Japanese Grand Prix

Analysis :
Damon Hill stepped up to the plate at Suzuka and with great style hit a home run, winning the 1996 World Drivers Championship over his now ex-teammate, Jacques Villeneuve.

The Championship fight ended on the 38th lap when the wheel hub broke on Villeneuve's Williams, sending his three wheeler into the gravel and his errant wheel into the crowd (thankfully without incident). But in truth the result was never in doubt as Hill led the race from start to finish, ending his career at the team with a strong statement to Frank Williams.
Behind Hill (and not that far behind either) were Micheal Schumacher, who held off perennial third place man Mika Hakkinen. In fourth came Gerhard Berger who had a most eventful race, first breaking his front wing in an ill-advised 3rd lap move on Hill. He tried the same thing with Eddie Irvine on lap 36, with different results - Irvine's Ferrari pirouetted through the air while Berger continued unscathed.
Benetton's Jean Alesi finished his season at the first corner, destroying the car against the barriers but walking away unhurt. Martin Brundle, in possibly his last Grand Prix, took fifth while Heinz-Harald Frentzen said goodbye to Sauber with the final Championship point.
Adding to the tension at the start, David Coulthard stalled on the grid, started at the back and after a long pit stop clawed his way back to eighth. While the only other mechanical retirements were the two Tyrrells, who said goodbye to their Yamaha engine deal with, you guessed it, two engine failures.

As Jacques Villeneuve sailed into the gravel, all of England breathed a sigh of relief as "Our Damon" finally followed in the footsteps of "Our Nige" and took the Drivers Championship.
Next year, you won't see him retaining his title, but you will see a more relaxed, more confident Damon Hill ......
..... driving a car with a #1 on it.....

Qualifying :
Overcast but dry
PosDriverNat.TeamTime m:ss.sss
1Jacques Villeneuve CANWilliams-Renault1:38.909
2Damon HillGBRWilliams-Renault1:39.370
3Michael SchumacherGERFerrari1:40.071
4Gerhard BergerAUTBenetton-Renault1:40.364
5Mika HakkinenFINMcLaren-Mercedes1:40.458
6Eddie IrvineIRLFerrari1:41.005
7H-H FrentzenGER Sauber-Ford1:41.277
8David CoulthardGBRMcLaren-Mercedes1:41.384
9Jean AlesiFRABenetton-Renault1:41.562
10Martin BrundleGBRJordan-Peugeot1:41.600
11Rubens BarrichelloBRAJordan-Peugeot1:41.919
12Olivier PanisFRALigier-Mugen1:42.206
13Johnny HerbertGBRSauber-Ford1:42.658
14Ukyo KatayamaJAPTyrrell-Yamaha1:42.711
15Mika SaloFINTyrrell-Yamaha1:42.840
16Pedro DinizBRALigier-Mugen1:43.196
17Jos VerstappenNEDTWR-Hart1:43.383
18Pedro LamyPORMinardi-Ford1:44.874
19Ricardo RossetBRATWR-Hart1:45.412

107 % rule : 1:45.832s
Did Not Qualify :

Gianni Lavaggi - ITA - Minardi-Ford 1:46.795
Andrea Montermini - ITA - Forti-Ford did not enter
Luca Badoer - ITA - Forti-Ford did not enter

Race : 52 laps
Sunny, bright
PosDriverNat.CarTime h:mm:ss.sss
1Damon HillGBRWilliams-Renault1:32:33.791
2Michael SchumacherGERFerrari1:32:35.674
3Mika HakkinenFINMcLaren-Mercedes1:32:37.003
4Gerhard BergerAUTBenetton-Renault1:33:00.317
5Martin BrundleGBRJordan-Puegeot1:33:40.911
6H-H FrentzenGERSauber-Ford1:33:54.977
7Olivier PanisFRALigier-Mugen1:33:58.301
8David CoulthardGBRMcLaren-Mercedes1:33:59.024
9Rubens BarrichelloBRAJordan-Peugeot1:34:14.856
10Johnny HerbertGBRSauber-Ford1:34:15.590
11Jos VerstappenNEDTWR-Hart1 lap down
12Pedro LamyPORMinardi-Ford2 laps down
13Ricardo Rosset BRATWR-Hart2 laps down
14Eddie IrvineIRLFerrari40 laps - collision
15Ukyo KatayamaJAPTyrrell-Yamaha38 laps - engine
16Jacques VilleneuveCANWilliams-Renault37 laps - wheel hub
17Mika SaloFINTyrrell-Yamaha21 laps - engine
18Pedro DinizBRALigier-Mugen14 laps - spun off
19Jean AlesiFRABenetton-Renault1 lap - spun off

Return to the 1996 Race Info Page