Winning in Formula 1 in the 90s was something exclusive to the English teams, which with Williams and McLaren dominated the scene for almost the entire decade. The only team able to break this hegemony was Benetton in the drivers 'championship twice, and in the constructors' championship in 1995.
The protagonist of this World Championship is the Benetton B195, World Champion drivers and constructors. The Anglo-Italian team will win everything possible before the marriage between Schumacher and Ferrari brought many team members to Maranello who will make the fortunes of the Red.
1994 was the season that had consecrated Michael Schumacher for the first time as Formula 1 World Champion, after a season characterized by the dramatic start that saw the disappearance of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzemberger in the Grand Prix of the Republic of San Marino, and from so many controversies for a Benetton often at the limits of the regulation. Net of everything, on balance Schumacher won the world title despite the four races disqualification suffered during the season, and giving rise to a heated rivalry with the British Williams-Reanult of Damon Hill.
On the other hand, there was an opposite performance for the second driver, a role that had seen three drivers alternate (Jos Verstappen, Letho and Herbert) with generally disappointing results. The dilemma will be resolved in favor of the last of the three: the English Johnny Herbert is chosen to support Schumacher for the 1995 season, counting on making available a more versatile car and not exclusively tailored to the German champion, as they had repeatedly emphasized. practically all his team mates from the previous year.
The new regulations
From a technical point of view, the most important change is the reduction of the engine displacement: it goes from 3500 to 3000 cm³, meeting the purpose of reducing the power and performance of the cars.
Other significant changes are imposed on the chassis, since as a result of the numerous accidents that had characterized 1994, they had to be made significantly safer: the side pods are raised, just like the side part of the survival cell which is brought above the height of the rider's shoulders, as well as being the cell itself made less narrow.
Still with a view to increasing safety, all deformable structures (in particular the side bellies and the nose section) are subjected to much more rigorous crash tests. The so-called ground effect is also significantly reduced, by imposing less depth on the wings to reduce downforce and, consequently, the cornering speed. In addition, there is a significant reduction in downforce, with the introduction of a new stepped section of the flat-bottomed underbody. On the other hand, no particular changes are introduced in the sporting regulations.
Old soul, new engine: the B195 is the perfect combination
The single-seater from the previous year, the B194, had focused on an entire project tailored to its top driver, Michael Schumacher, who turned out to be a good choice from a world drivers perspective. That car had an excellent aerodynamic package, but it had its weak point in the Ford-Cosworth V8 engine.
Not surprisingly, the main novelty of the B195 is right here: the powerful Renault engine also arrives for Benetton, thanks to the firm will of team principal Flavio Briatore, and the car now has an RS7 V10 engine at 67° from 2998 cm³ of displacement, capable of delivering a maximum power of over 690 horsepower.
The gearbox is sequential semi-automatic, electronically controlled Hewland, with six ratios plus reverse. The car is equipped with Goodyear tires. The project is conceived from the mind of engineer Rory Byrne, and supervised by technical director Ross Brawn.
Once the most important gap has been filled, the interventions on the chassis are almost exclusively limited to adapting to the new regulations prepared by the FIA, to ensure greater safety following the dramatic events of 1994: the bottom of the car is raised by five centimeters compared to the previous car; the side bellies are enlarged together with the driver's cockpit; and finally, other minor interventions are carried out on the rear axle and rear wing, to make them more suitable for reduced aerodynamic load.
Schumacher v. Hill, chapter two
In spite of the previous year, in 1995 the choice of the favorite team in the title race is not obvious: Williams, in fact, net of a disastrous start with Ayrton Senna, had the most balanced and competitive car in the 1994 season, and Hill's duel with Michael Schumacher was resolved only in the last act, with the controversial Adelaide incident giving the title to the German.
This season, a two-man race for the title is expected from the start, with Benetton ready to defend itself thanks to the new Renault engine that puts it ahead of the competition also in terms of engines.
A triumphal season
The 1995 season opens in Brazil, on the Interlagos circuit. The first pole was taken by Hill's Williams, with Schumacher right behind. In the race, however, the German has a burning spurt, takes the lead of the Grand Prix and goes on to win, while the Englishman is the victim of a gearbox problem towards the middle of the race. The victory will initially end up sub-judice due to an irregularity found on Schumacher and Coulthard's fuels (who finished second on the other Williams), but will eventually be validated by the federation. A rather turbulent start.
Damon Hill redeems himself immediately by winning in Argentina and in the San Marino Grand Prix, while Schumacher collects a podium in South America and a sensational retirement in Imola, where he crashes into the Piratella while leading the race. After three Grands Prix, the standings see Hill in the lead with 20 points, followed by Schumacher at 14.
But Schumacher immediately raises his head thanks to two consecutive victories in Spain, starting from pole (with Herbert completing the Benetton double), and in Monaco, with the English limiting the damage with a fourth place at Montmelò and a podium in the principality. Now the German is leading 34 to 29.
We then go to Canada: a Grand Prix stingy with satisfactions for both contenders, given that Hill retires, but Montreal 1995 will be remembered for Jean Alesi's first and only victory in Formula 1 with Ferrari, on the day of the thirty-first birthday of he. Schumacher closes fifth, being a victim of gearbox problems, but he too takes a bit of the scene by giving Alesi a ride in the farewell lap, with his Ferrari stopped without petrol. An image that made history.
At Magny Course Schumacher and Hill return first and second respectively, and the German extends: after seven races the comparison between the two is 46 to 35. We then go to Silverstone, where Hill, on a comeback on Schumacher, ventures to overtake at the Priory corner, but the maneuver fails and the contact puts both of them out of the race. The rivalry between the two finally explodes, with team principal Flavio Briatore who exacerbates the tone even more by placing the responsibility for the accident on Hill, who according to him has invented a car without brakes. Despite this, Benetton will still celebrate the victory of the race, but with Johnny Herbert, in his first career victory.
The episode made Hill mentally collapse, who in the following Grand Prix, in Hockeneim, retired while leading due to a trivial chichane mistake, leaving Schumacher free to score 10 to 0 in his home Grand Prix. The same 10 to 0, however, occurs in the following Grand Prix with reversed parts, with Hill winning in front of fellow Coulthard and Schumacher raising the white flag due to the failure of the engine. With ten races behind him, the fight, ranking in hand, is still very open: 56 to 45 for the Benetton driver.
The Belgian Grand Prix arrives, which reserves surprises since the tests: Schumacher goes to the wall destroying his Benetton. The first row was won by the Ferraris of Berger and Alesi, who set the time before the rain, while Hill was eighth.
Schumacher, struggling with setup problems on the reserve car, is only sixteenth. In the race, however, the German invented one of his most beautiful masterpieces: with slick tires on a wet track he recovered lap after lap until he took the lead against Hill, who with second place slips to minus fifteen in the standings (66 a 51) and from now on he will no longer represent a danger for the Benetton world championship.
In Monza, in fact, where Herbert's second success arrives with the other Benetton, Hill still makes the mistake that causes both to retire to the Roggia variant, while in Portugal Coulthard wins on the second Williams, and Hill remains third behind Schumacher. The German flies to plus seventeen in the overall standings.
The world championship, realistically speaking, ends at the Nurburgring, where Schumacher wins and puts another 10-0 with the Damon Hill accident. With 82 points, against Hill's 55, the only thing missing is mathematical certainty for the title, which arrives two weeks later in the Pacific Grand Prix, thanks to Schumacher's victory; Hill's third place is of little use.
The last two Grands Prix will be used for the final verdict, relating to the constructors' world championship: Michael also wins in Japan, with Herbert third, while the Williams retire with a double retirement that gives the Anglo-Italian team the first Constructors' title in their history. Hill's victory in Australia is for statistics only.
The 1995 season thus ends with a complete triumph for the Benetton-Renault team, which collects the beauty of eleven victories, of which nine by Schumacher, two by Herbert, a double, four pole positions conquered by the German driver, and both world titles. Pilots and Builders.