1994 Formula One season
The 1994 Formula One season was the 45th FIA Formula One World Championship season. It commenced on March 27, 1994, and ended on November 13 after sixteen races. The season was remembered as one of the most tragic and controversial seasons in the 1990s, if not in the sport's history. 1994 was one of the closest in history, as the Champion, Michael Schumacher, won the title by a single point from Damon Hill, after the two controversially collided at the final round in Adelaide.
The major rule change of 1994 was the banning of driver aids in the car, such as traction control, in an attempt to "humanize" the sport, refuelling during pit-stops was also re-introduced for 1994 and so team tactics now played a major role during races. Pre-Season betting suggested that Williams new signing, Ayrton Senna, would coast to his fourth Drivers' title and aid Williams to their seventh Constructors' title.
The first round of the 1994 season was held at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, named after the Brazilian racing driver, in São Paulo, Brazil. Senna took pole position for his home Grand Prix, three tenths of a second faster than Michael Schumacher's Benetton-Ford who joined the Brazilian on the front row. Alesi, Hill, Frentzen and Morbidelli made up the rest of the top six, all of them over a second slower than Senna's pole position time. Senna led the Grand Prix from the start until the first round of pit stops, where a crucial fact was revealed, Benetton were considerably faster than Williams at servicing their cars during pit stops, thus putting Schumacher into the lead. Senna couldn't keep up with Schumacher's car and span off and retired from the race, a result of his efforts to catch up with Schumacher. Schumacher went on to win the race, with Senna's teammate, Damon Hill, second and Jean Alesi came third. The race was remembered for the accident involving Jos Verstappen, on his Grand Prix debut, where the Dutch driver flipped over and collided with Martin Brundle's McLaren.
The newly constructed TI Circuit hosted the second round of the championship and Senna took pole position for the second time in succession ahead of second placed Michael Schumacher. Senna failed to complete a lap during the race, as he was tipped into the gravel by his old McLaren teammate, Mika Häkkinen. Schumacher went onto win the Grand Prix, his second in succession, ahead of Gerhard Berger and Rubens Barrichello, who had not only scored his first podium finish, but his team's, Jordan, first podium finish.
During the Friday practice session for the San Marino Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello's Jordan left the track on the high speed chicane called Variante Bassa, giving the young Brazilian severe injuries. Swift action by Formula One doctor Sid Watkins was all that prevented Barrichello swallowing his tongue. Then, during the Saturday during qualifying, Roland Ratzenberger's Simtek hit a wall in excess of 200mph at the fast Villeneuve corner, killing the Austrian on impact. Senna was so shaken by these events he considered retiring and not taking part, but he eventually decided that he should race. At the start, there were further complications, as JJ Lehto stalled his Benetton and was hit by Pedro Lamy, which caused the safety car to be deployed. After a six-lap safety car sequence, racing resumed, but just one lap later Senna's car left the track as he went through the fast left-hander of Tamburello and the Williams-Renault FW16 slammed head-on into a wall at 135mph. Senna died, according to sources, that night in hospital. A touching and chilling thing was later discovered about Senna's car – inside his FW16 a blood-soaked Austrian flag was found, that Senna had planned to use as a victory tribute in honour of Ratzenberger.
A shaken Formula One world moved on to Monaco, where more grief was to come as Karl Wendlinger's Sauber crashed heavily during the qualifying session, leaving him in a coma for two weeks. Michael Schumacher took pole position ahead of Häkkinen. The German went onto to dominate the Grand Prix, as nobody apart from Schumacher lead the Grand Prix. Brundle and Berger completed the podium.
Following the accidents in Imola and Monaco, a majority drivers insisted on making the Circuit de Catalunya safer for the Spanish Grand Prix. This resulted in the construction of several temporary chicanes where run-off areas were considered insufficiently small. Schumacher took his second pole position of the season, over half a second faster than second place Damon Hill. The Brit went on to win the Grand Prix after Schumacher's Benetton was stuck in fifth gear for a majority of the race, emulating his father's efforts during the 1968 Spanish Grand Prix where he won after Jim Clark's death.
Schumacher took pole again for the Canadian Grand Prix with Jean Alesi's Ferrari alongside him on the front row. Schumacher went onto to win the race by 40 second with Hill and Alesi completing the top three. Nigel Mansell was brought in by Williams for the French Grand Prix to combat falling TV viewing figures, Hill broke Schumacher's run of consecutive pole positions after taking the top grid slot for himself by one tenth of a second, alongside him was his Williams teammate, Mansell. Schumacher managed to win the Grand Prix from third on the grid, ahead Hill and Berger, while Mansell retired after a gearbox failure on the 45th lap.
Hill took his second pole of the season at his home Grand Prix. During the formation lap, Schumacher illegally overtook Hill on two occasions. He was given a stop-and-go penalty, which he decided to ignore as his team protested. For several laps, Schumacher refused to honour his penalty, which resulted in a black flag. He was stripped of his second place behind Hill, and banned for two races, pending an appeal.
Benetton managed to arrange for Schumacher to run in his home Grand Prix. The German qualified in fourth, behind Berger, Alesi and Hill. Schumacher never completed the full race distance as he retired on the 20th lap of the 45, after an engine failure, leaving Gerhard Berger to take victory and ending a 58 race victory drought for Ferrari. The race was remembered for 2 incidents, the first being an accident involving 11 cars; Mika Häkkinen was later blamed by the FIA for the incident and was given a one race ban. The second was during a pit stop where Jos Verstappen's Benetton caught fire in spectacular fashion after fuel had been accidentally sprayed onto the hot bodywork of the Benetton, Verstappen received minor burns to his nose.
Schumacher took pole position at the Hungaroring, with Hill partnering him on the front row. The front two finished the race in their grid positions with Verstappen finishing third, after starting the race in twelfth. It was Rubens Barrichello who surprised everyone in Belgium after qualifying his Jordan-Hart, a car which prior to the Belgian Grand Prix qualified as high as fifth position, in pole position with Schumacher alongside him. Despite winning the race, Schumacher was disqualified because his car was found to have illegal wear on its skidblock. Although Benetton protested that the skidblock had been damaged when Schumacher spun over a kerb, the FIA rejected their appeal, allowing Hill to close the points gap even further.
With no Schumacher for the next two races, Hill needed to win both Grand Prix to keep Schumacher under pressure. Alesi pleased the tifosi by taking pole position in Monza, ahead of his Ferrari teammate, Gerhard Berger. Hill got past both Ferraris to win the race closing the gap between himself and Schumacher to 11 points. Gerhard Berger took pole position for the Grand Prix in Estoril, making it the second successive pole position for Ferrari, with Hill alongside him. Both the Williams cars of Hill and Coulthard got past Berger to make it a Williams one-two finish ahead of Häkkinen's McLaren. Schumacher's lead in the Drivers' Championship was now one point.
Schumacher came back from his ban to take pole position at Jerez and went onto win the race, ahead of Hill and Häkkinen, so Schumacher increased his lead in the Drivers' Championship to five points. Schumacher and Hill were on the front row for the Japanese Grand Prix. The race was played out in torrential conditions and the race was red flagged after Martin Brundle crashed his McLaren and seriously injured a track marshal. After discussions with the drivers it was agreed that the race would be restarted behind the safety car. After the restart, Schumacher went to pit for fuel and he was given a heavy load of fuel, the team were gambling that the race would not go the full distance because of the rain. Hill went ahead until he stopped and then Alesi was briefly the leader until his pit stop and Hill went into the lead again. Schumacher closed in on him and on lap 36 he went ahead on aggregate, if not on the road. Schumacher's time in the second part of the race, added to his time in the first part before the restart, meant that he was technically leading the race, even if he was behind Hill on the road. The track dried up and so the race was not going to be stopped early. That meant Schumacher had to stop again and so he dropped away. He charged back after the stop but this time Hill was able to hold the gap. Hill won by 3.3 seconds ahead of Schumacher with Alesi third, Mansell fourth, Irvine fifth and Frentzen sixth.
At Adelaide, Schumacher had one thing on his mind: aerodynamics. The angles of his front and rear wings were set to extremely low levels, giving a high straightline speed, but impaired cornering due to lack of downforce and therefore grip. This was in order to achieve a top speed comparable with the more powerful Williams-Renault. Nigel Mansell assisted at keeping Schumacher at bay for Williams by taking pole position, but he was eventually left behind in third after a poor start as the two title protagonists fought hard for the lead, and indeed, the title. Schumacher's extreme aerodynamic package began to unravel late in the race when his car ran wide and clipped a wall on the outside of a corner. Hill slipped through on the inside of the next corner, but Schumacher turned into Hill, taking them both out of the race. Schumacher, at age 25 was Germany's first Formula 1 World Drivers' Champion, but under highly controversial circumstances, although no action was ever taken against him. Mansell took his 31st and final win of his career.
Drivers and constructors
- With the retirement of reigning champion Alain Prost, the car number 1 was not assigned and Hill ran with number 0.
- An Argentine Grand Prix had been set on the schedule for October 16, but it was aborted as the track, which was being modernized since 1991, was not finished with the project. The race was moved to Jerez to make the European Grand Prix.
1994 Constructors Championship final standings
|RS6 3.5 V10||G||118||7||13||6|
|2||Benetton-Ford||B194||ECA Zetec-R 3.5 V8||G||103||8||12||6|
|043 3.5 V12||G||71||1||11||3|
|4||McLaren-Peugeot||MP4/9||A6 3.5 V10||G||42||8|
|5||Jordan-Hart||194||1035 3.5 V10||G||28||1||1|
|6||Tyrrell-Yamaha||023||OX10B 3.5 V10||G||13||1|
|7||Ligier-Renault||JS39B||RS6 3.5 V10||G||13||2|
|8||Sauber-Mercedes||C13||2175B 3.5 V10||G||12|
|9||Footwork-Ford||FA15||HBE7/8 3.5 V8||G||9|
|HBC7/8 3.5 V8||G||5|
|11||Larrousse-Ford||LH94||HBF7/8 3.5 V8||G||2|
|12||Pacific-Ilmor||PR01||2175A 3.5 V10||G|
|MF-351 HB 3.5 V10||G|
|14||Simtek-Ford||S941||HBD6 3.5 V8||G|
1994 Drivers Championship final standings
|Formula One Championship|
|1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010|