The 1995 Monaco GP: Michael Schumacher’s 13th Career Win
The 1995 F1 Season
As the teams reached Monaco for the fifth race of the season, Schumacher and Hill appeared well-matched with two wins each. Schumacher was ahead by just one point, though. One noticeable thing was that the Williams team had a better car than the Benettons. So, Hill had an advantage even before the qualifying in Monaco.
The season had so far lived up to the expectation of being a close one between the title contenders. However, the Ferraris and McLarens had improved their performance too. The improvement meant that the qualifying grid regularly saw Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger, and Mika Hakkinen challenging Schumacher and Hill. How well the competition would be on race-day was still debatable.
So, Michael had to put up a stellar performance to live up to his name of being the defending champion.
Could he do it?
Let’s find out.
Did You Know?
In 1994, Nigel Mansell made a comeback to F1 to fill the void created by Senna’s untimely departure. He failed to make an impact or unsettle the chief opposition - Schumacher and the Benetton team.
In 1995, he joined McLarens and was unhappy with the car’s handling. It led to him calling quits after just four races of the season and thus ending his F1 career for good.
The 1995 Monaco GP Qualifying
The qualifying session started with the Ferraris setting the pace. Gerhard Berger took provisional pole in a car which was eager to go in every direction other than the one intended by the driver. Take a look at Berger’s early qualifying lap.
Did you see the car drift sideways at 1:54 minute mark? I have never seen an F1 car do that. That kind of drifting wouldn’t be possible today with the traction control and driver assists in use now, but watching this video was fun.
So, coming back to the qualifying, Michael Schumacher set a blistering pace to take provisional pole which Damon Hill could not better in the first run. However, things changed soon, as Hill put up lap after lap of better times which Schumacher could not even approach, let alone better.
In the end, Hill’s qualifying time was eight-tenths of a second better than Schumacher’s at P2. It was reminiscent of Senna’s time of nearly one-and-a-half seconds better than Prost’s in 1988 at the same circuit.
Schumacher felt that his drop in performance was due to the collision with Frentzen in the morning practice, which made the car difficult to handle. The reason notwithstanding, the qualifying day belonged to the Williams, and by the looks of it, race-day would be no different.
Could Schumacher or even the Ferraris or McLarens take on the Williams?
Let’s jump into the race-day to find out.
Did You Know?
Ferrari had a long-standing tradition of bringing two spare cars to Monaco.
Their foresight stood vindicated when both their cars crashed at the first start of the 1995 Monaco GP. The spare cars were available for both Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger.
The 1995 Monaco GP – Race Day
When the lights illuminated, Hill and Schumacher got away cleanly. However, the back of the grid comprising of the two Ferraris and Coulthard had a crash which blocked the track forcing the race to be stopped.
Take a look at Coulthard’s car getting launched and ending up blocking the circuit.
Note: The F1 accident we are referring to is up to 1:15 minutes. The rest of the video shows other race incidents at the same circuit.
The second start was much better, with most of the cars driving cautiously into the first corner. Hill continued to be at the front followed by Schumacher. Here is a brief look at the second start.
Hill demonstrated better pace than Schumacher, and as a result, opened up quite a lead. The top two cars stayed in the same position until the pitstops. Hill was the first to stop while Schumacher continued on track. He stayed out longer, hinting at a Benetton strategy of fewer stops than the Williams.
By the time Schumacher came in for his stop, he had opened up more than 20-second lead over Hill. That lead ensured that Michael got in and out of the pits ahead of the Williams. Hill was in the third position behind Michael and Jean Alesi. The Ferrari and Benetton seemed to have had a similar pit strategy, and it had worked. There was not much hope for Hill to catch up with the cars ahead, and even if he did, there was hardly any possibility of overtaking on the narrow Monaco circuit.
Just when Jean was well-set to be on the podium, he had a crash with Brundle leading to his disappointing retirement. Thereafter, Hill took second spot amid yellow flags. No such troubles for Schumacher who stretched his lead over Hill. In the end, Schumacher finished half a minute ahead of Hill while Gerhard Berger in the other Ferrari took the last podium spot.
That was one more victory for Schumacher!
Did You Know?
The 1995 season saw the introduction of electronic measures to identify jump-starts. Its success was immediate as six drivers were caught at the Monaco circuit for a jump start.
Subsequently, all six drivers had to go through a ten-second stop-go penalty.
Back to the Pits
Schumacher’s win was his thirteenth overall and third for the 1995 season. The win put him five points clear of Hill. The only conclusion that came out after the Monaco GP was that the season was going to be closer than expected as Michael and Damon were trading first and second position continually in every race.
The 1995 season was far from over, and so was the title clash!
© 2020 S K