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.

As this accident was being cleared up Brundle went off at the same place and crashed into the marshals around Morbidelli's car. One suffered a broken leg. The race was red-flagged and stopped.

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.

Damon Hill Williams-Renault FW16 50 1h55m53.532s  
Michael Schumacher Benetton-Cosworth  50 1h55m56.897s  
27 Jean Alesi Ferrari  50 1h56m45.577s  
Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault  50 1h56m49.606s  
15 Eddie Irvine Jordan-Hart  50 1h57m35.639s  
30 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Mercedes  50 1h57m53.395s  
Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Peugeot  50 1h57m56.517s  
Christian Fittipaldi Footwork-Cosworth  49  18 
20 Erik Comas Larrousse-Cosworth  49  22 
10 11 Mika Salo Lotus-Mugen Honda  49  25 
11 26 Olivier Panis Ligier-Renault  49  19 
12 31 David Brabham Simtek-Cosworth  48  24 
13 12 Alessandro Zanardi Lotus-Mugen Honda  48  17 
Mark Blundell Tyrrell-Yamaha  26 Engine 13 
14 Rubens Barrichello Jordan-Hart  16 Gearbox 10 
Martin Brundle McLaren-Peugeot  13 Accident 
10 Gianni Morbidelli Footwork-Cosworth  13 Accident 12 
28 Gerhard Berger Ferrari  10 Coil 11 
25 Franck Lagorce Ligier-Renault  10 Accident 20 
23 Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Cosworth  10 Accident 16 
24 Michele Alboreto Minardi-Cosworth  10 Spin 21 
Johnny Herbert Benetton-Cosworth  Spin 
Ukyo Katayama Tyrrell-Yamaha  Accident 14 
32 Taki Inoue Simtek-Cosworth  Accident 26 
19 Hideki Noda Larrousse-Cosworth  Fuel Injection 23 
29 JJ Lehto Sauber-Mercedes  Engine 15 
nq 34 Bertrand Gachot Pacific-Ilmor     
nq 33 Paul Belmondo Pacific-Ilmor