The 1996 European Grand Prix, otherwise known as the XLI Großer Preis von Europa, was the fourth round of the 1996 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Nürburgring near Nürburg, Germany, on the 28 April 1996. The race would see Jacques Villeneuve sweep to his first Grand Prix victory in only his fourth race, almost fifteen years after his father Gilles Villeneuve's final win in 1981.
The weekend would begin in a similar fashion to the previous rounds in 1996, with Damon Hill sweeping to pole position, three quarters of a second clear of Williams-Renault teammate Villeneuve. Michael Schumacher was best of the rest in third for Ferrari, with Jean Alesi completing the top four for Benetton-Renault.
Raceday dawned cold and misty, although the worst of the mist would burn off before the start despite the skies remaining rather dull. Fortunately the start would be anything but dull, with Hill, Schumacher and Alesi making poor getaways.
That allowed Villeneuve to take the lead off the grid, although it was David Coulthard who stole the show, streaking from sixth to second in the McLaren-Mercedes. Another man to make an impressive start was Rubens Barrichello, streaking up to third, while Schumacher scrambled ahead of Hill to secure fourth.
With Coulthard behind him Villeneuve was able to escape up the road, for the McLaren, while fast on the straight, was not able to match the Williams in the corners. However, it also made the Scot hard to pass, with Barrichello, Schumacher and Hill unable to get past.
Indeed, Schumacher was so focused on passing Barrichello's Jordan-Peugeot that he almost forgot the presence of Hill, and hence slipped wide after a lunge around the outside of the McLaren and let Hill slip through to fourth. Hill then tried in vain to find a way past the Brazilian, before the #5 Williams began to drop back from the Jordan shortly before the stops.
Hill duly made an early stop for a quick check on his car, resulting in both Patrick Head and Adrian Newey sliding under the car in the pitlane for a look. They could not see anything and so Hill was released, albeit having lost twelve seconds to the Coulthard company.
Indeed, there would be some other major shuffles, with Schumacher leaping into second after a stunning stop from Ferrari, while Barrichello slipped back towards Mika Häkkinen after a slow stop. Villeneuve, meanwhile, would look imperious out front, although after the stops it was Schumacher who dictated the pace.
Schumacher duly caught the back of the Canadian with fifteen laps to go, and steadily wound up the pressure in a bid to claim the lead. As their fight played out Hill would lose more time with a trip through the gravel, having aborted an attempt to pass Pedro Diniz, and hence had to work his way back up the order from tenth.
Out front, meanwhile, Villeneuve would resist Schumacher through to the chequered flag, securing a memorable maiden victory on the German's home soil. Coulthard, meanwhile, would have to work hard in the closing stages to keep Hill at bay to complete the podium, with Rubens Barrichello having also joined their fight. Less than a second covered the trio as they crossed the finish line.
Victory for Damon Hill saw the British racer continue his dominant start to the season, leaving Argentina with a maximum score of 30 points. Jacques Villeneuve remained the closest thing to a challenger to the Brit, albeit already eighteen points behind after three races. Jean Alesi, meanwhile, would end the weekend in third ahead of Eddie Irvine, with Mika Häkkinen completing the top five.
In the Constructors Championship it was Williams-Renault who had once again proved to be the class of the field, leaving Argentina with 42 points to their name. Benetton-Renault were now their closest challengers, 29 points behind, with Ferrari three points further back in third. McLaren-Mercedes were next ahead of Jordan-Peugeot, with eight constructors on the board after three rounds.
The full entry list for the 1996 European Grand Prix is outlined below:
The full qualifying results for the 1996 European Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||5||Damon Hill||Williams-Renault||1:18.941||—||207.770 km/h|
|2||6||Jacques Villeneuve||Williams-Renault||1:19.721||+0.780s||205.738 km/h|
|3||1||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1:20.149||+1.208s||204.639 km/h|
|4||3||Jean Alesi||Benetton-Renault||1:20.711||+1.770s||203.214 km/h|
|5||11||Rubens Barrichello||Jordan-Peugeot||1:20.818||+1.877s||202.945 km/h|
|6||8||David Coulthard||McLaren-Mercedes||1:20.888||+1.947s||202.769 km/h|
|7||2||Eddie Irvine||Ferrari||1:20.931||+1.990s||202.662 km/h|
|8||4||Gerhard Berger||Benetton-Renault||1:21.054||+2.113s||202.354 km/h|
|9||7||Mika Häkkinen||McLaren-Mercedes||1:21.078||+2.137s||202.294 km/h|
|10||15||Heinz-Harald Frentzen||Sauber-Ford Cosworth||1:21.113||+2.172s||202.207 km/h|
|11||12||Martin Brundle||Jordan-Peugeot||1:21.177||+2.236s||202.047 km/h|
|12||14||Johnny Herbert||Sauber-Ford Cosworth||1:21.210||+2.269s||201.965 km/h|
|13||17||Jos Verstappen||Footwork-Hart||1:21.367||+2.426s||201.576 km/h|
|14||19||Mika Salo||Tyrrell-Yamaha||1:21.458||+2.517s||201.350 km/h|
|15||9||Olivier Panis||Ligier-Mugen-Honda||1:21.509||+2.568s||201.224 km/h|
|16||18||Ukyo Katayama||Tyrrell-Yamaha||1:21.812||+2.871s||200.479 km/h|
|17||10||Pedro Diniz||Ligier-Mugen-Honda||1:22.733||+3.792s||198.247 km/h|
|18||21||Giancarlo Fisichella||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:22.921||+3.980s||197.798 km/h|
|19||20||Pedro Lamy||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:23.139||+4.198s||197.279 km/h|
|20||16||Ricardo Rosset||Footwork-Hart||1:23.620||+4.679s||196.144 km/h|
|107% Time: 1:24.467|
|NC||23||Andrea Montermini||Forti-Ford Cosworth||1:25.053||+6.112s||192.840 km/h|
|NC||22||Luca Badoer||Forti-Ford Cosworth||1:25.840||+6.899s||191.072 km/h|
- 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.
The full results for the 1996 European Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Salo was disqualified from the results of the race after his car was found to be underweight.
- † Katayama was disqualified from the results of the race after receiving a push-start.
- Twentieth Grand Prix entry for Pedro Lamy.
- Maiden victory for Jacques Villeneuve.
- Williams registered their 87th victory as a constructor.
- Michael Schumacher claimed his 40th podium finish.
- Tenth podium finish for David Coulthard.
Damon Hill left the Nürburgring with his Championship lead largely intact, although Jacques Villeneuve had cut the gap down to eleven points. Indeed, it seemed as if the Canadian racer would be the only real challenger to the Brit with a quarter of the season down, with third placed Jean Alesi now 23 points back. The Frenchman was not alone in third, however, with Michael Schumacher level with Alesi on ten points, and with an identical race record.
In the Constructors Championship, meanwhile, it looked to be Williams-Renault's Championship to lose, leaving the European Grand Prix with 55 points to their name. That translated into a crushing 39 point lead over Ferrari in second, meaning the Anglo-French squad could afford to miss two rounds and still hold a fair lead. Ferrari themselves, meanwhile, had moved ahead of Benetton-Renault, while McLaren-Mercedes and Jordan-Peugeot retained their places in the top five.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'European GP, 1996', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), https://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr585.html, (Accessed 13/08/2019)
- 'Europe 1996: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1996/europe/engages.aspx, (Accessed 13/08/2019)
- 'Europe 1996: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1996/europe/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 13/08/2019)
- 'Grand Prix of Europe - QUALIFYING', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1996/races/641/europe/qualifying-0.html, (Accessed 13/08/2019)
- 'Europe 1996: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1996/europe/classement.aspx, (Accessed 13/08/2019)
- '1996 European GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1996&gp=European%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 13/08/2019)
- '4. Europe 1996', statsf1.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1996/europe.aspx, (Accessed 13/08/2019)
|V T E||European Grand Prix|
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