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#568 1995 Spanish Grand Prix

2023-01-21 23:00

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#1995, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Francesca Zamparini,

#568 1995 Spanish Grand Prix

On Sunday, April 30, 1995, Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger were among the protagonists of the San Marino Grand Prix. A mistake by the Austrian, who let

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On Sunday, April 30th, 1995, Jean Alesi, and Gerhard Berger were among the protagonists of the San Marino Grand Prix. A mistake by the Austrian, who switched off his engine in the pit-stop while leading the race, together with Jean Alesi's difficult starting position, prevented the drivers of the team from Maranello from having more chances to attack Damon Hill, who was perfect throughout the race in the Williams-Renault. But it is enough to go back to the images of the first race of the season, in Brazil, to see how important the progress shown by the 412 T2 was. Back then, Jean and Gerhard finished third and fifth, respectively, within a lap of each other. Damon Hill and David Coulthard, as well as Michael Schumacher, also passed them on the straight. Quite different scenes were seen in Imola, with the Ferraris attacking Williams and Benetton, giving the impression that they were up to the challenge. And Berger, by the way, got the best lap time. Exactly 22 months have passed since Jean Todt, the experienced French manager (who has covered his entire career in motor racing starting as a navigator in rallies) took over, called by Luca Montezemolo, in charge of Sport Management. It is not yet time to draw conclusions, but one can take stock of the situation. Since July 1st, 1993, after many ups and downs, we finally detect a continuous positive situation. So, Jean Todt, is Ferrari ready to win?

 

"The gap to our opponents has reduced a lot. From here to say if and when we will get back to winning, it’s more difficult. We’ve made some steps forward and more will be made. However, one must consider that our rivals are not stopping. They are working hard, too. And let's not forget that Ferrari does everything alone, there is no one to share problems with. Besides, I’m very superstitious, I prefer to let the results speak for themselves".

 

No hope for the next two races, Barcelona, and Monte-Carlo? 

 

"For now, we’re going to Spain with great curiosity. In 1994, we had a car that only worked well on fast circuits. And we had said that success could have been achieved in Hockenheim. So, it was. In designing the 412 T2, we aimed for a single-seater that could work on every track: in Barcelona, we will be looking for confirmation. For goodness’ sake, this doesn’t mean that we write us off completely. On the contrary, with anything can happen, high morale".

 

What has changed in this Ferrari, and will adjustments still be needed to the team? 

 

"The most important things have already been put in place. Let's say we are at 70%, there are still some details left to be improved. I think I'm a pretty unique person. I’m never satisfied. But I remember what situation we started from. Today Ferrari races, while before it suffered them, it was always forced to chase".

 

Don't you feel like scolding Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger when they make mistakes? On the Frenchman's car last year, the engine switched off in Monza, this time history repeated itself with Berger. 

 

"I think for the drivers, the biggest punishment is just to sit still with the engine dead. Problems, however, are not welcome and in these cases we all lose out, starting with me, down to the last of the mechanics. I believe that Jean and Gerhard know very well what their responsibilities are".

 

We come to a hot topic. The Formula 1 controversies. Shouldn't Ferrari play a more important role in its relationship with the FIA? Especially when President Mosley himself said in an interview that the judges of the Court of Appeal were in the wrong and that something must absolutely change in the justice of the sport…

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"Ferrari has a significant voice. But in life, it is not necessary to shout. You must speak clearly, constructively and be understood. There is no need for everything to be made public. We all agree that action needs to be taken. I assure you: it will never happen again in Formula 1 that a ruling condemns a team and rewards a driver".

 

Then, other than that, you do not want to make any promises to the fans. 

 

"We promise total commitment. The gap now is minimal. We will continue to progress. We must win on track, in front of the others. I can say that I always dream about it with my heart and soul. As a Ferrari enthusiast".

 

On Monday, May 1st, 1995, the anniversary of Ayrton Senna's passing, is marked by a series of ceremonies. On Monday, however, there are only 200 people and no drivers at the Tamburello curve, where the late driver is commemorated. From Brazil, meanwhile, comes news of a large crowd going to the Morumbi cemetery: about 100.000 people, so much so that the family, in the face of such a crowd, simply flies over the area in a helicopter. In downtown São Paulo, fans place a 600-meter-long banner in the streets, that says: 

 

"Accelerate Ayrton, wherever you are".

 

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, May 2nd, 1995, the first rounds of practice of some teams are held at the Imola circuit. Best time for Eddie Irvine (Jordan, in 1'30"79); Gerhard Berger follows (1'30"90). The Austrian said: 

 

"In the race, I could pass Schumacher, but I waited because I had to do a pit-stop. The engine switched off because of the clutch, it was not really a mistake, but the fear of burning it. We still lack some power and traction to be on par with Benetton and Williams. But we are convinced that we are catching up. Before we were frustrated, now we are motivated. And they, our rivals, feel that we are getting closer".

 

Back in the 1950s, in Spain, Ferrari made an en-plein. At the Pedralbes circuit, in a race not valid for the World Championship, Ascari, Serafini and Taruffi climbed the podium in that order. Since then, the successes of Maranello cars have been few: Hawthorn in 1954, Lauda twenty years later, Villeneuve at Jarama in 1981 in one of the legendary races of the Canadian, who kept everyone behind with a car that was slower, and in 1990 thanks to the great Alain Prost. Here, at the new Montmelo track, at the Circuit de Catalunya, as they say in the wonderful local language that reminds us of a mixture between bergamasco and brianzolo, Ferrari has never won, so much so that the racetrack, about twenty kilometers northeast of Barcelona, has been called hostile by Italian fans. Now, however, the situation is different, at least it seems so. The wheel is turning for Alesi and Berger, although everything is still to be verified. In short, the lull before the storm. This threatening Ferrari somehow pleases and suits everyone. But certainly, Williams and Benetton are not willing to give up without a fight. In fact, the challenge is getting heated. Michael Schumacher talks of a revival, of a desire to return to the top of the standings, to overtake Damon Hill. The Englishman, on the strength of a car that has so far proved to be the best overall, after two consecutive victories (Argentina and Imola), has clear intentions of making it a three-peat. Says Jean Alesi, looking jolly on the days:

 

"In fact, Williams is always the team to beat. The circuit is to be discovered because work has been done that has changed it. The corner that last year, for safety reasons, was turned into a chicane made of tires, is now all right. We are still making progress. The car is performing well in the fast areas and, as for traction, is not bad. Our goal is to play this right like in Imola better than in Imola, to be honest". 

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A fancy way of not promising too much, but given that in the San Marino Grand Prix the 412 T2s had finished second and third, a step forward can only mean one thing, an intuitable one. In recent days, Ferrari has given itself a couple of months to achieve a victory. 

 

"This is true. However, it’s better not to wait. From now on, theoretically, we could all arrive first at least once. Let's say at this point we can fight for the Constructors' World Championship, for the Drivers' World Championship we will see before the mid-season".

 

In the meantime, however, the drivers' market has already come into action. And there has been talks regarding Barrichello or Schumacher in Ferrari in 1996. But Jean Alesi countered:

 

"Our bosses have denied everything. Personally, I’m calm. I have a very good relationship with President Montezemolo. We have talked about the future. However, this is a delicate moment and putting certain rumours out there could be destabilizing for the team. For example, for those at the factory, who are working hard for me and Gerhard and might ask themselves: what will I do if those guys leave? It would be the same thing if they said I'm going to Williams. No, at least for the moment, I don't see myself leaving Ferrari already".

 

Back to the next race. Can a duel like the one seen with Coulthard be repeated? 

 

"Why not? We also had fun. With the Scot, the matter is closed. We clarified the issue, although I stuck to my idea, he stopped me several times in a way that was at least strange. It's okay to fight, but stonewalling is another thing. I think I’m a fair pilot. When they attack me, I resist, but if I see that I’m clearly inferior, I don't go crazy to prevent them from overtaking me. There’s also the uncertainty of the weather. What if it rains? Let's hope not, it's always dangerous. Although, our well-balanced car can give us some advantages. I must confess: in the wet, I’m the best. But I would like to win under dry conditions".

 

Michael Schumacher, guest of honour at the Motor Show held in the days prior to the Spanish Grand Prix in the Catalan capital, also talks about Formula 1. 

 

"This year the new technical regulations have created a very balanced and therefore also interesting situation. We have three teams that can fight, more or less equally, for the title: Benetton, Williams and Ferrari. In addition, there’s a greater appreciation for the qualities of the drivers". 

 

On a personal level, the German driver reiterates that his car is difficult to drive and, as opposed to his team, he confirms that the accident that happened in Imola was caused by a problem at the rear of the Benetton that has not yet been clearly identified. And finally, he launches himself into a prediction that sees him as the favourite: 

 

"Here in Barcelona, I will try to win, if race conditions are normal".

 

But on Friday, May 12th, 1995, the first qualifying round of the Spanish Grand Prix delivers an all-red front row, with Jean Alesi in temporary pole position, ahead of Gerhard Berger. The two Ferrari drivers precede in order David Coulthard, Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and Mika Häkkinen, that is, the best. It is not a definitive result, since on Saturday the situation could change (the gaps are minimal, at least for the first four positions), but it is very encouraging. Also, because the one-two has been achieved in normal track conditions, after the morning practice had been disturbed by a few sprinkles of rain. 

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A further confirmation of the qualities of the 412T2s on a circuit that was feared for its fast corners, suitable for enhancing single-seaters equipped with the most powerful engines. But now, even in this field, the differences are minimal, in the range of 3-4 km/h at a top speed. And then, what matters is the whole made of chassis, aerodynamics, powertrain, pilot and team, not only an individual element. In this regard, above all, the Maranello team has improved compared to the past, when there was always a shortcoming that ruined dreams, hopes and results. For Ferrari, another reason for satisfaction is the way Jean Alesi gets the best time. A significantly fast lap on the first outing on track, and a second during the final outing, arriving at 1'23"104, at an average speed of 204.769 km/h. Two near-perfect paces, without too many problems, (although the Frenchman finds some traffic in the end), while Williams and Benetton spin a few times, looking for performance. Says, with extreme happiness, Jean Alesi at the end of the first practice session:

 

"We have a very good car. I was even surprised when I saw on the dashboard display that I had immediately scored 1'23"0, while the rivals who had preceded me had not gone beyond 1'25"0. The car responds well to all the adjustments we make, and this is very important, because it ensures we run well on all types of tracks. The team is working in the best way possible, and I feel more and more relaxed. Before, when I arrived at a track, I wondered what was possibly going to happen, and I was worried. Now, I find myself thinking what I will have to do to get away if I’m leading towards a victory".

 

In the afternoon press conference, someone tries to pick up on the controversy at Imola, when Jean Alesi accused David Coulthard of being unfair in the race. But Jean stops the question before it is even brought up: 

 

"Case closed, I don't want to talk about it any more. Let's think about the race, which will be very challenging anyway. Meanwhile, it will not be easy to keep the pole: I can still work on the car, plus we will have an engine with some spare horsepower. But I must also work to prepare for the race. This track can challenge the tires if the single-seater is not well-balanced". 

 

Gerhard Berger's analysis is, as usual, a bit more cautious: 

 

"I’m not under the right conditions".

 

Joked Gerhard, referring to the fact that he is ahead of the Frenchman. 

 

"No, Jean is in great shape, going strong. It’s good to see him in front. By the way, I remember that normally, here in Barcelona, if it's a bit warmer on Saturday, it becomes difficult to improve. If the weather helps us, maybe this time we will stay where we are. However, one should not be delusional. We are making progress, but in the race, I think Williams and Benetton are still a little more competitive. The important thing is to stick to our own way and improve all the time. It’s good that Ferrari has been progressing for more than a year now, and that there’s more and more enthusiasm in the environment. In F1, you don't invent anything, and especially you don't create a significant gap in three or four months. I don't want to think about the championship, the favourites are always Damon Hill and Williams. Schumacher has a very competitive engine, but it seems to me that Benetton's chassis this year is not up to the standards of past seasons. At least for now".

 

It has been a while now. So, the episode is worth mentioning. In Barcelona, shortly after noon, Rory Byrne, Benetton's South African designer, was seen approaching the Ferrari pits rather cautiously. A glance, then with a small camera. He took a few quick pictures of the aerodynamic deflectors placed on the outside of the cockpit of one of the three 412T2s. 

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These are quite ordinary episodes, after all, in the world of Formula 1: but it must be said that lately, the cars from Maranello, were not kept as a reference point by their opponents. This is certainly a positive sign, too. However, on Saturday, May 13th, 1995, Michael Schumacher did not like the two stinging red banderillas that Ferrari had metaphorically stuck on his back the day before. So, the World Champion, just like a raging bull, goes charging and takes pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix. For the eighth time in his career and the second consecutive time of the season, the German is ahead of everyone on the grid and takes an obvious favourite role. In vain are the attempts of Alesi and Berger to outdo the Benetton driver. Despite improving their times on the first day, the two pioneers of the Maranello team are forced to take a step back. However, with the Frenchman's first place and the Austrian's second, the Barcelona one is the best placing for Ferrari this year chronometrically speaking, and thus testifies to another small progress. Michael Schumacher maximizes the potential of his car, looking for the best conditions to achieve a great lap time. The German driver gets on track right away when the temperature is not very high, drives perfectly and drops more than two seconds from his first qualifying session. The time of 1'21"452, set at an average speed of 208.923 km/h speaks for itself. The tough Michael inflicts a 0.6 second gap on Jean Alesi, who also improves by one second and beats last year's track's limit (when he had achieved a time of 1'21"908), which, however, was slowed by an absurd chicane formed by piles of old tires requested by the drivers for safety reasons. However, if one considers that this year the cars should be slower and that they have 3000 cc engines instead of 3500 cc, one can understand the value of the performance. The same goes for Ferrari, which in 1994 was sixth at the start with Alesi, with a time of 1'23"700, thus making a leap forward of almost two seconds. Niki Lauda, a great expert, and careful analyser of racing, explains Michael Schumacher's stunt:

 

"On Friday, the track had less grip, and it made it somewhat easier for the more stable and somewhat less powerful Ferraris. With more grip, the German was able to get a very good set-up and get the most out of his car and power plant. In the race, if everything goes well, he should not have many problems. But this is a long and difficult race, where pit strategies will play a decisive role".

 

Indeed, by now it is not news that pit stops have become the focal point of every Grand Prix and an integral part of the show because they can shift the cards. And the Catalan track has all the characteristics to give excitement: the asphalt is very abrasive and puts the left front tire under pressure, reason why those who will have the best-balanced car and adopt the right strategies will have more chances. Among other things, Williams should not be forgotten. Damon Hill and David Coulthard get something wrong with the set-up and remain slightly behind. But their chances remain intact. As do those of Ferrari. Incidentally, Alesi and Berger have a habit of preparing their single-seaters quite differently. And one of the two could be the winning move. The Maranello cars have yet to surpass Williams in the Drivers’ Championship standings, but their chance increases time after time. Schumacher said: 

 

"The team worked really well, all night long. Someone may have a few more white hairs, but I'm pleasantly surprised, not least because of the remarkable gap between me and my rivals. I’m also satisfied with the set-up, so I can only be confident".

 

But who knows, after the banderillas, the sword stroke may also come. Jean Alesi cannot hide a bit of disappointment because he believed in the pole position. When the Frenchman sees the time marked by Michael Schumacher, however, he understands that it will be for another time. 

 

"It's not that important here in Barcelona. I've had some good races so far starting on the second and third row, and this time I'm on the first. Among other things, at the start I won't even have to go crazy to overtake Schumacher right away. I will just, if possible, follow him like a shadow, then we will see what to do. In free practice, in race gear, I set some of the best times. And then I'm thinking of a little surprise. We'll see. I have a feeling that something wonderful can happen this time".

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What surprise is Jean Alesi referring to? Something in the tuning of his car or in the pit-stop strategy? Some team might even plan four fuel stops and tire changes. Is this Ferrari's plan? But Benetton and Williams will also have their tricks up their sleeves. Damon Hill, the leader of the World Championship, has plans to change his car's settings a lot. If he finds the right ones, it will be hard to beat him, as will David Coulthard. At Ferrari, however, along with the usual caution of Gerhard Berger ("There is little we can do, we are improving, but Benetton and Williams are still superior"), there is cautious optimism from Jean Todt, head of the racing team. 

 

"Since we have been doing better and better each race, we have to expect more. It will be difficult to work out the best strategy, but if we succeed, I can think of an open result".

 

Todt also refers to a possible surprise, but of course he does not reveal the secret. In a way, though, he makes it clear that Ferrari is not going to stand by: 

 

"This is a race in which it will be necessary to push hard from the start".

 

This means that the single-seaters of Alesi and Berger are expected to start rather lightly, with minimal fuel load. And therefore, ready to make several stops. Unless the strategies also include pre-tactics and do the opposite, thus thinking that Ferrari will consume the tires less than their rivals' cars. The answer will come on Sunday, May 14th, 1995, at the end of a Spanish Grand Prix that is bound to be wide open. At the start, Michael Schumacher keeps the lead, while Damon Hill, with a good start, gets in between the Ferraris of Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger; David Coulthard, however, drops to P7, overtaken by Eddie Irvine and Mika Häkkinen. The Scotsman immediately climbs back up, passing first the McLaren driver on Lap 3 and then the Jordan driver on Lap 7. Meanwhile, Damon Hill presses the accelerator behind Jean Alesi, but fails to pass the French driver, so Michael Schumacher can extend his lead; the Briton then chooses to anticipate his stop on Lap 12, re-entering the track in P9. David Coulthard stops on Lap 14, then followed by Rubens Berger and Eddie Irvine; Jean Alesi's turn comes at the end of Lap 19 and the Frenchman re-enters again ahead of Damon Hill; the race leader, however, returns to the pits two laps later, comfortably keeping the lead. Meanwhile, Nigel Mansell retires with a brake failure on lap 18. Shortly after, Jean Alesi also retires from the race, during lap 26, with a broken engine. Therefore, behind Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill gets a position, together with David Coulthard, Gerhard Berger, Johnny Herbert and Mika Häkkinen, who will retire on lap 53 due to a problem in the system that brings fuel to the engine. The Williams are on a different, three-stop strategy, versus the other competitors that chose a two-stop. 

 

Nonetheless, they fail to challenge the German Benetton driver. On the contrary, both cars will have gearbox problems: David Coulthard on lap 55 will be also forced to retire, while Damon Hill on the last lap, which will cost him the podium and the first position in the World Championship. Michael Schumacher thus achieved an easy victory, ahead of teammate, Johnny Herbert and Gerhard Berger's Ferrari. He was followed in fourth place by Damon Hill, in fifth place by Eddie Irvine in both Jordan-Peugeot, and in sixth place by Olivier Panis in the Ligier Mugen-Honda. So much for the sword stroke. The bull Michael Schumacher skewered all his supposed matadors, netting a result that could be a game-changer in the Formula One World Championship. The German not only won the Spanish Grand Prix but regained the authority he seemed to have lost at the beginning of the season. So much so that Benetton, also thanks to the misadventures of rivals, was able for the first time to place a heavy one-two, with Johnny Herbert second. A Ferrari with a gear lower than expected, made Maranello bring home the third place with Gerhard Berger, on the podium due to a stroke of luck that penalized Damon Hill, who finished fourth ahead of Northern Irishman Eddie Irvine and Frenchman Olivier Panis. Jean Alesi, a brilliant protagonist in the early part of the race, had to retire on lap 25 due to an engine failure. In other times, this would have been a positive outcome. It is now a disappointment because the Maranello team has now lost that reliability that had characterized the other three races, and especially because the most recent performances had raised hopes. 

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The only satisfaction for Ferrari is that of remaining at the top of the Constructors' Championship standings, alone. With a one-point lead over Williams-Renault and four over Benetton-Renault. But far more significant is Michael Schumacher outscoring Damon Hill in the Drivers' standings. The German matched the Englishman in the number of victories since the start of the championship (two each) and took the 12th career win. The German driver's skill, his team's perfect strategy and the Benetton's sprinting prowess basically put the race, which was very boring, to sleep. There was only one moment of trouble, during Johnny Herbert's second pit-stop, when the jack used to raise the rear end of the car got stuck under the car itself, which ran all the way down the line of the stands and then unloaded the tool as it exited the track. The mishap could also have had serious consequences. Boring race, we were saying. Moreover, if you add the untimely exit of Jean Alesi and the gearbox problems that slowed Damon Hill and forced David Coulthard to retire, you get a clear idea of the missed duels. At least, one sees a great battle with champagne bottles on the podium. And Michael Schumacher is so happy that he hugs not only his teammate, but also Gerhard Berger. Despite the recent heated controversy with the Austrian.

 

"It couldn't have gone better. I'm also back at the top of the World Championship, and I think this result is a clear signal for the rest of the year: the Benetton will always be at the top because the car is getting better race after race. And it's not over yet: we have a lot of new things to try to go even faster. My car in the race was so easy to drive, so perfect, that I was amazed. And I want to give kudos to the people in the team. During these months they’ve been doing a great job, day, and night. I must dedicate the victory to them".

 

Yet there were talks of disagreement within Benetton, especially after the track exit in Imola. 

 

"It's not the first time certain things have been said, and I always answered that it was not true. That’s why I’m happy, because if mechanical problems happen, there’s always someone who talks too much. So, I also showed that, even though I was under pressure, I took both the pole position and the victory. And in such a way".

 

Great celebration also for Flavio Briatore and Johnny Herbert. Says the Italian manager:

 

"This is the second one-two win since I've been with the team. We implemented the right strategies. I think Williams is still a little stronger than us, but by now we are close. I'm sorry for Hill, he deserved the second place".

 

For Johnny Herbert, 31, this represents the first podium finish since he made his F1 debut in 1989. The year before he had been the victim of a terrible accident at Brands Hatch in F3000. He had fractured his legs and had to endure a long rehabilitation. But he never gave up. And now this is just the right reward. At the same time, it must be said that the Ferrari team takes this result philosophically. Cesare Romini and Paolo Cantarella, the CEOs of the Fiat Group and Fiat Auto, who came to Spain with some hope, leave a quarter of an hour before the end of the race, as was, after all, already planned. At that time, Gerhard Berger was fifth, and they probably learned on the plane that the Austrian was on the podium. Jean Alesi also left the circuit early. Nor did he seem as nervous as on other similar occasions.

 

"A real shame, because the car was working very well. It was balanced and fast. At the beginning, I tried to keep Schumacher's pace, so he wouldn't run away too much, and I made a few risky overtakes. I realized I couldn't win, but a second place was within my reach. And putting some pressure on the German's shoulders, I also hoped some favourable opportunity would present itself in the finale. Instead, the engine suddenly failed. But I'm not pessimistic: we're working in the right direction, and I'm sure we'll have some good satisfaction soon, too".

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More troubled, in a way, was the race of Gerhard Berger, who noticed from the first laps that his single-seater did not have a good set-up. 

 

"I had reserved the right to decide during the race whether to stop two or three times. However, I had no grip in the rear end, I couldn’t keep the right pace and I wanted to make three pit stops. A strategy that turned out to be an additional handicap. Then, the engine started to lose some power. This is a problem that we know, and we know how to solve it. In any case, given how things went, to have taken four points on such a day was very positive".

 

Then he adds: 

 

"We are struggling with the engines. We know what the reasons are, and we are working on it. Unfortunately, in the race, we have a progressive drop in power. This year it has always happened, even in Imola, where, however, the drop was minor. I want to be clear: all power plants lose some horsepower during a race, ours just loses a little more compared to the others".

 

But there was not only this inconvenience.

 

"It's true. At the beginning I was a couple of seconds behind Coulthard in order not to force and not to compromise the tires that wore out quickly in the fast corners. Everything was under control. Then the engine started to drop, and the second set of tires were not good. The car was slippery. It was a boring race. I honestly didn't expect to finish behind Herbert. With only two stops I could have beaten the Englishman, but I was forced to make three as the rear end was not working". 

 

Ferrari therefore fell behind again. 

 

"I’ve been saying it these weeks, but no one wanted to believe me. The situation is what everyone has seen. In qualifying in Barcelona, we took 0.6 seconds off the pace, but in the race, we were behind of at least a second a lap. My messages to the engineers always concerned this matter. In certain races, we were close to Hill, but these were special conditions, for example with the wet track. Our position was as expected, behind Benetton and Williams".

 

But what is needed to improve further? 

 

"More engine power and a stable performance".

 

Has Schumacher surprised you?

 

"I don't know what problem he had in Argentina. In Imola, when the asphalt was dry, he was always very fast, first in practice and then in the race. I was rather struck by Williams, which I thought was ahead of Benetton".

 

Can Ferrari be expected to make a quick recovery? 

 

"Right now, it’s unrealistic to think that we will turn things around in a short time. We can make small progress from race to race, maybe we will be a little closer. But we’re here now".

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And in 12 days we are headed to Monte-Carlo for the next race.... 

 

"We will have two or three new technical solutions, which may give us some advantages. But Benetton will not sleep either. I don't think there will be any way to stay ahead of them in the next round. Our chassis is good, but Ferrari's overall package is inferior at the moment ".

 

An opinion shared by Jean Todt, head of Sport Management. 

 

"Gerhard's result relieves us a bit and allows us to stay ahead in the Constructors' standings, which can be one of our goals. As for the rest, I expected a more competitive Ferrari. Schumacher was very strong, while we did less well than practice had led us to believe. We had planned two pit stops for Alesi, but the engine broke while he was holding second position very well. In truth, Berger had warned us over the radio that on the formation lap he had seen something strange coming out of the rear of Jean's car. The failure, however, was sudden, without any warning signs. It is clear that we are not yet where we want to be. But we have the guarantee that the team is working hard".

 

Ferrari will stop from Tuesday, May 16th to Thursday, May 18th, 1995, to conduct three days of testing with Jean Alesi at the Paul Ricard circuit near Marseilles. Perhaps not everyone has been able to witness everything to fully understand that, during the Spanish Grand Prix, several dangerous incidents occurred and that these should give pause for thought and remind us that the safety problem in F1 is always topical. Aside from the jack that got stuck under Herbert's Benetton (if it had come loose in the middle of the pit lane instead of at the entrance to the track, it could have caused big trouble) there were also two cars on fire, due to petrol leaks during refuelling. It happened on Japanese Taki Inoue's Footwork and Belgian Bertrand Gachot's Pacific. Also, the nozzle on Martin Brunelle's Ligier was stuck for about 40 seconds. Cesare Fiorio, sporting director of the French team, referred to the episode as a scandal because the teams were obliged to use the machinery imposed by FOCA. Then, there was the usual Ukyo Katayama’s lack of attention, who slipped with his Tyrrell into the Ligier pits and completely misplaced the car, with the danger of misunderstandings if Martin Brundle or Olivier Panis had also returned for a pit-stop. Says Alain Prost, speaking from the point of view of the spectator:

 

"This refuelling thing is crazy. Apart from the risks, the races are so boring, worse than in the past. People on TV understand little of what's going on, and the public at the circuit even less. I hope something will be done to change that, at least next year. Because otherwise the races will become incomprehensible".

 

To deserve his lavish salary, Nigel Mansell has not yet done much. Paid through the nose by McLaren to rejoin F1, the 41-year-old Englishman has only created problems so far. After winter testing, he asked to change the size of the car's cockpit due to it being too narrow and thus impossible for him to drive comfortably. So, he missed the first two races in Brazil and Argentina, replaced by Mark Blundell. In Imola, he debuted with a retirement following an accident with Eddie Irvine. And in Barcelona he literally abandoned the race, retiring by choice. 

 

"I had balance problems from the start. A horrible oversteer, which then became understeer. At some point, the situation improved. I stopped to change the tires, and when I returned to the track, I noticed that the car was going all over the place until I ended up spinning. In the fast corners, it was impossible to control".

 

But Ron Dennis, owner of the team, underlines the driver's behaviour with one sentence: 

 

"He chose not to continue".

 

Certainly, the climate is not ideal, but can an old champion be expected to suffer like a rookie? It is not for money that Nigel Mansell is back: he would like to win. He demands a competitive car, though. Meanwhile, there is also disappointment in Maranello, but it is also said that no one had ever made any proclamations of victory regarding the Spanish Grand Prix. In the Fiorano factory, work is being done in forced stages on version 2 of the 12-cylinder engine, which in theory should be ready by June. It could be the weapon required by Gerhard Berger and which Jean Alesi dreams about even at night.


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