Schumacher takes fourth win at subdued Monaco

1994 Monaco Grand Prix flashback

Posted on

| Written by

“Look, whether it’s me, whether it’s [Ayrton] Senna, or anyone else, no one is bigger than the sport,” Bernie Ecclestone told Formula One team bosses ahead of the 1994 Monaco Grand Prix.

“We’ve all got to pick ourselves up and go on. Most people thought that we could not go on after Jim Clark was killed, Colin Chapman died, or this or that. Let me tell you, the sport moves on. And it must do so now.”

But the feeling of vulnerability the events of Imola had cast on the sport, and the deep shock at the loss of one of its greatest drivers, would not go away soon.

As profound a shock as the death of Roland Ratzenberger had been on the Saturday of the San Marino Grand Prix, Senna’s death during the race itself was another order of magnitude, and cast a long, dark shadow over the weeks ahead.

Posters for the Monaco Grand Prix showed him in his McLaren at the 1993 race, heading to his fifth win in a row on the track and a record sixth victory in the principality. A Monaco Grand Prix without him seemed unthinkable.

The trauma of the last race, and the media frenzy it had sparked, had barely subsided in the 11 days since Imola. And the risks of driving a Formula One car were starkly apparent at Monaco. That was made terribly clear during the first day of practice on Thursday, which delivered another shock to the system.

The harbour-front chicane had been installed as a safety measure eight years earlier, replacing a high-speed flick which F1 cars had outgrown. This had created some run-off space but it proved insufficient when Karl Wendlinger, pushing his braking limit as deep as he dared, got out of shape and skidded sideways into a barrier.

Wendlinger was taken to hospital with head injuries including bruising of the brain, and though he would go on to make a full recovery the rest of the weekend was conducted in the knowledge that another serious accident had left a driver in a coma.

The FIA had been at pains to avoid a knee-jerk response to the events of Imola. But Wendlinger’s accident seemed to be the final straw.

Just 24 hours after it, president Max Mosley held a press conference to announce the formation of an Expert Advisory Group to look into all matters relating to safety. It was to be chaired by Professor Sid Watkins, and the speed with which the group was assembled can be gauged by the fact that the first Watkins heard about his appointment was when it was announced.

Mosley also announced drastic changes would be unilaterally imposed to slow the cars. These would begin from the very next race, which was just two weeks away. At the German Grand Prix, to be held in July, Mosley demanded the introduction of stepped undersides to F1 cars – a change originally planned for 1995 – to further slow them.

While the necessity of improving the safety of the cars was disputed by no one, designers expressed doubts over whether the planned changes would be successful, and team bosses were alarmed by the potential cost of redesigning cars which had only been in operation for a few months.

The drivers were keen to throw light on safety shortcomings at circuits. The re-formation of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association had been discussed in the wake of Ratzenberger’s crash, and now following the death of Senna it gained even greater impetus.

At a meeting on Friday, chaired by Martin Brundle, the GPDA was formally re-established. Michael Schumacher, Gerhard Berger and Christian Fittipaldi were named its representatives, with Niki Lauda to act as an official spokesperson for the rest of the year.

Lauda’s presence leant some much-needed gravitas to the GPDA because, for the first time since the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix (which was contested by a depleted field), there were no world champions on the grid.

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

1994 Monaco Grand Prix grid

Barring the sad absences of Senna and Ratzenberger, the entry list was largely unchanged from the previous round. Jean Alesi had returned to his Ferrari, the neck injury he incurred in testing having healed enough for him to drive again.

But following Wendlinger’s crash Sauber elected to take no further part in the weekend and withdrew his entry along with Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s.

For Williams and Simtek, this was an event to endure. Questions of competitiveness took a back seat as both chose not to replace their lost drivers for this race. The front row of the grid was left vacant in honour of Senna and Ratzenberger, and a minute’s silence observed before the start.

The front of the grid provided a glimpse of the future. Michael Schumacher took his first pole position by almost a second from Mika Hakkinen, who started from the leading row for the first time in his F1 career. This was a much-needed boost for McLaren’s new engine supplier Peugeot, who had provided Hakkinen with a developmental engine for the prestigious race.

The nimble Footworks also qualified well. But Rubens Barrichello, injured at Imola and hit especially hard by the loss of Senna, was out-qualified by team mate Andrea de Cesaris, who was serving as substitute for Eddie Irvine for the last of his three suspended races.

Towards the rear of the field were the two Ligiers, the team a hotbed of rumour following its purchase by Flavio Briatore. Behind them were the single Simtek of David Brabham and the two Pacifics, which were well off the pace.

Row 11. Michael Schumacher 1’18.560
2. Mika Hakkinen 1’19.488
Row 23. Gerhard Berger 1’19.958
4. Damon Hill 1’20.079
Row 35. Jean Alesi 1’20.452
6. Christian Fittipaldi 1’21.053
Row 47. Gianni Morbidelli 1’21.189
8. Martin Brundle 1’21.222
Row 59. Pierluigi Martini 1’21.288
10. Mark Blundell 1’21.614
Row 611. Ukyo Katayama 1’21.731
12. Michele Alboreto 1’21.793
Row 713. Erik Comas 1’22.211
14. Andrea de Cesaris 1’22.265
Row 815. Rubens Barrichello 1’22.359
16. Johnny Herbert 1’22.375
Row 917. JJ Lehto 1’22.679
18. Olivier Beretta 1’23.025
Row 1019. Pedro Lamy 1’23.858
20. Olivier Panis 1’24.131
Row 1121. Eric Bernard 1’24.377
22. David Brabham 1’24.656
Row 1223. Bertrand Gachot 1’26.082
24. Paul Belmondo 1’29.984

1994 Monaco Grand Prix

The Monaco Grand Prix was one to endure for Williams, and for them the race only lasted half a lap.

From fourth on the grid Damon Hill made, in his view, his first good start of the year. The Williams was immediately past Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari but he got too close to Hakkinen and the pair tangled.

The Williams fired the McLaren into the escape road where a bemused Hakkinen retired. “Whoever it was, I have to say it was really, really stupid,” he said on returning to the pits. Hill tried to continue but parked at the exit of Casino, his suspension damaged.

Behind them Gianni Morbidelli’s Footwork went nose-first into the barrier on the inside after tangling with the Minardi of Pierluigi Martini. They were also eliminated, and both cars were left at the inside of the corner for the remainder of the race.

Thanks to a blistering first lap and the chaos unfolding behind him, Schumacher completed his first tour 3.7 seconds ahead of the Ferraris. They were followed by Christian Fittipaldi – who kept Alesi honest for much of the first stint – Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell.

Schumacher quickly put the race beyond reach of any of his rivals. Within eight laps he was 13 seconds up the road and had already lapped Paul Belmondo, the Pacific driver struggling with the physical effort of hauling his car around the Monte-Carlo track.

A few laps later Schumacher arrived on the tail of another backmarker – his team mate. In his second race since coming back from injury JJ Lehto was struggling with his neck and got nowhere near Schumacher in qualifying where he was over four seconds slower.

Schumacher swiftly put the other B194 a lap down, then spent over a lap waiting for Olivier Beretta to let him through – the Larrousse pilot having failed to notice the Benetton in his rear mirrors had been replaced by the one belonging to the race leader.

One of few changes made immediately after the Imola accidents was the introduction of an 80kph (50mph) speed limit in the pit lane, with tight corners added at the entrance and exit to further slow the cars. Schumacher dodged through them for the first time on lap 24 when he came in to refuel. With Berger following him in shortly afterwards, also on a two-drop strategy, Schumacher never lost the lead.

But he nearly did on lap 42, when the Yamaha engine in Blundell’s Tyrrell expired in front of him and coated the approach to Sainte Devote in oil. The rear of Schumacher’s car broke away as he reached the apex of the corner and for a moment he looked to be heading into the barriers until the grip mercifully returned and he continued on his car.

Berger was next on the scene. “I saw the yellow flag, but I saw too late the oil flag and I just was sliding on the oil,” he explained afterwards. He abandoned his attempt to get around the corner and headed for the escape road. He had just executed a 180-degree spin and rejoined the track when Brundle arrived.

Like Berger, the McLaren driver was on a two-stop strategy. He had made his first stop early and moved clear of Fittipaldi, and now seized his chance to pass Berger. The Ferrari driver covered the inside line on the approach to Mirabeau but Brundle went the long way around to claim second place.

“Martin was just behind me but I had very dirty tyres,” said Berger. “I didn’t want to risk anything for this lap.” His attempt to catch the McLaren was hampered when he caught former team mate Michele Alboreto, who took his time letting the Ferrari past.

The other Ferrari was also having trouble in traffic. Alesi made a hasty attempt to lap Brabham at the chicane, the outcome of which was broken suspension and retirement for the Simtek and a damaged front wing for the Ferrari.

On the same lap Fittipaldi’s fine drive was halted by gearbox failure. The prime benefactor was De Cesaris, who jumped up the order to take fourth place.

Schumacher eased his pace over the final laps which allowed Lehto to reclaim one of his two lost laps and gave him the opportunity to seize on any last-lap problems for the drivers ahead. But none appeared, and Lehto finished out of the points in seventh.

Brundle took a well-earned second place, though his and Peugeot’s delight was tempered when McLaren team boss Ron Dennis reminded them that although this was their best result so far, “second place just means you’re first of the losers”.

Berger had questioned his future in racing after losing his friend Senna, compatriot Ratzenberger and seen another Austrian, Wendlinger, badly injured. He had bravely chosen to continue and third place was far less a reward than his commitment merited.

De Cesaris claimed valuable points for Jordan, while Barrichello retired when his engine died during his first pit stop. Alesi and Alboreto took the final points. Pedro Lamy was the last driver running, albeit five laps down having pitted twice to have his brake fluid topped up.

1994 Monaco Grand Prix result

15Michael SchumacherBenetton-Ford781hr49’55.372
28Martin BrundleMcLaren-Peugeot7837.278
328Gerhard BergerFerrari781’16.824
415Andrea de CesarisJordan-Hart771 lap
527Jean AlesiFerrari771 lap
624Michele AlboretoMinardi-Ford771 lap
76JJ LehtoBenetton-Ford771 lap
819Olivier BerettaLarrousse-Ford762 laps
926Olivier PanisLigier-Renault762 laps
1020Erik ComasLarrousse-Ford753 laps
1111Pedro LamyLotus-Mugen-Honda735 laps
12Johnny HerbertLotus-Mugen-Honda68Gearbox
33Paul BelmondoPacific-Ilmor53Exhaustion
34Bertrand GachotPacific-Ilmor49Gearbox
9Christian FittipaldiFootwork-Ford47Gearbox
31David BrabhamSimtek-Ford45Accident
4Mark BlundellTyrrell-Yamaha40Engine
3Ukyo KatayamaTyrrell-Yamaha38Gearbox
25Eric BernardLigier-Renault34Accident
14Rubens BarrichelloJordan-Hart27Electrical
7Mika HakkinenMcLaren-Peugeot0Accident
0Damon HillWilliams-Renault0Accident
10Gianni MorbidelliFootwork-Ford0Accident
23Pierluigi MartiniMinardi-Ford0Accident
29Karl WendlingerSauber-Mercedes0Withdrawn
30Heinz-Harald FrentzenSauber-Mercedes0Withdrawn

Schumacher’s fourth victory in as many races left little room for hope that he might be challenged for the championship. He now had 40 points with Berger, his closest challenger, 30 behind.

But the sport had more serious concerns in the weeks and months ahead than the lack of excitement in the title fight. Despite relief that qualifying and the race in Monaco had passed without incident, the question of how F1 could be made safer now demanded immediate attention.

Images © Williams/Sutton

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

39 comments on “Schumacher takes fourth win at subdued Monaco”

  1. that margin in qualifying and in the race was more acceptable in 1994 then now as there was no engine homologation, so everyone was free to develop their package and there was always hope of the order closing and changing. engine homologation worked in the v8 era, as the teams had all relatively the same power, now it isn’t working, we have a locked in advantage for one engine manufacturer that the others can not claw back. this is a new feature in f1, it has never been like this where one team is certain to win every race because of a locked in advantage.

    1. All teams had an equal chance to develop their packages. Some were more successful than others.

      Deal with it.

      Your rose tinted piece of nostalgia seems to conveniently miss the fact that most seasons in F1, one or two teams are dominant…

      1. Whilst I agree with you, I think it is a valid point made by kpcart that it’s bad that the other (Ferrari and Renault-powered) teams aren’t able to develop their engine packages in order to catch up. I think it would’ve been fair at least for this first season of the new regulations to allow new upgrades throughout the season.

        Anyway, this is off topic…

    2. What about the pre-trubo V8 era?

      1. I meant DFV era.

    3. How does homologation affect Honda’s engine entry next year? Did they have to homologate the same time as everyone else, or did they get to see what happened this year and adjust accordingly?

    4. Last time I checked, there were lots of teams running the same engines, among them fairly recent repeat race winners and champion contenders.

    5. If there was no homologation, whose to say that the gap wouldn’t widen rather than shrink?

      1. I like the way you think. RB are constantly talking up about how their development is going wand how they are going to catch up with Merc. People seem to assume Merc are standing still! That is not the case, the RB deficit to Merc is actually the current difference + Mercs development.

        As an aside, I’d like to see RB have a race win at least this season. Surely they deserve something in return at least for the amount of work and effort they put in between pre season testing & Australia. It was an achievement for them to finish a full race distance the fact they put a car on the podium (albeit a short lived podium) speaks volumes of their engineers & team!

      2. Is it possible for Ferrari to change with 2 seconds faster engine and hence starting from the pit lane?

  2. There was only one Williams

    Does anyone knows why David Coulthard was not in the race?

    1. Williams chose not to enter a second car so the question of who would drive it never arose.

      1. Riccardo Patrase was rumoured to be in line but rightly(imo) turned it down

  3. Interesting read. Thanks.

  4. That’s another really well put together piece, thanks. I honestly don’t recall much of the 1994 Monaco GP. I have memories of most of the races that year but I honestly can’t recall anything from this race other than Wendlinger’s practice accident and seeing Hill come to a half on the run down to Mirabeau.

    As I said a few days ago, Karl Wendlinger is the real forgotten casualty of the 1994 f1 season. (

    1. My most vivid memory of this race was the pre-race tribute to Senna and Ratzenberger on the grid. I also remember images of Wendlinger skidding down the escape road, I don’t believe cameras picked it up, or maybe it was just Ch9 in Australia that didn’t show it in full.
      I think the race was just a secondary distraction from everything else that had happened the race before and the practise session earlier that weekend.
      I also remember everyone who had a passing interest in the sport was watching the race.

    2. I’m the same way – I can recall practically every lap of Imola, twenty years on, but the only things that come to me about Monaco are Wendlinger’s accident and the start line moment’s silence. Weirdly, I also recall those rear wing extensions used at Monte Carlo then. The shock of such a massive change, then Wendlinger this weekend, had me feeling quite sickened with F1 for quite a while – didn’t someone clout the tire barrier quite viciously at Barcelona in practice too? It was a hellish few months. I sat and watched, but must have switched off subconsciously.

      Once again, great article Keith. Stirring some long tucked-away memories and emotions.

  5. Shame that Hakkinen was taken out at the first corner, it would have been interesting to how hard he could have pushed Schumacher in the race. In those days Mika was fast but still pretty wild so had he continued I wouldn’t have been surprised if had ended up in the barriers at some point anyway!

    Hakkinen’s qualifying pace and Brundle’s race result show the McLaren chassis wasn’t all that bad but they were really being held back by the Peugeot engine. Is it true that all Peugeot did to start with was simply modify their Le Mans engine and hope that would be good enough?

    1. It was based on their engine from the Sportscar World Championship team as the formula was the same at the time. Then from 1995 F1 changed from 3.5 litres to 3.0 and if I remember correctly Peugeot never had as many podiums in a single year with another team than they did with McLaren in that first season.

  6. You can just see on the picture of the start that the front row of the grid was actually left empty. There was a Brazilian flag painted on the pole position spot and an Austrian flag on the second. I think the intention was for there to be only 24 qualifiers (i.e. two drivers would not qualify) before Sauber’s withdrawal rendered it irrelevant.

    1. In earlier years Monaco had featured a smaller grid but that ended in 1987 (although they didn’t have a full field that year). I’ve never seen anything to suggest a smaller grid was planned for the 1994 race, have you?

      1. The only thing I can remember of a smaller grid, was a thought put forward for safety after the San Marino GP to reduce the amount of cars even further from 26 cars to 20 odd cars. But I didn’t think this was for the Monaco GP specifically, I thought it was more of an overall ruling.

  7. This race holds a special place in my heart as it was the first formula 1 race I ever watched! I was 14 years old, almost 15. I was just zapping and came up on this just 10 minutes before the start. I had convince my mom I wasn’t just watching it for the sake of watching tv, but because I genuinly was interested.

    I didn’t know about what had happened the race before, the only knowledge I had of F1 at the time came fom some old Michael valiant comics I found in an old stash from my dad a few years earlier.

    I was hooked, and a Schumacher fan, straight away and I have missed hardly a race ever since.

  8. Amazing that it took so long for Schumacher to get his first pole. That really shows the dominance of Williams over the previous 2 years and how great Senna was to be the only driver who could snatch 2 non-Williams poles, then a few more with a difficult car at the beginning or 1994. I hadn’t realised before that Prost got as many as 13 poles in 1993, as he’s traditionally overshadowed by Mansell being a little more dominant the year before.

  9. I am a bit of a broken record on this subject, but every time I read the -always brilliant- “old” race reviews, I am still surprised to see that people accepted a series where the frontrunners had a HUGE performance margin to the lower end of the field, let alone the midfield, and where two drivers in the same team could be separated by seconds in qualifying.

    Actually, a capable reliable driver like Chilton in a reliable car with a 4s deficit per lap at worst (nowadays Marussia compared to Mercedes) would have probably amassed some points at the time, even if they were only attributed up to 6th position.

    Nowadays, Caterham or Marussia are maybe lagging by a substantial margin, but they are not going to get lapped 5 or 6 times and chances are they will finish the race. Also, I believe no drivers nowadays would stop because of exhaution (were the cars that much harder to drive in 1995?).

    So, today, we have a couple of cars 0,5s to 1s down the road to the next best thing, and 4s to the slowest of the whole field. Both are fighting tooth and nail and as for the rest of the field, a 0,5s difference in qualification between team mates would be considered a trashing. I see that as uphill from what we had in the late 80s, early 90s “golden era” (and incidentally, the era during which I started watching F1 regularly). Really, we are lucky to be able to follow F1 nowadays (while remembering it could always be better of course)

    1. @tango

      I am a bit of a broken record on this subject, but every time I read the -always brilliant- “old” race reviews, I am still surprised to see that people accepted a series where the frontrunners had a HUGE performance margin to the lower end of the field, let alone the midfield, and where two drivers in the same team could be separated by seconds in qualifying.

      This is one reason why I keep writing them. There can be a big element of ‘rose tinted spectacles’ when looking at past races, especially if people have been watching highlights clips of them on YouTube or on TV which cut out the endless laps where there wasn’t very much going on in some races.

      This is just one dimension – in other respects there were greater opportunities for races to produce more excitement back then. Blundell’s engine failure in this race is a good example: it nearly caused Schumacher to crash out of the lead and helped Brundle pass Berger.

      But today Blundell’s team would have seen there was a problem with the engine and brought it into the pits to retire. And so the entire episode with Schumacher, Berger and Brundle wouldn’t have happened.

      Now, I’m not saying we should take telemetry away from the engineers, but this is an example of how the every-improving standards of professionalism in the sport can have a negative effect on the racing. Food for thought.

      Anyway, ramble over! Glad you liked the article.

      1. @keithcollantine

        I actually agree that development in the sport hasn’t always gone in the right way (hello DRS, mandatory tyre change, “remember to drink” messages…). I agree also that sometimes the sport can be viewed as to sanitised onfield and outside of the field (hello PR robots). I’m not convinced that stopping a car before it creates an accident is such a bad thing though but i get the point.

        My message was really about the overall quality of the field, car wise and driver wise. Some of the guys present in 1995 seem woeful and some cars seem so much of the pace. People cry that Caterham’s are only slightly faster than GP2s…. But what about a Pacific ?

        1. Anyhoot, thanks for the read !

      2. And so the entire episode with Schumacher, Berger and Brundle wouldn’t have happened.

        But what if Schumacher had of crashed and been badly injured, that would of been the terrible icing on the cake. I think i prefer the current phase.

  10. Schumacher had traction control, did he not? which was banned outright.
    But where there is a will there is a way.

  11. Very sad reading. I don’t really remember the grands prix as such, I can remember not really wanting to watch F1 for awhile after Imola. It all seemed rather pointless. A very, very well written piece Keith. Cheers!

  12. I remember these old days with a fair bit of nostalgia, I was 21 back and an F1 enthusiast for the best part of a decade. My interest was at its zenith and that season always brings sadness to me. I don’t remember whether the change in displacement was scheduled anyway for 95 or these events brought it earlier but what I do remember is that this period 89-94 is the one with the most interesting engines. I do remember the turbo power frenzy of 85-86 and of course the ear-splitting 20k rpm V10s but this diversity from V8 driveability, V10 brilliance to the V12 thunder is the most exciting thing.
    Another thing that comes to mind after reading this is the realisation of how lucky drivers were in the turbo era.

  13. The gaps between teammates in those days are unheard of today, is it because there’s a higher standard of drivers these days or the lack of telemetry in those days that allowed certain drivers to find a sweet spot setup wise??

  14. Nice to see pictures of a time when F1 cars were pretty.

    How hard would it be to go back to that look?

    1. @jonathan189 I agree. For a sport so concerned about how it sounds and about how they can attract viewers, Formula 1 seems to be really forgiving when it comes to the looks of the cars. They look terrible, there’s no appeal at all.

      1. Lol, and in the early 90’s the Benetton was considered the “ugly duckling” of the grid.

        By todays standards even that car is beautiful.

    2. Very simple: ban all CFD and wind tunnel testing and let the engineers guess what car shape is fast ;)

  15. Keith, at the end of the following reports I think it would be a good to include a table of the championship standings, acting as a build up to the memorable events in Adelaide.

  16. I havent commented here for a long long time, but I just had to thank you Keith for writing these great articles. Good review of the whole weekend with some backround info I wasnt aware of. Thanks!

Comments are closed.