#554 1994 Canadian Grand Prix

2021-04-09 00:00

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#1994, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Nicola Carriero,

#554 1994 Canadian Grand Prix

Karl Wendlinger's reanimation process is progressing well. The Austrian pilot is feeding on solid food and recognising his surroundings better and bet


Karl Wendlinger's reanimation process is progressing well. The Austrian driver is feeding on solid food and recognising his surroundings better and better. The slight fever he currently has is - according to the doctors - absolutely normal and not at all worrying. In the meantime, on Tuesday, 31 May, 1994, experts’ examinations begin at the Imola circuit to assess the dangerousness of the track and possible responsibility for the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna. The consultants are Professor Dal Monte, Roberto Nosetto former director of the facility, and driver Emanuele Pirro. On Wednesday, 1 June, 1994, the FIA World Council meets in Geneva. On the agenda is the ratification of technical measures to improve safety in Formula 1. The proposals launched by president Max Mosley and elaborated by the teams' engineers should be accepted. No surprises are expected: Mosley himself will hold a press conference at the general assembly to explain the measures taken. The FIA could also announce its move from Paris to London, or to Switzerland. In recent days, the Place de la Concorde headquarters has been visited by French financiers who would like to tax the motoring organisation. Hence the decision to abandon their current domicile as a matter of some urgency. In the meantime, from Bologna, the public prosecutor Passarmi, as expected, sent out fourteen notices of investigation alleging manslaughter in connection with the fatal accidents of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna to managers and mechanics of the Williams and Simtek racing teams. Among the recipients of the warnings are Frank Williams himself and designer Patrick Head. Three other notices were sent to Federico Bendinelli, director of Sagis, the company that manages the Imola circuit, to president Luciano Conti and director Giorgio Poggi. On Wednesday morning, answering a number of parliamentary questions on the Imola and Monte-Carlo accidents, the Italian Undersecretary to the Prime Minister, Gianni Letta, said: 


"The Italian Grand Prix in September will only be held if the safety measures requested by the Italian government, through ACI, to the FIA are guaranteed".


Sunday, 5 June, 1994, Jean Alesi speaks open-heartedly about the tragic path taken by Formula 1 in recent weeks.


"As a man I cannot forget. As a driver I want to remove everything from my mind, even if it is not easy". 


The Circus will be from Friday, 10 June, to Sunday, 12 June, 1994, in Canada, for the sixth round of the World Championship. A track that unfortunately tragically connects the terrible events of these days to the last fatal episode in the race: on Sunday, 13t June, 1982, the young Italian Riccardo Paletti perished in an accident at the start, crashing his Osella into Pironi's Ferrari, which had been stationary. 


"We do not bury our heads in the sand like ostriches. Ours is and will remain a dangerous sport. Risk cannot be eliminated, but that applies to almost all high-level disciplines, from sailing to mountaineering. But a lot can be done for safety, improving the active and passive safety of single-seaters and that of many circuits". 


Twelve years without any dramas, then a series of shocking exits. What happened?


"First of all, we were lucky for a long time. There was a patron saint. I do not, however, support the thesis of fatality. The truth is that the cars became too fast and the tracks at the same time kept more or less the same configuration. The two things combined have caused the tragedies we know. Take the Tamburello corner: it has always been quite dangerous. But it was acceptable until some time ago. Now, with the acceleration achieved, it can no longer be accepted, regardless of the cause of Ayrton Senna's death. We had to go back". 


The FIA has finally, albeit very demagogically, taken matters into its own hands and imposed a whole series of regulatory changes to reduce speed. Are you drivers satisfied? 


"In this sad affair, however, two positive facts emerge: the unity of us racers, who for the first time in a long time have rediscovered a kind of esprit de corps, and the Federation's awareness. I don't think everyone agrees to go down a certain road. Unfortunately, certain personal interests may continue to prevail. But I am confident. And I also want to thank Ferrari: so far they have supported a very positive line and helped Berger and me, leaving us free to make choices". 


So are the technical measures taken so far valid?


"It's difficult to answer that question. On paper the intentions are good, in practice there are still risks, because many things have to be tried. Of course, if there had been more time, we would have had better results. But we are in an emergency situation and we have to work fast. It is certain, however, that the cars are now less fast, and that is the only data to take into consideration at the moment". 


But how does a driver who has to push the accelerator to the maximum feel at such a difficult time? 


"As I have already said, I am forced to remove the past. After all, we do this job for passion and for the undoubted advantages we can enjoy, including the economic one. No one is forcing us to run. That is why I am against certain rhetorical attitudes or attitudes aimed at exploiting our problems that some people have taken. We all want to increase safety, we don't want to play the role of gladiators sent to the brink. But without demonising Formula 1". 


The Circus moves on to Canada, therefore, where the organisers have modified the track, lengthening the hairpin escape route, inserting a new chicane before the pits and widening the dangerous S after the straight. In addition, the dynamic air intake for the engine has been eliminated on the cars and commercial petrol will have to be used, losing 50 to 70 horsepower, hoping that the ongoing cure will pay off in terms of safety. Moreover, in order to bring back some spectacle and interest in Formula 1, Nigel Mansell will most probably make his debut on Sunday, 3 July, 1994, in the French Grand Prix and will run six races (those not concurrent with Indy: besides Magny-Cours he will race in Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Japan and Australia), and in 1995 he will do the whole World Championship. The news had been in the air for some time, but it was only vague rumours, there was even talk of interest from Benetton and Ligier. But on Monday, 6 June, 1994, it was Frank Williams himself who got a positive response from Mansell, with convincing arguments, namely a lot of money (at least £1.000.000 per race) and technical guarantees. It must also be said that the champion already seemed a little tired of American racing because this year he did not have a competitive car and was beginning to have problems living with the environment. Says Frank Williams, reticent and clear at the same time:


"We are still quite far away. But we are interested in a deal. We need a fast and experienced driver. We will make something known after the Canadian Grand Prix".


Michael Schumacher, Formula One World Championship leader with Benetton-Ford, also hopes for the return of Nigel Mansell, who now races in Formula Indy: 


"The return of Nigel would be fantastic, because he is a true champion. I would be very pleased to be able to compete with him".


Meanwhile, the investigation into the disappearance of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger continues. On Wednesday 8 June 1994, Williams-Renault handed over the last black box still in its possession to the magistrate investigating the causes of the two drivers' deaths. It is one of those on board the Brazilian's car and damaged in the fatal accident. It is the Williams designer himself, Patrick Head, who brings the find to Deputy Prosecutor Passarini. Head also hands over a team report in which an interpretation of what happened is given. In the meantime, the experts dismantle what remains of the Brazilian's car piece by piece. The same should be done for Ratzenberger's Simtek, but according to the experts, the cause of the accident to the Austrian's car seems to be the loss of the front wing after a spin. For this reason, the operation has been postponed for the time being. Once the Williams is disassembled, the individual parts are sent to some laboratories that will draw conclusions in a short time. Senna's helmet and the hairpin in the visor are also examined. There remains, at least for now, the mystery surrounding the small gap between the visor and the helmet body. However, the possibility that the driver may have been hit by debris seems to have been ruled out. More likely is that the wheel, and a piece of suspension, may have hit Senna's head, contributing to his death. Among the next steps that Passarini will take are to hear both the Brazilian's teammate, Damon Hill, and Frank Williams himself. While the interrogation of Hill, as a witness, could be imminent, that of Frank Williams will perhaps take place in September. The English patron will in fact be in Monza at that time for the Italian Grand Prix. Thursday, 9 June, 1994, the first piece of news to come out of Canada concerns Italy. Or rather Monza. The Grand Prix scheduled for Sunday, 11 September, 1994, risked being skipped. After the perplexities of the CSAI, which had already made it known in the past weeks that the race would not be organised without solid guarantees on the technical modifications of the cars to reduce speed, the final blow came from Gerhard Berger. The Austrian driver, head of the drivers' association, says in simple but incisive words that there are serious problems for the national circuit. 


"I was at Monza on Tuesday morning and examined the critical points of the track. The big bend after the first chicane and the two Lesmo corners are dangerous. I asked those in charge to modify the circuit. They replied that something can be done, but not much, because of ecological constraints. Trees cannot be cut down. The same thing happens at Imola. After my accident, in 1990 I had told them to move the Tamburello wall. The reply was: it's not possible. And what we know happened. Now history is repeating itself. It will be difficult to race at Monza with the current configuration of the track". 


ACI Milano, which manages the circuit, has its hands tied by the political party of the Greens. And it is faced with an ultimatum: Gerhard Berger's speech contrasts with that of Marco Piccinini, president of the CSAI, who claimed that the safety of the circuit was not to be questioned. And now? Will the Italian Grand Prix be skipped? From next Tuesday, Ferrari will test at Monza and Berger will also be there. A prompt response is needed, otherwise the drivers might even carry out their threat. Returning to the subject of the Canadian Grand Prix, the eve of the race is occupied by technicians and mechanics evaluating and preparing the new technical solutions imposed by the FIA. And in particular the arrangement of the engine air intake on which the dynamic effect of supercharging the engines must be eliminated, resulting in a gain of around 30 horsepower. All kinds of holes are drilled into the bonnets of the cars. A screech of saws and hacksaws in action, a festival of the hole. Some people plane the top of the car bonnets, some open slits in the sides and some in the top. Ferrari even devises three different options and awaits inspection by the FIA's technical delegate, Charlie Whiting. The rule governing the matter is rather vague and there will certainly be controversy over its interpretation. For the Maranello team, however, perhaps this is the last thing on its mind. The Italian team is going through another, yet another, delicate moment in its racing history. In Spain, the 412 T definitely showed all its limits and it is necessary to run for repairs in the short term, but despite this, Jean Todt denies all the rumours that have arisen in these days of revolutions in the staff and new hires. 


"From the next race, our car will be almost completely rebuilt. Chassis, bodywork, aerodynamics, engine, everything changed". 


And everyone hopes that Sunday, 3 July, 1994, at Magny-Cours, will be Ferrari's real D-Day. Jean Alesi is confident, believes in the turnaround and that he can really give the Benetton driver, Michael Schumacher, a run for his money. Jean Alesi is moving: in the race, when things go as they did in Barcelona, he gets depressed, he gets macerated, he becomes pessimistic. Then he takes a two-day holiday, recharges himself, and returns to the track full of good intentions, of renewed enthusiasm: 


"You'll see. We will make it. It's just a matter of waiting three more weeks, I'm sure the second half of the season will give us great satisfaction". 


He is a golden boy, with his heart in his hand. For now another purgatory race awaits him - and Berger is with him - barring unthinkable reversals. In Canada, Ferrari brings minor detail changes to the front of the cars. Meanwhile, the fans are already excited about the achievements of young Jacques Villeneuve, Gilles' son, second in the Indy 500. And someone is already writing: soon another Villeneuve in Formula 1. On Friday, 10 July, 1994, Ferrari surprisingly takes a breath of fresh air and wins provisional pole position in the Canadian Grand Prix. Powered by a mighty engine, certainly the most powerful currently in Formula 1, Jean Alesi's 412 T scores the fastest time, on a day in which they dominate their rivals even in the morning's free practice. For the Maranello cars it is the first leap of the season, the first positive result after an interminable series of disappointments and unfulfilled hopes. A result that, if confirmed on Saturday, would end a period of more than four years in which the Italian team has never been the fastest in qualifying. The last time was in Portugal, in the autumn of 1990, with Alain Prost. Ferrari's accomplices were certainly the changes in the regulations in recent weeks. Faced with so many changes - aerodynamic or limiting the speed and power of the engines - it is clear that the Maranello team has worked better than the others and found a better balance in their cars, which still have problems with driveability. The fact remains that Michael Schumacher, the star of the first five races, is forced to push hard to avoid being overtaken, and in the end he even breaks the engine of his Benetton, remaining more than 0.5 seconds behind the very fast Jean Alesi, who will turn 30 on Saturday: 


"I wanted to give myself an early birthday present".


However, lap times dropped by about 9 seconds compared to last year and the average speed decreased from over 200 km/h to almost 185 km/h. A strange accident also occurs during free practice: Mika Hakkinen with the McLaren invests and kills a marmot crossing the track. Following the impact, the wing of the car is released and the driver risks a bad accident. All the teams spent the eve working on the cars to adapt them to the new technical rules. Holes of all kinds have appeared on single-seaters to eliminate the forced air pressure on the engine as required by the FIA. Someone cut off part of the bonnet (Tyrrell), others drilled holes in the top or side bulkheads. Interventions for the moment are still precarious, but all already studied with great care. Ferrari has done even more. After the engine overheating problems suffered in Barcelona, the Maranello designers got to work in the wind tunnels and so, based on the data obtained, they also enlarged the air intakes on the side pods of the 412 T. This solution among other things, made it possible to mount a front wing with greater aerodynamic pressure and to better balance the cars. John Barnard also attends the rehearsals, arriving at the last moment. The Englishman, who has a lot of work to do (as is known, the Ferraris will be completely modified starting from the next French Grand Prix, then there are the changes wanted by the FIA for Hockenheim and also the new single-seater for 1995), tells of having been the protagonist of a terrible adventure. It happened a few days before the Spanish Grand Prix, between Monday 16 and Saturday 21 May, 1994. One evening, while he was with his family at his home in Guildford - near London, where the technical centre of the Ferrari, John Barnard was attacked by a group of masked and armed unknown men who broke into the house, beat the designer's wife with a baseball bat, then tied up everyone present: John Barnard, his wife, the two sons. Finally they raided everything, taking away money and precious objects. 


A serious and very unusual episode in the Guildford area, which is considered safe and quiet. Barnard, who described his experience as dramatic and traumatic, however says that now everything is over and that he only thinks about working to make Ferrari grow. Saturday, June 11, 1994 Michael Schumacher ruins Jean Alesi's party (and birthday). In fact, it will be the Benetton driver to start from pole position in the Canadian Grand Prix. The German gave yet another proof of his skill by completing a perfect lap of the circuit on the island of Notre-Dame: 1'26"178, or 0.099 seconds better than the Frenchman from Ferrari, who was unable to improve on Friday's performance. For the Maranello team, this is the best qualifying result of the season. Alesi maintains second position and therefore the front row, while Gerhard Berger, with great courage, manages to climb from fourth to third place. And, given the minimal gaps from Benetton, for the first time the Maranello team is theoretically able to compete for victory. In theory, because in practice everything still remains to be seen. The race will be long and difficult, very complicated. And not just because of the threat of rain that could mess up all the programs and settings of the cars. This is also a test that puts the reliability of the cars, brakes and engines to the test. Which is why there may be some surprises. The favourite remains Michael Schumacher, but success for the German shouldn't be as easy as on other occasions. Less brilliant than usual appear the Williams (fourth Damon Hill, fifth the young David Coulthard) and above all the McLarens, which perhaps suffer from the circuit: here a powerful engine is required. 


The Jordans, on the other hand, are growing and once again there will be the opportunity to admire the talents of Rubens Barrichello, the driver who is currently among the most sought after on the market for next year. Among the Italians there is Gianni Morbidelli to be observed, who clearly surpasses - with his Footwork - his teammate Christian Fittipaldi. The progress that Ferrari shows in Canada, just fourteen days after the disappointing tests in Spain, arouses - as always happens in these cases - suspicions and discussions. The most malignant voices of radio-box spread a series of more or less heavy accusations that shook the environment. There is talk of violated regulations, thanks to the accomplices of the FIA technical commissioners who would have closed not only one but both eyes to the solution adopted on the 412 T for the suppression of the air compression in the engine intake, irregular petrol, underweight measurement and stuff like that. As if the Maranello team had suddenly decided to break all the rules of Formula 1 in one fell swoop. Ferrari responds to the insinuations calmly, with precise arguments. As far as the airbox is concerned, all the changes have been approved by the FIA. But, to avoid any further controversy, on Friday night the Maranello technicians decided to drill another hole in the rear part of the duct. Thus it is clear that the air enters and exits without creating any natural overfeeding. In addition, with regard to fuel, a sample was delivered for routine checks, usual in every race, with full confidence in the results. There is also an explanation for the maximum speed obtained by the cars driven by Alesi and Berger: a fact that especially scandalised Ron Dennis, owner of McLaren.


"It is not possible that the Ferrari suddenly on the straight is faster than 18 km/h compared to all the other competitors".


This data did not appear to Ferrari, which asked to change the transponders on the cars, i.e. the radio transmitters that automatically detect speeds. There's a little secret about engine performance: a new synthetic oil has been used, which is less viscous and improves internal friction, making it possible to gain about ten horsepower. In short, a real defence on all fronts to respond to a series of unpleasant allegations. Meanwhile, Jean Alesi, who will start in row for the first time in his career, expresses a bit of disappointment for the missed pole position, and a good dose of confidence for the race.


"The race will be very difficult, I'll try to always be at my best. Tire changes and refuelling will play an important role. I couldn't improve because the track had changed slightly in the heat and the car was behaving differently than on Friday. In any case I will fight lap by lap. WIN? A dream, but this time we are not far away, there is a real possibility".


Gerhard Berger is less optimistic, even if he has made a big leap forward in the line-up:


"In fact, there was a result and I made some progress, finding a perfect lap. But I'm not happy with the grip of my car, the problems are always the same. We will have to wait for the decisive changes that will arrive for the next race. My goal is to finish in the points".


No doubt, however, for Michael Schumacher:


"It will be tough, but I think I can do it. I improved my Benetton a lot with a different setup, changing the rear wing and I think I can aim for the fifth success of the season, to increase my lead in the standings. It's true that the opponents are closer, but I don't want to worry too much".


On Sunday, 12 June, 1994, at the start of the Canadian Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher takes the lead and leaves the others to duel. Jean Alesi is the quickest to chase the German Benetton driver, while Gerhard Berger gives the impression of being slower than his companion, to the point that the two Williams drivers push behind him, and above all the surprising David Coulthard who, putting his wheels in front of Damon Hill, he doesn't want to favour his partner. On the contrary, on a couple of occasions he closes every trajectory. After five laps, Michael Schumacher preceded Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger, David Coulthard, Damon Hill, Rubens Barrichello and Mika Hakkinen with the only McLaren left in the race following Martin Brundle's retirement (electrical problems). But David Coulthard's momentum didn't last long: on lap 9 the Scottish driver gave the green light to Damon Hill. In a few laps, the Englishman gets behind Gerhard Berger, and on lap 13 he tries to pass him but the Austrian closes the trajectory. He manoeuvres himself in the next round and this time he succeeds. All calm up front: on lap 15, Michael Schumacher leads with an 8-seconds advantage over Jean Alesi who precedes Damon Hill and Gerhard Berger. Further back, David Coulthard misses a corner and is overtaken by Rubens Barrichello. The first refuelling and tire changes begin. Berger replaces in record time (only 7.1 seconds), slower than him were Rubens Barrichello and the very good Gianni Morbidelli who even goes from P11 to P4. Meanwhile, Damon Hill, having freed himself from David Coulthard and Gerhard Berger, begins to put together a series of fast laps that bring him just 2.7 seconds behind Jean Alesi on lap 25. On the following lap, Andrea de Cesaris (Sauber) retires, while Michael Schumacher continues undisturbed to lead the race (he is always the fastest on the track) with a 12-seconds advantage over Alesi and a 15-seconds one ahead of Damon Hill.


On lap 31, Jean Alesi stops to change tyres: it takes him 11.4 seconds but manages to get back to third position (behind Schumacher and Hill, but ahead of Coulthard). Such is Schumacher's advantage that the German stops last and calmly changes tyres. A downpour also arrives (but it lasts a few minutes and does not oblige the riders to mount wet tyres) to enliven the race, but the story of this race does not change. Schumacher put together a series of fast laps which brought his advantage back to the limits of total safety: 36 seconds over Hill, 45 seconds over Alesi. The series of tire changes continues: Berger returns for the second time and so do Barrichello and Hakkinen. The classification, behind the Schumacher-Hill-Alesi trio, is constantly changing. The surprising Morbidelli is forced to give up, betrayed by the Footwork change, during lap 50, as well as Irvine (Jordan, lap 40) and the Japanese Katayama (lap 44), author of two spins wanted to rejoin the race: the first he succeeds (right in front of Berger's Ferrari) the second is fatal. With 10 laps to go, the situation seems to have stabilised: behind Schumacher, Hill and Alesi we find Berger, who keeps Hakkinen's McLaren at a distance. Last to score points, but also the first of the lapped, the young David Coulthard. Was everything decided? Not at all. There was still time, with five laps to go, to see Hakkinen (McLaren) stop due to a broken Peugeot engine. It therefore ends with the victory of Michael Schumacher, followed at the finish line by Damon Hill and Jean Alesi. Gerhard Berger finished fourth, followed by David Coulthard in the second Williams-Renault, and J.J. Lehto with the second Benetton-Ford. 


It ended like four other times since the start of the season: with Michael Schumacher doing the lap of honour with his arm raised. Only Hill, Alesi and Berger resisted the fury of the German, who lapped all the other opponents. 


"It really wasn't too difficult. After qualifying, with the Ferraris so close, I was prepared for a close battle. Instead I pushed hard from the start asking for the maximum from my car and I have to admit that no one has been able to worry me anymore. So I especially took care not to make mistakes, to take care of the dubbing and not to press the brakes too much. Everything went very well. This time, by the way, I had all six gears…".


World Championship now asleep?


"No. I'm in a very good position, better placed than I could have dreamed, but we are far from the end. Anything can still happen. In our sport you can get up one morning and see that someone is going faster. But I have a lot of faith in my team, it will avoid all surprises if it continues to work as it has done so far".


There is talk of the return of Nigel Mansell in Formula 1. The announcement could come this week.


"That doesn't worry me. If the Englishman really returns to race with us, it will be good for Formula 1. He is a fantastic racer, very fast, there will be some beautiful and spectacular races".


On the second step of the podium, Damon Hill had a great day.


"Yes, I enjoyed it, it was a heated race. I had a bad start, but I overtook my teammate David Coulthard who is a real tough nut to crack for being so young and inexperienced. I'm happy, although obviously I like winning much more. This is why I ask Williams and Renault to work hard to increase performance. We have to grow, improve, because otherwise Benetton will remain unbeatable. I think we will succeed, because this is the true spirit of our team, which never gives up. Among other things, in the next round at Magny-Cours we will have the new evolution of our engine".


Bad day, however, for McLaren, which in terms of performance is always quite close to the best (relative to the type of circuit), but hasn't found reliability yet. Brundle was forced to drop out suddenly due to an electrical problem, while Hakkinen, after long undermining Berger's fourth place, had to retire due to a broken pneumatic system in the engine valves. The dream of a Ferrari victory remained just that. The times in practice had disappointed the fans but in the race Benetton always proved to be the car to beat. Michael Schumacher also dominated Canada, winning for the fifth time out of six races ahead of Damon Hill's Williams. A double placement for Ferrari. Once again on the podium Jean Alesi, who preceded on the finish line (the Frenchman did the last lap using only second gear due to the gearbox failure) Gerhard Berger, who held off the impetuous David Coulthard and the young Christian Fittipaldi, subsequently disqualified because the car was found to be 2.5 kg under the minimum weight limit. The cars from Maranello demonstrated good reliability in Canada and the engine appears to be the most powerful in the Circus. But Alesi and Berger ran into the usual difficulties, especially in the mixed sections. After all, it's an unequal fight against Schumacher. Jean Alesi was hoping for at least second place, but he finished third. Yet this time he doesn't seem angry as usual, like when things don't go the way he would like. The Frenchman smiles happily.


"It didn't go very well, but it was a good weekend for my 30th birthday. We have been more competitive than usual. In pole position on the first qualifying day, in the front row at the start and third at the finish line. It's true, I was hoping to stay behind Schumacher, to repel the attacks of Damon Hill who has always pressed me closely".


And what happened?


"Unfortunately I had a gearbox problem. Already at the first pit stop something didn't work, I lost time, the gear jumped off. So the Englishman passed me. At that point I still thought about catching up. Then I realised that it wasn't possible, because the gearbox started working erratically again. At the end I was also scared: I stayed in second gear and was afraid I'd have to stop. But I continued gritting my teeth. Only by a whisker did I keep the position".


How was the race?


"Less mortifying than usual. But the car hasn't changed much, it's always difficult to drive and due to handling problems all overtaking is problematic. But now let's file Canada right away. Tomorrow Ferrari will be in Monza to test engines. Then there will be, I hope, the decisive step forward. From the next race we will have a new frame, more efficient aerodynamics and the latest generation engine, the 043 which has already been tested with excellent results and which has worked a lot on the bench in this period. I repeat, I consider this race a stepping stone for the rest of the season. So I'm happy and satisfied".


Positive test also for Gerhard Berger who, however, had to suffer more than expected to maintain his fourth place. The Austrian got out of the cockpit completely aching from fatigue, with shoulders and arms bruised by the blows received:


"In the warm-up my car was quite balanced, I was confident. In the race, on the other hand, it proved to be inconsistent and very difficult to drive. So I couldn't attack but I had to take care to defend myself. To top it off I was never alone: for 69 laps I always had some opponents behind me trying to overtake me. An incredible fight, I felt like I was going crazy. I looked in the rear view mirrors and always saw the eyes of some other driver. But overall I don't want to complain, it was a better test than many others".


For Jean Todt the Canadian Grand Prix had two faces:


"The positive one is that we have confirmed the reliability of the two cars, both at the finish line and in the points. The downside comes from the fact that once again we weren't competitive to win. In practice you can do one or two laps very fast, but in the race we are not ready yet. Miracles don't exist. I personally end Ferrari's first year here, with a positive balance, but I expect more".


It's hard to beat Schumacher and Benetton. But the losers, i.e. Williams and Ferrari, are nonetheless preparing the revenge. The English team will have a new version of the Renault engine from Magny-Cours and will have a completely redone car for the British Grand Prix. But Williams' big shot will be to bring Nigel Mansell back to Formula 1. It seems that the announcement is a matter of hours. Why the operation? It's simple: hopefully the good Nigel will put in that second per lap that Damon Hill and David Coulthard are missing. In addition, it will still be a novelty capable of rekindling interest, making a show and pleasing the sponsors. Ferrari, on the other hand, aims to recover competitiveness with what it has available at the moment. 


Among other things, if the performance of the Maranello cars improves, there won't be any problems with Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger, who, although enticed by other teams, would be happy to stay as long as another music is played. The progress that emerged in Montreal (in practice and in the race the gap with the best was reduced to 2-3 tenths of a second per lap) was also determined by the characteristics of the track, the increase in weight imposed on the cars, some aero modifications desired by the FIA. Absolutely not enough: the Ferraris are inconstant and for now are not worth more than a third-fourth place. There are about fourteen days to present those innovations that everyone, especially the drivers, are waiting for. New engine, revised gearbox, revised aerodynamics, modified chassis. In Maranello it is said that the English headquarters (Barnard) and the base work in symbiosis, as a united group. Everyone hopes so: another hitch would hardly be acceptable. And the car that we could call the 412 T2 will have to truly rise to the occasion. Also because the circuits of Magny-Cours and Silverstone have often been very difficult for Ferrari. The Italian team has already practically failed to aim for the World Drivers' Championship, but in theory it can still fight for that of the constructors. However, the fans would prefer some good strong victories, like in the past, given that the wait has now lasted for 56 races. It must be said that in its current binge Benetton is also helped by favourable factors. At Imola, in the shock of a tragic day, someone forgot to point out that the mechanics of the Anglo-Italian team worked in an area prohibited by the regulations and that Michael Schumacher should have been disqualified. In Spain, no one noticed that during the refuelling stop the German's car was injected with compressed air to regenerate the engine's pneumatic valve system, an action prohibited by technical-sporting regulations. So it must be said that even fortune favours the bold.


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