1995 Brazilian Grand Prix
The 1995 Brazilian Grand Prix (formally the XXIV Grande Prêmio do Brasil) was a Formula One motor race held on 26 March 1995 at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, São Paulo, Brazil. It was the first round of the 1995 Formula One season. The 71-lap race was won by
Michael Schumacher for the Benetton team after starting from second position. David Coulthard finished second in a Williams, with Gerhard Berger third in a Ferrari. Damon Hill, who started the race from pole position, spun out while leading on lap 30 with an apparent gearbox problem, which was later found to be a suspension failure. Schumacher's win came despite Benetton encountering steering problems with his car during Friday practice, leading to him crashing heavily and necessitating steering component changes for the rest of the event. Despite Schumacher's victory, Hill proved to be faster during the race, and seemed to be on course for a comfortable victory before his sudden retirement.
Other notable performances came from Berger, who took the final podium position despite being delayed during one of his routine pit stops due to a problem with a loose wheel nut;
Mika Häkkinen, who finished fourth for the McLaren team despite its new car proving to be uncompetitive in pre-season testing; and Mika Salo, who drove strongly in the first half of the race to run third in his first Grand Prix for the Tyrrell team, only to suffer from a cramp and drop back to seventh place at the finish. Behind Häkkinen, the other points-scoring finishers were Jean Alesi in the second Ferrari and Mark Blundell, who drove the second McLaren. Blundell was standing in for regular driver Nigel Mansell in the second McLaren until the team could produce a wider chassis in which to accommodate him, as the car's initial cockpit design had proved to be too narrow for him to drive comfortably.
Several hours after the conclusion of the race, Schumacher and Coulthard were excluded from the race result as the chemical "fingerprint" of fuel samples from their cars taken after qualifying and the race did not match the specified sample lodged with the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) prior to the event. Berger was thus declared the winner, but the race stewards' decision to exclude them was overturned at an appeal hearing on April 13. Schumacher and Coulthard were reinstated in first and second places respectively, but the two teams did not receive their respective constructors' points. The Ferrari team was unhappy with the decision made at the appeal hearing; Berger called the sport "a joke". The rule concerning the legality of fuels had been changed for the 1995 season, as had the new standardised equipment used for refuelling during the race, the drivers' weighing-in procedure and the conditions of the drivers' racing licences; all of these changes produced controversies which at times threatened to overshadow the race, as did the excessively bumpy condition of the track. The race also marked the first Brazilian Grand Prix to take place since the death of Brazilian triple World Champion Ayrton Senna the previous year; his passing was commemorated in various ways throughout the event.