Japanese GP 1994
NOVEMBER 6, 1994
Japanese GP, 1994
There had been some more changes in the F1 field as Team Lotus now had Mika Salo as Alex Zanardi's team mate in place of Eric Bernard. Johnny Herbert had left Ligier after just one race and was now alongside Michael Schumacher at Benetton, a convenient injury having been dreamed up for Jos Verstappen. Ligier had taken on young Frenchman Franck Lagorce for the last two races. Karl Wendlinger's comeback with Sauber had been postponed and Andrea de Cesaris, not expecting to race, had gone off on holiday somewhere in the Pacific and could not be contacted and so Peter Sauber signed up JJ Lehto. Simtek needed more money and so took on pay-driver Takachiho Inoue in place of Mimmo Schiattarella. Benetton had acquired some additional sponsorship from Bitburger but otherwise things were normal.
Qualifying resulted in pole position for Benetton's Michael Schumacher with Damon Hill second for Williams. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Sauber) was an impressive third with Nigel Mansell (Williams) fourth ahead of Herbert, Eddie Irvine (Jordan-Hart), Jean Alesi (Ferrari), the McLaren-Peugeots of Mika Hakkinen and Martin Brundle and Rubens Barrichello's Jordan.
It was wet on race day and at the start Schumacher did not get away well and so slithered across the road to block Hill. Frentzen followed the World title challengers into the first corner followed by Herbert, Alesi and Irvine. Frentzen tried to pass Hill on the second lap and went off and the rains then became so bad that a Safety Car was sent out. Before the race was under its control, however, Herbert spun into the pitwall. Katayama and Inoue followed suit. It took seven laps for the rain to ease and for the wreckage to be cleared up and then the race was on again with Hill hounding Schumacher. Berger disappeared with engine trouble and Gianni Morbidelli (Arrows) dropped out with a big crash.
There were only 15 cars left and after discussions with the drivers it was agreed that the race would be restarted behind the Safety Car. Soon after the restart Schumacher had to pit for fuel and he was given a big load, the team gambling that the race would not go the full distance because of the rain. Hill went ahead until he stopped and then Alesi was briefly the leader until his stop and Damon went into the lead again. Schumacher closed in on him and on lap 36 he went ahead on aggregate if not on the road. Schumacher's time in the second part of the race, added to his time in the first part before the restart, meant that he was technically leading the race, even if he was behind Hill on the road. The track dried and it became clear that the race was not going to be stopped early. That meant Schumacher had to stop again and so he dropped away. He charged back after the stop but this time Hill was able to hold the gap. Hill won by 3.3 seconds ahead of Schumacher with Alesi third, Mansell fourth, Irvine fifth and Frentzen sixth.
|1||0||Damon Hill||Williams-Renault FW16||50||1h55m53.532s||2|
|10||11||Mika Salo||Lotus-Mugen Honda||49||25|
|13||12||Alessandro Zanardi||Lotus-Mugen Honda||48||17|
|r||19||Hideki Noda||Larrousse-Cosworth||0||Fuel Injection||23|