ABOUT THIS SEASON
He did not finish the race. Michael held on to a safety fence in Adelaide. “Those were unbelievable moments, I was beside myself”, he remembers.
On lap 36 of the championship final in Australia Michael was in second place, right in front of his rival Damon Hill. It was a tough fight between Michael and the Williams pilot. Michael went on the dirt a little but he did not want to pass up an opportunity and tried to make the best of a bad job. Michael defended his position but in doing that he drove over Hill’s front wheel and crashed out of the race.
The delayed feeling of being World Champion
The fans were shocked and Michael leaned against the fence, totally shocked and already saw his world championship title go down the drain. “I did not know what had happened to Damon. Of course I knew that there was a big gap between us and the other drivers on position four, five and six and therefore it should not be a problem for Damon to score this one last point he needed.” Michael could hardly understand what the track speaker was saying. Suddenly he heard: “Hill pitted … problems….” Michael kept an eye out, he waited but Hill did not drive past.
“I knew nothing anymore, I did not know whether I should be happy or not, all my feelings were completely mixed up“. When one of the track Marshals shook his hand and congratulates him, he did not know if he should be happy about his victory, if he should believe it. “It was horrible standing out there and having to wait. But it was an amazing feeling once it was certain. It took me a long time to realize that I have become world champion.”
The disastrous year for Formula 1
At the beginning of the season 1994 Michael won three times in a row. But it was not only the year of Michael’s breakthrough, it was also a year of tragedies. Roland Ratzenberger and Michael’s rival Ayrton Senna were both killed in separate accidents in Imola. But that was not the only tragedy which overshadowed Michael’s first championship season: there were discussions about his Benetton B194 and possibility of a breach of rules, rumours about illegal traction control, the teams refusal to hand in the source code for a FIA investigation, the discovery of hidden functionality in the team’s software, a $100.000 fine, rules were changed, a modified filler neck filter which caused the accident of his team mate Jos Verstappen in Hockenheim, two disqualifications in Spa-Francorchamps and in Silverstone and a two-race ban. All that got Michael and his team a bad reputation and jeopardised his chances to win because he was only allowed to compete at 12 instead of 16 races.
In Silverstone Michael was penalised for overtaking Damon Hill on the formation lap. “He was so slow, I did not want to brake so hard“, Michael described the situation. He then ignored the penalty and the subsequent black flag because his team did not inform him in time. He continued to drive, did the five seconds stop and became second in the end.
The ban and being lucky in unlucky circumstances
Bad news one week before the Germany GP: Michael was given a two-race ban by the FIA World Motor Sport Council which included the race in Hockenheim. The fans manned the barricades. The team raised an objection and was able to delay the penalty. Still the team is not sure whether to compete or take a break because the old circuit is difficult to drive and not a “Benetton-track”. Williams with the Renault engines clearly had an advantage. From the team’s point of view it would have been better not to compete. It was a tough decision but in the end the verdict was in favour of the fans. Michael competed, but after 20 laps he had an engine failure and therefore did not finish the race.
In Hungary Michael did not let anger and pressure show and won same as he won the Belgium GP. But shortly after the race Michael was disqualified by the race stewards because the skidblock under his car was found to be undersized. “I made a stupid mistake“, Michael explained. He was too fast and went on the dirt a little. “I spun over a kerb and damaged my skidblock but because I did a full turn I could continue to drive.”
Championesque 2nd place
After the Belgium GP the FIA confirmed the two-race ban for the Italy GP and Portugal GP because of the ignored black flag and took away the six points Michael scored at Silverstone. In addition Michael was disqualified after winning the Belgium GP, Benetton protested but the FIA rejected their appeal. The final races in Jerez, Suzuka and Adelaide. The first two races were each won by one of Michael’s competitors and we know what happened at Adelaide. Michael could only score points in 12 races and became world champion nevertheless.
Courtesy by motorsport-magazin.com
1994 Saison Figures
GRAND PRIX WINS
ALL GRAND PRIX
The races of 1994