The 1995 Pacific GP: Michael Schumacher’s 18th Career Win
The 1995 F1 Season
Michael Schumacher came into the Pacific GP leading the closest rival, Hill, by twenty-seven points and needing just three points to seal the championship. That would be the kind of situation where Michael would breeze into race day while all the pressure was on the opposition to stop him from getting those three points.
Unlike the 1994 season where the championship went right to the last race, the situation was different in the 1995 season. Even if Michael did not get the three points in the Pacific GP, there were two more races left anyway. Moreover, it was unlikely that Schumacher wouldn’t be able to keep his winning ways going and end up at the top spot. So, the race would depend on how well Hill raced and what strategy the opposition came up with to defend the title. As for Michael, it would be a walk in the park.
The Benetton team would have wanted to wrap up things at Aida as also win the constructors’ championship if Michael won the race and Johnny Herbert finished in a favourable position. So, it was something Michael would have been mindful being a team player and we could expect him to come all out to win it for his team.
Well, how did he perform?
Let’s find out.
Did You Know?
The 1995 Pacific Grand Prix was the last to be held at the Aida circuit and the last under the banner of the “Pacific” GP.
The reason for the pullout was the management’s inability to keep the circuit financially and operationally profitable.
The 1995 Pacific GP Qualifying
While Hill would have been under pressure to stop Michael's juggernaut, the outside world was not helping either. The British media criticized Hill for not being aggressive and forceful in his battle against Schumacher. In fact, Michael himself slammed Hill for making half-hearted attempts at passing him leading to the on-track encounters. So, Hill had to manage the race dynamics as much as keep his mind free of the off-track chatter.
Hill had to go through qualifying at the back of all these developments. He gave his best and out-qualified Schumacher twice. His partner David Coulthard too did an excellent job qualifying close to the leaders' time. Eventually, it was Coulthard who took the pole followed by Hill and Schumacher. This was back to back 1-2 for Williams, and once again Schumacher was relegated to the third position.
However, it was still an uphill task for the Williams as Schumacher finishing fourth would be good enough to earn him the world title.
So, how would the race pan out?
Let's find out.
The 1995 Pacific GP – Race Day
The Pacific GP at Aida was set to host an F1 race for the very last time. So, it would be a memorable farewell assuming the world champion could be decided at that venue. At least, the Benetton team was hoping to close the season at the Pacific GP. It all boiled down to how the race started.
At the turn of the lights, Coulthard pulled away well while Damon tried to fend-off Michael trying to overtake on the outside. In the process, the two Ferraris wedged themselves in between the two title rivals. As such, Schumacher was down to fifth place while Hill down to third. The position did not remain so for too long as Schumacher passed Alesi and Hill quickly to take the third spot. From thereon, it was a hunt to catch up with Berger in the other Ferrari and Coulthard at the front.
The pitstop strategy of the Benettons was exemplary as Michael stopping thrice managed to remain ahead of Coulthard stopping only two times. After Michael’s second pitstop, Coulthard was still ahead by around fifteen seconds, but Michael’s customary fast lap assaults saw him close in on the leader. By the time, Coulthard went in for his second and final stop, Michael was already ahead by fifteen odd seconds.
Michael’s lightning laps coupled with the good fortune of backmarkers delaying Coulthard worked in the Benetton’s favour. Soon, Schumacher went in for his third and final stop and yet emerged ahead of the Brit in the Williams. With the new set of tyres, it was hardly possible for David in second place or Damon in third place to catch up with Schumacher. And so it remained. Michael won the Pacific GP leading Coulthard and Hill.
With that, the drivers’ championship was Michael’s but Benetton would have to wait for the remaining races to get the constructors’ championship. It still was a fitting farewell to the Aida circuit, and the “Pacific” banner as the world drivers’ title was decided there in the 1995 season.
Did You Know?
By winning the 1995 Pacific GP, Michael Schumacher became the youngest double world champion. That was a record which stood till 2006.
In 2006, Fernando Alonso won the world title twice and became the youngest driver. Sebastian Vettel, eventually, broke Alonso’s record in 2011 and still holds the record for the youngest double world champion.
Back to the Pits
Schumacher thus became the youngest double champion and helped his team come closer to the constructors’ championship too. If they won, it would be Benetton’s first constructors’ title. Anyway, it was still a day of celebration. Michael Schumacher and the Benetton team had the evening ahead of them for the great party!
Questions & Answers
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