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The 1995 F1 Season
Memories of the crash between Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill at the British GP was still fresh as the teams reached Germany. The collision was reminiscent of the crash at Adelaide in 1994. However, this one appeared to be Damon Hill’s mistake. Take a look.
Well, after this incident at the British GP, Damon and Michael could call it quits on the 1994 episode; on a lighter note. The lucky beneficiary of this crash was Michael’s teammate Johnny Herbert who went on to win the British GP in front of his home crowd.
So, the lead of eleven points that Schumacher had after the win at the French GP stayed so after the British GP. Coming into the German GP, Schumacher had much to show to his home crowd, especially that, no German had ever won an F1 GP in Germany. Schumacher had everything going his way; after all, he was the defending champion and the championship leader.
Could he become the first German F1 driver to win the German GP?
Let’s find out.
The 1995 German GP Qualifying
Much like the rest of the races of the season, the German GP qualifying was a close affair between Hill and Schumacher. Eventually, Hill took the pole by about eight-hundredth of a second ahead of Schumacher, and David Coulthard was another seven-hundredth of a second from Schumacher. The top three were within one-tenth of each other’s time. However, the gap after that was more than a second to the fourth-placed Ferrari of Gerhard Berger.
The top three cars were in a league of their own; a league which not even the second Benetton of Johnny Herbert could near. On hindsight, it was a grid dominated by the superior Williams cars, and somehow, Schumacher came out with a performance to wedge himself between the front-runners.
So, the German GP qualifying once again saw Hill at the pole with Schumacher close-by at P2. Now it was off to the race-day.
The 1995 German GP – Race Day
In a manner that was becoming customary to Hill, he pulled away strong at the turn of the green lights. Never before in the 1995 season did Hill appear so aggressive as he opened up quite a lead to the second-placed Schumacher within half a lap. Had Hill continued in the same manner, he would have ended up opening up a gap to Schumacher and managed to stay in front even after the pits. But that was not to be.
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At the end of the first lap, Hill lost control and hit the tyre barriers, thus retiring him from the race. That gave Schumacher the lead.
Take a look at Hill’s initial aggressive start and crash.
See Hill’s charge in the first lap itself? Sadly, he had to retire and initially it was thought to be a driver mistake, but a later statement from the Williams confirmed it to be a driveshaft failure which caused the car to lose control and crash. If you notice, there is a puff of smoke in the rear even before the car spins. That’s the visible sign of the shaft failure.
What was impressive of that drive was that Hill and Coulthard were on a one-stop strategy while Schumacher in the Benetton was on a two-stop strategy. For the two-stop strategy to succeed, it was apparent that Schumacher had to put up some blistering laps to ensure his pitstops and still be in front. But with Hill’s charge, it did not look possible for Schumacher to have done that. Schumi could count himself lucky to have had Hill retire.
With Hill’s retirement, Schumi could carry out the two-stop strategy effectively, by opening up quite a gap to David Coulthard in second place before pitting and coming out. In the end, the race order was Schumacher, David Coulthard and Gerhard Berger. Gerhard, of course, came out with a race of his life to finish at the podium from the fourteenth position due to a ten seconds penalty.
For the first time in the season, Schumacher had a substantial lead to Damon Hill. Schumi was at 56 points to Damon’s 35 points, at the end of the German GP. The 21 points gap would be a considerable task for Damon and the Williams team to bridge, let alone overtake.
But then again, knowing what happened in the 1994 season despite Schumacher’s spectacular lead at the beginning of the season, the 1995 season could not be written off yet.
Back to the Pits
Schumacher had already won five races to Damon’s two. The lead was getting bigger while the number of remaining races smaller. The Williams team had to figure out a way to ensure that their superior car stayed on the track till the very end.
As for Michael, he could relax and enjoy his maiden German GP victory!!
The Next Win..
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