#570 1995 Canadian Grand Prix

2023-01-19 23:00

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#1995, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Francesca Zamparini,

#570 1995 Canadian Grand Prix

Last year Ferrari went out on a limb on only one occasion, saying that in Germany they could win. And at Hockenheim, punctually, Gerhard Berger scored


Last year, Ferrari went out on a limb on only one occasion, saying that they could win in Germany. And at Hockenheim, punctually, Gerhard Berger scored the first and only win of the season. History repeats itself these days. No one makes any proclamations, but in the environment, one senses that tension typical of crucial moments. Says Gerhard Berger:


"It’s not my habit to make rushed predictions, but it must be admitted that if everything goes well, we can be very close to beating our rivals".


The track is theoretically suited to the characteristics of the 412 T2, a few small changes on the engines, an efficient chassis, easy to set up. These are the Maranello team's weapons. But there is more. Lately, there has been friction between the two drivers: the accident at the start in Barcelona and the fact that Alesi somehow obstructed Berger in qualifying in Monaco created a situation of separation at home between Jean and Gerhard. So, President Montezemolo had to intervene, and he certainly made the two drivers deal with their responsibilities. It is true that Formula 1 is an individual sport, but there are also definite team interests. And since Ferrari's intention is to reconfirm Berger and Alesi for 1996, the two drivers had to reconsider their intentions and now the situation should be back to normal. Among other things, reliable market rumours say that the Austrian has already signed (before Monte-Carlo) a contract for next year and that the Frenchman met Montezemolo in the days ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix to do the same. Although Alesi practically had every possible confirmation, his position is more volatile. Jean would be very keen on Benetton, and he would also have contacts with Williams. It is clear that Renault might be behind the manoeuvre, willing to have at least one French driver. But there is also the possibility that Frank Williams, disappointed with the French company that also wanted to give its engines to Benetton, could change supplier, addressing Ford. In this case, Alesi would be left with the team managed by Flavio Briatore, his great friend and admirer. There is also chatter about a Schumacher-Alesi exchange between Ferrari and Benetton, but there is a huge obstacle in the form of the German driver's financial demands. The good Michael Schumacher would ask for a sum valued at around $30.000.000 per year. 


Another hypothesis, a little more fanciful, regards Alain Prost, who would like to make an all-French team with Alesi. With Berger apparently confirmed, and Alesi now on the home straight (although some of Montezemolo's advisors also like Coulthard and Frentzen, with the latter about to try out for McLaren, at the behest of Mercedes), Ferrari should have found peace of mind as far as the human factor is concerned. It remains to be seen whether the technical and car progress will be really confirmed from Friday, June 9th to Sunday, June 11th, 1995, also considering that for Saturday and race day there is threat of rain. Which could also be a further advantage. While waiting to see if Alesi and Berger will truly succeed in the duel between the leader Schumacher and Damon Hill, the market holds sway. And not only that of drivers. On Wednesday, June 7th, 1995, Cesare Fiorio also confirmed the rumours that had been circulating for some time. And announces that he will leave Ligier as of July 2nd, 1995. A communiqué speaks of an amicable and consensual separation, after the conclusion of a one-year contract. In truth, the Italian manager preferred to leave the French team because of the arrival of Tom Walkinshaw, who holds the same position as him. Fiorio, skilled and competent, brought Ligier back to an acceptable level. But he was preferred to the controversial British executive, with whose departure Benetton paid a debt to the FIA, in some way. Briatore had in fact promised the Federation, after last year's events (irregular petrol filler, etc. etc.), that he would remove the responsible person. Under the counter manoeuvres. Michael Schumacher does not want to take any risks. And he does not give rivals any room.


"I'm told that in the second qualifying round it might rain, so it will be better to get straight to the front".


Said and done. On Friday, June 9th, 1995, the World Champion of Benetton is in provisional pole position at the Canadian Grand Prix. And if the weathermen are right, the German driver will once again start ahead of everyone. The skill of a driver is also this: knowing how to take advantage of all situations and being able to get the best out of them at the right moment. Something that did not happen to Ferrari, which, for now, has to settle for third and fourth place with Berger and for Alesi respectively, both preceded by Hill. On an atypical circuit, between low walls and guardrails, with the asphalt ruined by the winter cold forming small depressions, Schumacher had every intention of gaining his fourth win of the season. To create an even bigger gap in the standings and leave Damon Hill in the lurch. Michael Schumacher always comes out on top, also thanks to a car that evidently supports him perfectly.


"We worked hard, just to be 100% right away. And everything worked out perfectly. I could have even been faster if I hadn't run into traffic, too many overtakes. But I’m happy anyway. If there’s a chance to improve, though, I certainly won't go on track to get overtaken".


The opposite is true for Ferrari, which shows to have a lot of ambitions already during timed tests. In the morning, Berger breaks an engine after three laps and practically does not tune up his 412 T2. Alesi tries different set-ups, performs thrilling braking, even to the last centimetre, but in vain. It is clear that traction, grip and acceleration of his single-seater are not up to expectations.


"I turn 31 on Sunday, and I really wanted to celebrate it with my first Formula 1 success. However, it looks like that will not be the case this time, either. Hope is always the last to die, but things did not turn out as well as we all hoped. The small bumps on the track put us in crisis, we couldn't find a good set-up to cope with the jumps well. Then, with the second set of tyres, the car had an electrical problem and I had to give up. I don't give up, as always, but everything becomes more difficult".


Less pessimistic is Gerhard Berger, who, having hardly lapped, seems satisfied with his placement:


"Honestly, after only three laps, I couldn’t expect more. I tried a fast lap in the end, to improve, but I arrived at the chequered flag by only two seconds, marking the end of qualifying. There was a small problem with the fuel filler valves in the refuelling and I lost valuable time. Let's hope the weather forecast is wrong, and we can make up for it in the second round. I think Ferrari is worth the front row".


For the moment, next to Schumacher is Damon Hill.


"My Williams is very difficult to drive, it was jumping all over the place. I saw myself against the walls several times. Luckily, I always managed to avoid skidding too violently. Apart from that, I continue to have confidence for the race. Now we'll study the telemetry data, and you'll see that we'll be more competitive".


It must be said that Williams, while always remaining at the top, is often presented with various problems, recently. Coulthard, for example, had a terrible time with the road holding and on his car the gearbox would jump when the Scot shifted gears. Not an easy situation, driving at 250 km/h in this kind of Notre Dame Island gut. The challenge is still open, but much, at this point, depends on whether the rain will come. Around here, they hardly get the barometer (and of course the satellites) wrong. Scattered thunderstorms are forecast for Saturday. So, the second qualifying round might even be saved by the wet track. More difficult is the situation regarding the race, when a lasting drizzle should theoretically arrive. And who knows, on the wet asphalt, Alesi might find his lucky day. But this is not serious: to confirm its progress, Ferrari would have to go faster without the help from the clouds. In the pits, however, there is also talk of something else. And specifically, about Jacques Villeneuve, son of the unforgettable Gilles Villeneuve. 


Suddenly, the little boy seems to have become a hot market eye-catcher. Where will Jacques Villeneuve go? Perhaps to Ferrari, like his famous father? The question bounces impertinently between one pit box and the another, after the 24-year-old son of Gilles won the Indy 500. But evidently, it is no longer enough to be a child of art. The answer comes from Bernie Ecclestone:


"Jacques? He's not going anywhere. I've tried polling the various stables, nobody wants him".


On Saturday, June 10th, 1995, the announced rain does not wet the track at Notre Dame Island. There is even bright and warm sunshine on the second qualifying day of the Canadian Grand Prix. But, mysteries of Formula 1 and the asphalt, the track is still slightly slower compared to Friday. So, very little modifications in the starting grid and the only major change makes only one victim: Ferrari. While Schumacher retains his pole position ahead of Damon Hill, the ninth of his career and the third of the season, the ardent Coulthard takes third place, ahead of Berger and Alesi, who shift one position. In a certain sense, the starting grid seen at Monte-Carlo is repeated, with the only difference being the exchange at the top between Schumacher and Hill, both however remaining on the front row. It would therefore be logical to foresee a good battle between the Benetton of the World Champion and the Englishman's Williams, with the possible inclusion of the young Scot and the two Ferraris in the role of outsiders. But there is always the threat of a downpour that could turn the parties around, or at least create surprises. Indeed, at this point, the Maranello team would be better off hiring a rain dance wizard, given Alesi's ability in the wet. But clement weather will be preferable: the risks on an extremely dangerous circuit would be too much. Michael Schumacher now seems to have an easy job. In the second practice session, he waited until the last moment to try - unsuccessfully - to improve his time (and he also made a nice spin), but he already seemed sure to keep pole. Not satisfied with that, the German driver nevertheless managed to improve the grip of his car, with a modified rear suspension and perhaps even a different front wing that could give him some advantage. Says Michael Schumacher, at the end of practice:


"In any case, I’m confident, but it will not be an easy race. The track is challenging and if it rains, the race could become a lottery".


The Canadian circuit is indeed unforgiving. Barrichello almost destroyed his Jordan against a low wall (damage only to the car and a fright for the driver), as did Luca Badoer, who then repeated himself in the afternoon (a broken rim on a kerb). The spins and braking errors are not counted. Of course, brakes, tyre and petrol consumption (the highest in the World Championship) will be part of the game, as will pit-stop strategies. Mainly due to the small bumps that stud the track, Ferrari suffers more than expected. Alesi improves by about 0.1 second, tries to soften his car to make it more efficient over the bumps, but the asphalt is too slippery:


"I was always on the limit. And I had to overtake several times".


An extreme attempt by Berger to recover positions in the finale was also worthless. Badoer's going off the track interrupts practice with three minutes to go. When the go-ahead was given again, the Austrian launched himself onto the track. But he had already completed 10 of the 12 allowed laps, and with the launch he completes 13 by crossing the finish line. His time was therefore deleted. However, he had not managed to overtake Coulthard and thus remains in fourth place. Gerhard Berger explains:


"We thought that since there was a red flag, the last lap before the Minardi accident didn’t count".


He thought well. In fact, after a complaint from Ferrari, the race direction agrees with him.


"However, so much effort was for nothing. The race? Difficult to make a prediction. In a normal situation, we could aim for the points zone or maybe the podium, if everything goes well".


There is little to be cheerful about. Who knows how Alesi will celebrate his 31st birthday... On Sunday, June 11th, 1995, green light goes off at 2:04 p.m.. Regular start, grid positions respected. Schumacher keeps the lead, followed by Hill. Behind them there was immediate chaos: halfway through the first lap, Mika Häkkinen tried to overtake Johnny Herbert on a bend, but the nose of his McLaren got stuck on the right side of the Briton's Benetton. While Jean Alesi overtakes Gerhard Berger and takes fourth place away from him, David Coulthard spins out on the straight ahead of the Ferrari drivers and goes off track. In the meantime, Michael Schumacher continues to collect fast laps: on lap 12, he has an 8-second lead over Hill, tailed in turn by Alesi and Berger. Barrichello, fifth, is already 25 seconds behind. On lap 17, in the same corner that had eliminated Hakkinen and Herbert at the start, Alesi passed Hill on the inside and launched himself in pursuit of the World Champion who, as the lapping began, managed to control the situation with ease. Berger too, on lap 26, overtook Hill: now the two Ferraris were second and third. Halfway through the race (lap 34), the first important stops for refuelling occur: Alesi, Hill, and Barrichello. Berger finds himself in second place, but on the next lap he runs out of petrol. He manages to reach the pits and when he restarts, he is eighth, one lap down. Schumacher makes his pit-stop on lap 38: he has a 30-second lead over Alesi, 40 seconds over Hill and 56 seconds over Barrichello. The race is anaesthetised for half an hour before offering a finale full of twists and turns. It starts with Damon Hill, who, on lap 52, stops right on the finishing straight. Then, 11 laps from the end, the turning point: Michael Schumacher suddenly slows down and stops in the pits for a long time due to electronic circuit problems. When he re-enters the track, he is by then out of the race, far behind Alesi, who leads with a 22-second advantage over Barrichello. Shortly afterwards, Brundle and Berger, fifth and sixth respectively, end their long duel by burying themselves after a collision on lap 61. The double elimination allows Michael Schumacher to get fifth place, while Jean Alesi completes lap 69 and claims his first victory in Formula 1. Behind him were the two Jordans of Rubens Barrichello and Eddie Irvine, followed by the Ligier-Mugen Honda of Olivier Panis, the Benetton-Renault of Michael Schumacher, and the Footwork-Hart of Gianni Morbidelli.


There was jubilation for the Ferrari fans, waving red flags, tricolours for the Italians and French ones, as well, for the driver from Avignon with Sicilian parents. And even a dangerous track invasion with the cars speeding at 200 km/h in front of the finish line. Tears in the pits. Bright-eyed Todt, Ascanelli, Baccini, all the technicians and mechanics. Jean's brother José also cries, while the driver's girlfriend, the Japanese model Kumiko Goto, hides behind the stands. Alesi punches the steering wheel with fists of joy. Then, runs out of petrol on track, just past the finish line. And Schumacher, who arrives, stops, and chivalrously charges him in his own car. Jean, who even forgets to take off his helmet. Scenes from another era. But it must be also said that Alesi is a driver loved by everyone, always fair. For the team from Maranello, which also experienced a troubled day as far as Berger is concerned, it was an extraordinary en-plein, if you consider that Williams did not pick up any positive results (Coulthard off the track because of a mistake he made, Hill retired due to a gearbox breakage while in third position) and that Benetton only picked up two points with Schumacher, thanks to the German's recovery in the end. From this trip, the Maranello team returned to Italy with the lead in the Constructors' Championship, and a new injection of confidence. But it must not be forgotten that Benetton is still slightly superior in terms of performance. And in Montreal, it became clear that the half-second per lap that the 412 T2 still suffers from Benetton is mostly due to petrol consumption. The Italian 12-cylinder, with the same power output as the 10-cylinder Renault, is more exorbitant, especially on a circuit like Notre Dame, where the cars are constantly busy braking and accelerating. This forces the Maranello team to put an extra 20 litres of fuel into the tank. And that means losing a few tenths of a second every lap and a few seconds at pit stops when refuelling. Let's talk about Berger: it was a bad day for the Austrian. He ran out of petrol (precisely) just as he was returning to the pits for the first pit-stop (it still went well for him - absurdly: he was almost there and was able to get to the Ferrari box in neutral), but he lost third place and found himself in eighth position. Then, after a fight with the usual Ligier, to overtake Martin Brundle, good Gerhard ended up ramming his English rival and both ended up off the track. By braking too long, the collision was inevitable.


What would you like as a birthday present? Jean Alesi wished for his first Formula 1 victory, after six seasons of racing and placing. And in Montreal, on the very day he celebrated his 31st birthday, he won the Canadian Grand Prix, at the sixth round of the World Championship, amidst waving Ferrari flags and a peaceful invasion of the track by the fans. It went badly for Schumacher. The German, leading the race, had to return to the pits on lap 58: the gearbox no longer worked. Frantic work at Benetton, then Michael restarted, finishing fifth. But the World Champion's misfortune certainly did not compensate Alesi for the bad luck he had suffered in recent years. The Frenchman, who brought Ferrari back to victory, still deserves enormous credit. Alesi richly deserved this very first triumph for his skill, commitment, and grit. For the team from Maranello, the victory at the Notre Dame track has a very special meaning. It is the fourth time that Ferrari wins in Canada. It began with Ickx in 1970 at Mosport. And in 1978, with Gilles Villeneuve's first success with Ferrari right here in Montreal. Later, there was also a first place by Alboreto, in 1985. The Canadian Grand Prix also brought a breath of fresh air to Formula 1. An unprecedented podium with Alesi on the top step, above the two Jordan drivers Barrichello and Irvine. Then, in the points zone Panis of Ligier, Schumacher and finally an Italian driver, Gianni Morbidelli, with Badoer of Minardi still in seventh place. Missing from the classification is Gerhard Berger, who could easily have been third. Instead, the Austrian ran into a bitter Sunday. First, he ran out of petrol when entering the pits for refuelling and lost precious time, dropping to eighth place. Then, at the end of a stressful duel with Brundle and his Ligier, he ended up hitting the English driver, this time blameless. But perhaps, for Brundle, this was a sort of counterpoise after what had happened in Monte-Carlo. Patience, at Ferrari we celebrate Alesi, who avoided all the pitfalls. The Frenchman can blow out the candle of his first victory on his birthday cake. And Maranello, that of its first success of 1995.


"Do you want to know what was the most difficult moment of the race? When I heard that Schumacher had stopped in the pits. My eyes filled with tears, and I could no longer see anything. I felt an incredible joy, I realised I was going to win. In a way, I regret that I’ve built my first success on the misfortunes of others, but at the same time I’ve had so much bad luck in the past, I had come so close to victory many times, and then mocked at the last moment, that I can think of nothing else but this fantastic achievement".


Jean Alesi stammers, almost unable to utter a sentence without his lips quivering. But finally, he freezes.


"For me, a nightmare ended. I was terrified of going down in history as a driver who had never won anything. The eternal second. But I had faith, I knew that sooner or later I would hit the target. From the beginning of the year, we were getting closer and closer. We outperformed the Williams in the race, now we are even close to Schumacher's Benetton. It took a twist, but when you push, at the end you get there. After all, that's how racing is done, taking opportunities, and capitalizing on our rivals to win on our misfortunes".


Thoughts towards the world title now that there is a solid third position weighing on Schumacher and Hill's shoulders?


"Ferrari can aim for the Constructors' World Championship, that's for sure. In fact, I feel sorry for Berger, we could have made a great haul, finishing first and second. As for the Drivers' World Championship, you must be realistic, it will be very difficult. But the season is still long. If we also go to Monza, there will still be eleven races to go. And anything can happen. Realistically, Schumacher is still the main favourite".


Speaking of Schumacher, it was nice of him to stop on the track to bring you back to the pits when you ran out of petrol on the slow lap.


"Actually, I didn't run out of fuel. I was waving to the crowd, I was filled with joy and took both hands off the wheel. And the engine died. It was my mistake. But it allowed me to drive the Benetton, even though I was on the bonnet. A beautiful car, really...".


Alesi's joy was obviously shared by the whole Ferrari team. Never have the people of Maranello been so moved and happy. And Jean dedicated the victory to every single one of them:


"To myself because I believe I deserved it, to the president Montezemolo who has always had me at heart and believed in me even in the most difficult moments, to Todt who has worked for two years to make us win, to all the technicians and in particular to my engineer Ignazio Lunetta, to the mechanics, to the cooks, to those who stayed at home and work at the factory. Then, to the fans, who are extraordinary, the Italians and the French. To my family, to those who put up with my temper, to the whole world, even Martin Brundle".


A kind of general amnesty, in short. Very bitterly, says Gerhard Berger:


"Too bad, I could have been there too. The car was going really well. First, there was the fuel problem. I don't know what happened, I had started with a full tank, there must have been at least one litre left. Maybe there was an abnormal consumption. Then, the accident with Brundle. It was my mistake, I braked too late, thinking that the Englishman was going wide. It will be for another time. Long live Alesi".


It took six years, about 2160 days, to win. But it was worth it. In just under two hours, Jean Alesi made up for the bitterness of the past. He won his first Formula 1 victory and made Ferrari return to the top step of the podium. A great satisfaction for the son of a Sicilian emigrant who works as a coachbuilder in Avignon. A dream come true for the boy who, as a beginner, did not even dare to think about the world of Grand Prix. And yet, step by step, from karting to promotional formulas, to the French Formula 3 champion title to that of Intercontinental Formula 3000, and now here, protagonist with Ferrari. Here he is, the day after: a big smile on his lips, bright blue eyes, De Niro face. How does it feel now?


"Very good. After the race I was still full of pain, of tiredness. My stomach was in pieces. Stress and nervousness. Now I realise: I talked to a lot of people. My parents, dad Franco and mum Marcella. Then lots of friends. I phoned President Montezemolo. I think he was a wreck in front of the TV, worse than me. Not only that, but I know he also spoke to Mr Agnelli. He was happy. I told him: so, will you keep me in the team? He replied: we'll see, we'll see. There are no problems, but it's clear that things aren't always easy, you must prove something every time, provoke motivation. I hope I succeeded in doing this".


Did you think you could win?


"No. We had started badly on Friday, and Saturday was worse. Somehow, we did the opposite of the usual. Normally, since the beginning of the year, we do well on the first day, a little less on the second, and bad on Sunday. I knew that starting in fifth position was a handicap and that it would have not been easy to recover".


Then, there was the nice birthday present from Schumacher who, leading by 30 seconds, stopped in the pits with an electronic problem...


"A present yes. But I deserved it, because I was perfect there, in second place. I immediately made a very risky overtaking move on Berger. At that moment, Coulthard's Williams spun. I said to myself: there, now I'm going to hit it, and it's all over. I managed to avoid it. Then, I overtook Hill, well, I think. In short, I was doing my race. On other occasions it had also happened to me to stop while I was in the lead. This time it happened to others".


It was nice of Schumacher to pick you up on the track...


"Yes, very nice. In this way, I also got to take a lap in the Benetton... But I prefer my Ferrari. Joking aside: I got into the German's single-seater without thinking, euphoric. When I realised, I couldn't believe it, I thought: God, what have I done? Now I'm going to roll on the asphalt and slaughter myself".


The victory in Canada also exorcised the curse of the number 27, which had not won in years.


"I've never been superstitious. Senna won a World Championship with the #27. It's a number like any other: I've grown fond of it".


Does this success erase the other best memories?


"Let's say that Sunday was the most important day. But I don't forget the other episodes. Like in Phoenix, when, as a rookie, I passed Senna after he had overtaken me. I had never spoken to him, for me, he was a legend".


What was the most difficult period in Ferrari?


"1992. I had arrived in Maranello in a winning team with Prost. Prost was no longer there, and I found myself with Capelli and a car that didn't even work. Ivan also paid for that situation. Then, I stayed because Jean Todt arrived, called by Montezemolo. He turned the team around, he transformed it. Now we're driving strong".


Is the fact of having broken the ice, of having stepped onto the highest step of the podium, the end of a nightmare?


"Everyone thinks I had some kind of psychological block because of it. It's certain that I didn't want to go down in history as a driver who had never won. But my problem was something else. It was the incredible history of Ferrari. Every time I lined up on the track for the start of a race, there was someone who said: here, Villeneuve started in P18 and came first. Or: on this track, Lauda won the World Championship. And so on. A series of memories, of comparisons that oppressed me, that annoyed me. I hope it's over now".


Lately, however, it seems that there have been problems with Berger.


"It’s true. There have been misunderstandings. But not because of racing accidents, as people believe. Misunderstandings can happen on track. But then everything settles down. Gerhard got angry because of certain statements I made after Spain, when he had said that the engine was losing power. And I had explained that I hadn't noticed this problem. Someone told him about it, giving a wrong interpretation, and he was angry. We cleared it up. Of course, rivalry exists, this is an individual sport. But our relationship, on a professional level, is proper".


Where can Alesi and this Ferrari go from here?


"We hope to win again, maybe at the next French Grand Prix. There is no lack of possibilities. We still must improve, especially in the use of the engine. For the Constructors' Championship we are there, you can see it. For the Drivers' Championship, it’s a four-player challenge: Schumacher, Hill, Berger and me. The championship is still long, anything can happen. On equal terms, for me, Michael is not unbeatable. We'll see".


Alesi's victory did not slow down Ferrari's plans. Already on Wednesday, June 14th, 1995, the Frenchman will be at the track in Imola, to carry out serious tests on the engine, electronics, aerodynamics, and the chassis. The Scuderia Ferrari's result is undoubtedly sensational, but so is the second and third place obtained by the Jordan team, which went from being almost bankrupt to this small achievement. In the words of team manager John Walton:


"We talked quite a bit about it. It looked like it might have been quicker to do two a two-stop strategy, but to do that the drivers would have had to lap three quarters of a second faster than on a one-stop routine. Taking into consideration the time in and out of the pits, we reckoned that, forgetting the other 22 cars on the circuit, and with the drivers pushing very hard all the way throughout the race, they would have probably finished the race a couple of seconds, maximum, in front. Then, if you took into consideration the traffic, and having to re-pass people after the pit stops, it wouldn’t look a very viable way of doing it. Our biggest problem was that our fuel consumption was very high, and we knew we would struggle to make it to the end. The 115-litre tanks were filled to the brim, but as the drivers crossed the line to record the team's best Formula One results, Barrichello had just two and a half litres of fuel remaining. That was a luxury if compared to Irvine, whose Peugeot engine was busy devouring the last half-litre, hardly enough to complete even half a lap".


 And Eddie Irvine adds:


"After about 10 laps, my guys came on the radio and said: reduce the fuel mix. I said: I already did it. I realised the race was going to remind me of the Japanese Sportscar Championship, where we were always having to struggle because of fuel consumption".


But it transpires that the Ulsterman's predicament was partly of his own making. Explains Walton:


"The problem was that when we told Irvine to adjust his fuel, he put the mixture switch the wrong way. So, he was actually using more fuel instead of less".


Even without that error, the team always knew things would be borderline:


"We felt we were in serious trouble around the end of lap five or six. That's when we had to start telling the guys to lower the mixture and reduce their revs. As the race went on, it got worse. They were both very good at driving to orders, though. It was good teamwork. They could see they weren't able to push each other. Had they done that, then I suspect neither of them would have finished the race. Over the course of the last 10 laps, the consumption was quite high, and we were getting very, very worried. We couldn't reduce the mixture any more, so the only way left to use less fuel was to use fewer revs. On the telemetry, we could see each lap and knew exactly how much the cars were using. Then, we worked it out and told the guys what they could and couldn't do, and when they could or couldn't do it. Apart from our changes to the car for that race, Peugeot did manage to find some better economy with the engine - about five per cent. Had we not had that, we would have been in deep trouble".


The tanks might have been empty by the end of the race, but Eddie Jordan's cup of joy is overflowing. Lastly, Gianni Morbidelli, sixth in the Canadian Grand Prix, is always in danger of being sidelined by Footwork. Mercedes, however, is not happy with Blundell at McLaren and would like the German Frentzen instead: if the latter does not leave Sauber, it could be Morbidelli's turn.


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