Portuguese GP 1995

SEPTEMBER 24, 1995

Portuguese GP, 1995

After flattering only to deceive in Belgium and in Italy, David Coulthard finally won his first Grand Prix at Estoril. David was using a standard FW17, although the team had the new FW17B version - clearly quicker than the original - for qualifying. In the race the team decided to use the FW17 for the sake of reliability.

Right from the word go in Portugal Michael Schumacher was struggling to compete. He had some suspension modifications on his car but they made it even more unpredictable than usual and were quickly set aside.

Coulthard took pole after a lively battle with Hill. Schumacher was third fastest but was 0.764s off Coulthard's pole time. Gerhard Berger was fourth for Ferrari and a confident Heinz-Harald Frentzen put his Sauber fifth on the grid.

The disaster of qualifying was McLaren with Mark Blundell 12th on the grid and Mika Hakkinen 13th. The team had a new C-version of the MP4/10 and initially it looked good but quickly the team found itself in deep confusion. The MP4/10B was at least a known entity. The MP4/10C needed a lot more testing, even if the potential was there for better performance. For some reason - probably political - the McLaren management chose to rush through the MP4/10C and, as a result, the drivers and engineers were all over the place. During Saturday night the weary McLaren mechanics built - and wait for this - one MP4/10B; an MP4/10C with a B-spec undertray; an MP4/10C with a B-spec gearbox and rear suspension and a standard MP4/10C.

The race started with drama as Ukyo Katayama cut across the nose of Luca Badoer's Minardi and was flipped, landing upside down before it smashed into the barriers on the outside of the track. Badoer's Minardi was hurled at high speed into the pitwall. Both cars then bounced back onto the track - Katayama's Tyrrell still upside down when it came off the wall. It lurched horribly back across the track - as the Minardi came back the other way on its way to hitting the outside wall - and went into Andrea Montermini's Pacific. The red flags came out stopping the race and Katayama was extracted from his car unconscious.

At the restart Coulthard led while Hill and Schumacher went head-to-head into the first corner. Schumacher emerged ahead of the pack. From that moment on Hill was always going to struggle. The order remained unchanged until the first pits stops during which Hill was slow because Williams had decided to go for a new strategy. While Coulthard and Schumacher continued on their three-stop pattern, Hill went for a two-stop race. This should mean that Hill should be ahead of Schumacher when the German rejoined after his third pit stop. The risk was that Damon would then be under pressure and would have to hold off Michael with tyres which were worn. The longer he could hold Michael the easier the task would become because Michael's tyres would deteriorate. This alternative strategy worked perfectly. Damon emerged ahead of Michael - but behind the all-conquering Coulthard - after the final stops. Coulthard would - probably - have moved over if the team had asked.

As expected Michael came racing up behind Damon. It should not have been easy for him to get past, but then Damon left the door open and Schumacher dived straight through. Damon had no-one to blame but himself.

Further back Ferrari had some drama when Jean Todt radioed Alesi and told him to allow Berger to pass. Alesi ignored the call and so Ferrari gave him a slower pit stop which put Berger ahead. Alesi was not at all happy. The pair finished fourth and fifth with Frentzen sixth.

David Coulthard Williams-Renault FW17 71 1h41m52.145s  
Michael Schumacher Benetton-Renault B195 71 1h41m59.393s  
Damon Hill Williams-Renault FW17 71 1h42m14.266s  
28 Gerhard Berger Ferrari 412T2 71 1h43m17.024s  
27 Jean Alesi Ferrari 412T2 71 1h43m17.574s  
30 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Cosworth C14 70  
Johnny Herbert Benetton-Renault B195 70  
25 Aguri Suzuki Ligier-Mugen Honda JS41 70  
Mark Blundell McLaren-Mercedes MP4/10 70  12 
10 15 Eddie Irvine Jordan-Peugeot 195 70  10 
11 14 Rubens Barrichello Jordan-Peugeot 195 70  
12 29 Karl Wendlinger Sauber-Cosworth C14 70  14 
13 Mika Salo Tyrrell-Yamaha 023 69  15 
14 24 Luca Badoer Minardi-Cosworth M195 68  18 
15 10 Taki Inoue Footwork-Hart FA16 68  19 
16 21 Pedro Diniz Forti-Cosworth FG01-95 66  22 
17 22 Roberto Moreno Forti-Cosworth FG01-95 64  23 
17 Andrea Montermini Pacific-Cosworth PR02 53 Gear Selection 21 
Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes MP4/10 44 Engine 13 
16 Giovanni Lavaggi Pacific-Cosworth PR02 14 Driver Discomfort (cramp) 24 
26 Olivier Panis Ligier-Mugen Honda JS41 10 Spin 11 
23 Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Cosworth M195 Gearbox Hydraulics 17 
Ukyo Katayama Tyrrell-Yamaha 023 Accident/retired After First Start 16 
Gianni Morbidelli Footwork-Hart FA16 Gearbox/retired After First Start 20