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1993 Italian Grand Prix

Monza_1976Autodromo Nazionale di Monza
12 September 1993

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza is always the high point of the European season – with the possible exception of Monaco – as the combination of history-steeped track, passionate fans and title battles as heated as the silly season speculation proves unbeatable. Benetton, like Williams, were due to lose Camel sponsorship in 1994 and at Monza announced their new partnership with Japan Tobacco, who would be promoting their Mild Seven brand. With Patrese on his way, that prompted speculation about the second seat: Aguri Suzuki had impressed in Spa and remained the only Japanese driver with a podium position (indeed, the only Asian). Or would he go to Lotus, who announced would be using Mugen-Honda engines next year? Meanwhile Beppe Lucchini made the widely-expected announcement that his BMS Scuderia Italia team would merge with Minardi next year, hopefully solving both teams’ intractable financial problems.

It wasn’t all news for next year though: McLaren had new aero and suspension elements and an improved Shell fuel formula; Sauber had a new version of their Ilmor-penned engine; Larrousse had agreed a deal to use Benetton’s traction control system until the end of the season and Ferrari had been testing heavily at Monza and reckoned they’d got best setup figured out. New faces, too: Thierry Boutsen had decided to announce his retirement after Spa and was replaced by Marco Apicella, while the still-unfit Zanardi was replaced in the Lotus by Pedro Lamy: both rookie drivers would be looking to impress.


93 Lamy11. Pedro Lamy pt

Jose Pedro Mourao Nunes Lamy Vicoso, to give him his full name, was born in 1972 just north of Lisbon and got into kart and motocross at an early age. At 16, he won the Portuguese Formula Ford title in his first season of car racing, and moved into GM-Lotus Euroseries for 1990 and despite a disappointing debut season was signed by the reigning champions Draco Racing for 1991. Despite heavy crashes at Spa and Imola, he took the title and went into German F3 for 1992 – again, taking the title at his first attempt after a late surge in form. For 1993 it he moved on again, to F3000 with Crypton-Reynard and came second on his debut at Donington and by the time he was called up by Lotus he was running second to Frenchman Olivier Panis in the title chase.


93 apicella15. Marco Apicella it

Amost a full decade older than teenager Lamy, Apicella went into Italian F3 in 1984 alongside names such as Modena, Larini and Caffi, and by 1986 was teamed with Larini at the Coloni squad, fighting for the title. He finished runner-up that year and in 1987 moved on to F3000. After a dreadful first season, he moved to the FIRST team in 1988. Three fruitless seasons followed as he promised much but never quite made it to the winner’s podium. After an equally frustrating 1991 with Paul Stewart’s team and F1 tests with Minardi and Modena, he moved to Japan for 1992 to drive with the front-running DOME team. Finally he won races, though could never muster enough consistency to challenge for the title. Still, his wealth of experience made him a good short-notice replacement for Boutsen.


Alain Prost could secure his fourth world title with a win in Monza, but with Frank Williams reminding everyone that there were no team orders, a good qualifying session was vital. True to form, he took his 12th Pole in 13 races with Hill as ever alongside. In third place – to the delirious delight of the stalwart Tifosi – was Jean Alesi after another gung-ho qualifying lap, and Senna was fourth. Schumacher was fifth, with the Benetton team having had all sorts of problems with the circuit’s bumps (Patrese was down in 10th), and a still-in-pain Berger 6th, Herbert 7th, Suzuki 8th (another excellent performance for the Footworks, with Warwick 11th) and Andretti 9th despite a lack of laps after technical problems. Of the two new boys, Apicella was a creditable 23rd (just four places and half a second behind Barrichello) while Pedro Lamy, seemingly a little overwhelmed by the occasion, was 26th and last.

93 monza startJJ Lehto stalled on the dummy grid and would have to start from the pitlane, so there was a gap in 13th place – directly in front of team-mate Wendlinger – when they lined up for the start. The lights went green and Prost (for once) made a great start, getting away in the lead while chaos reigned behind him. Alesi scrambled past Hill but Senna made contact with the second Williams, bouncing up into the air and pushing him across the grass at the chicane, while he slithered wide himself. When they rejoined they were down to 9th and 10th. Behind them, a fast-starting Warwick came up too quickly and took out team-mate Suzuki – there would be some sharp words from Jackie Oliver back at the garage and in a third incident Lehto was a little over-eager in his start and took out both Jordans and himself. Five cars out at turn one as Prost led Alesi, Schumacher, Berger, Herbert and Brundle around – and Hill and Senna were both going to be charging too – great stuff.

Indeed they were: Hill got the bit between his teeth and by lap 3 was up to seventh behind Brundle with Senna in tow. Hill disposed of the Ligier and then Herbert’s Lotus in short order, then on lap 6, he was right under Berger’s rear wing approaching Parabolica. The Williams moved left, Berger moved to cover his line and Hill dived right, taking the inside line for the corner having sold Berger a brilliant dummy. Schumacher 93 Monza brundle sennahad got past Alesi while all this was going on, and the other Ferrari quickly began falling into Hill’s clutches, and the Brit got past without too much trouble on lap 10. By then, however, Senna had fallen by the wayside. Having spent a couple of frustrated laps chasing his old F3 nemesis Martin Brundle without being able to make much headway on the Renault-powered Ligier, he misjudged his braking on lap 9 and went straight into the back of him, putting both out.

All of which bothered Alain Prost not a jot: responding to his recent dip in form and attendant criticism, he put up eight fastest laps in the first ten laps and looked as if he was barely breaking a sweat in the process. With the lead Williams apparently unassailable, the drama was further down the grid. Struggling for pace, the Ferraris were having a torrid race and Berger was suffering suspension woes which put paid to his race on lap 15, but as he slowed, Johnny Herbert overtook him on the way into Parabolica, only to lose it in a big way and clout the tyre-wall at north of 150mph. His Lotus ended up looking distinctly dog-eared, but the Brit himself clambered out of his cockpit and jogged away unhurt. A few laps later, compatriot Blundell slithered wide on fresh cold tyres at the same place and knocked the left-rear wheel of his Ligier skew-whiff, gifting sixth place back to Karl Wendlinger.

Michael Schumacher’s engine let him down on lap 22, and with nearly half the field gone it started to look as if there might be an interesting result on the cards, particularly as Hill looked like he was gaining on Prost – until the second round of tyre stops, when Prost gained the advantage and was able to maintain it. The racing at the front end settled down after that as the cars had become spread out, though Michael Andretti was providing some entertainment further back in the sole remaining McLaren. The American had had his usual dreadful start, spinning off on lap 2 and having to come in to have grass removed from his side-pods. Returning to the track last, he had been slowly making his way back up the field and by lap 40 he was up to seventh, while there was an entertaining battle for 10th going on between Badoer, Fittipaldi and rookie Pedro Lamy.

1993 Italian Grand PrixHill was now pushing again and with 13 laps to go he was 9s behind Prost and charging, putting up the fastest lap of the race on lap 45. Out went a pit-board reading “Temp-Slow” – a genuine warning to Hill of high engine temps, or a coded team order to stay behind Prost? Hill would maintain the former to the open scepticism of many, but in the final analysis it hardly mattered: just five laps from his fourth World Championship, Alain Prost’s Renault engine gave out in a plume of grey smoke, leaving a film of oil all over Damon’s visor and leaving him with just twenty miles to drive to take his third straight win. Behind him in second was Alesi, praying that Renault engine maladies were 93 monza alesocatching today which would be his only chance of a famous maiden win at the Monza circuit. The Frenchman was to be disappointed: Damon drove calmly to take the chequered flag, win the race and leave himself with a mathematical chance of winning the title with just three races to go. Alesi was nonetheless satisfied with second in Italy given Ferrari’s tribulations this year – it was only his second finish of the year, both on the podium. In third, however, was probably the happiest man on the track: Michael Andretti pipped Wendlinger to take his first-ever F1 podium and finally show some return on McLaren’s faith in him. Behind Wendlinger, who hung on to fourth, Riccardo Patrese salvaged two points for Benetton while Erik Comas took his first point of the year for Larrousse.

93 monza minardisThere was drama further back though – with the two Minardis racing to the line for seventh place, Fittipaldi came out to overtake Martini, only for his front-right wheel to clip Pierluigi’s left-rear. The number 23 car was launched nose-up into the air and – with spectators watching open-mouthed – completed a full 360-degree backflip before landing heavily back on its wheels and slithering to a halt just over the line. A fraction of a second later and he would have taken the chequered flag airborne and going backwards. As it was, the young Brazilian was understandably shaken but neither he nor, remarkably, seemed too much the worse for wear.

93 monza podium

There was just one more European race to go, at Estoril, and a disappointed Alain Prost would be looking to finally sew up the title.


Drivers’ Championship

 

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Alain Prost 81
2 Damon Hill 58
3 Ayrton Senna 53
4 Michael Schumacher 42
5 Riccardo Patrese 20
6= Martin Brundle 11
6= Johnny Herbert 11
8= Mark Blundell 10
8= Gerhard Berger 10
8= Jean Alesi 10
11 Michael Andretti 7
12= JJ Lehto 5
12= Christian Fittipaldi 5
12= Karl Wendlinger 5
15 Derek Warwick 4
16= Fabrizio Barbazza 2
16= Phillippe Alliot 2
18= Alessandro Zanardi 1
18= Erik Comas 1

Constructors’ Championship

POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Williams-Renault 139
2 Benetton-Ford 62
3 McLaren-Ford 60
4 Ligier-Renault 21
5 Ferrari 20
6 Lotus-Ford 12
7 Sauber 10
8 Minardi-Ford 7
9 Footwork-Mugen Honda 4
10 Larrousse-Lamborghini 3
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1993 Belgian Grand Prix

SpaCircuit de Spa-Francorchamps
29 August 1993

The legendary Spa street circuit was no doubt one of Michael Schumacher’s favourite stops on the itinerary, having made his spectacular debut there in 1991, and followed it up with a maiden win in 1992. Local hero Thierry Boutsen, meanwhile, was celebrating the tenth anniversary of his debut at the track this year, though few expected fireworks fom him this year. As usual by this time of year the silly season was in session with rumours aplenty but little in the way of actual information: Riccardo Patrese had been invited to seek alternative employment by Benetton shortly before coming second in Hungary, and the Ferrari drivers had re-signed some time ago, but other than that there was little to report. The one solid piece of news was that Tyrrell designer Mike Coughlan had resigned following the failure of his new design to turn things around, and rumours swirled that Harvey “Doc” Postlethwaite was on his way back from Ferrari.

93spa zanardiSpa is a difficult circuit at the best of times, and active suspension was worth whole seconds a lap, so teams without such a system would have a tough time of it. The weekend started ominously, with Zanardi having a dramatic off at Eau Rouge, thoroughly demolishing his Lotus but by some miracle escaping with bruises and a chipped tooth. However, thoroughly shaken up by the experience (and still healing from his bicycle accident), he elected to miss the rest of the weekend to be on the safe side.

As usual, it was Prost on top in qualifying, with Hill second and Schumacher third. Nearly a second behind Schumacher, Alesi snuck into fourth just ahead of Senna, while the ever-improving Footworks were 6th (Suzuki) and 7th (Warwick), with the Japanese driver actually beating Mansell’s 1992 pole time. Patrese, Lehto and Herbert made up the top ten, with Andretti 14th and Berger – still suffering from his elbow operation and now a fever as well – down in 16th. Local boy Boutsen was 20th and the rear was brought up, as usual, by Michele Alboreto, some 8.4s off Prost’s time. In the morning warm-up, Alesi had a suspension breakage, leading to some frantic strengthening work on the part of the Ferrari mechanics. Alesi’s car was ready for the parade lap but Berger would have to start from the pitlane.

The last two winners – Schumacher and Senna – had very contrasting starts: Michael got 93spa starthhaway terribly and dropped to ninth, while Ayrton made a rocket start to leap from fifth to second, behind Prost and ahead of Hill, with Alesi also starting well but being squeezed back into fourth by the others. Following him, the Footworks held onto their positions – now 5th and 6th – followed by Lehto and Herbert, with Patrese also having started poorly and dropped back. Boutsen didn’t last the lap, his gearbox breaking almost immediately – a sad 10th anniversary race for him.

Despite Senna’s great start, it was still clear how much faster the Williams cars were than the McLarens, as Prost began to pull away immediately while Hill stuck to the back of Senna’s car like a sweaty t-shirt, with Alesi’s Ferrari panting to keep up with the extra 93spa senna hill25kg of fuel for its thirsty V12 engine. It didn’t take Damon long to get past, using his superior Renault grunt on the climb up to Les Combes on lap two, while Schumacher was charging back from his bad start, taking Warwick for sixth and disposing of Suzuki in short order. Soon he was nipping at Alesi’s heels, slingshotting past out of Eau Rouge. By then, though, Alesi’s race was as good as run: he came in on the next lap to retire with recurring suspension problems.

Lehto was also making progress, up to sixth now and chasing Suzuki for fifth, and the Sauber team needed a good result to show that their early promise wasn’t just a flash in the pan. Schumacher had by lap 7 got up behind Senna, and was looking very much like he’d be up to third in short order. However, he only had a slight straight-line speed advantage over the McLaren and Senna was able to keep the Benetton behind. Jordan’s race ended in misery on lap 13 as Barrichello toured in with a loose wheel bearing, just as Damon Hill came in from second for the first of the scheduled tyre stops at almost a third distance, with Schumacher coming in too. The next lap it was Prost and Senna in, with Prost returning to the lead, Hill second and Schumacher now third.

93spa suzukiWhile all this was going on, Herbert had got past Lehto for sixth and was lapping well while chasing Suzuki – amid rumours that Lotus would be pinching Footwork’s Mugen-Honda power for 1994 – and a great scrap for seventh place was going on between Lehto, Patrese, Warwick and Brundle. Herbert went up to fifth when Suzuki retired with a broken gearbox immediately after his tyre stop on lap 14, and Lehto’s stop at the same time promoted Patrese into the points.

Both Minardis spun off within a minute or two of each other at around half distance, and on lap 18, Patrese stopped for tyres but on getting away from the pit lane he put the power on too quickly on colder tyres and did a 360 spin on the pit exit, losing places to Lehto, Wendlinger and Brundle, while Berger was now up to sixth with his elbow still in a cast (and reportedly taking a painful hammering every time he went through Bus Stop). The Austrian on worn tyres now led a six-car train, being followed by Lehto, Wendlinger (who had also yet to stop), Brundle, Patrese and Warwick, which was providing all the entertainment missing at the front of the field. On lap 22, Berger finally came in, with a longish stop dropping him to 12th.

93spa prostWhich is not to say that things were static at the front: Hill was closing on Prost, having got the gap down to 2.2s after breaking Mansell’s 1992 lap record in the process. Schumacher wasn’t much slower, and was now just 5s behind Hill. By lap 25, with Prost delayed in traffic, Hill was right on his gearbox and as the two came up to lap Michael Andretti, they were three abreast up to Les Combes – but Hill couldn’t make the move stick and Prost retained the lead. After that, Prost seemed to wake up, putting in more quick laps to pull out a gap of over 3s by lap 28, when Schumacher made his second stop.

93spa hill prostHill was in next on lap 30, exiting the pit lane just ahead of Schumacher, then Prost came in the following lap; a 9.1s stop (compared to Hill’s 6.4s) and he exited the pit lane right in front of Hill, who got past him out of Eau Rouge and took the lead. The first three were now right together, The next lap, Schumacher pulled out at the same place on the run up to Les Combes, braked later than late, flat-spotted his tyres, but got past Prost and into second. With just 12 laps to go, the race was going to go right to the wire, as Schumacher – with Prost in tow – set about catching Hill.

Between them, the three leaders set 11 fastest laps in the remainder of the race – with Prost taking the final record at 1:51.095s on lap 41 – but nobody could get past: Damon Hill won his second race with an advantage of 3.668s over Schumacher, and Prost third a sliver under 15s behind his team-mate. Ayrton Senna finished a lonely and disillusioned fourth place, Herbert took an encouraging fifth for Lotus and Patrese picked up the last point for Benetton.

93spa podium

Prost still looked good for the title, but a three-way battle over second was developing between Senna, Hill and Schumacher – with the first two of them still uncertain of their drives for 1994. Williams’ 14 points was enough to secure the Constructors’ Championship for them, while Benetton climbed to second above McLaren.


Drivers’ Championship

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Alain Prost 81
2 Ayrton Senna 53
3 Damon Hill 48
4 Michael Schumacher 42
5 Riccardo Patrese 18
6= Martin Brundle 11
6= Johnny Herbert 9
8= Mark Blundell 10
8= Gerhard Berger 10
10= JJ Lehto 5
10= Christian Fittipaldi 5
12= Jean Alesi 4
12= Derek Warwick 4
13 Michael Andretti 3
14= Fabrizio Barbazza 2
14= Phillippe Alliot 2
14= Karl Wendlinger 2
16 Alessandro Zanardi 1

Constructors’ Championship

POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Williams-Renault 129
2 Benetton-Ford 60
3 McLaren-Ford 53
4 Ligier-Renault 21
5 Ferrari 14
6 Lotus-Ford 12
7= Minardi-Ford 7
7= Sauber 7
9 Footwork-Mugen Honda 4
10 Larrousse-Lamborghini 2

1993 Hungarian Grand Prix

220px-Circuit_Hungaroring1989Hungaroring
15 August 1993

This would be the seventh Hungarian Grand Prix. Much had changed in Hungary since the first, in 1986, but one thing had been constant: in every one of the six races so far, Ayrton Senna had come either first or second. Of the drivers who had beaten him, Piquet and Mansell were not racing, and few expected 1990 winner Thierry Boutsen to pose much threat in his Jordan-Hart (least of all Eddie Jordan, who was rumoured to be losing patience with the Belgian’s lack of form).

Senna would be hoping to maintain his record, and the speed differential with the Williams cars wouldn’t be such an issue here: if he could get ahead, he could stay ahead on this narrow, twisty circuit. It wasn’t to be simple though: the Williams cars once again dominated in qualifying, with Prost taking his 30th career pole ahead of Hill, and Schumacher just 0.5s off the pace in third. Senna was a comparatively distant 1.8s off Prost’s time in fourth, with veterans Patrese and Berger on row three. Pierluigi Martini put in a blinder to go seventh, ahead of Alesi, with Warwick and Suzuki making it an all-Footwork 5th row. Andretti was 11th, the Ligiers 12th and 13th.

Alain Prost had never won in Hungary and it looked like he wouldn’t this year either: on the parade lap he stalled and would have to start from the back. So in the sweltering 93 hun startheat, Hill was effectively on pole alongside Schumacher: his knack of starting well was about to be tested. The lights went green and off they went: Hill made what he would later describe as his “best ever” start and leaped into the lead chased not by Schumacher, who started badly and dropped to fifth, but by a fast-starting Berger. The Ferrari got into the first corner in second place, but Senna came out of it ahead. So far, so good for the Brazilian. But just has he had in Britain and Germany, Hill got the hammer down early and put in eight fastest laps in the first nine to hold an impressive 9.5s lead on lap 10. Senna had been chased by Schumacher, who had been waved through by Patrese and 93 hun schu bergertaken Berger with an impressive manouevre round the outside at turn 1 – only for his gearbox to seize briefly and send him spinning down to tenth. So Prost and Schumacher were both way back and trying to make their way up the field and by lap 10 Schumacher was up to 7th but unable to make any impression on Andretti – another fast-starter, while Prost had made it up to 13th.

Sadly for Andretti, his curse struck again. On lap 16, he pulled into the pits to retire with a broken throttle cable – but not before slowing dramatically right in front of Schumacher and nearly collecting the German, who spun again taking avoiding action.. Two laps later, the unfortunate American was joined by his illustrious team-mate, with the exact same problem – so no top-two place for Ayrton, and everyone moved up a place. Schumacher was back in second place again now, but a huge 39s behind Hill, with Patrese second and Prost up to third. Berger had dropped to twelfth after an early tyre stop and with Alesi going off on lap 23 after tangling with Fittipaldi in the midfield, it looked rather like it would be a bad weekend for Ferrari again.

Prost had been on a charge and on lap 21 he came in to the pits for what everyone assumed was a tyre stop, but instead the team swarmed round and removed his rear wing: between the extra weight of the big wings needed at the Hungaroring and the huge downforce they generated, it had cracked the mounting and the whole thing needed replacing. It took seven long laps, while Prost sat calmly in his car, at one point giving an interview to French TV, but he returned to the track eventually. So, Senna out, Prost (effectively) out and Hill still leading after the first round of stops, with Patrese back up to second, Schumacher third and Warwick leading a terrific three-way scrap for fourth with Fittipaldi and Brundle.

But the drama wasn’t over yet, because on lap 27, it was Schumacher’s turn to retire; that second spin behind Andretti had damaged his drive belt and now it let go. Up to third now was Berger, who had put on a great comeback to get past the Warwick-Fittipaldi-93 hun bergBrundle battle and was looking at chasing down Patrese. The second round of tyre stops saw a slow Ferrari stop and that put him back out in sixth with it all to do again: and so he did. Not to be denied, he disposed of Martini on lap 56, then Brundle on lap 58 (via not a little wheel banging). Derek Warwick, though, was one-stopping and didn’t want to let go of a potential first podium finish since 1984. For 7 laps he held off the flying Gerhard but his tyres were by now on the ragged edge and he was forced to give way with just 12 to go.

All the while, Hill had led by a huge margin and looked serene and in control. With Britain and the Williams garage holding their breath hoping that nothing would happen 93 hun hill winthis time to deny him a maiden win. It didn’t. Hill took the chequered flag to win at his thirteenth attempt – the first-ever win for a car number 0 – with Riccardo Patrese a distant second and Berger third. Warwick, Brundle and Karl Wendlinger took the remaining points. With Prost, Senna and Schumacher all failing to score, Damon moved up to third in the standings, while Benetton moved up to equal second with McLaren.


Drivers’ Championship

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Alain Prost 77
2 Ayrton Senna 50
3 Damon Hill 38
4 Michael Schumacher 36
5 Riccardo Patrese 17
6 Martin Brundle 11
7= Mark Blundell 10
7= Gerhard Berger 10
9 Johnny Herbert 9
10= JJ Lehto 5
10= Christian Fittipaldi 5
12= Jean Alesi 4
12= Derek Warwick 4
13 Michael Andretti 3
14= Fabrizio Barbazza 2
14= Phillippe Alliot 2
14= Karl Wendlinger 2
16 Alessandro Zanardi 1

Constructors’ Championship

POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Williams-Renault 115
2= McLaren-Ford 53
2= Benetton-Ford 53
4 Ligier-Renault 21
5= Lotus-Ford 10
5= Ferrari 14
7= Minardi-Ford 7
7= Sauber 7
9 Footwork-Mugen Honda 4
10 Larrousse-Lamborghini 2

1993 German Grand Prix

512px-Circuit_Hockenheimring-1970.svgHockenheimring
25 July 1993

In the weeks between the British and German Grands Prix, there had been some important meetings between FISA and FOCA (a phrase we hoped we’d seen the last of) thrashing out an agreement on Charlie Whiting’s report. The net result of the talks was that cars weren’t going to have to change immediately: active suspension, traction control, ABS brakes and other electronic driver aids would be allowed until the end of the season, then banned from 1994 onwards. However, an immediate change was 93 ger lolamade in fuel, with special formulations banned for Germany. All this would need to be ratified by the FIA, but it looked like a solution had been found. While the teams were in an accomodating mood, they unanimously agreed to allow all 26 cars to qualify, which would please Michele Alboreto.

Somewhat less happy with the intervening weeks was Alessandro Zanardi, who was knocked off his bike by an elderly driver, who ran over his foot and broke it in the process. He was in Hockenheim nonetheless, and did well in qualifying 15th with a cast on his foot. Once again, the Williamses monopolised the front row, though (perhaps surprisingly at this power circuit) the gap to third place was less. Local hero Schumacher was just 0.7s off Hill’s time, with Senna just .03s behind the Benetton. On row three were the Ligiers of Brundle and Blundell, with Patrese (making his 250th Grand Prix start) and an excellent Suzuki on row four and the Ferraris of Berger and Alesi making up the top ten after neither got more than one flying lap on Saturday (Alesi had mechanical problems, Berger a huge but thankfully non-injurious crash). Predictably, the Lolas were slowest, with Alboreto almost a full second slower than his young team-mate.

93 ger warwickSunday morning’s warm-up was wet, and saw another huge crash as Derek Warwick had a coming-together with Luca Badoer, sending the Footwork flying upside-down into a gravel trap. After some medical examination, he was passed fit to drive. With some still remembering Pironi’s horror crash in similar conditions back in 1982 (not least Prost, who was involved), it was a relief when the rain cleared up and the sun came out in good time for the race.

It was another slow getaway for Prost, and he dropped to third behind Hill and Schumacher, and was under pressure from Senna at the first chicane – they went in side-by-side but Prost stuck to his line and Senna spun down to last place. At the second chicane, Martin Brundle spun behind Prost and nearly hit him. Prost reacted quickly, taking to the escape road. Brundle recovered and followed suit. Just like at Silverstone, Hill took advantage of Prost’s misfortune to get his foot down and started to pull out at a rate of a second a lap, with Schumacher, Prost, Brundle and Blundell in pursuit. Erik Comas didn’t last the first lap with a broken gearbox, de Cesaris’ new Tyrrell broke again on lap 2, and on lap 5 there were two more retirements: Luca Badoer (suspension) and Michael Andretti, who collided with Berger’s Ferrari and came off worst.

93 ger schuAll the while, Schumacher was using all of his considerable talent to keep Alain Prost behind him, while Prost was using all of his considerable talent to try and get past. On lap six he finally succeeded, just in time to be served a stop-go penalty for cutting off the chicane earlier (as was Brundle). No sooner was Prost past than Suzuki tangled with Berger and went off, bringing out the yellow flags. Hill slowed, Prost caught up and passed, then came in for his penalty on the next lap, returning a furious sixth, while Martin was 12th. As Prost set about making his way back up the field (and Senna was doing likewise from further back, by now 12th.

By lap 15 – one-third distance, Hill led a charging Schumacher by three seconds with Blundell third, Prost up to fourth, Patrese fifth, Berger sixth and Senna now seventh. Schumacher stopped for tyres on lap 17, dropping him behind Prost, while for five laps Senna harried his old team-mate. Failing to find a way past, elected to stop for tyres on lap 20. Despite a lightning 4.81s stop, the racing was so close he emerged ninth, but was confident that his fresh rubber would help him back up the field even quicker.  So now Hill led Prost with Schumacher third, then Berger and Blundell – the pair were conducting a fierce scrap for fourth with first one then the other getting past. On lap 27, 93 ger blundellit nearly ended in tears as Blundell moved on Berger, who moved over on him, pushing him half onto the grass and kicking up dust. Luckily for Mark, he kept it pointing forward and took the place, while Berger – non-stopping on fading tyres – began to slip back. But Blundell didn’t have much time to relax as soon it was Senna instead harassing him but on the long straights of the Hockenheim circuit the Ligier’s Renault engine was more than capable of keeping even the latest high-revving Ford HB behind it,

93 ger hill retiresBy lap 30 with just 15 to go, Hill led Prost by a very comfortable 20 seconds but now Alain got the hammer down and began to reel in his team-mate.  By lap 40 the gap was down to 12s as Schumacher came in for a third set of tyres which helped him set fastest lap as he pursued Prost. But now nothing could keep Damon Hill from his maiden victory – except, as it turned out, a rear tyre blowout on his penultimate lap caused by a slow puncture from on-track debris.

As the gutted Hill pulled off almost within sight of the win, Prost swept through to take the lead, with Schumacher in hot pursuit, but too far back. Prost took his 51st career win, and his sixth in seven races to put him firmly in the championship lead. Schumacher took a popular second place and Blundell a truly special third place after holding off Ayrton Senna for over half the race. The veterans Patrese and Berger took fifth and sixth places, with Alesi seventh. It had been another great race but another heartbreak for poor Damon, who must be wondering what he had to do to taste that winner’s champagne.

93 ger podium


Drivers’ Championship

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Alain Prost 77
2 Ayrton Senna 50
3 Michael Schumacher 36
4 Damon Hill 28
5 Riccardo Patrese 11
6 Mark Blundell 10
7 Martin Brundle 9
8 Johnny Herbert 9
9 Gerhard Berger 6
10= JJ Lehto 5
10= Christian Fittipaldi 5
12 Jean Alesi 4
13 Michael Andretti 3
14= Fabrizio Barbazza 2
14= Phillippe Alliot 2
16= Alessandro Zanardi 1
16= Karl Wendlinger 1
16= Derek Warwick 1

Constructors’ Championship

POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Williams-Renault 105
2 McLaren-Ford 53
3 Benetton-Ford 47
4 Ligier-Renault 19
5= Lotus-Ford 10
5= Ferrari 10
7 Minardi-Ford 7
8 Sauber 6
9 Larrousse-Lamborghini 2
10 Footwork-Mugen Honda 1

1993 British Grand Prix

Silverstone_1991.jpgSilverstone
11 July 1993

As the second half of the season got underway, Tyrrell hoped to stop the rot with their new 021 chassis, one example of which was ready for Andrea de Cesaris, while Minardi welcomed back Pierluigi Martini for his third stint at the team after he raised enough sponsorship to reclaim his drive from the skint Fabrizio Barbazza.


PLM 9324. Pierluigi Martini it

He’s back! After driving for the team in 1985 and between 1988 and 1991, little Pierluigi had become almost synonymous with the team after his heroics with them in their most successful season – 1989. His 1992 defection to the Scuderia Italia squad was financially motivated, but he will be glad to be back among familiar surroundings, especially with a better car than Minardi have had in some time. But will he be straight back on the pace after eight months off?


With just a week since Magny-Cours, there was no other change and if France brought pressure for the Renault and Ligier boys, Silverstone was the home race of much of the grid, including the leading Williams, McLaren and Benetton teams, the historic Lotus, Tyrrell and – despite the Japanese sponsorship and name – Arrows (Footwork) teams. And if Ligier benefitted from being right at the factory gates there, here it would be Jordan 93 gb hillhoping for a similar boost: despite being under Irish ownership and licence, the team’s factory was at Silverstone.

The absence of “our Nige” meant a smaller crowd and rather less in the way of track invasions but the crowd was as knowledgeable, enthusiastic and patriotic as ever, and had clearly adopted Damon as their new hero. The tabloid press seemed torn  between hyping up his chances and muttering darkly about team orders keeping him behind Prost. Despite his best efforts in front of home fans, he couldn’t quite keep Alain off pole, losing out by just 0.13s but still a healthy 1.2s ahead of Schumacher in third. Senna, fourth, was another 1.6s behind the German and a demoralising 2.98s off Prost’s time. Patrese had another good session to line up fifth, and in sixth place Martin Brundle led a British contingent of Herbert, Warwick and Blundell – encouragement for Lotus with a great 7th slot – with Aguri Suzuki making up the top ten just ahead of Michael Andretti. Wait, what about the Ferraris? 12th and 13th, over four seconds off the pace and deeply troubled. And what of the local boys Jordan? Barrichello 15th and Boutsen 23rd, again not happy with the results. With returning Martini 20th, just ahead of the new Tyrrell, and Alboreto once again the unhappy recipient of the DNQ tag, the stage was set.

93 gb startWhen the lights went green, it was local hero Hill that got away best, while Prost was sluggish off the line and lost third to  a sprinting Senna. Brundle also started well, nabbing fifth from Patrese, while Andretti got it all wrong again and wound up in the kitty litter at turn one. With Senna presumably about to start holding up Prost – at least if the McLaren driver had anything to do with it – Hill knew he had to get moving, and got the hammer down. Six laps, six fastest laps and a six-second gap at the end of lap six had the fans purring while Prost was nearly flinging his Williams off the track trying to get past Senna. He finally managed it at Stowe on lap seven and set off in pursuit of his team-mate. Schumacher followed Prost past Senna three laps later. He couldn’t make much impression on the Williams duo, but did manage to leave the McLaren in his dust – the Marlboro car was running lots of wing to deal with a handling problem and simply couldn’t live with the Benetton on the straights.

Hill was able to maintain a gap to Prost until the first round of tyre stops: Senna was first in on lap 26, followed by Schumacher and then Prost – all retaining their 4th, 3rd and 2nd places despite a long 8s stop for the Frenchman. On the next lap, Hill was in – a slightly quicker stop at 7.2s but on fresher tyres Prost had put in a stonking lap and as Hill exited the pits, Prost was hammering down the start/finish straight and the gap was down to 3.8s. For another few laps they circulated and then, suddenly, the safety car was coming out. Commentators and teams alike were baffled – Badoer had bounced off de Cesaris 93 gb scand come to rest against the outside wall at Woodcote, but the Lola was hardly in a dangerous position. Nonetheless, out came the flashing lights on lap 38 for two laps while the marshals cleared it away. The field bunched up behind Hill, with Prost, then the lapped pair of Blundell and Warwick, then Schumacher, Senna, Brundle, Patrese and Herbert. When the safety car went back in, all Damon’s hard work in keeping Prost at bay had to be done all over again.

93 gb hill bangHe set about it anyway, going fastest on lap 40, then breaking the lap record on lap 41, and already had a second’s gap. And then his engine burst into flames and that was it. A heartbroken Damon pulled off, 17 laps from what would have been a famous first victory. As he was to note later, he had only had two engine failures so far this year, both while leading a race. That would certainly set the conspiracy theorists talking.

93 gb schuSo, all over bar the shouting then? Not quite. Schumacher seemed to scent blood, and put in a string of fastest laps to start closing on Prost, while Brundle, Patrese and Herbert were conducting a lively scrap over fourth. Warwick, Blundell and Lehto were likewise battling over seventh through ninth, and Fittipaldi, Barrichello and Alesi were also fighting a three-way battle of their own. There was plenty to hold the attention, but most were focused on Schumacher’s pursuit of Prost. Brundle dropped out six laps from the end with a broken gearbox, and then on the very last lap Senna coasted to a halt, out of fuel despite the computer assuring him he had plenty. He parked up exactly where he had run out of fuel in 1991, and it is not recorded whether he saw the fan banner reading “This space reserved for Ayrton Senna” hanging on the railings.

93 gb warwickAlain Prost took his fiftieth Grand Prix win, with Schumacher second and Patrese an unexpected and delighted third: Benetton were happy to have comprehensively beaten McLaren despite the new engine parity. In fourth was Johnny Herbert, hoping to get Lotus back on track, with Senna classified fifth and Derek Warwick taking his and Footwork’s first point of the season.


Drivers’ Championship

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Alain Prost 67
2 Ayrton Senna 47
3 Michael Schumacher 30
4 Damon Hill 28
5= Martin Brundle 9
5= Johnny Herbert 9
5= Riccardo Patrese 9
8 Mark Blundell 6
9= JJ Lehto 5
9= Christian Fittipaldi 5
9= Gerhard Berger 5
12 Jean Alesi 4
13 Michael Andretti 3
14= Fabrizio Barbazza 2
14= Phillippe Alliot 2
16= Alessandro Zanardi 1
16= Karl Wendlinger 1
16= Derek Warwick 1

Constructors’ Championship

 

POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Williams-Renault 95
2 McLaren-Ford 50
3 Benetton-Ford 39
4 Ligier-Renault 15
5 Lotus-Ford 10
6 Ferrari 9
7 Minardi-Ford 7
8 Sauber 6
9 Larrousse-Lamborghini 2
10 Footwork-Mugen Honda 1

1993 Half-Term Report

ESP PRost hillWilliams-Renault

The Didcot team have by far the best car on the grid, and have had at least one driver on the podium at every race so far. There was a sense early on that Prost was underperforming but he’s won four of the last five races, and would have done better at Monaco if not for the rather harsh penalty. Hill has proved an able backup and clearly has the ability to win races.


93tyrrellTyrrell-Yamaha

Abysmal so far from Tyrrell, with just three finishes in sixteen starts, the “highlight” de Cesaris’ tenth at Monaco – the fact that the 020 is a 1991-vintage chassis can’t be helping, but the new car should debut at Silverstone. They’ll be hoping that this will help turn things around, as the relative success of 1992 is already starting to fade in the memory…


93 schu monBenetton-Ford

The B193 is a pretty handy car and with its top-spec Ford HB series VIII engine it’s proved to be at least equal to the McLaren and has scored at every race bar Monaco and South Africa so far. Schumacher is right on it as usual; Patrese took a little time to get used to the car but seems to have perked up a little in recent races. With McLaren now getting engine parity, though, they’ll have to work hard to keep up the momentum.


93mclarenMcLaren-Ford

Given that Ron Dennis only managed to secure an engine deal in January, and a customer deal at that, the 1993 McLaren has exceeded all expectations. At least, Ayrton Senna has: Michael Andretti has signally failed to impress. F1 is a different discipline from CART, to be sure, but with half a season under his belt he’s running out of grace period. Engine parity with Benetton will give the American even fewer places to hide.


93footworkFootwork-Mugen Honda

After a satisfying 1992, the wheels have come off slightly in 1993 – not literally (yet), but there have been no points as yet. Warwick looked good in the rain at Donington before his untimely retirement, but otherwise the team have been firmly stuck in midfield. The hardworking team and veteran Derek deserve much better.


bz herbLotus-Ford

Another team having a pretty dismal 1993 after a good 1992. Things started brightly enough with two fourths for Johnny and a sixth for Alessandro in the first three races, but they have rarely threatened the top six since. The achilles heel appears to be their active suspension system, which is not only proving unreliable but must be sapping resources from other aspects of development.


93jordanJordan-Hart

Jordan are another team who have yet to score a point, but in their case they are still doing better than last year and have only been denied through some cruel bad luck. The package looks decent, though reliability needs work, and young Barrichello looks like a real find. Boutsen, on the other hand, has disappointed in the second car and may find his seat under threat if he doesn’t improve.


93 larrousseLarrousse-Lamborghini

A promising first half to the season, and fifth place at Imola may have come through attrition but was no less deserved for that. However, the team are really struggling with reliability and not since Brazil have both finished; the root cause is money, or the lack of it, and the limited ability to update and replace worn parts. The brightly-coloured team need to find more cash, and fast.


93 lolaLola BMS Scuderia Italia-Ferrari

The switch from Dallara to Lola chassis hasn’t gone well for “Team Italy” – Eric Broadley’s outfit have produced what is rapidly proving to be the worst car on the grid. Seventh place at Imola for Badoer in an attritional race has proved to be the highlight so far and so far in every race bar Brazil one of the pairing has failed to qualify. The difficulties seem to have demoralised Alboreto more than Badoer, who at least looks like he’s trying.


za93 fittiMinardi-Ford

The M193 looks like a decent package and both Fittipaldi and Barbazza have scored points on multiple occasions – though they’ve never quite matched Christian’s fourth place at home. Reliability is a problem, but when they finish it’s usually in the top ten. There is a worrying lack of decals on the car, though, and the talented Barbazza has been let go with the expiry of his sponsorship deal.


don brunLigier-Renault

What a season so far! Poor Guy Ligier appears to have walked away at just the wrong time, as the new JS39 got a podium on its first time out and repeated the feat in Imola. There have been too many retirements for the team to put a consistent challenge together but “best of the rest” is a decent goal to aim for given the team’s recent history. The controversial appointment of two British drivers seems to be paying off too.


93ferrariFerrari

When running, the F93A seems an improvement on last year’s car, and Berger has slotted back in well. However, both drivers are still frustrated with the lack of progress the team is making. Berger has been openly critical of the car, while Alesi has simply got his head down and driven the wheels off it at every opportunity. Third in Monaco is the team’s best result so far but also one of only two finishes for the French-Sicilian. New management under Jean Todt awaits, but will it make any difference – and how long will he last in the crucible of Maranello politics.


93sauberSauber

The new boys started brightly with points on their debut and usually qualify well, but mechanical difficulties and teething troubles have limited their results. Nonetheless, the C12 is an excellent car and Lehto and Wendlinger both very talented drivers so the future looks promising for the Swiss team, especially if Mercedes take the next step and make their presence more official.

1993 French Grand Prix

220px-Circuit_de_Nevers_Magny-Cours_(1992-2002).svgCircuit de Nevers Magny-Cours
4 July 1993

Three days after the Canadian Grand Prix, the F1 world had been saddened to learn of the death at just 45 of a heart attack of 1976 World Champion James Hunt, who had been for thirteen years the commentary partner of Murray Walker for the BBC F1 coverage. His laconic and often acerbic commentary had 93 Huntbeen the perfect foil to the excitable but always-polite Murray, and he would be sadly missed by the many millions in the English-speaking world who received the BBC broadcasts, as well as everyone in the racing fraternity who remembered his gung-ho driving days.

The teams, however, were firmly focussed on the present, not least because after the French Grand Prix, the top ten teams would receive valuable travel concessions. Only nine teams had points on the board so far, so Jordan, Footwork, BMS Lola and Tyrrell had work to do while Larrousse on just 2 points were also vulnerable. Moreover, the Camel cigarette firm made the dramatic announcement in the lead-up to the race that they would be withdrawing from their major sponsorship commitments to Williams and Benetton for 1994; Williams announced immediately that they had signed terms with fellow tobacconists Rothmans to replace  both Camel and title sponsor Canon. alesi todt bergerMcLaren’s spirits were lifted after the death of their former champion Hunt when Ayrton Senna signed up for the rest of the season and Ford agreed to give them engine parity with Benetton. Ferrari had news too: a new manager in the shape of former Peugeot rally man Jean Todt, lots of aerodynamic and technical revisions, and the news that Alesi and Berger had both signed up through the end of 1995.

Huge crowds anticipated local hero Alain Prost maintaining his 100% pole record, but they went away disappointed as Damon Hill took his first Pole Position by just 0.14s. Prost was at least second, with a Williams-Renault front row for the sixth time in 1993. Not only that, but behind them were the two Ligiers of Brundle and Blundell: four Renault engines in the top four places! Being at the factory gate and the preferred test track certainly suited Martin and Mark who both got their career best grid positions – albeit 1.7s and 1.8s respectively behind the dominant Williamses. Senna was fifth for his 150th Grand Prix, 0.06s off Blundell’s time, alongside Alesi, with Schumacher and Barrichello on row 4 and the Larrousses of Comas and Alliot finishing off the top ten in their search for those precious points. Patrese was back in 12th, Berger 14th (pronouncing the car “undriveable”) and Andretti back in 16th. It was the usual suspects at the back as well, with Alboreto once again slowest but Badoer managing 22nd, ahead of both Minardis and de Cesaris.

fra startThe start was clean with Hill keeping the lead from Prost, followed by the Ligiers with Senna in hot pursuit, while Schumacher got ahead of Alesi and started harrying Senna in fifth. By the end of lap 1, Hill was already pulling out something of a gap from Prost (running in the spare car), who was in turn pulling away from Brundle and Blundell. The first retirement was Zanardi on lap 10 with an active suspension failure, but otherwise little changed in the early laps. Prost started to catch Hill, particularly as the English driver seemed to have a minor leak on his car. Brundle had meanwhile pulled away from Blundell who was holding up Senna but managing to stay ahead despite the Brazilian’s pressure. Johnny Herbert spun into the gravel on lap 17 to put the tin hat on Lotus’ dire weekend, and on the same lap Barbazza did the same, ending his last race for Minardi now his money’s run out. Around then, Hill started encountering backmarkers – including a disgruntled Berger, who came in for tyres after being lapped on lap 21.

Further back, Mark Blundell was punted off while trying to lap de Cesaris on the same fra lehtolap (there would be words later), and a couple of laps later, JJ Lehto gratefully retired with a broken gearbox after a torrid weekend. Wendlinger’s gearbox came out in sympathy three laps later, while Senna bore down on Brundle now he was no longer being held up by Blundell. Brundle came in for a tyre stop, returning to the track just ahead of Senna. Next in was Hill, on lap 27 and far enough ahead to return to the track second. On lap 29 it was Prost, a marginally quicker stop than Hill and he retained the lead – but only just as Hill was right behind and attacking hard on his warmer tyres. The two Williamses were having a terrific scrap but in the end Prost was able to stay ahead until his tyres warmed up.

fra sen schuBy now the two Williams drivers had a 16s lead over third-placed Brundle, who had Senna about 2s behind him, and everyone up to seventh placed Michael Andretti had been lapped. The leaders were well into the backmarkers now and when Senna was held up by de Cesaris, Schumacher was able to close right up again. With fifteen laps to go and the race looking dead and buried from a leadership point of view, this was the best racing on the track, until Senna suddenly slowed, allowing Schumacher to get through into third and Andretti to un-lap himself. Not only that, but he now had Brundle’s Ligier bearing down on him too, closing the gap from six seconds to just over two in a matter of laps.

fra prost hillSenna’s problem turned out to be intermittent, and he sped up again, stabilising the gap to Brundle, but then suddenly slowed again just as he lapped Suzuki, collecting the front of the Footwork and pinging some bodywork off but to no ill effect. And that was that: Alain Prost and Damon Hill took an utterly dominant 1-2 win, Schumacher was third, Senna fourth and Brundle fifth. Barrichello was running sixth until, on the last lap, he was passed by Michael Andretti – both had driven excellent races and both deserved the point, but it couldn’t be given to both.

fra prost winProst’s win meant that Williams-Renault had maintained their 100% winning record at Magny-Cours (Mansell having won the only two previous meetings there), while Hill could be satisfied with a good day’s work, which set him up nicely for the British Grand Prix a week later; would events – and Prost – conspire to help him to his first GP win, turning Mansell Mania into Hill Hysteria?


Drivers’ Championship

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Alain Prost 57
2 Ayrton Senna 45
3 Damon Hill 28
4 Michael Schumacher 24
5 Martin Brundle 9
6= Mark Blundell 6
6= Johnny Herbert 6
8= JJ Lehto 5
8= Riccardo Patrese 5
8= Christian Fittipaldi 5
8= Gerhard Berger 5
12 Jean Alesi 4
13 Michael Andretti 3
14= Fabrizio Barbazza 2
14= Phillippe Alliot 2
16= Alessandro Zanardi 1
16= Karl Wendlinger 1

Constructors’ Championship

 

POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Williams-Renault 85
2 McLaren-Ford 48
3 Benetton-Ford 29
4 Ligier-Renault 15
5 Ferrari 9
6= Lotus-Ford 7
6= Minardi-Ford 7
8 Sauber 6
9 Larrousse-Lamborghini 2