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The 1995 F1 Season
A season which appeared to be clean as a whistle between title rivals, Schumacher and Hill, was marred by incidents at the British GP and Italian GP. In both instances, the jury might have gone against Hill for the crashes. Those crashes notwithstanding, Schumacher still led the championship but was just seventeen points adrift of Hill. Hill could easily bridge that kind of points difference at the back of two good races. So, there was hardly any breathing space for the leaders.
Schumacher may have had the psychological advantage of leading the table, while Hill would have been on the back foot trying to catch up. It would be one of the must-watch battles as the season was still open. The question was whether the European GP would once again be a Schumacher-Hill affair or would the other drivers of Williams and Benetton be playing a role, as also the resurgent Ferraris.
Let’s find out.
The 1995 European GP Qualifying
Unlike most of the qualifying earlier in the season, the 1995 European GP was not left only for Schumacher and Hill. There were many claimants to the top spot from Williams, Benettons, Ferraris and even McLarens.
The McLaren cars had arrived after heavy testing for handling issues, and Mika Hakkinen was driving the car flat out. Take a look at his qualifying runs.
Though the lap times seemed extraordinary, Mika was relegated to ninth fastest once the three faster constructors came on track. Even, Eddie Irvine in a Jordan and Heinz Harold Frentzen in Sauber out-qualified Mika.
Talking about the front three rows of the grid, the Williams appeared strong and were trading places between both the drivers. For once, Schumacher hardly troubled the Williams, as the Williams would quickly better Schumacher's qualifying time. So, this was one front grid totally dominated by the Williams. Schumacher could only manage a P3.
A P3 wasn't bad considering the full race distance, but Williams proved themselves to be quite strong at the European GP. Also, David Coulthard out-qualified both Damon and Schumacher. It was now on to the race day.
The 1995 European GP – Race Day
Rain graced the European GP, which led to a wet and dry track throughout the race. At the green lights, David got ahead with a strong start and was followed by Schumacher who went past Damon. So, it was David leading from Schumacher and Hill.
The Williams had the pace and Schumacher was hardly catching up with David, while Damon was piling pressure on Schumacher to pass him. This race was one of the few ones where Damon was aggressive in overtaking Schumacher and did so with relative ease.
Take a look at the race summary.
Note: The commentary is not in English. So, turn down the volume and watch. The race is indeed exciting.
The two hallmarks of the race were where Damon overtook Schumacher and the one where Schumacher passed Alesi. The latter pass gave Michael his victory in the European GP. Take a look at that overtake here.
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Schumacher completed his third and last pitstop and flew across the tracks to catch up with Alesi. He was catching up at the pace of nearly 1.6 seconds every lap, partly attributed to the backmarkers holding Alesi. However, once behind Alesi, Schumacher did the job within two laps from the finish. That was P1 for Schumacher.
Hill, however, was left disappointed as he had a collision with Alesi, taking out his front wing. As such, going in for the change took time, and Hill lost places. Damon tried to continue with his aggressive drive but just eight laps from the finish, he lost control and skidded into the tyre barrier. Damon, later, attributed the car’s mishandling to the crash with Alesi. Interestingly, Alesi found himself duelling with both the title leaders!
So, the race ended with Schumacher taking yet another victory and steering twenty-seven points clear of Hill, who failed to finish.
Damon Hill Cheering For Michael Schumacher
Well, that’s not something you would often see, especially when the person cheering and the one being cheered are title rivals. But that’s precisely what Damon Hill did, and it shows the sportsman spirit of Damon.
You can watch the applauding here in the video. It is one of the same videos as above.
Note: Watch from the 9-minute mark, and you will see Damon walk across the grass to give a thumbs up to Schumacher. Damon had retired just eight laps from the finish. Also, audio not in English.
The other reason for Damon’s thumbs-up could be that he was cheesed-off by Alesi bumping him earlier and maybe, Schumacher taking the win from Alesi’s jaws was just what Damon needed. Either way, it is still incredible for him to wait for eight laps at the spot where he crashed and applaud for Schumacher. But that begs the question. What question, you ask?
Why did Schumacher not give Damon a ride back?
That question is pertinent because Schumacher did give Alesi a ride back at Canada. Now that the readers are upset, here’s the answer. Schumacher’s car was suffering from a clutch slippage which meant that had he stopped, both Damon and he, would have had to walk back. So, Schumacher just continued onwards.
A reason good enough to forgive Schumacher, I guess.
Back to the Pits
Schumacher added yet another feather to his cap with the European GP victory. Not only the career wins but also the possibility of ending the season at the top of the table appeared real. Schumacher needed just three more points to seal the season, and there could be hardly any doubts that he would be going all out for that in the next race.
Watch out world!
The Next Win..
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