The controversial title fight between Schumacher and Hill

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The past Formula 1 season will go down in the books as one of the most intense championships in history. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were at odds with each other all season. It would all come down to the final race in Abu Dhabi. A similar situation occurred in 1994, when Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill were at odds with each other. The German managed to take his first world title and left Great Britain with a trauma.

A lot happened in the 1994 season. The year was overshadowed by the death of three-time world champion and Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna, but Roland Ratzenberger also had a fatal accident in the same weekend. There were also the necessary controversies, for example the Benetton team would use traction control, which was banned at the time. In addition, refueling was allowed again that year and Jos Verstappen would, during the race in Hockenheim, experience first-hand what could go wrong during refueling.

Season start phase

Benetton had two youngsters with Schumacher and Verstappen who had the necessary talent. The team had also built a fast car. Schumacher started in 1994 with four wins in a row. Only in Spain did he have to let the victory pass, where title rival Damon Hill was allowed to take place on the highest step of the podium. Apart from Schumacher and Hill, only Gerhard Berger and Nigel Mansell managed to take a win that season.

Dropouts and Disqualifications

Hill failed to finish three times in 1994. Schumacher was disqualified twice that year, disqualified twice from the race and retired twice. The first disqualification was at Silverstone, where Schumacher overtook Hill on the formation lap and there was a five-second stop-and-go penalty. The German ignored the penalty and Benetton indicated after the race that they had misunderstood. Schumacher was eventually disqualified. In Belgium, the wooden plank under the German’s car was worn too far, which could give him an aerodynamic advantage. It resulted in the second disqualification for the German.

Schumacher and Hill at British GP

The incident in Great Britain got another twist. For example, Schumacher was not only disqualified from the race. Afterwards, the German had to miss two more Grands Prix as a penalty, including his home race in Hockenheim. He was replaced for the two games by the Finnish JJ Lehto.

Build up to last race

After the penultimate Grand Prix that took place in Japan, the title race was more exciting than ever. It was admittedly not a tie like we saw in 2021, but the difference between Hill and Schumacher was only one point in the German’s favour. The recipe for the last race in Australia was therefore simple and similar to what we had seen last season, the one who wanted to take the title had to finish before the other.

Still, Schumacher knew that as leader of the classification he had a big advantage. Should his title rival not take points in the final race, Schumacher would have been world champion. He could therefore take more risks than his British rival and he took advantage of that. More importantly, he knew that if they both dropped out, he would be world champion. There was also that agreement with the fight between Verstappen and Hamilton.

Climax

The Formula 1 circus had arrived at the final round of the season, the Australian Grand Prix. Qualifying went smoothly for Schumacher. He did not manage to take pole position, but with second place he was ahead of Hill, who started from third place. The German immediately took over Mansell’s first place at the start and Hill followed behind him. Until lap 36, things went according to plan for Schumacher. However, the Brit came closer and closer.

Hill and Schumacher in Adelaide

Under that pressure, Schumacher shot off the track and hit the wall with his right tires. When he got back to the track, Hill was almost on his rear wing and wanted to pass the German. He knew that with a zero point finish for both men, he would be the new world champion. With that thought he went into the next corner and Hill cut off the pass and hit him. The German was unable to continue on his way, but Hill also had to stop his fight in the pit box, there was simply too much damage to his car. It led to the first world title for Michael Schumacher, who managed to eliminate himself, but also his title rival.

Schumacher World Champion

Similar scenario

Verstappen also benefited from a zero points finish from Hamilton. With more wins under his belt, he would also become world champion in a tie. It often reminded the British of the situation in 1994. They did not have to expect an unsportsmanlike action from the Dutchman. In the end, it was fought out on the track on the last lap.

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