Thoughts on the 1994 British GP

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    I’ve been taking advantage of the free month of F1TV to watch some old races. Apart from finding out that the 2012 Australian GP had far more going on than I remember from being trackside (the only F1 race I’ve attended), I’ve gone back to see what was available from the first few years that I remember watching (starting with the 1993 European GP which is the 1st race I remember watching).

    The first full race replay available from 1994 is the British GP and using hindsight and lack of pre-double digit age bias, I’m wondering if Michael Schumacher was hard done by.

    The following are facts – times given are the number of elapsed minutes on the video stream from F1TV:

    6:00 – halfway around the 1st formation lap (on the run to Abbey), MSC overtakes Damon Hill
    6:15 – Hill passes MSC before Bridge corner.
    7:30 – David Coulthard stalls, prompting an aborted start. The race distance was reduced from 61 to 60 laps.
    12:59 – MSC is already ahead of Damon Hill when the camera changes shot just after starting the 2nd formation lap, before Copse corner.
    35:49 – lap 14, Jonathan Palmer mentions he’s “had an indication” that MSC has to do a stop/go – has no other information, no on-screen graphics
    47:33 – black flag infographic appears on screen during lap 22
    48:40 – we see an actual black flag with car number 5
    50:32 – start of conversation/argument between Benetton’s Ton Walkinshaw and the FIA’s Roland Bruynseraede.
    56:05 – MSC enters the pits to take the stop/gp at the end of lap 27.

    Either way, he took 5 laps to take the penalty so the disqualification from the race is justified. But the token comment from Jonathan Palmer is otherwise the only thing that the viewer had to go on in terms of whether anything had happened or not and even then, both he and Murray Walker seemed to think in the laps before lap 22 that the penalty had gone away. Obviously the rules have changed since then but I still thought that there had to be some official confirmation of a penalty and from memory with prior races there would be some kind of reporting it.

    I’m sure this has been debated many times over the last 26 years but I’ve seen nothing else on the forum about it and having re-watched the race and with much older eyes, I’m wondering if the original 5 second stop/go penalty was justified (there’s 23 minutes between the 2nd formation laps pass and Jonathan Palmer’s comment on the penalty, and another 12 before the on screen caption). I don’t know the current rules on how long stewards have to issue a penalty but this case would (under the current rules) seem to be pushing that (assuming, of course, that those rules applied back then).

    Obviously, the Benetton team arguing the toss over the penalty and the extra laps before MSC taking it definitely justified the DSQ from the race – but I’m still unconvinced that the 2 race ban was justified considering the time taken to actually report the original penalty.



    The black flag was justified although the initial penalty was not.
    The 2-race ban was not justified.


    Interesting to revisit this race; had forgotten it initially. Enjoyed it.

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