French GP 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.

Hill pitted for the second time and rejoined 20secs behind Schumacher.

In the closing laps fourth-placed Hakkinen disappeared with another blown Peugeot engine promoting Frentzen to fourth.

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.

Michael Schumacher Benetton-Cosworth  72 1h38m35..704s  
Damon Hill Williams-Renault FW16 72 1h38m48.346s  
28 Gerhard Berger Ferrari  72 1h39m28.469s  
30 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Mercedes  71  10 
23 Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Cosworth  70  16 
29 Andreas de Cesaris Sauber-Mercedes  70  11 
12 Johnny Herbert Lotus-Mugen Honda  70  19 
Christian Fittipaldi Footwork-Cosworth  70  18 
32 Jean-Marc Gounon Simtek-Cosworth  68  26 
10 Mark Blundell Tyrrell-Yamaha  67  17 
11r 20 Erik Comas Larrousse-Cosworth  66 Engine 20 
Ukyo Katayama Tyrrell-Yamaha  53 Spin 14 
Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Peugeot  48 Engine 
Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault  45 Transmission 
27 Jean Alesi Ferrari  41 Accident 
14 Rubens Barrichello Jordan-Hart  41 Accident 
25 Eric Bernard Ligier-Renault  40 Gearbox 15 
19 Oliver Beretta Larrousse-Cosworth  36 Engine 25 
Martin Brundle McLaren-Peugeot  29 Engine 12 
10 Gianni Morbidelli Footwork-Cosworth  28 Accident 22 
26 Olivier Panis Ligier-Renault  28 Accident 13 
31 David Brabham Simtek-Cosworth  28 Gearbox 24 
Jos Verstappen Benetton-Cosworth  25 Spin 
15 Eddie Irvine Jordan-Hart  24 Gearbox 
24 Michele Alboreto Minardi-Cosworth  21 Engine 21 
11 Alessandro Zanardi Lotus-Mugen Honda  20 Engine/fire 23