F1 Rewind: 1995 British Grand Prix

With the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone just hours away, we take a look back at a classic Silverstone race from 1995.

That year’s British Grand Prix was the eighth round with Michael Schumacher leading the drivers’ standings by nine points from Damon Hill, who was looking to gain the initiative at his home Grand Prix. 

 

Practice

The weekend began with driver market moves as the hot topic with Schumacher linked with a switch from Benetton to Ferrari, whilst Gerhard Berger was rumoured to move to Williams whilst David Coulthard was set to move to McLaren. 

There however was controversy as Martin Brundle’s Ligier had power steering fitted,  which triggered a protest from Adrian Newey about the similarity of Benneton and Ligier cars in Brazil earlier that season.

Practice rules saw drivers limited to 23 laps in each session across Friday and Saturday morning, with Schumacher setting the fastest time ahead of Damon Hill by 0.034s with Jean Alesi third in FP1 which was held in dry conditions. 

FP2 however saw a rain shower dampen the track which prevented everyone from improving as Schumacher topped the session with a 1m 31.390, which was 0.518s faster than Alesi of Ferrari. 

 

Qualifying

In 1995, Qualifying was split across Friday and Saturday afternoons with drivers limited to 12 laps in both sessions, with the fastest times of each driver from either session counting towards the grid. 

Friday Qualifying was dry but windy with crosswinds creating an additional challenge for all drivers, with Schumacher setting the initial pace but Hill made a set-up change which earned him pole position with a 1m 28.124.

Schumacher tried responding with a high downforce package to compensate for understeer in his Benneton, but couldn’t find any improvement as he settled for second on the grid. 

Coulthard was third fastest despite crosswinds affecting his rear stability, as Berger and Johnny Herbert rounded out the top five.

Fellow Brits, Eddie Irvine, Mark Blundell and Martin Brundle all qualified in seventh, tenth and 11th positions respectively after rain ruined Saturday’s Qualifying session with nobody improving on their times. 

 

Race

Rain continued to linger until Sunday morning but had cleared by race start with the track almost completely dry.

Upon the start, Hill maintained his lead as Alesi leapfrogged Schumacher into second with Coulthard, Herbert, Mika Hakkinen, Rubens Barrichello, Brundle, Berger and Heinz-Harald Frentzen rounding out the top ten at the end of the opening lap. 

Irvine meanwhile spun on lap two at Abbey after trying to pass Ligier’s Oliver Panis, only to drop back until his engine later cut itself off on that very same lap. 

Schumacher meanwhile struggled to pass Alesi due to the turbulent air and had to wait until the Frenchman pitted on lap 18, when he was able to unleash his Benneton and hunt down Hill. 

Further down the order, Pedro Diniz had retired with a gearbox issue whilst Taki Inoue and Brundle spun off on lap 16, before Berge (wheel), Hakkinen (electrical), Andrea Montermini (spin) and Ukyo Katayama (fuel) also retired.  

Hill made his first stop on lap 22 and re-joined the race nine seconds behind Schumacher on fresher tyres, quickly eating into the German’s lead once he had tyres up to temperature unaware that Schumacher was on an one stop strategy. 

Massimiliano Papis retired on lap 28 after spinning off with suspension damage, having hit the exit barrier after making his first-ever F1 pit stop for Footwork-Hart. 

Hill eventually reclaimed the lead on lap 31 when Schumacher pitted and began to push hard to create a big gap ahead of his second stop, with Schumacher sat 20 seconds behind after his pit stop. 

Having built up a 27s gap come lap 41, Hill made his second and final stop and came out alongside Schumacher, who had enough momentum to make the pass into Maggots to claim the lead. 

Hill however soon put the pressure on Schumacher with fresher tyres and saw an attempted pass into Stowe on lap 46 prevented by Sauber’s Jean-Christophe Boullion, only to then collide with Schumacher at Priory corner. 

Hill-Schumacher

Hill had dived up the inside of Schumacher who then turned onto the racing line, resulting in the title rivals colliding as they spun into the gravel trap and retirement, with Roberto Moreno following two laps later when his engine failed. 

Herbert consequently inherited the lead as he battled Coulthard who briefly got past until he was hit with a stop-go penalty for speeding in the pit lane, although he only noticed the penalty on one of the large TV screens around the racetrack. 

Coulthard decided to serve the penalty on lap 51 despite the team opting not to tell him to prevent distractions, which dropped him to third as Alesi reeled Herbert in for the lead only to then suffer a drop in oil pressure. 

Herbert ultimately held on for the win ahead of Alesi and Coulthard with 23.888s separating the trio, as Panis, Blundell and Frentzen rounded out the top six finishers.

Jordan’s Rubens Barrichello was classified in 11th despite retiring on lap 59 after a collision, because Pacific’s Bertrand Gachot was three laps down in 12th position.  

Schumacher meanwhile continued to lead the championship from Hill and Alesi, although Herbert’s win moved him up to fourth ahead of Coulthard.

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