San Marino GP 1995

San Marino GP, 1995

Damon Hill won the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, a year after the Rothmans Williams Renault team leader Ayrton Senna had been killed at the Italian circuit in 1994. But if the team had left the track a year earlier in deep distress when they packed up this year, Williams knew that they had a car which was capable of winning races on a regular basis. Michael Schumacher had crashed his Benetton-Renault heavily, pushing too hard as he tried to stay ahead of the field.

Michael had been on pole position, more the result of talent and brio than the ability of his car. It had been a great qualifying session on Friday with Coulthard taking pole for a few seconds before it was snatched back by Schumacher and then - Ferraris always doing well at Imola - Gerhard Berger sent the volatile fans into hyper-space as he screamed towards the start-finish line on target for pole position. It was incredibly close, but the Austrian missed out by 0.008s.

Gerhard's performance guaranteed massive crowds for the rest of the weekend but on Saturday the weather was hotter and the track a lot slower. None of the fast men improved. Nigel Mansell, coming back to F1 with McLaren, qualified ninth, three places down on Hakkinen.

Sunday morning was rainy but the hillsides of Imola were packed with the joyful Ferrari fans from dawn onwards. They hooted their horns, waved their flags and displayed their obnoxious banners. As the grid lined up teams had to decide whether to race on slick tyres or on wets. Six drivers chose wet tyres: the first five on the grid and Rubens Barrichello in 10th place. By the end of the first lap the men on wet tyres were lying 1-2-3-4-5-6 and everyone else was waiting for the track to dry. They gained about five seconds a lap on their rivals. Then they started coming in. Schumacher's race lasted only half a lap after his pit stop because, on the way up to the top of the circuit, the Benetton snapped suddenly to the right and hit the wall hard. It looked like a driver of a very sensitive car making a mistake on slicks in damp conditions, but Schumacher said it was a car problem. Benetton boss Flavio Briatore left immediately, which gave everyone an idea on how Flavio rated second driver Johnny Herbert.

With Michael out of the way Berger led Hill, Coulthard and Alesi. The latter pair put on a good show, ducking and weaving as they dived through the backmarkers.

The fight became more significant when Berger's Ferrari stalled during his next pit stop. This left Hill in the lead with Coulthard and Alesi on his tail. During the exciting pit stop sequence Coulthard and Alesi brushed but the Williams team did not spot a damaged front wing. Then Coulthard drove too quickly out of the pits (which have very strict speed limits) which meant he would have to come back for a 10-second penalty, during which the team could not touch the car. A change of nose would not be made until later, by which time David had lost a lot of ground. There was nearly disaster for Hill when a refuelling hose stuck during his final pit stop but he managed to get out ahead of Alesi.

In the midfield Mansell collided with Eddie Irvine and both had to pit.

In the closing laps the Ferrari fans were praying viciously that Hill would retire and Ferrari would finish 1-2 but it didn't turn out that way. Hill won, with Alesi and Berger coming second and third. Coulthard was fourth and Hakkinen fifth, the McLaren a lap down, while Frentzen gave Sauber another unexpected point by finishing sixth.

Damon Hill Williams-Renault FW17 63 1h41m42.552s  
27 Jean Alesi Ferrari 412T2 63 1h42m01.062s  
28 Gerhard Berger Ferrari 412T2 63 1h42m25.668s  
David Coulthard Williams-Renault FW17 63 1h42m34.442s  
Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes MP4/10 62  
30 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Cosworth C14 62  
Johnny Herbert Benetton-Renault B195 61  
15 Eddie Irvine Jordan-Peugeot 195 61  
26 Olivier Panis Ligier-Mugen Honda JS41 61  12 
10 Nigel Mansell McLaren-Mercedes MP4/10 61  
11 25 Aguri Suzuki Ligier-Mugen Honda JS41 60  16 
12 23 Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Cosworth M195 59  18 
13 Gianni Morbidelli Footwork-Hart FA16 59  11 
14 24 Luca Badoer Minardi-Cosworth M195 59  20 
15 21 Pedro Diniz Forti-Cosworth FG01-95 56  26 
16 22 Roberto Moreno Forti-Cosworth FG01-95 56  25 
29 Karl Wendlinger Sauber-Cosworth C14 43 Rear Wheel Nut Jammed 21 
16 Bertrand Gachot Pacific-Cosworth PR02 36 Gearbox Hydraulic Leak 22 
11 Mimmo Schiattarella Simtek-Cosworth S951 35 Accident/rear Suspension 35 
14 Rubens Barrichello Jordan-Peugeot 195 31 Gearbox 10 
Ukyo Katayama Tyrrell-Yamaha 023 23 Spin 15 
Mika Salo Tyrrell-Yamaha 023 19 Engine 13 
17 Andrea Montermini Pacific-Cosworth PR02 15 Gearbox Hydraulics 24 
12 Jos Verstappen Simtek-Cosworth S951 14 Gearbox 17 
10 Taki Inoue Footwork-Hart FA16 12 Spin 19 
Michael Schumacher Benetton-Renault B195 10 Accident