Spanish GP report

Benetton is Back After what seemed an eternity on the grid, the red light came on, then the green and the cars left the grid. Schumacher lead Alesi, and Coulthard managed to get ahead of Berger. Mansell was way back in 14th on the first lap.

Benetton is Back

After what seemed an eternity on the grid, the red light came on, then the green and the cars left the grid. Schumacher lead Alesi, and Coulthard managed to get ahead of Berger. Mansell was way back in 14th on the first lap. Already Schumacher was pulling out a huge lead - 1.657s. On lap 5 Moreno spins in front of his team mate. Positions on lap 5:

Schumacher Alesi Hill Berger Irvine Coulthard

Coulthard got past Irvine at the very start of lap 7, and started to pull away. Hill, meanwhile, starts to make inroads into Alesi. He has a lurch at Alesi at the start of lap 8, but fails to get by. On lap 10 Schumacher laps the two Fortis, the cars massively off the pace. By lap 13, Williams were ready for a pit stop, and Hill comes in for a 10 second fuel and tyres stop. Irvine pitted on lap 16, as did Mansell who was running 13th. Schumacher set a fastest lap of 1m25.058 on lap 16. Berger comes in for the first of his fuel & tyre stops on lap 17. Positions on lap 17

Schumacher Alesi Hakkinen Herbert Hill Coulthard

Hakkinen had a 11.5 second fuel and tyre stop, and suffered from a sticking fuel nozzel. Mansell is lapped on lap 18, whilst running in 18th place. Alesi comes in for fuel and tyres on lap 19 (8.4 seconds). Mansell spins, rejoins the track, and then retires in the pits. Mansell says that he steered the car, but it failed to turn in, as it had done several times during the race. He was not happy.

Schumacher came in for the first of his two stops on lap 22. Hill is fighting hard for second place with Alesi, and then suddenly on lap 26 Alesi's Ferrari engine lets go just before the pit exit. By lap 28, Schumacher had lapped everyone up to 11th place. Hill sets a 1m24.703 on lap 28, and Schumacher responds with a 1m24.9 the next lap. Hill then came in for fuel on lap 29, in a very fast stop, rejoining just behind Berger. Berger comes in on lap 34 for a 6.8 second fuel and tyre stop. Schumacher meanwhile is pulling out a commanding lead of 34 seconds.

Schumacher Hill Herbert Coulthard Berger Hakkinen Irivine Barichello

Then followed a disastorous pit stop for Benetton. Herbert comes in for fuel and tyres on lap 40, a fast 7.7 seconds, and leaves with the rear jack still attatched to the car. It finally came away just at the end of the pit lane. A lucky escape for Herbert and Benetton. We have now witnessed, as Murray Walker said, the first 6 wheel Benetton. By lap 42 Schumacher had extended his lead over Hill to 44 seconds. A commanding lead by anyones standards.

Schumacher Hill Coulthard Berger Hakkinen Herbert

Schumacher comes in for fuel and tyres on lap 43 (7.8 seconds) - this time the Benetton crew removes the jack very deliberately! After this stop the gap from Schumacher to Hill was 6.537 seconds. Inoue retires on lap 44 with a smokey engine. On lap 45 we were lucky to escape another pit disaster. Gachot's Pacific came into the pits, was refuelled, and left with flames licking from the fuel inlet vent. Gachot sensibly retires at the end of the pit road.

Irvine is by now up to 6th after Hakkinen came in for a pit stop on lap 46. Hill pitted on lap 47, and rejoined without losing a place. Irvine then pitted on lap 48, and Coulthard on lap 49. Balance restored.

Schumacher Hill Berger Coulthard Herbert Barichello Irvine Hakkinen Panis Frentzen Brundle Salo

On lap 50 Barichello came in for fuel and tyres, followed by Berger on lap 51. Irvine now settled in 6th place has one of the exhaust outlets fall off the car. The car continues on, no problems visible with this part missing. Coulthard's engine lets go on lap 58, and he retires. On lap 60 Katayama retires also. Hill seemed comfortable in second place, not being troubled by Herbert (now running in third). The last lap came, and all seemed settled. Schumacher crossed the line in first, followed by Herbert, then Berger! Where was Hill? Hill's car suffered a hydraulics failure on the final lap, and managed to coast to the finish line in fourth place. Hill now suffered the double problem of a Schumacher win, and thanks to his last lap problem Schumacher now leading the drivers championship by two points. A bad day for Williams, and a return to form by both Benettons.

Schumacher Herbert Berger Hill Irvine Panis Barichello Frentzen Brundle Salo Morbidelli Verstappen Wendlinger Martini Schiattarella

HTML version on WWW at -- Stephen M Baines

"[The Autosport sticker] started to peel off in the middle of Eau Rouge and it distracted me. In fact it was the first thing to hit the barrier" Tiff Needell - Jaguar XJR-15 Challenge - Interview with Autosport


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Tiff Needell
Teams Ferrari , Williams , Benetton