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Senna and the Unstable Williams Car
The 1995 season was one where many Senna fans, admittedly, stopped watching Formula 1; in fact, they stopped right after the Imola race where Senna left us for good. Though heartbreaking, Imola was a turning point in Formula 1; after that, driver safety received the highest priority in every F1 setup. The cockpit became stronger, the driver seat and car structure improved, and many other safety features in the car and F1 tracks came into effect.
At the start of the 1994 season, Senna had mentioned how unstable the Williams car was which led it to slip and slide on the track. He also said that while it was all great for fans to see such slips-and-slides, it was all good so long as the driver was unhurt. Sadly, Senna lost his life to one such slip-and-slide at Imola in 1994. While the cars became safer in 1995, thanks to the Senna incident, we would never have the great Brazilian legend driving an F1 car ever again, safe or otherwise.
Here’s a fan-made video comparing the 1994 season to 1995 as much the new and old champs of F1. Worth a watch!
Coming back to the season, Schumacher won the first race of the season at Brazil, though he had openly admitted that the Williams of Damon Hill was faster than his car. The Williams was indeed quicker, and they proved that by winning the next two races. The victories meant that Damon Hill was leading the points table while the defending champion, Schumacher, was at second place.
The 1995 season was far from the dominating victories that Schumacher had in the first four races of the 1994 season. He had to win the Spanish GP to revive his title hopes, despite the Williams' pace. And that's what Schumacher went after.
Would he succeed?
Let’s find out.
The 1995 Spanish GP Qualifying
Schumacher was on a mission on the qualifying day. His qualifying laps were breathtaking and too hot for the Williams. The Williams, interestingly, were not behind Schumacher’s car, rather two positions down in the fourth and fifth place. The Ferrari’s took the second and third spot.
Irrespective, no other car was anywhere close to matching pace with Schumacher. Schumacher on P1 was more than 0.6 seconds faster than the P2 of Jean Alesi. From P2 onwards the cars were separated by one-hundredth to two-tenths of a second. Besides, the other Benetton of Johnny Herbert qualified seventh on the grid. Clearly, Schumacher was in a league of his own!
Were these signs of things to come on race-day?
Maybe they were.
On to the race-day!
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The 1995 Spanish GP – Race Day
The race was everything that the Benetton team had expected while nothing close to what the Williams hoped for. The race started with Schumacher’s customary clean pull-away from the other cars. The Ferrari of Jean Alesi was acting as a pace car for the rest of the track while Schumacher had opened up a 1.6 seconds lead by the second lap.
The race went as planned until Jean retired and Damon came up places into the second spot. The other Benetton driven by Johnny Herbert was in third place. Schumacher in the meantime had opened up quite a gap to the second-place car which would allow him to pit and still come out in front. So, barring the quick change in order during pitstops, Michael remained in the front.
Here is the race snapshot:
Note: The audio is not in English, so you can keep up the volume to hear the thunderous roar of the V8, V10 and V12 engines of the F1 cars. If not, there is always the “mute” button.
Just when the race appeared to end with Schumacher leading from Hill and Herbert, disaster struck the Williams car. Damon had a mechanical failure causing him to crawl to the finish line, by which time, Herbert in the second Benetton and Gerhard Berger in the Ferrari passed him. So, Damon was classified fourth, and the Benetton ended up in a 1-2 finish.
During one of his pitstops, Johnny Herbert’s Benetton had a hilarious episode. The rear jack used to lift the car was left stuck to the vehicle as Johnny left the pits. Take a look.
Note: Watch from 0:41 minutes.
While the episode was hilarious for the people watching from the luxury of their homes or the stand, it could have been dangerous. If the jack had remained stuck, then there was a chance of an accident on the track. Luckily for everyone, it just came off and fell at the end of the pit lane.
All’s well that ends well!
Back to the Pits
Schumacher went through another scintillating race and took the position that he was growing accustomed to – the top spot. With the win came Schumacher’s twelfth career victory and he went to the top of the points table for the 1995 season. The season was just four races old, so there was a lot to be done. There wouldn’t be anyone who would know that better than Schumacher!
The 1995 F1 season was alive and kicking!
The Next Win..
Want to know the story of Michael's thirteenth career win? Click here to find out:
© 2020 S K