All posts by Matt

1994 Spanish Grand Prix

Catalunya1994Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona
29 May 1994

The accidents just kept on coming. Pedro Lamy had a serious crash in a private test session at Silverstone, breaking both legs and wrists, and demolishing his car. He would be replaced by returnee Alessandro Zanardi, while the Lotus team were furious at what they saw as the over-hasty new downforce-reducing regulations causing his rear-wing failure. Zanardi’s team-mate Johnny Herbert was debuting the new Lotus 109 but the team were not optimistic.

Elsewhere, Williams test driver David Coulthard stepped up to occupy the number 2 Williams, Italian Andrea Montermini took Ratzenberger’s place in the Simtek team, Eddie Irvine returned from suspension and Sauber continued with a single car for Heinz-Harald Frentzen – but announced that a delighted Andrea de Cesaris would substitute for a recovering Wendlinger from Canada. Finally, the Larrousse team were back in their yellow and green Tourtel branding after three races in the striking Kronenbourg colours.

94 coulthard.jpg

2. David Coulthard gb

The young Scot was interested in motorsport from an early age, and was bought a kart for his 11th birthday by his father. He achieved instant success on the Scottish and British scenes before transitioning in 1989 to Formula Ford and was the first winner of the McLaren/Autosport “Young Driver of the Year” award. In 1991 he moved to Paul Stewart Racing in F3 and finished runner-up to Rubens Barrichello in his debut season as well as winning the prestigious Macau Grand Prix. F3000 beckoned for 1992, though his debut season was less successful – in 1993 he joined the Pacific team, taking one win on his way to third as well as the Williams testing contract with Damon Hill’s promotion. He began 1994 with the Vortex F3000 team but after just one race the call from Frank Williams came to race in Barcelona.

zanardi11. Alessandro Zanardi it

Alex’s recovery from his 1993 accident was still not complete at the start of the 1994 season and he would have been frustrated to lose his Lotus seat to Pedro Lamy. Although he would not wish to recover it in this way, he will be keen to take the opportunity to get his F1 career back on track. But has he lost any pace, and will the cash-strapped Lotus team have the resources to show him at his best advantage.

Related image32. Andrea Montermini it

Montermini came relatively late to racing, only starting in Formula Alfa Boxer at the ripe old age of 23. Maybe this hurt his prospects – at any rate, despite success he found it difficult to get sponsors and scraped together deal after deal to get himself into F3000 in 1990 with Madgwick International. A few podiums but even more retirements in 1990 and 1991 followed before a first win for Il Barone Rampante at Barcelona in 1992. For 1993 he moved into CART racing for four races with Euromotorsport, taking fourth in Detroit but retiring from the rest. With the vacancy at Simtek he has managed to find some sponsorship to pay for a couple of races.


With the new lower-downforce regulations in force, drivers were complaining that the cars seemed even more skittish than before – particularly prone to the back stepping out under braking and the newly reformed GPDA flexed its muscles by demanding – and getting – some temporary tyre chicanes before high-speed corners on the Barcelona track. They looked ugly, and driver spent much of practice and qualifying sessions getting used to not hitting them, but most appreciated their necessity. Friday’s session 94 spa monterminiwas slower, with the drivers still getting their settings dialled in (many having boycotted Friday morning’s first session pre-chicane) for the new regulations and learning the track, so it came down to Saturday. In the morning warm-up, Montermini put a wheel on the grass on the last corner and lost it, smashing into the wall and demolishing the Simtek. As everyone looked on, horrified, the Italian was gingerly extricated from his car and airlifted to hospital. To immense relief, he had nothing worse than a broken ankle but would clearly take no further part.

To nobody’s great surprise, Michael Schumacher was on pole once again, just under 0.7s faster than Damon Hill, with Häkkinen third alongside fellow Finn Lehto in his best-ever grid slot. Barrichello put his Jordan in an excellent fifth place (highest ever for both driver and team), followed by the Ferraris of Alesi and Berger. Brundle was 8th in the williams more 94 6.tifsecond McLaren, with debutant Coulthard 9th alongside Ukyo Katayama’s Tyrrell. Irvine was 13th on his return in the second Jordan, Zanardi was 23rd alongside Herbert, and with Montermini’s absence and only one Sauber, both Pacifics qualified for the race – a boon for Paul Belmondo, who was nearly two seconds behind team-mate Gachot and some 8.7s off Schumacher’s pole time.

On a glorious Sunday afternoon in Barcelona, the 26 cars lined up, buoyed by the news that Karl Wendlinger was on the mend and hoping to transfer soon to a hospital closer to home in Innsbruck. Olivier Beretta’s Ford engine gave up the ghost during the formation lap, so 25 cars took the start. Schumacher got a great start and went into the lead, with Hill fractionally slower and having to defend his second place from Häkkinen while Berger and Barrichello banged wheels, dropping the Austrian back to 12th and the Brazilian to seventh behind Alesi, Lehto and a fast-starting Coulthard.

Schumacher was already disappearing into the distance, pulling away at a second a lap 94 spa alesi lehto coult chicanefrom Hill and Häkkinen, with a three-way battle developing between Alesi, Lehto and Coulthard. Further back, there were more early casualties as Belmondo spun off on lap 3 and Alboreto’s engine failed on lap 5. The Hill/Häkkinen battle ended in the Briton’s favour when the McLaren came in on lap 15, the first of the stoppers on a three-stop strategy which dropped him to 12th. He was followed in on the next lap by Coulthard, who stalled his engine four times before finally getting away a lap down – inexperience? No, an electronic glitch in his clutch software – but a good debut from the Scot otherwise.

Hill came in and left the pits behind Häkkinen, but there was no trouble for Schumacher who had a lead of some 18s when he came in – but when he left, he seemed to have Michael Schumacher Storytrouble getting up to speed, with backmarkers Herbert and Bernard swarming past. His gearbox was stuck in fifth, and he wasn’t able to accelerate very fast out of the corners. Soon, Häkkinen was past into the lead with Damon following suit on lap 24. Mika held the lead for 11 laps, before coming in for his second stop, and rejoining third behind Hill and a persistent Schumacher, still lapping within a tenth of the leader having found himself a line on the track which minimised the impact of his lack of gears.

Coulthard’s debut ended on lap 33 when he came into the garage to retire with 94 spa hakkairretrievable gearbox problems, and the race settled down for a while, with a game of pitstop chess being played. Schumacher recovered the lead when Hill made his second stop, but how would he manage to pit himself with only fifth gear to pull away in? We’d soon find out because he and Häkkinen came in together on lap 45. Schumacher seemed to have no problem pulling away but with Hill now leading, he had the McLaren now just 3.5s behind and bearing down on him. Lehto was running well in fourth, with Brundle fifth and Blundell sixth, with a frustrated Alesi back in seventh.

Suddenly on lap 49, a white plume emerged from the back of Häkkinen’s McLaren and he pulled over, promoting his countryman Lehto to third, too far back to realistically challenge for third unless something happened to Michael, now driving within himself to keep it on the road. In fact, he definitely wouldn’t, because just four laps later the other Finn was pulling in to the Benetton pit with a broken Ford. So now Brundle was third, a lonely 31s behind Schumacher and 20s ahead of Blundell – but the Spanish heat was taking its toll and just six laps later with only six to go, an impressive sheet of flame leaped out from Martin’s Peugeot at the end of the start/finish straight.

That was where they all finished: Damon Hill took his and Williams’ first win of 1994, and indeed since Monza last year, with Schumacher taking an almost miraculous second place despite driving two-thirds of the race stuck in fifth gear. Mark Blundell was the delighted beneficiary of Häkkinen, Lehto and Brundle’s heartbreaks, with his first podium place since Germany 1993 (which was also his last points finish) and Tyrrell’s first since Stefano Modena’s second place in Canada 1991.

94 spa podium

Jean Alesi took fourth, followed by Pierluigi Martini who had driven a solid race to take two points for the merged BMS Minardi outfit, and the last point went to returnee Eddie Irvine. Speaking after the race, an emotional Damon Hill described how important the win was to the Williams team, which had had a dreadful month since Imola four weeks ago, and dedicated the win to the Brazilian fans who had continued supporting the team since the accident.

Looking forward, the next race was in Canada and would see more rules modifications with the introduction of standard “pump” fuel, increased head protection for drivers (as seen at this race on the Sauber), strengthened front wishbones and a higher weight limit, with the possible introduction of holes in the airbox to reduce the supercharging effect; the latter measure still under discussion. Further into the future, the owners of Silverstone announced they would be making some major changes to the circuit in time for the race in July.

Drivers’ Championship

1 Michael Schumacher 46
2 Damon Hill 17
3 Gerhard Berger 10
4 Jean Alesi 9
5 Rubens Barrichello 7
6 Nicola Larini 6
5= Martin Brundle 6
8= Ukyo Katayama 4
8= Karl Wendlinger 4
8= Mika Häkkinen 4
8= Mark Blundell 4
12= Christian Fittipaldi 3
12= Andrea de Cesaris 3
14= Heinz-Harald Frentzen 2
14= Pierluigi Martini 2
16= Érik Comas 1
16= Michele ALboreto 1
16= Eddie Irvine 1

Constructors’ Championship

1 Benetton-Ford 46
2 Ferrari 25
3 Williams-Renault 17
4 Jordan-Hart 11
5 McLaren-Peugeot 10
6 Tyrrell-Yamaha 8
7 Sauber-Mercedes 6
8= Footwork-Ford 3
8= BMS Minardi-Ford 3
9 Larrousse-Ford 1



1994 Monaco Grand Prix

Circuit_de_Monaco_1986Circuit de Monte-Carlo
15 May 1994

Ayrton Senna had been given a state funeral in Brazil, with three days of national mourning declared. His pallbearers included protegé Rubens Barrichello, ex-team mate and friend Gerhard Berger, former world Champions Emerson Fittipaldi, Jackie Stewart and Alain Prost as well as fellow Brazilians Roberto Moreno and Wilson Fittipaldi. It emerged later that there had been a last-minute crisis when it emerged that the drivers had been arranged in order of titles, senna funeral.jpgputting Stewart and Prost at the front – both of whom Senna had fallen out with. It was quietly rearranged to put Berger and Emerson Fittipaldi in front. Elsewhere tributes had literally flooded in, with even the Honda headquarters in Tokyo besieged by well-wishers and overwhelmed with floral tributes, despite it being two years since Senna’s last association with them. Roland Ratzenberger, by contrast, had a small family funeral in Salzburg, though FIA President Max Mosley made a point of attending in the knowledge that the world’s attention would be focussed on Brazil and feeling that some official F1 94 mon gpdarepresentation should be made.

Within the world of F1, there had been two weeks of heated debate over how to respond: cancelling the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix, with which Senna had become synonymous, was out of the question but with so many accidents at Imola it was obvious that something systematic had to be addressed. Even before Imola, Schumacher, Senna and Berger had talked about reforming the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association and with the support of Niki Lauda this first met at Monaco.

FIA President Max Mosley announced a raft of measures to increase safety, implemented in stages through the year: with immediate effect, a pit-lane speed limit of 50mph was introduced. For the next race in Spain, the teams would have to make aerodynamic changes to reduce downforce. For Canada, four weeks later, better head protection on the bodywork, holes in the airbox to reduce the supercharging effect, 25kg more on the minimum weight and strengthened front wishbones, plus the mandated use of regular “pump” fuel instead of the special F1 brews. At the mid-season mark in Germany, more downforce-reducing aerodynamic changes originally intended for 1995, and for 1995 itself a radical revision of the technical regulations.

With Williams and Simtek running just one car each, 26 drivers – including Jean Alesi back from injury and Gerhard Berger, fresh from an emotional press-conference where he described his agonies over whether to retire on the spot – took a collective deep breath 94 mon wendlingerand stepped into their cars. On Thursday’s free practice session, though, Karl Wendlinger had a massive smash at the Nouvelle Chicane, hitting the wall at nearly 170mph and striking his head. The medics found him unconscious and he was quickly stabilised and evacuated to hospital. The shaken Sauber team withdrew from the event, leaving 24 competitors, and for the first time since 1959 there was no former champion competing.

Michael Schumacher took pole – his first, in fact – with Häkkinen also taking his best-ever grid place in second. Berger and Hill lined up on row 2, with Alesi fifth on his comeback alongside an excellent Fittipaldi, with his Footwork team-mate Morbidelli just behind. Brundle, Martini and Blundell made up the top ten, a still not entirely recovered Lehto was 17th, just ahead of Olivier Beretta who became the first Monegasque driver in the Monaco Grand Prix since André Testut in 1959. The various withdrawals meant that Jean-Paul Belmondo would make his first 1994 start despite posting a time over 11s off Schumacher’s pole lap.

94 mon silenceBefore the race, the assembled drivers gathered around the front row of the grid, which had been left vacant with a Brazilian and an Austrian flag painted in the pole and second positions, and held a short silence presided over by Niki Lauda, before getting in their cars to go.

When the red lights went green, Schumacher got away well, as did Damon Hill starting in fourth – too well, as it turned out, for he hit the back of Häkkinen’s McLaren, pitching the 94 mon startFinn into a spin at Ste-Devote and out of the race. In a separate incident, Morbidelli and Martini tangled before even getting that far and were both out too. Hill had damaged his suspension, and didn’t finish the lap before pulling over. So Schumacher now led by a comfortable margin from the Ferrari pairing of Berger and Alesi with Fittipaldi now fourth ahead of Brundle and Blundell. The Benetton driver, running a two-stop strategy, quickly began to pull away from the Ferraris at a huge rate – by the end of lap 8 he was already 13.5s ahead – while Alesi was having difficulty keeping a lively Fittipaldi 94 mon beretta.jpgbehind him.

By lap 18, Schumacher was already lapping 15th-placed Panis’ Ligier and was bearing down on his own team-mate Lehto, who was fighting a three-way battle over 12th with local boy Beretta and Barrichello ahead of him. The Finn wasn’t going to make problems for his team leader but Beretta hadn’t spotted the change and was still defending like mad for a lap or so until Schumacher forced his way past at the Nouvelle Chicane.

Martin Brundle was the first driver to come in for fuel and tyres, rejoining sixth. A couple of laps later on lap 23 it was Schumacher’s turn, retaining the lead, while Berger followed him in and emerged behind the Alesi/Fittipaldi battle. In fact, Alesi had pulled 94 mon morbidelliout a bit of a lead over the Footwork and Berger soon caught Fittipaldi up, but getting past was more of a problem, as it always is in Monaco. By the time Fittipaldi made his own stop, Brundle was closing on the Austrian, and when Blundell’s engine let go and dumped oil all over the track, Berger slipped on it and spun, having to do a three-point turn in the escape road to get back on the track and losing hydraulic pressure into the bargain. That allowed Brundle to catch and pass the ailing Ferrari. Back in fifth, Alesi was catching up after his stop when he clouted the back of David Brabham’s Simtek and had to come back in for a new nose, while Brabham pulled out with a gearbox problem – as did Christian 94 mon de cesFittipaldi; scant reward for a fine drive.

All of which put Andrea de Cesaris fourth in the Jordan in his 199th and probably last Grand Prix and with just 14 cars still running at half distance, he might even manage to snatch a podium. Alesi was chasing, putting in a fastest lap, but in the end the race played out to its end with no further changes with Schumacher having put in an utterly dominant lights-to-flag victory, his fourth in four races for 1994. Martin Brundle took a satisfied second place – equalling his best from Monza ’92 when he was Schumacher’s team-mate – and Berger nursed his Ferrari home for third. Andrea de Cesaris kept his Jordan running for fourth, Alesi took fifth and the final point went to veteran Michele Alboreto. Lehto was seventh, but he would have been two laps down on his own team-mate, had Schumacher not allowed him to unlap himself shortly before the end.

Drivers’ Championship

1 Michael Schumacher 40
2 Gerhard Berger 10
3= Rubens Barrichello 7
3= Damon Hill 7
5= Nicola Larini 6
5= Jean Alesi 6
5= Martin Brundle 6
8= Ukyo Katayama 4
8= Karl Wendlinger 4
8= Mika Häkkinen 4
12= Christian Fittipaldi 3
12= Andrea de Cesaris 3
14 Heinz-Harald Frentzen 2
15= Érik Comas 1
15= Michele ALboreto 1

Constructors’ Championship

1 Benetton-Ford 40
2 Ferrari 22
3= Jordan-Hart 10
3= McLaren-Peugeot 10
5 Williams-Renault 7
5 Sauber-Mercedes 6
6= Tyrrell-Yamaha 4
8 Footwork-Ford 3
9= Larrousse-Ford 1
9= BMS Minardi-Ford 1

1994 San Marino Grand Prix


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.


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

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

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


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

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

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.