Sunday, March 26, 1995 restarts the Formula 1 World Championship, the number 46 in history. From Friday, March 24, 1994 will be open challenge in the Interlagos track in São Paulo, on the occasion of the Brazilian Grand Prix. Ayrton Senna has left a void in the hearts of all fans. But, as always, it goes on. And, again, we wonder if Ferrari will finally win and be able to fight for the title. A question that is hard to answer at the moment. The drivers, Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi, say that the 412 T2 is better than the previous car with which the Austrian won the 1994 German Grand Prix. A single-seater that offered alternating current results. Unfortunately, the winter trials have not provided enough indications to understand if the Maranello team will emerge again. Some unforeseen events (two accidents of the Austrian, with runway exits that forced the technicians to partially review the chassis and suspension) and bad weather reduced the scheduled tests. This is why Ferrari, once again, takes off without certainty, both in terms of the level of competitiveness achieved, both for reliability. The championship is full of interest. The new technical rules, the revised formations of many teams, the different combinations between cars and engines have given a boost to the environment. The dominant theme of the season remains that of the challenge between Williams and Benetton who will have the same engine, the 10-cylinder Renault. But what are the prospects and the news of the season? The sports regulations remain unchanged, with pit stops for refueling. It is completely revolutionized, instead the technical one. The imposition of a 5 cm step under the bodies to raise the cars from the ground and reduce the ground effect forced designers to completely redo chassis and aerodynamics. Performance for the moment seems to have decreased, but many drivers have already sounded an alarm: this change is dangerous when taking curbs. There is a risk of serious breakage of the chassis which, among other things, is not protected at the bottom and therefore does not guarantee the necessary safety to the driver. A matter to be resolved quickly. Doubts and suspicions also regarding the electronics, back to having more space, with the adoption of the accelerator controlled by a computer. There is a possibility that some teams may use prohibited systems for traction control and programmed gearboxes. Engines.
The displacement goes from 3500 cc to 3000 cc, with an assumed reduction of power between 100 and 60 HP depending on the characteristics of the various engines. However, the technicians have already studied several remedies to try to recover power. The most controversial is the one concerning the air intakes, the airboxes placed in the upper part of the bodies. An attempt has been made to create an artificial turbo effect that increases the air pressure on the power supply, at the limit of the regulation. The controllers of the Federation are already busy detecting if there are irregular systems. The first crisis of the year hit McLaren-Mercedes. Nigel Mansell, hired by billions to fight Benetton and Williams, will not play the first two races. The cockpit of the car is too narrow for the British driver who will be replaced momentarily by Mark Blundell. It’s an unfortunate start for Ron Dennis' team. In 1995 there will be only four Italian drivers in contention: Pierluigi Martini and Luca Badoer with Minardi, Gianni Morbidelli remained at Footwork and Andrea Montermini who signed in extremis for Pacific. In addition there is Gabriele Tarquini in a role not well specified at Tyrrell, between the driver and the test driver. The first two should do well because the team of Faenza seems to have worked well presenting a very interesting car, even if you sail in the area of the group and certainly not at the top. The new Forti team has two Brazilians, Pedro Paulo Diniz and Roberto Moreno. A total unknown. Emerging. It looks with interest at the teams that seem destined to increase the show. Important roles for Jordan-Peugeot and for Ligier, Benetton’s twin but with Mugen-Honda engines. Curiosity also for the Tyrrell-Yamaha and for the Sauber, coupled with Ford. The number of teams, however, has decreased and the economic situation of many teams is not happy. In short, together with a predictable duel between Williams and Benetton for the title, hopes for Ferrari, Formula 1 returns to the track with the usual load of possible reasons for friction and controversy. But maybe all this is now an integral part of the show. Meanwhile, teams and drivers, in small detail, reach Brazil where, from Friday afternoon, will start the tests at the Interlagos circuit and, after the first chronometric feedback, you will know which team worked best during the winter to prepare cars that, With this year’s new regulations, they will be able to change the framework of F1 values.
Speaking of rules, the issue of super licensing shakes the hours preceding the Brazilian Grand Prix. To obtain it, the Federation requires pilots to submit to a series of constraints and duties.Many drivers disagree but, from Vienna, Gerhard Berger, spokesman for the category, confirms that he will sign to be regularly at the start, adding that his colleagues will do the same:
"I speak for them and start from the principle that everyone will sign. The safety issue was not the main cause of the rift. A lot has been done in this area, we can not complain".
For the Austrian driver the controversy concerns above all the exploitation of advertising. The FIA, in practice, would like to decide without discussing it with the drivers.
"We have agreed that no advertising can be accepted by the FIA without the prior agreement of the driver concerned".
It is therefore with a great mixture of feelings and conflicting situations that the Formula 1 World Championship is about to start. Friday, March 24, 1995 the cars will take to the track in the circuit of Interlagos for the first round of tests of the Brazilian Grand Prix: on the one hand the doubts and uncertainties - along with the first controversies - for the racing season that is about to begin, on the other hand, the poignant memory of Ayrton Senna, the champion who tragically died last year in the Imola accident. All, in São Paulo, remembers Ayrton: from the first road you meet leaving the airport, a ring road that took the name of the pilot, to the events that take place to commemorate his thirty-fifth birthday. Speaks his latest girlfriend, Adriane Galisteu, in the newspapers you hear Marcella Praddo, the former model who posed naked for Playboy: he says he had a daughter (Victoria, a year and a half) from him. Praddo also claims that Senna has never denied this paternity and that not even the family has sued her. But she has no money to survive and has joined the Evangelical Church to get some help. Alain Prost also visits Ayrton Senna’s family. A continuous pilgrimage of people in tears. More ruthless organizers, which set very high prices for tests and race. A day of timed tests costs about 80,000 lire, the card for the weekend over 600.000 lire, while there are VIPs who will spend almost 3.500.000 lire (including helicopter and lunches cooked by the best chefs) for the Grand Prix. These prices would be justified by the costs of the ride. Among other things, along the track should work twenty very sophisticated electronic systems, able to detect live any infringement committed by cars, including the use of non-regular fuels or computers that control gearboxes and clutches. Some kind of satellite-free star war on asphalt. Some say that the track is still dangerous, like the Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, born a few meters from Interlagos.
"Three points are at risk, due to the high kerbs that can make the cars take off, at the Berger curve, at the Larangina and in the pit graft".
Rubens Barrichello, however, along with fellow countryman Pedro Paulo Diniz was one of the first to sign with the FIA to get the superlynch. And Wednesday, March 22, 1995 announces its accession also Gerhard Berger, but mercoeldì night is still scheduled a meeting of the drivers and could spring surprises. What about public safety? A committee called Contru is operating, and the tribunes are examining it: it is suspected that some are not regulations. The Contru, just to be clear, is that organism that has recently closed in this same area the Morumbi, famous football stadium, because undermined by water infiltration. So there is no shortage of problems and controversies. But it is normal, just as it is chronic that in so many years Brazil always presents itself with a different economic face. At the moment everything is expensive, the new currency, the Real, is worth 15% more than the dollar, but it is clearly disproportionate and it is already said that, in the coming months, there will be significant changes. Nothing new, however, on the front of Ferrari.
It starts in the dark. With great confidence, but without certainties. As confirmed by Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi, the protagonists of a crowded press conference in the city centre.
"We haven’t done enough testing with the other teams to get accurate results. In the last days of practice in Estoril, when we weren’t there, Williams and Benetton went very strong. I’m pretty optimistic. Our car, the 412-T2, seemed balanced and easy. The engine is fine too. In short, we can start well, even if we will have to wait for the Imola race in April to get the first confirmations and to use everything we have available. In the first race, therefore, anything can happen, even that you win, because all the cars are completely new and to discover".
Jean Alesi, as usual, is more brilliant, less cautious.
"I prepared well physically, I am in perfect shape and in a great mood. In 1990 I arrived at the first race in Phoenix with Tyrrell and I had not even tried the tires. I got the fourth time in qualifying and in the race I had a great duel with Senna. It’s true, we ran very little and almost always with wet asphalt. But a driver must have a good feeling with his car. I am convinced that this will be good, that it will give us more satisfaction than we expect".
On Thursday, March 23, 1995, Michael Schumacher arrives in Interlagos by helicopter, as befits a World Champion. Tan face, white shorts, tennis shoes. To prepare the first race he spent, together with his girlfriend Corinne Bentsch, a week at the Club Mediterranée in Mangaratiba, along the coast near Rio de Janeiro, a holiday village near Angra dos Reis, the favorite refuge of the late Ayrton Senna.
"I’ve completed my physical training, so I can’t say I’ve rested. The start of a new championship puts me under strain. It is inevitable".
After the title won in 1994 at the last race, what is the forecast for this season that kicks off today with the first tests of the Brazilian Grand Prix?
"It is obvious that the ambitions are at the top. The team wants to win back the Drivers' World Championship and do the en plein with that of the constructors. But it will be difficult, because we can not count on the surprise factor".
You consider yourselves favorites?
"As far as I’m concerned, I think I have a leading outsider role. The team to beat is Williams with Hill and Coulthard".
For what reason?
"It’s simple. We have an engine, the Renault, to discover. Our technicians were forced to change the whole car, not only because of the renewed regulations. Chassis, aerodynamics, same concept of the single-seater, every detail is different. And in the first races we can pay the novitiate. Williams had to operate only variants, and it’s up ahead. But I hope to make a difference with the driving".
Damon Hill said he felt more mature and confident. Will he be the most dangerous opponent?
"Of course. Damon had some uncertainties last year. Mansell’s looming presence was causing him concern. And he himself was not used to fighting at the top".
Then there is also a certain Coulthard, which many consider the most promising element of the new generation of drivers...
"I am convinced that David will be a tough rival, especially in the race. Perhaps he will still have some difficulty in making the most of the potential of his car in qualifying, where a good experience is needed. But in the races he can say his own and maybe even be faster than his teammate".
Will it be a duel limited to Benetton and Williams?
"Theoretically yes. This was also seen in the winter trials. But immediately behind I would put Jordan, Sauber and Ligier. These are the three teams from which we can expect surprises, especially at the beginning of the season".
What about the Ferrari?
"He turned too little, it is difficult to hazard a judgment. Obviously it must be taken into account, but at the moment it is a real unknown".
McLaren also doesn’t seem to be at its best for debut and has to give up Mansell because the car is too narrow.
"I hear there are problems. Normally McLaren has always been the fastest team to adapt to the new regulations and often started with some advantage. Now the situation seems to be different, but I am convinced that sooner or later it will come out great. It will be a fairly balanced championship, so the placings will also count. It is clear, however, that I like to win".
There are new technical rules for cars, looking for maximum safety. Something has been done and is also being done for the circuits. Are you pilots calmer now?
"It is true, there has been some progress. But it is necessary not to rest on laurels. Our association must be vigilant and continue to fight to gain more weight in the decisions that are taken. Now the cars are slower, but it is almost certain that with the devices operated by the technicians you will soon get to go as fast as before".
Usually, when a new season begins, we always talk about hunting the reigning champion. Will this be different?
"I hope to make the hare, but it will not be easy".
Flavio Briatore, Benetton’s manager, is also cautious:
"We have some problems with the gearbox, electronics and aerodynamics so for the first two races we will have to defend ourselves. But our technicians are working to find the right solutions. We are not at the window, but at the moment we try above all to take measures to our opponents. Our goal, however, is to win the two world titles".
Meanwhile, in Interlagos the weather is capricious. It’s hot, but it rains almost every day. And for a Formula 1 Grand Prix this is a threat. But everything is ready: the organizers have fixed the circuit, repainting and retweeting some curves to make them less dangerous. However, according to the drivers at least three points the asphalt is not perfect. There is the usual atmosphere of waiting and curiosity for the first race of the season, designers and technicians go around the pits carefully checking the latest news adopted by rivals. Camera flashes are wasted in a complex spy service adopted by all. According to the latest data, fewer tickets were sold last year (when Ayrton Senna took pole position and Michael Schumacher won the race), but television to get more audience prepares an extraordinary staff, with 40 cameras along the circuit. Security should be fine, even if the police alert 7,000 officers. Particular attention is paid to Frank Williams, owner of the team on whose car Ayrton Senna had the fatal accident at Imola. To remember the missing champion, numerous initiatives are planned. Sunday in the deployment lap all drivers should wave a Brazilian flag and before the start will be observed a minute of silence. Obviously there will be an exhibition of a group of samba who won the competition combined with the Paulista carnival with the participation of Tas (Torrida Ayrton Senna) which boasts 300 followers. The attention of many Brazilian fans is focusing on Rubens Barrichello, destined to inherit the cheer that was reserved for the three-time World Champion. Friday, March 24, 1995 begins with a big bang the F1 World Championship. An incident that, unfortunately, recalls the tragic events of last year. The protagonist is the reigning World Champion, Michael Schumacher. On his third lap in the first qualifying round, the German lost control of Benetton-Renault. The car begins to roll in one of the corners on the opposite side of the right of the box, then climbs on a curb, rises in the air and slams with the right side against the protections. Unharmed the driver, despite the great fear, many damages to the car.
"I was pushing hard when I felt the steering lightened and I realized I couldn’t drive the car anymore. I just tried to brake, so I could throw the car sideways to avoid a frontal impact. Luckily I managed to do this and I hit the guards, a guardrail with some piles of old tires in front. The impact was very strong on the right but I noticed that the construction of the chassis, with the new safety standards imposed by the FIA, worked very well. A kind of crash test live, without dummies. I was traveling at 220 km/h but the crash, detected by telemetry was 180 km/h. It went well".
But what was the cause of the accident? After a careful examination, the Benetton technicians discover that the joint that connects the steering column to the steering box has failed. A piece called uniball, a joint. To the practical effect, the steering wheel began to turn in a vacuum, as it seems happened in Imola to poor Ayrton Senna. Fortunately, circumstances in Brazil were different and everything was resolved with a few moments of terror. Benetton, for obvious prudence, immediately stops the other driver, Johnny Herbert, preventing him from going on track. The designers are working to find a solution. A thrilling start, then, which unfortunately confirms that this sport is always at risk. Nothing surprising in the times obtained: as was abundantly predictable, the Williams, dominating the winter tests, turns out to be the fastest. Damon Hill set the fastest time in 1'20"081, averaging 194,428 km/h. For the record, last year Ayrton Senna, always with Williams, had got the pole turning in 1'15"962, at an average of 204.971 km/h. However, we will have to wait for the second timed round to see the real difference due to the new regulations to increase safety and reduce speed. Ferrari’s debut was good, second with Gerhard Berger, 0.934 seconds behind Williams, while Jean Alesi is fourth, preceded also by David Coulthard. These are provisional results, susceptible to change. The Austrian says:
"I am quite satisfied. The 412 T2 has proven to be easy to drive and fine-tune. But at the same time the expected gap with Williams has been confirmed. We have been running too little in the tests of the last few weeks. To recover, if we succeed, we will have to wait for the third race, at Imola, when we will have all the parts of the car we have reviewed and redesigned, together with a more powerful version of the engine. Meanwhile we hope to be reliable in the race to start collecting some important points".
Jean Alesi, whose girlfriend, Kumiko Gotoh, is also optimistic, respecting an ancient tradition (and to avoid the gossip of the press and television), in Japan officially announces his friendship with the Ferrari driver. Jean follows the team-mate:
"But I had never tried the car on dry asphalt and I couldn’t expect more. Moreover in the first timed attempt I had the pressure of the rubbers low and I have slightly ruined the bottom of the car. We worked on it for the necessary repairs, then I found traffic. But I’m glad, we started well and we can grow".
On Saturday, March 25, 1995, Formula 1 engines are back on track. It’s back to the way it was in 1994, with Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher against each other. Both in the front row. The Englishman is the favorite, his Williams seems to be better and Damon easily keeps pole position with Friday’s weather, because he fights with the set-ups. But beware of the talent and grit of Michael Schumacher, who does not seem to be at all shaken after the bad accident on Friday. On the contrary, during the morning, with the asphalt wet, the German comes out again of the track and makes two hundred meters in the meadow, like a rallier, to regain control of the car. Benetton technicians work all night to eliminate the inconvenience that the previous day had created many problems. The steering column joint is reinforced. In addition, it is modified, with a system that allows the driver to keep the direction of the car in case of another unlikely break. The role of compas David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert, both placed in the order behind their respective teammates, is also to be verified. And that of Ferrari, which gets the fifth place in the grid with Gerhard Berger and the sixth with Jean Alesi. Given the circumstances, we would have expected something more in terms of performance. But the chronometric gaps are quite small and it must be said that for the first time the Austrian looks really confident.
"This is a competitive Ferrari, because it has no basic problems. It is well balanced, does not consume abnormally the tires, it is easy to drive and fine-tune. I am optimistic because we can have a good race and I am sure that we will still grow in the next races. In qualifying I broke an engine, but I was really pushing hard and this can happen. Otherwise I could have made three tenths less on the lap. But over the weekend we didn’t have the slightest electronic problem with the gearbox, the suspension, the aerodynamics. It’s already a great starting point".
More discreet Jean Alesi, who still complains about the not perfect knowledge of the car. But it is clear that the Frenchman in the race will have the usual high-level performance and above all will try to conquer positions at the start with his timing. But beware: for the first time on the grid will be used electronic sensors placed under each car. If someone anticipates the start even just a thousandth will be automatically reported to the race director. The penalty for infringement is a Stop & Go in the pits. As usual there will be other reasons in play: from stops for refuelling, to tyre consumption, to race tactics. A set of circumstances that everyone hopes will be spectacular and make the race uncertain until the end. There is no lack, to give more suspense, even the threat of bad weather. With the rain anything could just happen.
Sunday 26 March 1995 the conditions for the race are dry and sunny asphalt, with over 40.000 spectators following the Brazilian Grand Prix. A few minutes before the start, an FIA press release was delivered to all media and team personnel, informing that the Elf petrol used by the cars of Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard are illegal, as they do not match the samples provided by the fuel company before the start of the season. Both teams are fined $30.000 and are under appeal, as the penalty may be disqualification from the event. Neither Michael Schumacher nor David Coulthard are informed of the situation, as the teams do not want to worry their drivers before the start. On the contrary, the cars of Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert are not under investigation because they use a fuel conforming to that deposited. A sample of the Agip petrol, used by Ferrari, and the Mobil, which supplies McLaren, are tested before the race and both are judged regular. Of the twenty-six cars qualified for the event, only twenty-five start: this is because Pierluigi Martini is forced to retire during the reconnaissance lap due to gearbox problems. At the start, Damon Hill, who had taken pole position, was overtaken by Michael Schumacher at the first corner. At the same time, Olivier Panis, who started tenth, left the track at the first corner, after a contact with Ukyo Katayama: the French driver hit a wall and was forced to retire. Johnny Herbert lost three places and, at the end of the first lap, is behind Mika Häkkinen and the two Ferraris of Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi. Mark Blundell, author of a bad start, back to P14 after changing gears from the first to the third. At the end of the first lap the situation sees in the lead Michael Schumacher, ahead of Damon Hill, David Coulthard, Mika Häkkinen, Gerhard Berger, Jean Alesi, Johnny Herbert, Eddie Irvine, Ukyo Katayama and Mika Salo, with the two Tyrrell drivers exchanging positions during the following lap. During the third lap Damon Hill tries to overtake Michael Schumacher at Turn 5, but the German defends the position. David Coulthard, who approaches Damon Hill and unsuccessfully tries to pass him at turn 6. From this moment on the first two manage to get away from David Coulthard, who understands that he cannot follow the two treads and continues to maintain his race pace, which is better than the cars that follow.
On lap 5 Johnny Herbert crashed into P10, losing positions to Eddie Irvine, Mika Salo and Ukyo Katayama. During the course of lap 10, Michael Schumacher began the dubs, overtaking Pedro Paulo Diniz. The presence of doubles is a constant in this race for the leading drivers. During the same lap Heinz-Harald Frentzen retired while occupying the P12 due to electrical problems. During lap 12 also Domenico Schiattarella is forced to abandon the race due to steering problems. On lap 15, Eddie Irvine was the first driver to pit, much earlier than expected, and retired due to friction problems. On the same lap, Ukyo Katayama left the track and switched off the car’s engine, causing him to retire from the race. The two retirements allowed Johnny Herbert to gain two positions. Jean Alesi is the first of the leading drivers to stop, refueling on lap 17 and returning to the track in P11. Rubens Barrichello, however, retired a lap later, slowly returning to the pits for gearbox problems. On lap 18 Jos Verstappen also retired due to problems with the accelerator. Benetton and Williams set different race strategies, with the Anglo-Italian team planning three stops and the British team planning two. Michael Schumacher stopped on lap 18, but was slowed down by Barrichello’s Jordan-Peuveot. The German came out of the pits after Gerhard Berger, but managed to pass the Austrian immediately after. Damon Hill stopped on lap 21, pulling out of the pits in front of Michael Schumacher. David Coulthard then took the lead in the Grand Prix until his pit stop, after which he returned to the track in fifth place. Mika Häkkinen and Gerhard Berger are the last drivers in the first positions to pit, but McLaren mechanics lose about ten seconds during refueling, due to problems with new equipment, as well as other teams. Berger, who is among the last, managed to enter in third place, with Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard, Jean Alesi and Mika Salo in the top six. Salo’s stop is impeccable and allows the Tyrrell driver to gain time compared to the drivers who precede it. In this phase of the race Bertrand Gachot also retired - lap 23 - due to a fault that blocks the change of his Pacific in fifth gear. Gerhard Berger makes his pit stop on lap 27, but encounters communication problems during the stop, as the lollipop mechanic (which serves to indicate to the driver when to start) lifts him in advance, when one of the wheels is not yet well secured.
The accident cost the Austrian driver thirteen seconds of delay, and the Ferrari crash is back on track seventh. Jean Alesi also pulled back and was overtaken by Mika Salo and Mika Häkkinen after the first lap, as the Finns stopped after the French driver, who in turn was slowed down by Andrea Montermini. Meanwhile, in the leading positions, Damon Hill manages to bring his lead to over three seconds, until, on lap 31, he goes off track and is forced to retire, probably due to a gearbox problem. In the same passage Johnny Herbert also withdrew due to a collision with Aguri Suzuki, who in turn had to stop to replace the damaged nose of his car. Michael Schumacher moved to first place as a result of Damon Hill’s retirement, 11.5 seconds ahead of David Coulthard. Mika Salo gets into third position with Tyrrell, 39.4 seconds behind the Scottish driver. Mika Häkkinen and the two Ferraris of Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi complete the top six. Michael Schumacher made his second pit stop on lap 37, coming out behind David Coulthard. Mika Salo and Mika Häkkinen, both of whom had a performance far above expectations before the race, competed for the third position until lap 39, when Salo, cramped and driving with one hand, suffered a spin at the last corner. Immediately after the Finnish driver changes the tyres, sliding in eighth position. Mika Häkkinen, reached the third, stopped in the pits during lap 43, returning to the track behind the two Ferraris, with Gerhard Berger in front of Jean Alesi, when the latter entered the pits the next lap, returning to the track in seventh position. David Coulthard, in the lead, filled up on lap 47, but his lead is too limited to keep the lead. Also because shortly after Michael Schumacher sets the fastest time on the lap with a time of 1'30"921, increasing his advantage in such a way that he can keep the head of the race even after the stop, made on lap 52. After that, Michael Schumacher increased the margin to 11 seconds and won the Brazilian Grand Prix, followed by David Coulthard, second with his Williams-Renault. Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari stopped at the pits during lap 49, without losing positions, and so managed to take third place, followed by Mika Häkkinen, despite the loss of the rear wing caused by a bird impact. Jean Alesi finished fifth, although he doubled during the final laps, as did his team-mate and the Finnish McLaren-Mercedes driver. In the final stages Gianni Morbidelli and Mark Blundell overtook Mika Salo, but the Footwork driver was forced to retire during lap 62 with the fuel supply blocked.
Mark Blundell, who had previously changed the steering wheel and no longer had the third gear, won the last place to go in points, ahead of Mika Salo, Aguri Suzuki, Andrea Montermini, who ended the race despite the breakup of the bottom of his car, bringing for the first time to the finish line the Pacific, and Pedro Paulo Diniz. The race was selective: only ten of the twenty-five starters get to the bottom. Of those who retired in the final, Karl Wendlinger suffers from a broken battery cable on lap 41, Roberto Moreno and Luca Badoer retire on lap 47 due to a spin and gearbox problem, while Taki Inoue’s car catches fire on lap 48. The Japanese driver was however exposed to a black flag for being pushed by the race commissioners following a spin on the circuit. Shortly after his retirement, Damon Hill was interviewed by the BBC, saying that the reason for his abandonment was related to problems with the gearbox; his Williams would have remained without the second gear before finally forcing him to retire. The English driver is very disappointed, as he thought he could get a good result and beat Michael Schumacher. Subsequent analysis of the team will also highlight a broken left rear suspension. During the awards ceremony on the podium Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard and Gerhard Berger do not uncork the champagne bottles as a sign of respect towards Ayrton Senna. The German driver is happy with the victory, while admitting that Damon Hill was faster. The German driver also confirms that his good start was due to luck, as he had never done any such test because of the short time available. David Coulthard, on the other hand, admits that he was not in the best physical condition, as he suffered from tonsillitis and would not be able to undermine Michael Schumacher, thus limiting himself to managing his race. Berger was disappointed, as he finished one lap, never being able to compete seriously with Benetton, faster than him at every point of the track. At the end of the race, however, the cars of Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard are disqualified because they seem to have started a gasoline (supplied by Elf) not compliant with the regulation, therefore Gerhard Berger and Ferrari are declared winners of the Brazilian Grand Prix (ps: the drivers will then be reinstated in their positions, therefore Michael Schumacher will be declared winner of the Brazilian Grand Prix, while the teams will not be awarded points related to the Constructors’ Championship). The Formula 1 World Championship started in the worst way.
With a race decided a posteriori, by the regulations. Michael Schumacher’s first victory on track ahead of David Coulthard and Gerhard Berger. Then, after four hours of waiting and discussions, the exclusion from the standings of the Benetton and Williams drivers and the success assigned to the Austrian of Ferrari. This time in the limelight, in the negative, a story about gasoline rises. According to the prosecution, the two offending teams used non-homologated fuel. A disconcerting situation after all the controversy, doubts, accusations that had troubled the previous championship. We wanted a clearer and cleaner Formula 1 and, instead, we find ourselves between tensions and suspicions. The first black clouds appeared a few minutes before the start of the race. With two separate announcements the three delegates to the Brazilian Grand Prix management, Barbosa, Iwasaki and Montagner, reported, based on a report from the FIA’s technical delegate, that Benetton and Williams would receive a fine of $30.000 and a warning not to incur the same infringement in the future. And that Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard would run sub judice. What had happened? In the normal checks made by lot during the tests it was discovered that the fuel contained in the tanks of cars #1 and #6 was not exactly what was expected. The FIA now has on each circuit a portable instrumentation suitable to carry out the analysis in a time that varies between 30 minutes and 2 hours. The technical commissioners had communicated their discovery at the last moment so as not to allow the suspects to change the fuel for the race.
Finished the competition (with Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard first and second: if the first at the finish were Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert would not happen anything) were made other samples and the expert appointed by the FIA, the Briton Bob Mackison, carry out a second examination. From which it evidently turned out that gasoline still did not conform. For this reason it is noted that Benetton and Williams have violated art. 16 paragraph 7 of the technical regulation of Formula 1. After hearing the defense of the parties, the sports commissioners according to art. 141 and 158 communicate the exclusion from the competition of the two drivers. Article 16.7 of the technical regulation of Formula 1 requires manufacturers to send to the FIA a sample of the gasoline they intend to use in racing. The norm requires that the fuel, although more sophisticated, is similar to that of distributors open to the public. The laboratories of the Federation examine and approve the product, if they consider it regular. After the ok, the fuel can be supplied to the teams for the race. In case of changes, the procedure must be repeated. The stewards then check whether the fuel actually fed into the tanks (in the tests and in the race) is the one homologated. If it’s different, it’s disqualification. Elf claims that the petrol charged was identical to the samples, but some elements may have undergone minor changes in the journey from Europe. It must be said that the serious decision affects two teams, but above all it involves the suppliers of the same that in the specific case are Renault for the engines and Elf for the gasoline. Flavio Briatore and Michael Schumacher for Benetton and David Coulthard for Williams said they were not only surprised, but also totally oblivious. The Italian manager admits:
"We take what they give us and we don’t know for sure what’s inside the fuel. However I am convinced that there was no will to cheat".
The Elf representatives say that gasoline is like a delicate wine. Transporting it, subjecting it to different temperatures and pressures, can be slightly modified. Agip technicians also confirm this possibility. According to French tankers their product would be regular. What will happen now? Williams and Benetton announce an appeal. New analyses will be carried out by both parties (FIA and penalised teams) in different laboratories. The results will then be submitted to the Court of Appeal, which will be final. All this should happen before the Argentine Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, April 9, 1995. Bernie Ecclestone, president of the FOCA and vice president of the FIA. If the measures will be confirmed will remain the ranking drawn up after the two disqualifications, otherwise the race will be restored. But, in any case, Formula 1 will have lost once again, especially in credibility.
Ferrari men waited until the first shadows of the evening for the decision of the sports stewards. And, while the mechanics are still working to ship the material to Argentina, it turns out that Gerhard Berger was promoted to race winner, with Alesi in third place. Hugs, smiles, but no loud statement. Says Gerhard Berger, who appeared very tired, with an uncrowded beard:
"It is clear that I am happy. Starting the season with 10 points in the standings is the dream of all drivers. A departure quite different from what would have been with the third place. I don’t know what exactly happened. Our team always does everything possible to respect the rules and this is important".
But can it be thought that the possible irregularity of the gasoline used on Renault engines could have affected the performance of the Benetton and Williams?
"I can’t answer that question. The only thing I know for sure is that they were going really fast. I was frustrated seeing that they had a lap advantage. My point of view is simple: if one is not in order he must be punished. We’ve always fought for this. Let’s say that if the situation is not changed with the next decisions, for Ferrari this is a nice injection of confidence, an extra motivation to do well: Do you want to know if I feel sorry for Schumacher and Coulthard? I am for legality, fair play and compliance".
The speech of the Head of Sports Management, Jean Todt, was very calm.
"It’s always nice to savour the joy of a victory, even four hours after a race ends. Everyone has done their duty here. If two cars have been disqualified there is obviously a reason. The FIA has acted for the good of Formula 1. But I hope that no more such days will happen".
What influence could the possible irregularity of petrol have had on the race?
"I don’t know if it had any weight. We’ll see in two weeks in Buenos Aires if something will change. Right now we have 14 points in the standings that I are obviously much better than 6. It can be a great stimulus for the team even if the problems remain. In practice we took about a second behind, in the race we were about 1.3. We have to understand why. And our task now is to improve, no matter what others do. There will be an appeal and it would not help to stay ahead of the championship for fourteen days. Let’s look for confirmation".
In fact, Ferrari has an extensive program of modifications on the car. While the drivers are on holiday (says Berger: "But I will keep in daily contact with Todt, ready to try at any time"), in Fiorano we work hard. Nicola Larini will take to the track in Monza for engine and electronics tests on a hybrid car. The 3000 cc engine in the second version already runs on the bench and should provide more power. The goal of reliability, which had been aimed for the start of the World Championship, paid off on the one hand, but has left faster performance lower than expected. In addition, important changes to aerodynamics and perhaps to the suspension are planned. It should be noted that on Saturday the FIA decided to amend an article of the regulation concerning engine air intakes. In 1994, to reduce performance, it was decided to open loopholes in the bodywork to drain the power flow so as to avoid special turbo-dynamic effects designed to increase power. Being unable to ensure effective control over the use of the new devices adopted by the teams (see the spoiler mounted on the hood by McLaren) it was decided to restore the adoption of the classic air-boxes placed in the area of roll-bar so as to put all competitors on the same floor.