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This is the complete race as broadcast on LIVE TV.
The first race of the 1994 season, and there had been some major changes over the winter. Alain Prost
won the 1993 World Championship driving the technologically superior Williams-Renault, and after winning
his 4th title, the Frenchman retired at the end of the season. This left the door open for Ayrton Senna,
who was disappointed that he wasn’t chosen over Prost to drive for Williams in 1993 (Prost had a clause
in his contract that stated he would only drive for Williams if Senna was not his teammate). The Williams
cars were superior to the rest of the field, with active suspensions, traction control, cutting edge
electronics, and launch control. They had dominated the 1992-1993 seasons with Nigel Mansell (1992) and
Alain Prost (1993) easily getting World Championships. Now it was Ayrton Senna’s turn, but after 2 years
of domination, the FIA decided to ban the advanced Williams innovations. Senna would enter the 1994
season driving a car that now had some handling problems, and was at best equal to the rest of the field.
Williams had acquired Rothmans as a sponsor, and Ayrton Senna would partner up with Damon Hill. Over at
McLaren, Mika Hakkinen would fill in Senna’s seat. Benetton had Mild Seven backing for Michael
Schumacher and new recruit JJ Lehto, but Lehto had injured his neck in a pre-season crash, so the
team’s test driver Jos Verstappen appeared in Brazil. Ferrari had the same line-up as 1993 with Gerhard
Berger and Jean Alesi but the new Ferrari 412 T1 chassis promised to be better than the F93A. The
Jordan Team had young Rubens Barrichello, and the controversial Eddie Irvine.
It was no surprise that Ayrton Senna was on pole at Interlagos, but Michael Schumacher stunned
everyone by taking second on the grid. The Benettons were fast, but not considered one of the front
runners. There were allegations that Benetton had found a way around the new F1 electronic regulations.
Jean Alesi was third fastest in his Ferrari, with Damon Hill a disappointing fourth in his Williams.
At the beginning of the race, it was Ayrton Senna out in front, Michael Schumacher second, Jean Alesi
third, and then Damon Hill, who was struggling with handling problems. On lap 21, both Senna and
Schumacher pitted. Schumacher’s stop was amazingly quick, and he emerged from the pits out on front of
Senna, then he began to pull away. On lap 35, there was a major accident when Martin Brundle had a
mechanical failure and slowed. Jos Verstappen and Eddie Irvine were fighting for seventh place as they
came up to lap Eric Bernard’s Ligier. At nearly 200 mph, there were 3 cars side-by-side, coming up to the
slowing 4th car of Martin Brundle. Bernard had to lift, and Eddie Irvine swerved to the left, straight into
Verstappen. Verstappen went onto the grass and veered into (and over) Irvine, and was launched into a
series of somersaults, hitting Martin Brundle’s McLaren as it went. Everyone emerged unscathed,
although after the race Eddie Irvine was given a one-race ban and a $10,000 fine. The Jordan team
appealed, but after reviewing the incident further, the FIA decided to increase the ban to three races.
Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher was enjoying a comfortable lead up front in the Benetton. On lap 56,
Ayrton Senna’s day would come to an end when spun out pushing his car beyond its limits trying to catch
Schumacher (the partisan Brazilian crowd began to leave the circuit in droves when they knew that
Ayrton Senna was out of the race). While Senna watched the rest of the race from the pits, he listened
carefully to Schumacher’s car, believing Benetton was somehow using a form of traction control. But it
was the raw talent of future 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher that was shining brightly today,
as the young German takes the win, followed by Damon Hill, Jean Alesi, and Ruebens Barrichello. This race
would be the start of an incredible, and yet very tragic, year in which the championship would be decided
at the final race in Adelaide, Australia.
This is a EuroSport broadcast, with commentary (in English) by Allard Kalff and John Watson.