The XXXVIII Sega European Grand Prix, otherwise known as the 1993 European Grand Prix, was the third round of the 1993 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Donington Park circuit in Leicestershire, UK, on the 11 April 1993. The race would see Ayrton Senna claim what was is widely regarded as he greatest victory, battling torrential rain and changeable conditions.
The trip to Donington Park would mark the return of the European Grand Prix to the F1 calendar, which had last been staged at Brands Hatch in 1985. The concept returned after the proposed Asian Grand Prix at Autopolis failed to materialise, resulting in an April trip to the centre of the United Kingdom.
Qualifying would see Alain Prost duel for pole position with Williams-Renault teammate Damon Hill, with the former emerging ahead. Michael Schumacher was best of the rest in his updated Benetton-Ford Cosworth, with Senna starting in fourth for McLaren-Ford Cosworth.
The race itself would be heralded by heavy rain, with the entire field starting on wet tyres. Prost duly eased away to claim an early lead ahead of Hill, while Schumacher was so focused on keeping Senna at bay into the first corner that he allowed the new Sauber of Karl Wendlinger to slither its way through to third.
That sparked what would go down in history as one of the greatest opening laps in F1 history, with Senna sweeping past Schumacher through Redgate, before slithering ahead of Wendlinger at the Craner Curves. The Brazilian then dived past Hill as they hit the brakes for Coppice Corner, before reeling in Prost down the back straight to lunge past the #2 Williams into the Melbourne Hairpin.
With that Senna was away, as behind Wendlinger and Senna's teammate Michael Andretti smashed into one-another. That promoted Rubens Barrichello into the top four, the Brazilian having passed Schumacher on the opening lap, while Prost and Hill retained second and third.
Once the rain passed the circuit quickly began to dry, with the first stops for slicks coming on lap ten, with Prost briefly leading when Senna made his stop. However, moments after the Frenchman made his stop the rain would return, prompting him to abandon second in favour of another set of wets.
Hill followed his teammate in, while Senna held out for four laps before he made his stop, only for the rain to stop again and the lead trio to stop for slicks. This time, however, Senna's pitcrew would cost the Brazilian twenty seconds, handing the lead back to Prost.
However, just as the field got their tyres up to temperature the rain once again began to pound the circuit, prompting Prost and Hill to sweep into the pits once more. Senna, in-contrast, would gamble on the rain passing as quickly as it had before, and hence opted not to stop to regain the lead.
That ultimately proved to be the right call, for no sooner had Prost and Hill rejoined then they were sent back into the pits for slick tyres. This time it was Prost who had the issue, losing a full lap after stalling, while Barrichello moved into second, opting to stay out on wets in hopes of seeing the rain return.
The rain did indeed return, although by that staged the young Brazilian had burned through his wets and stopped for slicks. Senna, meanwhile, would sweep into the pits, only to see that his pitcrew were not ready to make the change. He duly shot through the pitlane, recording fastest lap as he did so, only for the rain to stop midway through the next lap resulting in Senna deciding to stay out.
For one final time the rain would return, with everyone, including Senna, swapping to wets for a final fling. Senna duly powered home to claim victory, almost a full lap ahead of Hill, while Barichello was denied a brilliant third place late on by a fuel pressure issue, handing the final podium spot to Prost.
Victory for Ayrton Senna saw the Brazilian move to his familiar lead position in the Championship, leaving his home race six clear of former leader Alain Prost. Their closest challenger after the opening two rounds was Damon Hill, with the Brit tied on six points with compatriot Mark Blundell. Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, would round out the top five, with ten drivers on the board after the opening two races.
In the Constructors Championship, meanwhile, it was a tie for the lead, with Williams-Renault and McLaren-Ford Cosworth ending the weekend level on sixteen points. Third, meanwhile, would be occupied by Ligier-Renault, already ten off the lead duo, while Benetton-Ford Cosworth and Lotus-Ford Cosworth completed the top five. Those two were similarly tied on four points apiece, with eight constructors having already scored in 1993.
The full entry list for the 1993 European Grand Prix is outlined below:
The full qualifying results for the 1993 European Grand Prix are outlined below:
|3||5||Michael Schumacher||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:26.264||1:12.008||+1.550s|
|4||8||Ayrton Senna||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:23.976||1:12.107||+1.649s|
|6||7||Michael Andretti||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:26.859||1:12.739||+2.281s|
|10||6||Riccardo Patrese||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:27.273||1:12.982||+2.524s|
|11||12||Johnny Herbert||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:27.173||1:13.328||+2.870s|
|13||11||Alex Zanardi||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:28.782||1:13.560||+3.102s|
|16||23||Christian Fittipaldi||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:28.065||1:13.666||+3.208s|
|20||24||Fabrizio Barbazza||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:27.275||1:14.274||+3.816s|
|25||4||Andrea de Cesaris||Tyrrell-Yamaha||1:29.177||1:15.417||+4.959s|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
|26||Andrea de Cesaris|
- * Lehto would start the race from the pitlane.
The full results for the 1993 European Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Barrichello was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
- First and only World Championship Grand Prix to be staged at Donington Park.
- Michael Schumacher entered his 25th Grand Prix.
- Ayrton Senna claimed his 38th victory.
- McLaren claimed their 101st win as a constructor.
Ayrton Senna would leave Donington Park with a well enhanced Championship lead after the opening three rounds, ending the weekend on 26 points. That meant that the Brazilian was twelve clear of closest challenger and arch-rival Alain Prost, meaning Senna could already afford to miss a race and still retain his lead. Elsewhere, Damon Hill had retained third ahead of Mark Blundell, while Johnny Herbert completed the top five.
In the Constructors Championship it had been another dead-heat between Williams-Renault and McLaren-Ford Cosworth, with the two British squads leaving Donington with 26 points apiece. It was the latter who led the Championship, however, having registered two wins to Williams' one, before a nineteen point gap back to the team in third. That team would be former F1 giants Lotus-Ford Cosworth, who found themselves a point clear of Benetton-Ford Cosworth and Ligier-Renault.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'European GP, 1993', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2019), https://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr535.html, (Accessed 25/07/2019)
- 'Brazil 1993: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1993/bresil/engages.aspx, (Accessed 25/07/2019)
- 'SEGA European Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 1', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1993/races/592/europe/qualifying-1.html, (Accessed 25/07/2019)
- 'SEGA European Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 2', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1993/races/592/europe/qualifying-1.html, (Accessed 25/07/2019)
- 'Europe 1993', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1993/europe/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 25/07/2019)
- 'Europe 1993: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1993/europe/classement.aspx, (Accessed 25/07/2019)
- '1993 European GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1993&gp=European%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 25/07/2019)
- '3. Europe 1993', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1993/europe.aspx, (Accessed 25/07/2019)
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