The 1994 Monaco GP: Michael Schumacher’s 6th Win – Adeus Senna
The 1994 F1 Season
The F1 world arrived at Monaco disheartened at the loss of Ayrton Senna, the man who single-handedly dominated Formula 1 news over the last half a decade. Not only dominated the news but also won three world titles at the same time. It was a huge loss, and even before the world could come to terms with it, the next race arrived in Monaco. The show must go on, as they say.
The race track appeared barren with no known names competing for the title. True, there was a certain Schumacher in a Benetton, a Hill, Senna’s partner, in the Williams, a fast-driving Mika in a McLaren and then, of course, the Bergers, Brundles and Alesis of the F1 world, but not a single big name. No Senna, no Prost and no Mansell.
The 1994 Monaco GP would have witnessed one of the substantial dips in viewership if someone had indeed measured the impact. There were sweeping changes in Formula 1, with the immediate introduction of the pitlane speed limit of 80 kmph, as we know it today. Many more were to follow from the next race.
Let’s find out how the Monaco GP went on.
Did You Know?
The Monaco GP of 1994 was the first race since 1959 without a single world champion. Senna was lost in Imola, 1994, Prost retired in 1993, and Nigel Mansell left for Indy car racing in 1992.
As such, it was a track of newbies and lesser ranking old-timers. It also had the least number of erstwhile winners – Schumacher, Hill, Berger and Alboreto.
The 1994 Monaco GP Qualifying
For the first time in the 1994 season and his career, Schumacher raced to the pole position in the absence of Senna. Senna had effectively demoted Schumacher to second place in the qualifying sessions of the first three races.
Some demons of San Marino came back to haunt the F1 world as Karl Wendlinger crashed during qualifying and was taken to hospital unconscious. A sense of deja-vu prevailed, but the session continued. Here’s the crash.
The accident notwithstanding, Mika drove like a beast and came ahead of Schumacher by eight-tenth of a second. He took provisional pole until Schumacher snatched it back and the position remained so after that.
Did You Know?
The 1994 Monaco GP race-day had two empty grid positions in the front row. One was painted with a Brazilian flag and the other with an Argentinian flag. It was as a mark of respect and in remembrance of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, respectively.
Both were lost to the world in the previous race at San Marino GP.
The 1994 Monaco GP – Race Day
Once the race started, Schumacher took the race by the throat as he sped away from the pole. After that, in his usual style, pulled away from the rest. One of the things that worked in Schumacher’s favour was Damon Hill rear-ending Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren and effectively taking out both. With neither of the equally performing cars on track, there were hardly any other who could catch up.
There were changes in the track positions behind Schumacher, but none affected him. Only at one point, when Martin Brundle in the McLaren came up to second place did he appear to catch up with Schumacher. Schumacher, however, responded and the gap more or less stayed constant.
Here is the race summary from qualifying to the race-day:
The video shows the practice sessions, the FIA changes, qualifying and the race. Those interested in the race can watch from the 5:00 minute mark.
Schumacher remained in the lead from the first lap to the end. Even after the pitstops, he came out ahead of the second-place car. He completely dominated the race, and not a single driver came close.
At the end of the race, Schumi ended up with forty drivers’ championship points earned from four races. He was thirty points ahead of Gerhard Berger on the points table, which was unusual. Usually, in any season a thirty-points lead would be seen midway through the season and not at the end of the first four races.
Michael was emerging as the driver to beat, and no one seemed to have the wherewithal to counter him, leave alone defeating him. If Michael continued at the same pace of winning, then there was no stopping him from claiming his first world title.
Did You Know?
In the 1994 Monaco GP, as a mark of respect, Williams and Simtek raced with just one car because of their respective losses.
Williams lost Ayrton Senna while Simtek lost Roland Ratzenberger in the San Marino GP of 1994.
Back to the Pits
Michael was ruthless in his domination of the 1994 season, and the only man who could have challenged him was not there anymore. Michael would have fancied his chances, and the team would have already started to believe that they could do it. The 1994 season championship appeared within Benetton’s grasp and the season was just four races old.
Questions & Answers
© 2020 S K