Monday, 9 January 2012

Retro F1: the 1993 European Grand Prix

The latest Retro F1 was held yesterday, watching the 1993 European Grand Prix at Donington Park.

For those who don't know, Retro F1 is watching a classic F1 race in full on YouTube and chatting on Twitter as we go. And this race has very much gone down as an all-time classic.

The YouTube footage that we watched is below (or you can click here):

The Twitter chat, using the #RetroF1 hastag, can be read here, and in this post I have edited highlights of the chat below.

Righty-ho, I'm clicking play on the link now :) 1993 European GP in full coming right up!

@Parnelli98 Grid forming yet for #RetroF1? 
Grid is forming right now!
@mario_eb I'm already here waiting for #RetroF1 :) 
@hellasf1 Let's have a nice wet race! 
@ElenaF1 So, we will have a wet GP. I like the idea!!

And it’s the legendary Murray Walker and James Hunt partnership providing the commentary.
@SartoMutiny Excitable starter = nutter. #talklikejameshunt 

It's Easter Sunday 1993, and the British weather is living up to its usual Easter Sunday form, it's been raining on and off.
@SartoMutiny When all this was happening, I was in Blairgowrie. I think it was raining there too.

Some scene setting. This is the third round of the 1993 season. Williams were expected to dominate it, as they had 1992. Prost had replaced Mansell at Williams and had bossed the opening round in South Africa to win, and Prost had also dominated the second round at Interlagos, only to spin off in a rain shower, and Senna won at home. Senna therefore led the table by 16 points to Prost’s 10, but admitted only rain would allow him to challenge the Williams…

Prost is on pole, 1.5 seconds clear of the first non-Williams, Schumi in third. Senna was a tenth slower than him in P4.

A European GP at Donington Park was brought in as a late replacement for an Asian GP at Autopolis (which went bankrupt). Bernie had also promised Donington a GP some time before, so he was being as good as his word.
@SartoMutiny For the last time.

@SartoMutiny Michael Andretti OK to start the race. He'll have a good one, I can feel it in my bones.
Yes, how did the whole Michael Andretti in F1 thing go? ;)
@Parnelli98 Andretti spent more time in the kitty litter than on the track in a majority of races that year :-(

@hellasf1 Sonic on Sega Mega Drive reminds me great days when I was kid! Sponsor of the 1993 European GP. 
I know, the Sega Megadrive advertising brings back my youth vividly!
@Parnelli98 The Sonic decals on the sides of the Williams looked cool too. #sonicfeet 

@SartoMutiny JJ Lehto. Now in prison. Never did win a race. 

@mario_eb A wet start without Safety Car; GREAT!!! 
@ElenaF1 They were men not tiny boys!!
@mario_eb Well said Elena. REAL DRIVERS!!! REAL F1 DRIVERS :) 
Indeed. Safety's fine, but F1's often a bit too risk averse these days.

Off we go. Don't think anything happens on this first lap ;)
@mario_eb At the start Schumacher trying to block Senna. (Dirty as always) 
@SartoMutiny Senna passes Wendlinger round the outside of the Craner Curves! Amazing. Now 2nd. And Senna takes the lead. Woof. 

Wow. Just wow. Doesn't matter how often you watch that first lap, it never gets any less amazing. Fifth to first in an eyes' blink.
@PatchRBR Neither will I 
@ElenaF1 Pfffff... Senna!! 

@SartoMutiny Andretti shoves Wendlinger off.
That made it four laps in three races for Michael Andretti in his F1 career up to that point.
@LoisMarketing Andretti. LOL. I don't have to watch to giggle. 
@SartoMutiny I never did forgive him for pushing Gerhard off in Brazil. 
@LoisMarketing I always admired Senna for his restraint and for not going up and slapping the s*** out of him at some point.

@SartoMutiny Murray getting carried away, as per usual. Rubens is not 3rd. 

@SartoMutiny The guy in 6th is still in F1. And the guy in 4th might still be.
@djtrickster77 Only 2 drivers are still racing from back in the day..hopefully Rubens will get the Williams drive!

Senna clearing off at two seconds a lap at this wet early part. It's 'pure Senna' as James Hunt says.

@mario_eb That Sauber in black looks beautiful. If I'm not wrong that was the return of Mercedes since decades. 
@hellasf1 That’s exactly what I was thinking! Great efforts all those years from a great motorsport man Peter Sauber! 
Mercedes didn't return as an engine supplier until 1994, but Mercedes were involved in the Sauber team financially in 1993.
@mario_eb Oh, thanks for that. Well, I was close ;) 

The Sauber C12
Credit: Lutz H / CC

@SartoMutiny Senna's seven seconds ahead after three laps. He's almost as good as Vettel, this boy. 

A young (20 yr old) Rubinho in P4, showing wet weather skills that would serve him well for the next 19 years!
@ElenaF1 Barri's 3rd GP!! poor lad :-( 
@mario_eb Sure. Rubens was a great promise then. Unfortunately he got his career burnt at Ferrari :( 
Yep, agree. I also think the Imola 1994 crash and being thrust into Brazilian limelight after that race set him back a little for a while as well.

@Parnelli98 Hunt: 'Suzuki: spinner of the year!' Great one James! The Footwork Arrows kind of reminds me of the 80s Toleman with its dual rear wing.

Prost now pegging the gap to Senna, possibly clawing him in slowly.
@SartoMutiny Prost starting to get to grips with the conditions. Maybe. 

@djtrickster77 How cool does the Williams look? The McLaren is just a classic design.
Agree, these design of cars are very beautiful.
@mario_eb To be honest I prefer 90s F1 cars designs than current ones. F1 cars were beautiful until 2008.

D'oh! Martin Brundle spins out. Pitted for slicks too early? Wonder what Brundle the commentator would make of it ;)
@hellasf1 The Ligier driver must me disappointed he retires at a home race!

Spoiler alert, that would be Johnny Herbert's only pit stop of the day :)

@ElenaF1 Oh!! And while Senna doing a Vettel, 6+ seconds in front with 10 laps done! 

@Parnelli98 Interesting to hear the engines stutter due to traction control kicking in.
Yes, 1993 was the high point (or should that be low point?) of the driver aid.
@Parnelli98 I consider high point, because I'm a tech guy. :-) 

@SartoMutiny Hill badgering Prost. I don't think this was in the script. 

Interesting that backmarkers didn't leap out of the way of cars lapping them like now. Speed through traffic is a lost skill in F1.
@Parnelli98 Speed gaps between the haves & have nots much larger then I believe, which helped lapping backmarkers. 
Yep, in qualifying here it was five second gap between the front and back.
@SilkCutJag1985 Perhaps they should get the likes of Alliot, Grouillard, Arnoux, De Crasheris and co to be driver stewards this year. 
Yes, that would bring back the good old days. They were legendary for getting in the way weren't they?

@SartoMutiny Problems with Gerhard's pitstop, booo..... 

@hellasf1 Mixed conditions race! Where is Jenson Button? :-p 
@mario_eb Jenson who? ;) 

@SartoMutiny Damon Hill is in the pits, and we are looking at Jonathan Palmer's feet. Good old BBC. 
@aka_robyn Some great camera work in the pits there. LOL
I know, BBC were always good at that sort of thing.
@hellasf1 Martin Brundle always was good speaking in front of a camera! 

I should point out in Schumi's defence that he didn't have traction control on his Benetton, while most of the guys ahead did have it. Actually, I'm not sure if Jean Alesi had traction control. If he didn't then it's an impressive performance. Alesi is up in second place - I completely forgot that he played a cameo role in this race. He is always a man to watch in these sort of conditions.

Senna and Hill have changed to slicks, Prost presumably in shortly.

@Parnelli98 Lola Ferrari! Sounds like a porn star.

All the front runners have changed to slicks now. It's as you were: Senna-Prost-Hill.

Senna nearly wiped out by a gracefully exiting Mark Blundell, battling with Christian Fittipaldi there.
@SartoMutiny A bit of Blundell/Senna/Fittipaldi three-on-one action there. Marky Mark in the gravel, the cockney sparra. Propah nawtee, etc.

@SartoMutiny It's raining again.
It is indeed, and Prost has dived in for wets, and Schumi has slid into retirement. Senna stays out...
@SartoMutiny Schumi in the gravel. Good of him not to park it on the track in an attempt to get the race stopped. He'd soon learn. 
@ElenaF1 Prost on wets again?

Hill in for wet tyres as well, but Senna seems capable of lapping about as quickly on his slicks as Prost is on wets.
@SartoMutiny Both Williams have come in. Senna has not. 
@hellasf1 Of course Senna stays out on slicks! That’s why he was a legend! Ayrton Senna could stay with slicks on mixed conditions! Chuck Norris can stay with slicks on a full wet race! :-p 
Yes, Senna's slicks in the wet skills were vital in this race.
@Parnelli98 Senna's laps in the wet on slicks were masterful. 
@djtrickster77 A second a lap ahead in a vastly inferior car... Legend 

@djtrickster77 Who of the present drivers has a similar deft touch in the wet? Anyone? @SartoMutiny Jenson?
@djtrickster77 I know I’m biased so wasn't gonna say...was intrigued to see if anyone thought the same though.

@ElenaF1 I love you Brits 'it rains but not fantastically hard' what a sentence!! 
@Parnelli98 A ‘Huntism’ I believe! 
James Hunt was a commentary legend. He had a fantastic way with words!
@ElenaF1 I see :-)) 
Yes, Murray and James were a great partnership, they were both very knowledgeable. A great foil for each other.
@ElenaF1 This has been a poem itself!! 
@Parnelli98 Agree! Senna 'writing' a master work. 
@SartoMutiny James Hunt died only a couple of months after this race, only 45. Very sad. 
Yes, Hunt's death was very sad and very sudden. A real loss.

@SartoMutiny Did Prost pass under yellows there.....?

@aka_robyn Hahaha 'Waltzing in beautiful harmony.' It was pretty!  
@ElenaF1 Elegant dance, yup :-)) 

Senna leads Prost by 14.7 seconds, both on wets after Senna finally stopped to change. Prost may be closing.

The rain's now stopped. Everyone around the world, this is what British weather is usually like :)

Prost has trimmed the gap to Senna to less than 10 seconds, and is now in for slicks. Senna to follow? Yep indeedy, Senna is also in for slicks.
@aka_robyn Aaaaaaugh terrible pit stop! D: 
@ElenaF1 Aha!!! Prost leads!!! 
@Parnelli98 Williams probably thought they had the race in the bag with the slow McLaren stop. Hmmm, lets see.

Hunt points out that Senna's previous stop for wets turned out to be wrong one lap later, without that he'd be leading by a mile.

Senna nevertheless is getting on with it, and is trimming Prost's advantage.

Oooh, that's a surprise, Prost's in for wets as it's started to rain again. Senna leads.

@ElenaF1 OMG, smells a disaster for Prost!!
Yes indeed, Senna still seems to be as quick on slicks. Has Prost made the wrong decision? The rain is still coming down, however. Bit of a shine on the tyres and spray coming up, suggesting the track in getting wetter. But Senna presses on on his slicks...

@ElenaF1 Prost needs a downpour NOW! 

Senna goes past the pits again - sticking with his slicks...

...and all of a sudden staying on slicks seems the right decision, Senna's pulling away from Prost now.

@ElenaF1 Sure, Barrichello is doing very well.  
@aka_robyn Murray loves him some Rubens! 

@djtrickster77 Having not seen the full race for years...its easy to think he only did one lap...but its the whole race that he dominated and how.

That was something I missed in my scene-setting: Senna at this point was driving on a race by race contract. Senna had threatened to take a sabbatical in 1993, he eventually decided to drive the whole year. But it's amazing to think that in these early rounds of 1993 Senna wasn't confirmed to drive until a few days before each race.
@djtrickster77 Wasn't it due to change of engine make which was forced upon McLaren?
That was part of it, losing Honda engines was a big blow to McLaren and Senna didn't think they'd be competitive.
@aka_robyn I think I read once that he wouldn't even travel until he knew the money for that race was in the bank. LOL 
Yes, the race after this one (at Imola) Senna apparently arrived literally minutes before first practice starting!

Ooh, Prost back in for slicks now, this should hand the race to Senna definitively.
@hellasf1 Alain Prost stalled in the pits! Rubens Barrichello climbs to the 2nd place! Prost also gets lapped by leader Ayrton Senna. 
@djtrickster77 The pit crew looks like a renta Kwik Fit fitters!!:-) 

Hill passes Prost, Prost looks to be in trouble. To correct Murray, that was a pass for position rather than Hill lapping him.

@Parnelli98 And Prost visits the pits again! From bad, to worse, to horrible goes his race! 
Prost pits, and goes back out on slicks. I happen to know (from Autocourse) that he had a left-rear puncture, hence why Hill passed him so easily.

Rubinho up in P2, but is still on wets. He finally pits for slicks and Hill passes for P2.

Senna visits the pits and goes straight through (his team weren't ready) and sets the Donington lap record in the process! That lap record for Donington probably still stands! Senna presses on, he changed his mind on the tyres, obviously.

Another thing I know from Autocourse is that Rubinho pitted twice in two laps for some reason (TV didn't show it), he's now P4.

Senna's a lap ahead of everyone. That's something that hardly ever happens in modern times, without attrition. Actually, Schumi won the 1994 Brazilian GP by a lap. Trying to think of other examples... :)

Damon Hill did win the 1995 Australian GP by 2 laps, but that's mainly because everyone else competitive retired!
@SartoMutiny Are you suggesting the Ligiers were not competitive? How dare you..... ;) @SartoMutiny The only other one I can think of off hand is Prost at Silverstone in 1985.

@Parnelli98 And what is stranger is the fact that no way was the McLaren that much better than the field. The driver was though! 
Yes, Prost outqualified Senna by 1.5 seconds! Was dry admittedly, but Williams should have been good in wet as well.
@SartoMutiny James Hunt is correct to point out that 'McLaren's superiority' (as Murray put it) is simply having Ayrton Senna in the car. 

Still, watching the race it's been forgotten that Prost wasn't too far off Senna on pace, it was bad decisions on tyre changes, the stall and the puncture that created most of the gap between Prost and Senna.
@ElenaF1 Sí, a pity :-((  
@Parnelli98 Was Prost doing Button's Canadian GP trick of pitting a lot to win? 
Maybe that was the plan ;)
@Parnelli98 It had to be so frustrating after the 3rd or 4th stop for Prost! And seeing Senna pull further & further ahead. 
@David_Zero_Five Prost was ALWAYS faster than Senna. There. I've said it.
Still, Senna was definitely braver than Prost in driving in the wet on slicks, which gave him wider windows to pit in, and made his decisions easier.

@djtrickster77 Damon Hill was so under rated back in the day. For me he was understated and British... Enough said.
Agree, Damon Hill was always very underrated. He was an excellent development driver as well.

@Parnelli98 Didn't Thierry Boutsen always look like he didn't sweat at all after every race? And no helmet hair? Lol! 

@SartoMutiny More bad luck for Derek Warwick. If only he'd ended up at Williams in 1985... 
A heck of a counterfactual, how would F1 history have changed for Warwick (and Mansell) if he'd picked Williams in '85?
@SartoMutiny I love these little ‘what ifs’. Where would Mansell have gone, for example? Renault????
Nowhere, most probably.

@hellasf1 Seven laps to go! Ayrton is flying to the win! 

@Parnelli98 1993, back when steering wheels looked like steering wheels! 

Love the way a random bloke was in the way when Hill came into the pits there :)

Oh dear, third-placed Rubinho drops out with just six laps left. Would've been Jordan's (and Barrichello's) first ever podium finish.
@SartoMutiny Poor Rubens ! Horrible luck, and not for the last time. 
@syn_esn Poor Barrichelo. Six laps to go. 

Turns out Barrichello 'ran out of fuel pressure', which is a polite way of saying they ran out of petrol.
@SartoMutiny I guess a lack of fuel would affect the pressure, right enough. 
@syn_esn Good point!
@Parnelli98 Explains a bit why Rubens was quick maybe? Lighter car, faster car. But too light = stopped car!
I’m guessing Eddie Jordan gambled too much on the fuel level they ran with. Presumably Jordan was gambling on more rain than they got? Can't take anything away from how Rubens drove though.
@SilkCutJag1985 Today EJ would blame it on KERS, his choice of shirt, Jake and/or DC. 
@hellasf1 The lads in Jordan GP didn’t make correct calculations because they were busy having fun with grid girls! :-p 

@SartoMutiny Almost unnoticed, it's been a superb race from Johnny Herbert, using a tactic he would use again at the Nurburgring six years later. 
@hellasf1 Johnny Herbert on P4, with Lotus! great result for the historic team! one of the late one great results...

All of a sudden, Senna wins! Well done him. 'Masterly, won entirely by his individual brilliance' as Hunt says.
@hellasf1 Senna wins, almost 1 lap ahead of P2 Damon Hill, 3rd one lap back is Alain Prost! 

Ayrton Senna - the star of the 1993 European Grand Prix
Credit: StuSteeger / CC

Senna picks up a Brazilian flag, and then drops it. The only thing he did wrong all day.
@syn_esn Love Senna's excitement to wave the flag. Too bad it slipped out of his hand.
@djtrickster77 Simply says 'The Hero'. 
@syn_esn Of course, he got the flag back. :-) 

@hellasf1 P6 and 1 point for Minardi and Fabrizio Barbazza! 
@SartoMutiny Whatever became of Fabrizio Barbazza? 
Barbazza got punted mid-season for Pierluigi Martini. Presumably to do with money, as always.
@SartoMutiny According to Wiki, he retired after a bad crash in 1995 and now lives in Cuba.

A bit of confusion from James Hunt there that would have made Murray proud!

And all of a sudden, the YouTube is at an end and I now have Dallas in 1984 :/
@Parnelli98 And quite loud at that! 

@aka_robyn Aaaw, no podium? I feel like I'm watching SpeedTV and they had to cut to NASCAR! ;-)
Yes, from what I recall Senna was super-excited on the podium. Pity we couldn't see it.

@hellasf1 Drivers’ standings: Senna increases his lead over Prost to 12 points (SEN 26 - PRO 14) followed by Hill 12, Blundell & Herbert 6 pts.

@aka_robyn Thanks for doing this, Graham - it was lots of fun! :-) 
@ElenaF1 So dears. a pleasure once more. Thanks @TalkingaboutF1 for hosting :-) 
@hellasf1 Thanks @TalkingaboutF1 for hosting a great afternoon watching f1 with great company! looking forward to the next one soon! :-) 
@djtrickster77 You always remember your first time... Thank you for making it an Epic one! Had a gr8 time chatting to you all:-))))) 
@pinuz010 Great idea. I love watch old GPs..I hope that next time we will watch 1985 San Marino GP! 

Thanks very much. San Marino ‘85 is a good shout, I think it's available in full online as well!

Thanks very much all for taking part in our latest Retro F1. Hope you enjoyed it, I certainly enjoy doing them. I'm always happy to hear requests for races to do!

Here are a few links to full F1 races on YouTube that I've used:

Classic F1 vids
TheRickSpark's Channel

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