French GP 1994
JULY 3, 1994
French GP, 1994
In the three weeks between the Canadian and French GPs there had been a couple of significant changes in the F1 field with Williams taking on Nigel Mansell in place of David Coulthard and Benetton dumping JJ Lehto in favour of Jos Verstappen. The Dutchman demolished his car against the pit wall on Friday, narrowly escaping a leg injury when the suspension was punched through the side of the car. It ripped his overalls but missed his leg.
The qualifying session was an exciting one with Hill beating Mansell to pole position, the pair pushing Michael Schumacher's Benetton back to third place. Ferrari drivers Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger were fourth and fifth while the Jordan duo, Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello, were sixth and seventh and Verstappen eighth. McLaren was a disappointment with Mika Hakkinen ninth and Martin Brundle 12th while Heinz-Harald Frentzen put his Sauber 10th.
At the start of the race Schumacher made an amazing start, slotting between the two Williams-Renaults to take the lead but Hill was determined to not let him get away and chased after the Benetton. Mansell could not keep up and began to battle for third place with Alesi. The order at the front remained stable until Mansell went into the pits for new tyres on lap 18. With some drivers planning three stops and others going for two the order ebbed and flowed with Barrichello rising to third while Alesi was quicker in the pits than Mansell. Nigel was soon overtaken by Berger as well while Barrichello dropped away when he had a wheelnut problem during his pit stop.
On lap 35 Alesi pitted for his second of three stops, dropping to fourth behind Berger and two laps later Schumacher pitted for his second stop leaving Hill in the lead. Within five laps Schumacher was on Hill's tail again while Alesi spun and spread stones on the track. Barrichello arrived and slid off the road, hitting Alesi as he was trying to rejoin. This left Berger in third but he then pitted and so Mansell took the place. Within in a couple of laps Mansell retired with a transmission problem.
A couple of laps after that fifth-placed Katayama threw his place away with a spin leaving Christian Fittipaldi (Arrows), Pierluigi Martini (Minardi) and Andrea de Cesaris (Sauber) to fight over the minor placings. Johnny Herbert (Lotus) charged up through the group and finished nose to tail with de Cesaris.
|2||0||Damon Hill||Williams-Renault FW16||72||1h38m48.346s||1|
|6||29||Andreas de Cesaris||Sauber-Mercedes||70||11|
|7||12||Johnny Herbert||Lotus-Mugen Honda||70||19|
|r||11||Alessandro Zanardi||Lotus-Mugen Honda||20||Engine/fire||23|