The 1995 Canadian GP: Jean Alesi’s Only Career Victory
The 1995 F1 Season
The 1994 season witnessed Michael Schumacher becoming the youngest world champion, and his juggernaut continued into the 1995 season as well. By now, the Willaims were back to the top technologically, and it was only Michael’s Benetton holding the Williams back.
The Ferrari’s competitiveness had improved a lot and the 1995 season appeared strong. They were still a pace or two behind the Benettons and Williams. Jean Alesi, particularly, was having a decent season with two podium finishes already. The Canadian GP was going to be special for Jean Alesi, even before the teams arrived in Canada. Why? Because the GP would be on Jean's birthday.
Could it be special for him in terms of a victory as well?
Let’s find out.
Did You Know?
Jean Alesi made his F1 debut in 1989 and until 1995 had not won a single GP.
That made him one of the few podium finishers who did not manage to win a GP for a long time.
The 1995 Canadian GP Qualifying
The qualifying session was on expected lines with the front row being occupied by Schumacher in the Benetton and Damon Hill in the Williams. The Ferraris took the fourth and fifth spot while the other Benetton of Johnny Herbert was sixth. Gerhard Berger qualified ahead of teammate Jean Alesi in the Ferrari.
The race was set for a Schumacher or a Hill victory, as had been the case all through the 1994 season and the early 1995 season. But Alesi was already proving to be aggressive in the last few races.
Could he do it? A start from the fifth position did not seem promising, but could Jean still do it?
We had to wait for the race-day to know the answer.
Did You Know?
Until the 1995 Canadian GP, Jean Alesi was the first Ferrari driver to have a winless 67 consecutive GPs. It was a record back then and stayed so until 2013.
That not-so-pleasant record was then taken up by Felipe Massa in 2013 when he went winless for more than 67 GPs.
The 1995 Canadian GP – Race Day
The race day was also the birthday of Jean Alesi. A win here could be the icing on the cake. Though the track was dominated by faster cars, Jean had a long shot starting from the fifth position, and that too in a Ferrari. He had to start as strong as possible.
At the start of the race, Schumacher blasted ahead with Hill in a close second. Alesi was aggressive and took two positions to move into third. Only the Wiliams and the lone Benetton of Schumacher remained ahead. Alesi kept on with the dynamic drive and hoped for the best.
Here is the race summary:
Note: Heavy music. Can mute and watch.
Fortune favoured the brave Alesi. He overtook Coulthard in third place and was right behind Hill. But soon Hill had an engine failure thus promoting Alesi. Schumacher was still a fair distance ahead. As if on cue, Schumacher’s car was stuck on third gear and hence he had to come in to change the steering to get the car working again.
That was the opportunity that Alesi was waiting for. He grabbed the place with both hands and pressed ahead without a drop in verve. That position was hardly going to change as the second-placed Barrichello was nearly twenty-five second adrift.
Alesi then took the chequered flag to register the first victory of his F1 career. Though, the day was not over yet, at least not for Schumacher and Alesi.
On the victory lap, Barrichello caught up with a slowing down Alesi. The other cars assumed that Alesi was slowing down to acknowledge the crowd and hence went past. But actually, Alesi’s vehicle had run out of fuel. He got out of the car, just in time for Schumacher to arrive. Schumacher then offered Alesi a ride on his car, which was one of the iconic moments of F1.
Did You Know?
On the victory lap of the 1995 Canadian GP, Jean Alesi’s Ferrari ran out of fuel midway. Schumacher just about then reached Alesi’s side and offered him a ride back. That scene of Alesi on Schumacher’s Benetton became iconic.
It was not only iconic but ironic too. A year later in 1996, Alesi would be driving with the Benetton team while Michael Schumacher would join the Ferrari team.
A perfect swap!
Back to the Pits
The 1995 Canadian GP was a memorable one in that none of the leading cars could finish ahead of the determined Jean Alesi. Jean would go on to finish the season in fourth place. The win at Canada would be the only victory in Jean’s career.
A great win for one of the most talented racers in a piece of lacking machinery!
© 2020 S K