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1994 (And all that.....)

Discussion in 'Formula One Discussion' started by The Artist....., Aug 17, 2011.

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  1. Yes?

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    10.0%
  2. No?

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    90.0%
  1. The Artist.....

    The Artist..... Champion Elect

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    There has long been a discussion about the 1994 Formula 1 season, and about how Senna would (could) have won it, had he not been tragically killed at Imola. However, is this true? A large proportion of this discussion is down to the fact that Hill and Schumacher were only separated by 1 point at the end of the season. This is not a thread to discuss whether Senna would have won or not, but more to discuss whether 1994 was a close season, or whether it was just an illusion!

    I have to confess, that at the time I was a die-hard Damon Hill fan, and truly believed that he deserved the title after the controversial end to the championship in Adelaide. However, we need to examine this season in detail.

    First of all, I believe that 1994 was the season where Schumacher laid down a level of individual dominance not seen before and not seen since. (Not even when Schumacher and Ferrari were winning everything left, right and centre).

    So, how was this dominance shown? 1994 was a 16 race season, and after 4 races, Schumacher had 4 victories. In the fifth race, he was in the lead of the race, when his gearbox failed, and left him stuck in 5th gear. Result? He caressed the car home in second place. Race 6 brought us back to the status-quo, with another 2 victories for Schumacher.

    However, when we arrived in Silverstone for race 8, the establishment started to unravel Schumacher's season. Schumacher's repeated aggressive overtaking on the 2 warm up laps led to a stop go penalty being handed down to Schumacher. Benetton ignored this request, and Schumacher was disqualified. Again, this instruction was ignored, and eventually Schumacher served the penalty. Whilst we cannot say for certain, it is still likely that Schumacher would have won this race without the stop-go penalty. Following the race though, the FIA ruled that this was in controvention of the rules, and excluded Schumacher from Silverstone, and 2 more races. (He appealed, so that he could attend his home GP). This was a harsh penalty, considering that an identical offence (Mansell at Estoril in 1989) only merited a 1 race ban.

    At Hockenheim, despite having a power disadvantage, Schumacher still looked solid, but was likely heading for a second place before his engine expired. A dominant win followed at Hungary and again at Belgium.... However, again he was disqualified from Belgium for "an undersized skid block"...

    Forced to sit out 2 races (Monza and Estoril), Schumacher was caught up by Damon Hill, who had won the two races (Albeit in unconvincing style). So it was, with 3 races to go, there was but 1 point between Schumacher and Hill.

    At Jerez, Schumacher again won the race, but at Japan, neither car ran into mechanical problems, and for the first time that season, Schumacher was beaten, on the road, when he had a healthy car.

    Then, we all know what happened at Adelaide.

    So, 1994... Schumacher essentially had 12 races he was not disqualified from, won 8 of them, finished 2nd twice and retired from 2, and was only once beaten fair and square once by another car.

    This sounds like sheer domination to me!
     
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  3. RasputinLives

    RasputinLives I was never cool at school. Contributor

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    I like your reasoning and its a great article but its hard to look past 2004 for Schumacher dominance so I have to vote No.
     
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  4. teabagyokel

    teabagyokel #bringbackmaldo Valued Member

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    I'll clarify my no vote. I do like your reasoning, as RasputinLives says, but this is the Michael Schumacher of 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004. So I'd say it takes a lot to be his most dominant season.
     
  5. Johnny Carwash

    Johnny Carwash Champion Elect Contributor

    Has to be 2002 for me as he finished 1st in 11 races 2nd in 5 races and finished 3rd in 1 race. That to me is his most dominant season.
     
  6. Jos the Boss

    Jos the Boss Champion Elect

    I agree with the rest of them, great reasoning though!
     
  7. FB

    FB Not my cup of cake Valued Member

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    13 out of 18 in 2004 wins it for me as well as 2 second places that season. Sublime and very, very boring :sleeping:
     
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  8. RasputinLives

    RasputinLives I was never cool at school. Contributor

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    oh exceptionally boring! especially after the cracker that was 2003.

    Still not as boring as 1992 though I feel
     
  9. mjo

    mjo Procrastinating Contributor

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    For me, 1994 - just. In 2002, he never finished off the podium, in 2004, he won 13/18 races (12 of the first 13) but in 1994, he either finished 1st, 2nd, or retired, or was disqualified - (and the German retirement was because of an engine failure). As The Artist said, in 12 races, he won eight, finished 2nd in two, and retired from two. And he still managed to win the championship when Damon had 4 more races (or 40 more popints to play for) than Schumi.
     
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  10. Galahad

    Galahad Not a Moderator Valued Member

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    It was an outstanding season's driving from Michael, in a car with a significant power disadvantage (though a major pit crew advantage). The parade lap business at Silverstone was silly - drivers ought to know the rules on that sort of thing - but Benetton should have called him in for the stop-go, so I don't think I can blame him for his 2-race ban (nor the disqualification at Spa; almost certainly caused by a spin over a kerb).

    Sadly, there's always going to be a question mark over the legality of the B194. Williams were, understandably, in a certain amount of disarray too, and Damon had yet to grow into the role of a team leader. Schumacher's most dominant season was probably 2002; for me, his best was 1996.
     
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  11. MCLS

    MCLS Anti F1 fan Valued Member

    For me it's 2002, never off the podium, should have had 1 more win (USA) but that equals with Austria I guess. Apart from Monaco and Malaysia no-one ever got close to beating him apart from his team mate
     
  12. Pyrope

    Pyrope Podium Finisher Supporter

    Oh I don't think so. When you have Jackie Stewart stating categorically that he definitely heard traction control being used on the Benetton that year I think the matter is fairly cut and dried. With that and his battering ram move in Adelaide I'm afraid that I don't really regard Schumacher as the 1994 champion. And as for everyone being shocked a few years later when Pat and Flavio cheated...
     
  13. Galahad

    Galahad Not a Moderator Valued Member

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    Well, I have to agree and say that on balance with the available evidence, I don't think the car was legal all season long either. Michael's getaway from the second row at Magny-Cours has always stuck with me for some reason. But nothing was ever proven, so...

    On a side note, this month's Motor Sport magazine has a long interview with John Fitzpatrick, a noted saloon and sports car racer of the 1960s-80s. He drove for Tom Walkinshaw's Jaguar team in the early '80s and had some success for a time, before the realisation hit that they were occasionally getting some remarkable fuel mileage - and that Tom was basically cheating. Of course, Walkinshaw was Sporting Director at Benetton in '94.
     
  14. FB

    FB Not my cup of cake Valued Member

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    Image below of the notes Tom Walkinshaw carried in his wallet....

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Dario Resta

    Dario Resta Podium Finisher

    The B194 never had traction control. If it was there it would have been discovered, and it wasn't. The B194 and it's electronic systems were subjected to more scrutiny than any other car on the grid. Benetton (and Ford Electronics), had been developing a launch control system during 1993, but this was abandoned when the regs were changed.

    Benetton were guilty of nothing more than having a menu option in their software that "could" (if the the hardware on the car supported it) have initiated launch control - but never traction control, and there was no proof of it being used in a race - Magny Cours was after Benetton were investigated. There is NO way launch control was used, they would have been kicked out.

    Schumacher's punishment during the British GP, and subsequent race bans, were a farce. It was a stitch up. Granted, if he hadn't been stupid, trying to play mind games with Damon, then there would have been no punishment, but Benetton were not informed within the timescale allowed of ANY penalty, and when they were, they believed it was to be a time penalty to be added at the end of the race. As it was, the stewards had imposed a stop-go, and Benetton informed Schumacher to stay out while they clarified this with the stewards. Eventually it was agreed that Schumacher could take the stop - go, but not before he had been black flagged.

    Anyway, he took the penalty, finished second, got disqualified, got a mega race ban. all this despite the fact that the stewards failed to inform his team of the proper penalty, within the correct time.

    Did Schumacher deliberately take Damon out in Australia? I don't care. He would have already won before Adelaide if the FIA and stewards had acted properly at Silverstone and the subsequent hearing.

    I agree with Galahad though, 2002 was his most dominant, but 1996 was his best. That car was a real dog.
     
  16. Pyrope

    Pyrope Podium Finisher Supporter

    :blink:

    Hmm... but it was discovered. And it was traction control, not just launch control. And it was perfectly possible to operate it whenever Schumacher chose to do so as the actuation sequence was just a complex sequence of button pushes and switch movements which could be made from the cockpit. The whole point behind the current mandatory ECU is that electronic traction control is far too easy to hide in the reams of software code that went into the old systems. The system was there, it was found, and the best that Flavio et al. could come up with for an excuse was that it was only there "for use during testing". But if TC is banned why bother taking the time and spending the money just for testing? It's not as if any of the data you collect using it would be usable in a race... is it? And if it was a legitimate testing mode why hide it in an undocumented, convolute sequence of esoteric switch commands? One of the cars was sold two or three years ago and the advert specifically mentioned that it was a traction control car. Most damningly, Jackie Stewart (a Ford spokesperson/representative, commenting on the Ford works team!) categorically stated that while he was listening to the cars Schumacher's Benetton was the only one that made the characteristic stuttering and blaring noise of a TC car. If you are telling me that Stewart can't recognise traction control when he hears it then you may as well tell me that water isn't wet either. Add in the fact that Schumacher, Walkinshaw, Fry and Briatore are all a long way from being the sort of people who let the rules stand in the way of winning, and look at the literally incredible starts that Schumi made at a number of races in the first part of that season, and the circumstantial evidence starts to mount up into something pretty solid. Sure, the FIA couldn't categorically state that they had evidence that it had been used - that would have required Schumacher accidentally leaving the system engaged when he parked the car at the end of the race - but then neither could Benetton prove that they hadn't used it.
     
  17. Dario Resta

    Dario Resta Podium Finisher

    The fact of the matter is that the source code of the computer systems on the B194 was examined by an independent company, and NO traction control software was found. An option that could have been used to initiate launch control was, however.

    What Jackie Stewart or anyone else states have to be backed up with evidence, and while I fully agree that some people in the Benetton team are less than squeaky clean, you can say the same about many others (McLaren, Ferrari), and some just haven't been caught yet. Benetton had been developing their electronic systems through 1993, as no-one knew for sure what would be allowed in 94, so they would have been at a disadvantage if they had scrapped it.

    Schumacher's best start was Magny Cours, long after their source code had been examined. Do you really think they would have got away with using launch control?

    Many people have tried to discredit Schumacher's 1994 championship, mainly because of what happened to Senna, but the fact is the FIA tried to manipulate the results to keep it alive. The biggest disgrace would have been if Damon HAD won.
     
  18. Galahad

    Galahad Not a Moderator Valued Member

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    By the FIA's own admission, the ban on traction and launch control was unenforceable, hence the re-legalisation in 2001 or '02. Mosley said that they knew some teams were cheating, but they couldn't prove it. And he would know.
     
  19. Jos the Boss

    Jos the Boss Champion Elect

    Well does this mean that the Mercedes W02 has TC and LC? Schumi has had amazing starts this season so it must
     
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  20. VanChallis

    VanChallis Points Scorer

    I'm not doubting for a second that Schumacher is an amazing driver, one of the greatest ever. (the greatest ever according to the stats) But there is little doubt in my mind that at points of that season the car was using TC/LC systems. If Jackie Stewart and Ayrton Senna were sure of it then it can't be wrong really. And I remember as a ten year old saying to my dad "that benneton sounds funny coming out of slow corners" (I don't remember this moment personally but my dad reminded me of it a couple of years back)
    Personally, and I know it's a bit biased, but I think Senna would probably have won in 1994 if he wasn't sadly killed. My reasoning is that Schumi would have been under a massive amount more pressure with Senna chasing him down than Hill (Who is a driver I respect very much, but not quite in the same league, espcially given his experience at the time) and would probably have made more mistakes. Couple that with the fact that Senna may have been able to beat him outright at some of the races anyway (he was doing it at Imola) and things may have been very different.
     
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  21. Pyrope

    Pyrope Podium Finisher Supporter

    Benetton were asked to provide their code and various other telemetry data and it took them over three weeks to comply. You think what they let the FIA look at was their actual code? In comparison, Ferrari and McLaren complied within a couple of days.

    No, the ban on traction control (and other electronic aids) was announced in June 1993. It was clear and unambiguous. As for others, yes, also true. Ferrari were busted for using TC in the first few races, which as Bennetton were right on the pace lends even more credence to the suggestion that the comparatively feebly-powered B194 was electronically assisted.

    Yes. Again, you are assuming that what was examined was what was run. And besides, most of Schumacher's advantage that year was throughout the first lap, when tyres were cold. It isn't just the getting off the line that was suspicious, but the way that almost every race he stormed away from the field in the first dozen turns or so.

    I think you are conflating two issues. As far as I know nobody has ever worried about Schumacher's win in the context of Senna's death. It was clear that the two were going to be nip and tuck all season and Senna's loss was just one of those things that happen in racing. The reason many people have tried to discredit Schumacher's 1994 championship is because he's a cheat.
     

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