Archive for the 'On This Day in F1 History …..' Category

24/8/97 ….. Schumacher wins Belgian GP

Spa 1997 (f1-facts.com)

Thirteen years ago today …… Michael Schumacher scored his 26th victory at the 1997 Belgian Grand Prix. The racetrack was virtually flooded before the start of the race, and therefore it was too dangerous for a normal “standing start”. For the first time in F1 history, the race was started behind the safety car. Jacques Villeneuve was in pole position, followed by Jean Alesi in the Benetton, and Schumacher in third.

The cars followed the safety car for a number of laps, until the track’s condition had improved. Twenty-two cars and a safety car cleared the track surface of excess water quickly. Michael Schumacher quickly demonstrated that he was the “Rain Master”, passing Alesi into La Source with a very brave move. Schumacher caught and passed Villeneuve easily, and left his competitors for dead. Jacques was never a brilliant performer in the wet, and the Williams FW19 wasn’t a dominant force in those conditions.

Schumacher crossed the line 26 seconds ahead of second-place man Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan Peugeot). Michael would go on to challenge Villenueve for the Championship. It all ended in tears, as Schumacher would collide with the Canadian during the final round at Jerez, and was excluded from the entire Championship!

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14/03/93 – South African GP

Ok, this one is a couple of days late, but the 1993 South African Grand Prix was seventeen years ago!

In 1993 in-race refuelling was banned, and the cars were limited to 190 litres of fuel for the entire race.

Kyalama 1993 was exciting, but not a classic by any standards … similar to the 2010 Bahrain GP! Alain Prost won the race.

10/03/1991: Senna won US Grand Prix

By Stu Seeger

On 10th of March 1991 Ayrton Senna won the United States Grand Prix.

The McLaren MP4/6 had only been completed a few weeks before the first race, but McLaren did a fantastic effort with the car, and its reliability was solid for the entire season. Williams were using the FW14, which featured a semi-automatic gearbox, and Mansell had rejoined the team from Ferrari. Ferrari started the season with the 642, which was based on the successful 1990 chassis. Jordan made their debut at this race, with the beautiful 191 car:

Picture by Stu Seeger

Onto the race itself:

At the start, Senna and Prost maintained their places while Mansell sliced ahead of Patrese and Piquet lost out to Alesi and Berger. The order at the end of lap 1 was: Senna, Prost, Mansell, Patrese, Alesi and Berger.

Early on, as Senna was pulling away from Prost, Alesi got past Patrese for fourth. However, Patrese repassed him on lap 16 and closed up on Mansell. He attacked on lap 22 but shot into an escape road and rejoined behind Alesi and Berger. He quickly closed up on them with Berger attacking Alesi but unable to pass. Patrese passed Berger on lap 34. On the next lap, Mansell’s gearbox failed and soon afterwards, on lap 36, Berger had fuel pump trouble, which forced him to retire. Patrese then passed Alesi who pitted on lap 43. He closed in on Prost and the Ferrari pitted on lap 46, with right rear troubles putting him down to seventh.

Patrese didn’t last longer, his gearbox failing and then the stationary car was hit by Roberto Moreno, forcing both of them out. Piquet, who did not stop, was passed by Alesi for second with Prost taking fourth off Stefano Modena soon after. Alesi was having gearbox troubles and was holding back Piquet as Prost began to attack both of them. On lap 70, Piquet passed Alesi and Prost followed him through. Prost then shifted sides getting ahead of Piquet as well. Modena passed Alesi for fourth and Alesi soon retired with gearbox troubles. Unflustered by all this, Senna won from Prost, Piquet, Modena, Satoru Nakajima and Aguri Suzuki.

(From Wikipedia)

Senna would go on to win the first FOUR rounds of the 1991 Season, which was quite a feat in the early 1990s. F1 cars were considerably less reliable back then. It was common for a dozen cars to retire from the race, and sometimes more! This would be the final US Grand Prix at Phoenix, and the last US race until the 2000 USGP in Indianapolis!

Let’s hope that the upcoming season is as good as 1991!

Sixteen Years Ago …

On a cold January day in 1994, the Williams Renault team launched their new branding at Estoril. The legendary Ayrton Senna and future champion Damon Hill were on display for the hundreds of photographers present at the Portuguese circuit. For many years the Williams cars sported a distinctive yellow, blue and white livery, which was in deference to their main sponsors. As Rothmans were the new title sponsors for 1994, the car’s livery changed accordingly:

(Photograph by DoctorVee)

The 1994 car wouldn’t be ready for several weeks, so Williams adapted the 1993 FW15 for the 1994 regulations. Electronic driving aids such as active suspension, ABS, and traction control were banned for ’94. The new rules meant that traditional passive suspension returned, and the drivers had to control wheelspin manually.

The team proudly displayed Senna, Hill, and the FW15D “interim” car to the World’s media. The new livery looked smart, and everyone was expecting the Williams team to run away with both championships for a fourth consecutive season. The team used the FW15D for pre-season testing until late February, but the car wasn’t all that quick, compared to the new Jordans. The ‘D’ variant’s suspension and aerodynamics were designed around active suspension, and it was more of a compromise than anything. Frank Williams would later describe the car as “mediocre”. The new FW16 was designed for passive suspension, and would make its first appearance during a pre-season test at Silverstone, in March. Much was expected of the new car, and of Senna. Unfortunately, the 1994 season turned into a nightmare, and Senna’s death on May 1 1994 would shake the team to its core.