Michael Schumacher, Benetton, Jerez, 1994

Schumacher edges clear as fuel rig thwarts Hill

1994 European Grand Prix flashback

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The battle for the 1994 championship came alive at Jerez as Michael Schumacher returned to take on Damon Hill.

But a faulty refuelling rig put paid to hopes of a showdown between in the two in Spain. Schumacher took his eighth win of the season – and regained the initiative in the title fight.

New faces

Schumacher’s return from a two-race suspension to lead the Benetton team was just the first of many changes in the driver line-up since the previous round in Portugal three weeks earlier.

Nigel Mansell had climbed from the cockpit of his Newman-Haas Lola at Laguna Seca in California the previous weekend and left IndyCar racing for good. He took over from David Coulthard at Williams, and though he was still feeling the after-effects of the abrupt shift in time zones he was eager to begin what amounted to a three-race audition for a full-time return in 1995.

Administrators had taken over Lotus after the Italian Grand Prix, and in an attempt to raise funds Johnny Herbert’s contract had been sold to Ligier. He therefore swapped places with Eric Bernard. This meant Lotus had a complete change of driver line-up, Alessandro Zanardi having returned in place of Philippe Adams.

Lotus weren’t the only team trying to make ends meet. Larrousse continued to operate a revolving door for their second car, and Hideki Noda became the fourth occupant of the seat alongside Erik Comas. At Simtek Jean-Marc Gounon was replaced by Domenico Schiattarella.

Unexpected return

It wasn’t just the line-up of drivers which had been in flux since the season began. The 14th round of the championship was supposed to take place in Argentina, but problems getting the venue ready meant it was scrubbed from the calendar four months before it was due to take place.

A replacement was arranged at Jerez, and the Spain’s second round of the championship was given the title of European Grand Prix which Donington Park had used the previous year.

Schumacher returned to continue his fight against Hill
The twisty circuit in the south of the country had last been used for a grand prix in 1990. Since then its twisty infield had been eased, creating a longer run-up to the Curva Dry Sack hairpin. However the sweeping right-handers behind the pits, where Martin Donnelly had crashed so fearfully during practice for its last grand prix, had been slowed by a chicane.

With their championship leader back at the helm, Benetton were rejuvenated. The twisty circuit suited the B194 chassis, and after minor damage to his car was repaired overnight Schumacher took his fifth pole position of the year.

Hill went off the track in his efforts to beat the Benetton, and by doing so spread gravel over the surface which hindered Mansell’s progress. The returning driver shared the second row with Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who was in Sauber’s best starting position of their short existence.

The highest Ferrari belonged to Gerhard Berger, sixth on the grid at a venue where their straight-line performance counted for little. Team mate Jean Alesi spun during his first qualifying attempt on Saturday, which left him ten places further back, anticipating a difficult race at a circuit where overtaking would be difficult.

1994 European Grand Prix grid

Row 1 1. Michael Schumacher 1’22.762
2. Damon Hill 1’22.892
Row 2 3. Nigel Mansell 1’23.392
4. Heinz-Harald Frentzen 1’23.431
Row 3 5. Rubens Barrichello 1’23.455
6. Gerhard Berger 1’23.677
Row 4 7. Johnny Herbert 1’24.040
8. Gianni Morbidelli 1’24.079
Row 5 9. Mika Hakkinen 1’24.122
10. Eddie Irvine 1’24.157
Row 6 11. Olivier Panis 1’24.432
12. Jos Verstappen 1’24.643
Row 7 13. Ukyo Katayama 1’24.738
14. Mark Blundell 1’24.770
Row 8 15. Martin Brundle 1’25.110
16. Jean Alesi 1’25.182
Row 9 17. Pierluigi Martini 1’25.294
18. Andrea de Cesaris 1’25.407
Row 10 19. Christian Fittipaldi 1’25.427
20. Michele Alboreto 1’25.511
Row 11 21. Alessandro Zanardi 1’25.557
22. Eric Bernard 1’25.595
Row 12 23. Erik Comas 1’26.272
24. Hideki Noda 1’27.168
Row 13 25. David Brabham 1’27.201
26. Domenico Schiattarella 1’27.976

Did not qualify:

Bertrand Gachot, Pacific-Ilmor – 1’29.488
Paul Belmondo, Pacific-Ilmor – 1’30.234

1994 European Grand Prix

The cars were held on red for a long time. Moments before the lights changed, Schumacher’s clutch started to drag, and just as he made to come off it the race started and Hill beat him to turn one.

Schumacher, who was planning to pit three times, hounded his championship rival during the opening laps. No overtaking opportunity presented itself, but Schumacher could afford to relax in the knowledge that Williams strategy had consistently been found wanting compared to Benetton’s.

That may have proved the case on this occasion even without Hill’s problem. Schumacher made his first pit stop on lap 15 and jumped ahead of the Williams when Hill pitted two laps later. And despite Hill planning to pit twice his second stint was no longer than Schumacher’s – both were back in after 18 laps.

This was because a fault in Hill’s fuel rig led Williams to the incorrect conclusion that they had put too little fuel at his first stop. His second pit stop was therefore both too early and saw him take on to much fuel.

While Hill lugged around the best part of 100kg of fuel, Schumacher’s light Benetton disappeared up the road. Hill, who had begun the race looking like he would surpass Schumacher in the championship standings, had to settle for second.

It was a taxing race for both sides of the Williams garage. Mansell lit up his rear tyres at the start and fell to sixth behind Frentzen, Barrichello and Berger.

Mansell swiftly re-passed the Ferrari and on lap six took advantage of the extended run to Curva Dry Sack to take fourth place off Barrichello. But he lost the position when he was held up by Noda on lap 11.

The Larrousse driver had stalled at the start and Mansell almost ran into him at turn eight as the leaders came past the hapless rookie. Barrichello spied an opportunity and pounced, brilliantly passing the Williams around the outside.

Making mattes worse for Mansell, he had damaged part of his front wing in contact with the Larrousse. He had the wing replaced at a later pit stop, but was then brought back in when Williams noticed a bolt was loose. As with Coulthard’s rear wing problem at Spa, Williams’ caution was understandable in the light of Imola.

Mansell’s race didn’t last much longer after he returned to the track, spinning out at turn seven on lap 48. Coulthard, commentating on the race for the BBC, resisted the urge to stick the boot in, suggesting Mansell had been caught out by the lower ride height of an F1 car compared to and IndyCar when he ran wide at the exit of the turn.

At the front of the field Schumacher was able to pace himself. He could afford to back off when he came across the McLaren of Mika Hakkinen, who was reluctant to be lapped.

Hakkinen took the final place on the podium at the expense of Eddie Irvine, who suspected the stewards had been looking the other way when the McLaren made a surprisingly fast departure from the pit lane. The enforcement of the speed limit introduced at the Monaco Grand Prix was not yet being done automatically.

Berger took fifth for Ferrari ahead of Frentzen, whose one-stop strategy had seen him hold up a queue of cars at the beginning of the race. Johnny Herbert brought his new Ligier home in eighth ahead of his team mate – though it would prove to be a one-off appearance for Herbert before another change of team.

1994 European Grand Prix result

Pos. # Driver Team Laps Time / gap / reason
1 5 Michael Schumacher Benetton-Ford 69 1hr 40’26.689
2 0 Damon Hill Williams-Renault 69 24.689
3 7 Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Peugeot 69 1’09.648
4 15 Eddie Irvine Jordan-Hart 69 1’18.446
5 28 Gerhard Berger Ferrari 68 1 lap
6 30 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Mercedes 68 1 lap
7 3 Ukyo Katayama Tyrrell-Yamaha 68 1 lap
8 25 Johnny Herbert Ligier-Renault 68 1 lap
9 26 Olivier Panis Ligier-Renault 68 1 lap
10 27 Jean Alesi Ferrari 68 1 lap
11 10 Gianni Morbidelli Footwork-Ford 68 1 lap
12 14 R.Barrichello Jordan-Hart 68 1 lap
13 4 Mark Blundell Tyrrell-Yamaha 68 1 lap
14 24 Michele Alboreto Minardi-Ford 67 2 laps
15 23 Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ford 67 2 laps
16 12 Alessandro Zanardi Lotus-Mugen-Honda 67 2 laps
17 9 Christian Fittipaldi Footwork-Ford 66 3 laps
18 11 Eric Bernard Lotus-Mugen-Honda 66 3 laps
19 32 Domenico Schiattarella Simtek-Ford 64 5 laps
2 Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault 47 Accident
31 David Brabham Simtek-Ford 42 Engine
29 Andrea de Cesaris Sauber-Mercedes 37 Throttle
20 Erik Comas Larrousse-Ford 37 Alternator
6 Jos Verstappen Benetton-Ford 15 Accident
19 Hideki Noda Larrousse-Ford 10 Gearbox
8 Martin Brundle McLaren-Peugeot 8 Engine

1994 Drivers’ championship points

Schumacher’s victory increased his championship lead to five points. But his margin over Hill at the end of the race flattered the Benetton’s performance compared to the ever-improving Williams.

The final races of the season would illustrate that as the 1994 drivers’ championship built to a thrilling conclusion.


Brazil Pacific San Marino Monaco Spain Canada France Britain Germany Hungary Belgium Italy Portugal Europe
Michael Schumacher 10 20 30 40 46 56 66 66 66 76 76 76 76 86
Damon Hill 6 6 7 7 17 23 29 39 39 45 55 65 75 81
Gerhard Berger 0 6 6 10 10 13 17 17 27 27 27 33 33 35
Mika Hakkinen 0 0 4 4 4 4 4 8 8 8 14 18 22 26
Jean Alesi 4 4 4 6 9 13 13 19 19 19 19 19 19 19
Rubens Barrichello 3 7 7 7 7 7 7 10 10 10 10 13 16 16
David Coulthard 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 4 4 4 7 8 14 14
Martin Brundle 0 0 0 6 6 6 6 6 6 9 9 11 12 12
Jos Verstappen 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 8 8 10 10
Mark Blundell 0 0 0 0 4 4 4 4 4 6 8 8 8 8
Olivier Panis 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 7 7 7 7 7
Nicola Larini 0 0 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
Christian Fittipaldi 0 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 6 6 6 6 6 6
Heinz-Harald Frentzen 0 2 2 2 2 2 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 6
Ukyo Katayama 2 2 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Eric Bernard 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 4 4 4 4 4
Karl Wendlinger 1 1 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Andrea de Cesaris 0 0 0 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Eddie Irvine 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 4
Pierluigi Martini 0 0 0 0 2 2 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Gianni Morbidelli 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 3 3 3 3
Erik Comas 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2
Michele Alboreto 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
J J Lehto 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

1994 Constructors’ championship points

Benetton regained the initiative in the constructors’ championship with their eighth win of the season.

But each of their wins and all bar nine of their points had been scored by Schumacher, and despite Mansell’s faltering comeback for Williams there was a clear case for them to address the weakness in their squad. Jos Verstappen had been almost two seconds off Schumacher’s pace in qualifying and spun off early in the race.


Brazil Pacific San Marino Monaco Spain Canada France Britain Germany Hungary Belgium Italy Portugal Europe
Benetton 10 20 30 40 46 57 67 67 67 81 85 85 87 97
Williams 6 6 7 7 17 25 31 43 43 49 62 73 89 95
Ferrari 4 10 16 22 25 32 36 42 52 52 52 58 58 60
McLaren 0 0 4 10 10 10 10 14 14 17 23 29 34 38
Jordan 3 7 7 10 11 11 11 14 14 14 14 17 20 23
Tyrrell 2 2 4 4 8 8 8 9 9 11 13 13 13 13
Ligier 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 11 11 11 11 11
Sauber 1 3 6 6 6 6 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 11
Footwork 0 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 8 8 9 9 9 9
Minardi 0 0 0 1 3 3 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Larrousse 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2

Image © Ford

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34 comments on “Schumacher edges clear as fuel rig thwarts Hill”

  1. Despite what people say back in 1994 Michael Schumacher was not loved by FIA unlike his time at Ferrari. To get things straight he was disqualified from 2 wins and excluded from 2 further races. Almost 40 points defeceit there. You can imagine how poor Hill was in drivers standings.

    So I always feel what he did in last race is justified. HILL did not deserve title. FIA were artificially trying to make him win.

    1. So I always feel what he did in last race is justified. HILL did not deserve title. FIA were artificially trying to make him win.

      Regardless of the context, driving into a competitor is not a valid racing solution to a grievance with a competitor or the governing body.

      1. You need to watch the incident again. It was Hill who did the ramming.

        1. I am, a MASSIVE Schumacher fan, I grew up watching him. When I got a mod for my F1 game, it was to put Schumacher back into it (Sorry Rosberg).

          … Having said that, Schumacher was clearly in the wrong. I don’t think it was particularly on purpose, I think it however was clumsy at best. And it was entirely his responsibility to leave room.

    2. Please explain his behavior towards Villeneuve later that decade then. You have to admit that for all his results, he was one of the worst sportsmen the sport has ever seen. Driving into your opponent twice would be considered a permanent ban from Racing two decades earlier so the FIA was being extremely forgiving to him.

      1. So, was Senna a poor sportsman too?

        1. At times, definitely

        2. How about yeah? Only those who have seen nothing of his but the movie Senna and the GT6 clips and those of questionable intellect consider Senna anything more than an anti-hero.

        3. About the worst that ever was. It’s not just a matter of his personal enormous unsportmanship. He managed to ruin sportmanship in F1 for good, pretty much just by himself.

    3. Ironically it was after the Villeneuve incident that Schumacher and the FIA began their cosy relationship. Max Mosley has gone on record to say that the punishment handed out to Schumacher, which was to put in some time helping out with the FIA’s road safety campaign, brought them into closer contact than they had enjoyed up until that point and they found that they got on rather well together. Before that, Mosley had been pretty scathing about him, certainly throughout 1994, and there was also some spat I remember at the start of 1995 (something to do with Schumacher apparently trying to work the driver weighing system to his advantage I think).

      1. Schumacher had a lead helmet for the driver weigh in… it was to set car weights i belive…

    4. I have read some BS in these comment columns, but this takes the biscuit, did you actually watch the 94 season…I did. To say the Benneton was close to being illegal throughout the whole season is a massive understatement, (launch control fitted but never used !! so how did he consistently power away even when 3rd on the grid to lead)
      How can it ever be justified to ram another guy off the track, was Hill a better driver…no, did he deserve a shot at the title…absolutely. Did the FIA love him, hate him…no, they were just rather crap at policing the whole show back then. Personally for the underhand attics and blatant swerve across Hills bows…I would have given him the championship.

      1. @smudgersmith1
        I doubt you watched any of races in 1994, otherwise you wouldn’t make such statements. Here is a copy of mine older comment about Schumacher’s starts in 1994.

        Interlagos – Senna starts better, Schumacher spins his wheels and looses one position to Alesi and almost another one to Hill 2>3 -1
        Aida – Schumacher starts well, gets ahead of Senna who had a big twitch, Hakkinen also had a good start 2>1 +1
        Imola – Senna and Schumacher had similar start 0
        Monaco – pretty much equal start from all in top 3 positions 0
        Barcelona – Schumacher starts well, as do Hill and Hakkinen 0
        Montreal – top 3 had pretty much equal start, all three spins wheels 0
        Magny-Cours – Shumacher had perfect start, Hill’s was average, an Mansell’s was poor 3>1 +2
        Silverstone – Hill’s start was perfect, Schumacher’s not so good 0
        Hockenheim – both Ferrari’s start is excellent, as is Katayama’s (equal to what Schumacher did in France), Schumacher and Hill both had an average start 0
        Hungaroring – both Williams cars starts better than Schumacher but he manages to stay ahead 0
        Spa Francorchamps – Barrichello and Schumacher had similar start 0
        Jerez – Hill overtakes Schumacher, his start was perfect pretty much like Schumacher’s in France 1>2 -1
        Suzuka – start on rain, Schumacher starts well, Hill had an average start, Frentzen also had a good start 0
        Adelaide – Mansell had a poor start, Schumacher and Hill identical 2>1 +1

        All in all, Schumacher gained positions on 3 occasions, and lost his positions on 2 occasions. In total he gained 2 positions.

        So, one extraordinary start out of 14.
        Conclusion – it was either lousy LC, or LC wasn’t used.

        1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_Formula_One_cheating_controversy
          The above link gives some pointers. In addition to watching every race, (It seems you only watched the start ?) what you fail to mention are the several other issues that occured during the season, which taken as a whole, together with MSC cheating by ramming Hill off the road at the end of the season, lead me to believe that as I said above, Hill deserved a shot at the title.

  2. I think this is what F1 has, among other things, been missing for the last few seasons. Not only a fight for the drivers title but a season where the constructors isn’t just a formality.

    1. I disagree with part of your statement; there has been a fight to the wire for the WDC in 5 seasons since 2006. That’s more often than not we’ve seen a Championship decided at the last race and this year it almost certainly will be too (double points etc).

      In terms of the constructors Championship, yes, it’s nice to see fights between two teams: McLaren vs Ferrari, Brawn vs Red Bull, Williams vs Benetton… whatever it may be. But to be honest I think each season has a different personality. In a season like this one, no one is thinking about the WCC, because the WDC is so gripping.

  3. I still think it is amazing what Hill managed to do in the Williams. That Benetton was further ahead of the Williams than Mercedes is ahead of Williams this year. Damon would have deserved that title so much.

    1. i think by mid-season the williams was a quicker car. it was a quicker car for the entirety of 1995 too despite benetton having the same engine.

    2. Deserved that title? FIA basically reduced Schumacher’s season by four.

    3. @dh1996 – perhaps we can pick up a degree of bias from your username and display picture ;-)

      I don’t think what Hill achieved in 1994 was altogether remarkable, while still admirable. He shouldered the responsibility of the team following the death of Senna and that’s commendable for a driver not far out of his first full season. However, to say he deserved the title is so far from the truth.

      Simply by following these (brilliant) flashback posts, it’s clear that Schumacher was entirely dominant despite not being allowed to post a result for 4 races. That’s 40 points (+points Schumacher would have potentially outscored Hill by in some of those rounds) just gifted to Hill on a plate.

      While I like Hill as a person and as a driver, and admire his many skills; 1994 was Schumacher’s year.

    4. I don´t think Hill´s speed was any kind of representative of how good the Williams was. Senna had about the same advantage to him than Schumi had to Verstappen, and Benetton certainly wouldn´t have been any close to the constructor´s championship had they had a driver line-up like Williams had from after San-Marino onwards. Senna´s death completely broke Williams´ driver-politics for years.

      1. Though, that said, I still believe banning Schumi of 4 races wasn´t unjustly done to make the championship exciting. If at all, allowing him to race in 12 of the races with traction control was unjustly done to further attract the huge market of german viewers that mostly weren´t that much into F1 till then.
        The whole ´94-season was just a huge mess.

    5. @dh1996

      That Benetton was further ahead of the Williams than Mercedes is ahead of Williams this year.

      Nowhere near, mate.

  4. I wonder just how many races refeuling ruined over the years.

    1. Agreed, never liked it from day one until the day it ended.

  5. What a shocker for Alesi! The Ferrari may well have been unsuited to the Jerez track but surely it should have been finishing ahead of the Ligiers?

    And what happened to Barrichello in the race after his brilliant qualifying and early fight with Mansell?

    1. IIRC he had a puncture late in the race. Was holding 5th place on lap 58.

  6. A race to forget for Mansell, and sure enough I’d forgotten that he did this one as well as his more famous comeback appearances at Adelaide and Suzuka. Pretty tough on DC – wasn’t it around this time that Ron Dennis signed him up?

  7. I remember how poor, pathetic and sad that whole latter part of the season felt to me when I watched it as a kid.

    Hill & Schumacher, behaved like 2 squabbling little kids fighting over a prize that never should have been theirs. Pathetic, beginner mistakes from both drivers, punctuated by petty protests, scandals and disqualifications. After the recent departures Prost, Senna and Mansell, the F1 grid was left without a single World Champion and it showed painfully in the quality of the racing.

    The fan community also suffered. I remember all the new German “fans” suddenly taking an interest in F1 with Schumacher winning and commenting on how “fantastic” and “exiting” the races were while most of us were desperately hoping for brighter days.

  8. According to Wikipedia, it was the last race for Andrea de Cesaris.

    1. It was, JJ Lehto went back to Sauber (Where he’d raced in 1993) for the final 2 races in place of Andrea.

  9. I remember that day that seven retirements in the race wasn’t a lot. I think Comas and Brabham ones were not even shown although latter car could be seen on the side of the track.

    Nowadays if we have seven retirements in the race, it’s a lot.

  10. All of the random driver changes done over the final half of 1994 saw the FIA introduce limits on the number of driver changes a team could do over a season to 1 change per-car.

    There was an exception if they were forced to make a change through driver injury however.

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