The 1994 Brazilian GP: Michael Schumacher’s 3rd Win
The 1994 F1 Season
The 1994 season was never about Michael Schumacher at all. It was only about the late Brazilian legend, Ayrton Senna. True, Michael was one of the lead competitors but not the expected title winner. The Williams was a dominant car and had title wins in the 1992 and 1993 season. It was supposed to replicate that performance in 1994 too.
The lead drivers list for Williams was also impressive since 1992. It was Nigel Mansell in 92, Alain Prost in 93 and Ayrton Senna in 94. Of course, there was a tiny difference in the 1994 car. The total domination of the Williams in the previous years was attributed to the electronics – active suspension, traction control, et all – which the FIA sought to curb to level the field for every team.
While the move was right, it put the Williams team in a bit of difficulty. In the previous two seasons, the electronics did well enough that the Williams team did not have to bother about aerodynamics. But in 1994, the removal of electronics meant that they had to focus back on aerodynamics and other physical car dynamics. The car was not entirely ready for the season by the beginning of the race, which meant that it would remain unstable. Yet, it was the most powerful car on track; it was a lethal combination of power and unpredictable dynamics. But if anyone could tame the car it was only Ayrton Senna.
So, how did the Brazilian Grand Prix go?
Let’s find out.
Did You Know?
Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost had a tumultuous relationship as teammates and competitors.
While signing for the Williams team in 1993, Alain put in a condition that he would race for Williams only if they did not extend a contract to Ayrton Senna. Williams team obliged, and Ayrton wasn’t signed that year.
Notwithstanding their history, Senna and Prost patched up as Alain retired by the end of the 1993 season.
The 1994 Brazilian GP Qualifying
In a bumpy and sliding Williams, Senna managed to set up the pole time. He was magical and qualified ahead of Schumacher quite, easily.
Senna made it look easy, but a comparison with his teammate, Hill, showed how difficult it was to qualify in the Williams. Hill was off Senna’s pole time by a one-and-a-half second. That was huge. Only Michael in the Benneton was anywhere closer to Senna’s time.
Years later, Hill admitted that Senna could get into any car and still come out trumps. Hill was a bit embarrassed to admit then (years later) that he had qualified so off the pace. Here is the video.
It is Ayrton’s qualifying lap from the onboard camera. It gave a different perspective on the car’s handling problems.
The 1994 Brazilian GP – Race Day
Well, in an article talking about Michael Schumacher’s third win, we are talking more about Senna, aren’t we? But then who would complain? The Brazilian GP, Senna’s home GP, was assumed to be Senna’s, and it did appear to be the case when the race started.
Senna raced away followed by Alesi who went past Michael. By the end of the first lap, Senna had opened up a lead of four-seconds on Alesi. That’s how fast Senna was. Though Schumacher overtook Alesi, he was still behind Senna until the first pitstop.
Here is the race summary:
Only at the first pitstop did Schumacher go ahead of Senna. Closer to the end of the race Senna launched a massive barrage of hot laps catching up with Schumacher. But luck ran out for Senna when fifteen laps to the end he spun out and stalled the unstable car. That allowed Schumacher to race to victory unchallenged.
Such was Senna and Schumacher’s domination that they lapped everyone till the third-place, Damon Hill. That was some crazy race for Schumacher to win! And with that Schumacher won the third race of his career.
Did You Know?
Post Senna’s unfortunate and untimely heavenly departure, Williams team worked overtime to make the car stable. That translated in improvement in Damon Hill’s performance, who became the lead contender against Michael Schumacher in 1994.
One would wonder how the 1994 season would have panned out if Senna had got the updated Williams. He would have taken the 1994 title for sure, which even Michael Schumacher accepted.
Back to the Garage
Notwithstanding the high drama around the unstable Williams car in 1994, Michael Schumacher won the first race of the season and opened up a lead of ten points over Senna. Senna could never be written-off, and the remaining races would be exciting. Schumacher was slowly and surely coming out of his rookie status and becoming one of the lead contenders for the 1994 title.
Questions & Answers
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