appearance, that was how it would stay for the time being.

94smr safety car

The sheer quantity of carbon-fibre and other debris distributed across the track took the marshals several laps to clear, and with tyre temperatures dropping, the cars were soon weaving back and forth as if on a formation lap. At the end of lap four, however, the Safety Car peeled into the pits and the race was on again. Senna and Schumacher both got the hammer down at the front, the former trying to pull out a lead, the latter trying to keep the gap down. Beginning the second lap after the restart, Senna went straight on at the long, sweeping Tamburello corner and, despite braking hard, hit the wall at some 130mph, once more scattering debris across the track into the path of following drivers. Senna sat motionless in his car and Sid Watkins and co were quickly on the scene. With so many personnel around, the race was red-flagged and the cars returned to the pits.

94 smr senna crash.jpgIt was quickly obvious that Senna was seriously injured and as Watkins and the medical team worked at the trackside, some broadcasters – most notably the BBC, broadcasting to Britain as well as around the world – elected to cut away from the RAI live feed and return to studios or their own pit-lane camera feeds. After ten minutes or so, a miscommunication in the pits sent Érik Comas out onto the track, and he approached the scene at almost full racing speed. Slowed down by frantically-waving marshals, he headed back to the pits, troubled by what he had seen at the site. After fifteen minutes, the medevac helicopter arrived for a third time that weekend to take the Brazilian to hospital and, almost 40 minutes after the accident, the race was restarted. Lap 6 (on which Senna had crashed) was to be deleted from the timings and the race restarted with drivers in the position on the grid that they had been in at the end of lap 5, with the results decided on aggregate times.  Everyone lined up, except for 4th-placed Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who stalled on the getaway for the parade lap and would start from the pits and Comas, who had decided to pull out after seeing the aftermath of Senna’s accident.

Schumacher got away slowly for a change at the restart and Berger leaped into the lead, to the delight of the Tifosi – though he was still well behind Schumacher on timings. The 94 smr berger.jpgGerman was all over the back of the Ferrari, and Hill wasn’t letting either of them go, having a look up the inside of Schumacher at Tosa, only to make contact and lose his front wing, dropping him to the back of the grid and sending him in for a new nose. So, on the track Berger led an attacking Schumacher as the pair pulled away from new third-placed man Häkkinen, who was in turn being chased by Larini. A few laps later, Schumacher made his way past Berger, only to make a pit-stop soon after, on lap 14. Berger followed him in two laps later. He shot out of the pitlane, slotting in just ahead of Schumacher. All of which meant that Mika Häkkinen led the race on aggregate, especially when Berger pulled in to retire. Officially, there was “something loose”, but between the death of his young countryman and the life-threatening injuries to his good friend Senna, his heart simply wasn’t in it today.  It seemed indeed that the weekend was simply fated, when Alboreto made a tyre stop on lap 48 in his Minardi and left with his left-rear not fully attached. The tyre immediately parted ways with the car and rolled into the Ferrari and Lotus crews, badly hurting two of each mechanics.

94 smr schuSoon enough, it was Häkkinen’s turn to stop, putting Schumacher back into the lead on timings, and from there on it became another foregone conclusion, particularly as there seemed understandably little appetite for racing in most cockpits. Häkkinen’s underpowered Peugeout couldn’t live with the Benetton’s light fuel load on a three-stop strategy and he fell back, losing second to Larini at their second stops.

Schumacher cruised to his third win on the bounce, with Larini finishing an excellent second, touring back to the pits with a massive Ferrari flag on his slowing-down lap. Häkkinen was third, despite his slower pace nearly leading him to lose the place to a rapid Wendlinger. Katayama scored another two points for fifth, and Damon Hill salvaged a point for Williams after making his way up from the back of the field.

There were no celebrations on the podium with even the usually effervescent Schumacher looking subdued, after what had already been the worst meeting in F1 for some time. It became a truly black weekend, perhaps the worst of all so far, when a couple of hours after the race it was announced that Ayrton Senna was dead. The time of death indicated that he had been killed instantly when his car hit the wall. The news sent shockwaves around the sport and in the weeks to come before the Monaco Grand Prix there would be much to discuss. In the meantime, though, a numbed sport paid tribute to one of its greatest of all time.

94 smr podium


Drivers’ Championship

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Michael Schumacher 30
2= Rubens Barrichello 7
2= Damon Hill 7
4= Gerhard Berger 6
4= Nicola Larini 6
6= Jean Alesi 4
6= Ukyo Katayama 4
6= Karl Wendlinger 4
6= Mika Häkkinen 4
6= Karl Wendlinger 4
10 Christian Fittipaldi/td> 3
11 Érik Comas 1

Constructors’ Championship

POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Benetton-Ford 30
2 Ferrari 16
3= Jordan-Hart 7
3= Williams-Renault 7
5 Sauber-Mercedes 6
6= Tyrrell-Yamaha 4
6= McLaren-Peugeot 4
8 Footwork-Ford 3
9 Larrousse-Ford 1

 

 

1994 Pacific Grand Prix

Tanaka InternationalTanaka International Circuit, Aida
17 April 1994

The Tanaka International Circuit was built in the late 1980s by golf club owner Hajime Tanaka and opened in 1990 as a private circuit for track days, private events and the like. However, with the massive popularity of Formula One in Japan, several circuit owners like Tanaka had become interested in the idea of hosting a race. The owners of the Autopolis circuit on the southern island of Kyushu had pressed heavily, even appearing on the Benetton’s sidepods in 1990-91 – however, the circuit was rural and far from the hotels needed to house the travelling circus, not to mention the fans. So it was the TI Circuit at Aida, in Okayama prefecture on the main island of Honshu that won the right to host an extra race in Japan. With the designation Pacific Grand Prix – the first time this had been applied to an F1 race, though a couple of sportscar races at Laguna Seca in the 60s had had the title – it was the first time Japan 94 pac larroussehad hosted two races.

The Larrousse team were sporting a striking new paint-job: a quartered red and white design to promote their sponsor’s Kronenbourg 1664 brand, and two drivers present in Brazil would not be driving at the new circuit. Eddie Irvine – already under a cloud after the Japan incident – had been suspended for one race after being found at fault for the four-way smash in Brazil. Eddie Jordan appealed, and the FIA, rather petulantly, increased the penalty to three races. So the Jordan team’s wish for driver consistency was out of the window already, but veteran Aguri Suzuki was available and would drive the car. Meanwhile, Jean Alesi had had a big off in post-Brazil testing and would miss the race while he recovered. In his place would sit test-driver Nicola Larini: by far the best car the Italian had ever driven in a race. Could he make the most of his chance?


94 Suzuki15. Aguri Suzuki jp

After the evaporation of the Japanese Footwork money at the former Arrows team, Aguri’s results hadn’t been sufficient to justify a contract extension on their own and he was shown the door, but too late to find a new drive – and with the Japanese economy increasingly suffering the aftershocks of the 1990 financial crisis, he might find things difficult in the near future. He will be hoping to put himself in the shop window on home turf with the much-improved Jordan.


nicola-larini27. Nicola Larini 

Nicola last had a regular F1 drive in 1991 with the Modena-Lamborghini team, and ever since he has been Ferrari’s official test driver. Two races replacing the hapless Ivan Capelli at Ferrari in 1992 didn’t allow him to shine given the dreadful car, but another two replacing the injured Alesi might help his case: the 1994 Ferrari seems on current evidence to be a pretty reasonable machine. He’s been looking good too in the German Touring Car series for another of Fiat’s subsidiaries, Alfa Romeo.


Larini dropped himself in it almost immediately, however. After the first practice session, he let it slip that the Ferrari team had been using (illegal) traction control in both the post-Brazil testing and in practice. While there was no suggestion that the Scuderia was running illegal cars in the races, it raised questions as to who else was pushing the rules. Other than that, it was remarkably incident-free for a new circuit. It was tight, high-downforce and challenging: “Monaco without the walls” it had been called. When Saturday’s session saw warmer, slower track conditions, it was Friday’s times that decided the grid, and that meant Senna on pole once again with Schumacher alongside. Hill and Häkkinen were on row two, the Finn delighted with his improved performance. Berger was fifth and an equally happy Brundle sixth, Larini a highest-ever 7th. Barrichello, Fittipaldi and Verstappen made up the top ten, with the Saubers a disappointed 11th (Frentzen) and 19th (Wendlinger) and the Loti an even more disappointed 23rd (Herbert) and 24th (Lamy) after their good showing in Brazil. At the back were David Brabham and an ecstatic Roland Ratzenberger, achieving his dream of a Grand Prix start at last. This meant that both Pacifics would miss their eponymous race.

In front of packed grandstands, the field lined up on a windy but clear Sunday. The red lights turned green and it was Schumacher – who had been practicing starts since getting 94 pac senna crashaway badly in Brazil – who got away best, while Senna fishtailed a little and lost pace. Going into the first corner, Häkkinen, who had got ahead of Hill, nudged Senna ever so lightly, but enough to send the nervously-handling Williams spinning off the track into the gravel, where he was promptly t-boned by a wide-running Larini, putting both out of the race, while Blundell was also tipped into a spin by Comas while the pack tried to avoid Senna. All of which put Schumacher in a 2.7s lead at the end of lap 1, with Häkkinen and Hill scrapping over second behind him, Berger fourth another 3 seconds or so back, then another couple of seconds to a fifth-placed battle between Barrichello and Brundle.

Hill was pushing hard to take second from Häkkinen – too hard, for on lap 4 there was contact again and the Williams spun down to 9th place, with Hill ending up behind Jos Verstappen in the second Benetton with it all to do on this circuit with limited passing opportunities. He got right on the case, though, passing Verstappen on lap six, then Frentzen a lap later, then Fittipaldi on the next lap. By lap 12 he was past Brundle for fifth, then Barrichello for fourth a lap after that, leaving the Jordan and McLaren to resume their scrap. Before long a charging Hill was right behind third-placed Berger and trying everything he could to pass the wily Austrian veteran.

On lap 18, Häkkinen was the first of the frontrunners to come in for a pit stop, but thanks to a loss of hydraulic pressure in his gearbox the engine stalled and took some time 94 pac hill pitgetting back on the track – Hill made his own stop at the same time and both returned to the track together in 10th and 11th places. Not for long though – the McLaren’s hydraulic system lost all pressure two laps later and Häkkinen toured off. A couple of laps later it was Schumacher’s turn to come in from the lead: an 8s stop and he returned to the road still in a commanding 25s lead, which increased further when Berger pitted himself, putting Barrichello in the dizzying heights of second until he himself came in, at which point Hill was finally back up to second, a huge 42s behind after just 32 laps but charging.

On lap 42, Hill made his second stop, emerging just ahead of Berger. With the Briton on cold tyres, the Austrian made a push but despite his persistence he couldn’t get past before Hill’s tyres warmed up and that appeared to be that – Schumacher held a commanding lead, Hill was no longer being threatened by Berger but couldn’t make any impression on the German, and Barrichello and Brundle were fighting over fourth some way behind. That was until Hill’s transmission went “phut” on lap 50, putting him out: for the first time since Adelaide 1992 the Williams team would not be taking any points home.

With Berger now second, the Barrichello/Brundle scrap which was now over a podium position was the best viewing on the track – the youngest driver on the track against one

94 pac schu

of the oldest, both with much to prove. Barrichello had drawn away a little when Berger made a second stop and he went through into second place, before making his own stop on lap 62 – only to stall his car in his eagerness to get away and see his first podium place evaporate. But only for six laps, because at that point Martin Brundle rolled to a halt with an overheated Peugeot engine.

And that really was that. Schumacher cruised home to take his fourth career win, with Berger second 1m15s behind and Barrichello – a lap down – taking his first-ever podium place. Christian Fittipaldi was fourth in the still excellent-looking Footwork, followed by Frentzen picking up his first points in fifth and Comas sixth in the Larrousse with the Loti of Herbert and Lamy just out of the points in 7th and 8th, with Bernard’s Ligier 9th and Roland Ratzenberger delightedly finishing his first race, albeit last and five laps down.

After two races, it was beginning to look like Williams’ dominance had been broken – but surely Senna would soon settle in and fight back against Schumacher.

94 pac podium


Drivers’ Championship

 

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Michael Schumacher 20
2 Rubens Barrichello 7
3= Damon Hill 6
3= Gerhard Berger 6
5 Jean Alesi 4
5= Ukyo Katayama 2
5= Heinz-Harald Frentzen 2
7= Karl Wendlinger 1
7= Érik Comas 1

Constructors’ Championship

POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Benetton-Ford 20
2 Ferrari 10
3 Jordan-Hart 7
4 Williams-Renault 6
5= Sauber-Mercedes 3
5= Footwork-Ford 3
7 Tyrrell-Yamaha 2
8 Larrousse-Ford 1

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

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
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

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

 

 

Pacific-Ilmor

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.

Simtek-Ford

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.

Sauber-Mercedes

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.

Ferrari

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.