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Race Report

European Grand Prix
Circuito de Jerez

Qualifying - Race - Analysis

2.751 miles

Qualifying : Warm, sunny

JV on pole...just

1994 Pole: 1m 22.762s Michael Schumacher (Benetton)

The Starting Grid

Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Renault 1m 21.072s
Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1m 21.072s
Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams-Renault 1m 21.072s
Damon Hill TWR Arrows-Yamaha 1m 21.130s
Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes 1m 21.369s
David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1m 21.476s
Eddie Irvine Ferrari 1m 21.610s
Gerhard Berger Benetton-Renault 1m 21.656s
Olivier Panis Prost-Mugen 1m 21.735s
Jean Alesi Benetton-Renault 1m 22.011s
Jan Magnussen Stewart-Ford 1m 22.167s
Rubens Barrichello Stewart-Ford 1m 22.222s
Pedro Diniz TWR Arrows-Yamaha 1m 22.234s
Johnny Herbert Sauber-Petronas 1m 22.263s
Shinji Nakano Prost-Mugen 1m 22.351s
Ralf Schumacher Jordan-Peugeot 1m 22.740s
Gianni Fisichella Jordan-Peugeot 1m 22.804s
Ukyo Katayama Minardi-Hart 1m 23.281s
Norberto Fontana Sauber-Petronas 1m 23.409s
Tarso Marques Minardi-Hart 1m 23.854s
Mika Salo Tyrrell-Ford 1m 24.222s
Jos Verstappen Tyrrell-Ford 1m 24.301s

107 % rule time: 1m 26.747s

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The Williams mechanics

Race : 69 laps
Warm and sunny

1994 Winner: Michael Schumacher (Benetton) 1h 40m 26.689s

The Result

Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes 1h 38m 57.772s
David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1h 38m 59.426s
Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Renault 1h 38m 59.574s
Gerhard Berger Benetton-Renault 1h 38m 59.691s
Eddie Irvine Ferrari 1h 39m 01.561s
Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams-Renault 1h 39m 02.309s

Olivier Panis Prost-Mugen 1h 40m 04.917s
Johnny Herbert Sauber-Petronas 1h 40m 10.732s
Jan Magnussen Stewart-Ford 1h 40m 15.259s
Shinji Nakano Prost-Mugen 1h 40m 15.987s
Gianni Fisichella Jordan-Peugeot 1 lap down
Mika Salo Tyrrell-Ford 1 lap down
Jean Alesi Benetton-Renault 1 lap down
Norberto Fontana Sauber-Petronas 1 lap down
Tarso Marques Minardi-Hart 1 lap down
Jos Verstappen Tyrrell-Ford 1 lap down
Ukyo Katayama Minardi-Hart 1 lap down
Damon Hill TWR Arrows-Yamaha 47 laps - engine failure
Michael Schumacher Ferrari 47 laps - collision with Villeneuve
Ralf Schumacher Jordan-Peugeot 44 laps - mechanical
Rubens Barrichello Stewart-Ford 30 laps - mechanical
Pedro Diniz TWR Arrows-Yamaha 11 laps - engine failure

Fastest Lap

1997 : Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams) 1m 23.135s
Previous Lap Record: 1m 25.040s M Schumacher (Benetton) 1994

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Mika wins!

Analysis :
With the Championship up for grabs, the stage was truly set after rivals Jacques Villeneuve and Micheal Schumacher, together with Heinz-Harald Frentezen all set the same time in qualifying !

Off the line Villeneuve got too much wheelspin allowing Schumacher to jump into the lead, but without Eddie Irvine riding shotgun, the Williams cars slowly ate into the Germans' lead.
Several times the lead Ferrari locked up a wheel under braking and was clear that Schumacher was going to have his work cut out staying in front of Villeneuve.
The young Canadian closed quickly and in a superb display of late braking, closed up and put the Williams along side the Ferrari entering the tight hairpin. Schumacher turned into the corner but Villeneuve was already there, then turned in some more hitting the Williams sidepod with his front wheel. The impact bounced the Ferrari out into the gravel and into retirement. Villeneuve continued, obviously feeling the car out for possible damage.

As the laps wound down with little other incident the West McLarens of David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen, who had done their best to stay out of the Championship battle, began to close rapidly.
With just a couple of laps to go Coulthard slowed to let his teammate pass. Hakkinen ran down Villeneuve easily and on the last lap the Canadian, knowing the Championship was his, moved over to let the flying Finn through. He slowed so much that Coulthard (and almost Gerhard Berger) came through too, resulting in a totally unexpected first win for Hakkinen and a McLaren 1-2.

It was good to see Berger finish strongly in his last GP, his experience (and wild sense of humour) will be missed in '98. Less attractive was Schumacher's obvious attempt to hit Villeneuve. It remains to be seen what punishment will be levied on the German, and ended the otherwise thrilling season on something of a sour note.

Villeneuve drove well throughout the season and despite Williams' mid-season funk, came through in true champions fashion to take the win. No doubt Mika Hakkinen will be buying Jacques something special this Christmas in return for the gift given to him this weekend.

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The podium

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Photo credits : AP / F1Picturenet