Posts Tagged 'Damon Hill'

The Safety Car Issue

Sunday’s Monaco GP was a reasonably exciting race, but not a thriller by any stretch of the imagination. Mark Webber drove a strong race to beat his teammate yet again. Sebastian will not be pleased with this, and I’m sure we will see a resurgent Vettel for the rest of the season! Mark has added his name to the list of greats who have triumphed around the Principality. Victory in Monaco will probably be the highlight of his season, if not his career, and something that the Australian can be proud of.

Unfortunately, the race will be remembered for two quite ridiculous events. The first one was Jarno Trulli’s collision with Karun Chandok. I have never watched a crash live onboard before … Jarno’s car literally chopped the T-cam off Chandok’s car! The wrecked cars partially blocked the track at the Rascasse corner, leading to the fourth safety car of the race. The safety car stayed out until the end of lap 78, after which it pulled into the pits, and the green flags/lights were shown … surely the cars were under racing conditions? Think again. Apparently, the green flags didn’t mean “all clear”, but Michael Schumacher interpreted it that way, and overtook Fernando Alonso into the very last corner. Michael would later be demoted to 12th position, as a direct result of the overtaking move. To be honest it was ridiculous! How can the marshalls wave green flags, and the green lights be shown WITHOUT the track being “all clear”? The rules as they stand are confusing and even contradictory. Green flags mean all clear! The F1 rules should be changed to the ones similar to IndyCar i.e. full course yellows. That way there would have been no misunderstanding, and no controversy.

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.