French GP 1995

French GP, 1995

As boring races go, the 1995 French Grand Prix was up there with the best of them. Qualifying was fun with an enthralling three-way see-sawing battle between Hill, Coulthard and Schumacher. This time Schumacher was the winner, Hill was second and Coulthard - recovering from an operation to remove his troublesome tonsils - was third. All three were using the latest evolution of the Renault RS7 engine, specially prepared for Renault 's home race. Herbert, under pressure from Benetton to perform, was a miserable 10th on the grid and frustrated that the team refused to develop the car as he would have liked it. Local hero Jean Alesi was in fourth - with team mate Berger seventh - while Barrichello was also in contention again in his Peugeot-engined Jordan (there was a big effort from Peugeot for the home race too). French team Ligier traditionally does well at Magny-Cours and so it was no surprise to find Panis sixth. McLaren had descended into panic mode and on Friday, after a day of electronic trouble, the once-dominant team loaded Hakkinen's car into a truck and drove off to test at the nearby Lurcy Levis circuit for a couple of hours before the sun went down. The immediate problem was solved but this did not do much to help the fundamental problem of the car - it does not like going around corners. On Saturday Hakkinen scrambled to eighth on the grid - but it was a scary lap.

There was also action in the paddock where Benetton boss Flavio Briatore tried to put Minardi out of business with a well-timed injunction designed to force the Italian team to take the heat off in a separate legal battle they were having in Italy. Sadly it worked. Minardi had to give way.

Magny-Cours is famous for producing no overtaking races. Normally what happens is that everyone goes crazy on the first lap and then settles down to a long boring race. Anyone in range of another car then goes berserk on the last lap. The number-crunchers in the team trucks came up with the information that two pit stops were needed - because of tyre wear - and so even the strategic element was gone.

At the start Hill led from Schumacher with Barrichello able to slip past Coulthard. This would screw David's race because he could not find a way to pass the Jordan, the only overtaking spot being where Rubens was performing best. It was 11 laps before David got clear road and that came only after Barrichello had been penalised for a jumped start. Herbert's future at Benetton took a dive when Alesi punted him off. The incident allowed Brundle to pass both Ferraris - Berger having had to avoid Alesi.

During the first pit stop sequence Schumacher drove some breath-taking laps and Benetton turned him around rapidly and so he ended up nearly 8secs ahead of Damon. Then the gap grew. Michael was so far ahead by the time of the second stops that even a problem with the front right wheel did not affect his lead.

Hill and Coulthard followed him home with Brundle fourth, Alesi fifth. That would have Berger's spot but his pit crew screwed up again.

Barrichello rounded off the points scorers with a frustrated sixth place.

Michael Schumacher Benetton-Renault B195 72 1h38m28.429s  
Damon Hill Williams-Renault FW17 72 1h38m59.738s  
David Coulthard Williams-Renault FW17 72 1h39m31.255s  
25 Martin Brundle Ligier-Mugen Honda JS41 72 1h39m31.722s  
27 Jean Alesi Ferrari 412T2 72 1h39m46.298s  
14 Rubens Barrichello Jordan-Peugeot 195 71  
Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes MP4/10 71  
26 Olivier Panis Ligier-Mugen Honda JS41 71  
15 Eddie Irvine Jordan-Peugeot 195 71  11 
10 30 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Cosworth C14 71  12 
11 Mark Blundell McLaren-Mercedes MP4/10 70  13 
12 28 Gerhard Berger Ferrari 412T2 70  
13 24 Luca Badoer Minardi-Cosworth M195 69  17 
14 Gianni Morbidelli Footwork-Hart FA16 69  16 
15 Mika Salo Tyrrell-Yamaha 023 69  14 
16 22 Roberto Moreno Forti-Cosworth FG01-95 66  24 
nc 17 Andrea Montermini Pacific-Cosworth PR02 62  21 
29 Jean-Christophe Boullion Sauber-Cosworth C14 48 Transmission 15 
16 Bertrand Gachot Pacific-Cosworth PR02 24 Gearbox 22 
23 Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Cosworth M195 23 Gear Selection 20 
Johnny Herbert Benetton-Renault B195 Accident 10 
Ukyo Katayama Tyrrell-Yamaha 023 Accident 19 
10 Taki Inoue Footwork-Hart FA16 Accident 18 
21 Pedro Diniz Forti-Cosworth FG01-95 Accident 23