How to finish second after running back to the pits

Charles Bradley

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2 Motorsport Images

Motorsport Images

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2 spins

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2 spins Sutton Images

Sutton Images

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2 Sutton Images

Sutton Images

Michael Schumacher, Benetton B195 Renault, leads David Coulthard, Williams FW17 Renault

Michael Schumacher, Benetton B195 Renault, leads David Coulthard, Williams FW17 Renault Motorsport Images

Motorsport Images

Damon Hill, Williams FW17 Renault

Damon Hill, Williams FW17 Renault Motorsport Images

Motorsport Images

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2 Motorsport Images

Motorsport Images

Michael Schumacher, Benetton B195 Renault

Michael Schumacher, Benetton B195 Renault Motorsport Images

Motorsport Images

Michael Schumacher, Benetton B195 Renault, leads Damon Hill, Williams FW17 Renault

Michael Schumacher, Benetton B195 Renault, leads Damon Hill, Williams FW17 Renault Motorsport Images

Motorsport Images

Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber C14 Ford

Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber C14 Ford Motorsport Images

Motorsport Images

Race winner Damon Hill, Williams celebrates on the podium

Race winner Damon Hill, Williams celebrates on the podium Motorsport Images

Motorsport Images

Having qualified only sixth, Ferrari’s Jean Alesi didn’t much look like a contender for victory when he made an awful getaway and made matters worse by spinning at Turn 1, narrowly missing his teammate Gerhard Berger but succeeding in causing a chain-reaction crash behind him – Tyrrell’s Mika Salo being rear-ended by a flying Luca Badoer (Minardi). Ligier’s Olivier Panis went off on the outside of the corner, after contact with Pierluigi Martini’s Minardi.

More chaos ensued further around the lap, with Johnny Herbert’s Benetton clashing with Rubens Barrichello, who was in turn collected by the luckless Badoer.

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2 Sutton Images

Sutton Images

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2 Motorsport Images

Motorsport Images

With cars littering the track, Alesi – whose Ferrari was stranded on the apex kerb – suddenly realized the race was being red flagged and ran back to the pits. Barrichello did likewise, having the sense to grab the seat from his stricken car before sprinting away.

Alesi explained: “I had wheelspin at the start and found myself on the inside line at the first corner, where the track was very dirty and treacherous. When I braked the car went sideways and the engine cutout.

“I was really desperate and when I saw the red flag I thought it was a gift from God.”

Michael Schumacher, Benetton B195 Renault, leads David Coulthard, Williams FW17 Renault

Michael Schumacher, Benetton B195 Renault, leads David Coulthard, Williams FW17 Renault Motorsport Images

Motorsport Images

Jean Alesi, Michael Schumacher, and Johnny Herbert

Jean Alesi, Michael Schumacher, and Johnny Herbert Ercole Colombo

Ercole Colombo

At the restart, first-time pole sitter David Coulthard led for Williams until his throttle failed on lap six, which allowed Benetton’s Michael Schumacher and Williams teammate Damon Hill ahead. Coulthard repassed Schumacher, but his throttle failed again, this time terminally.

Hill got the better of a fierce battle with Schumacher, and pulled away out front until making his pitstop. Alesi ran long in his first stint, leading for a few laps until making his stop. He rejoined in second, ahead of Schumacher but well behind Hill.

Alesi spent the remainder of the race chasing hard, but Hill stayed ahead to win by 6.4s.

Damon Hill, Williams FW17

Damon Hill, Williams FW17 Sutton Images

Sutton Images

Race winner Damon Hill, Williams celebrates on the podium

Race winner Damon Hill, Williams celebrates on the podium Motorsport Images

Motorsport Images

“I haven’t enjoyed driving a car through a grand prix as much as that before,” said Hill about his 10th F1 victory. “I had a good race with Michael, he was very difficult to pass here, but I managed to get a tow into the first corner and then with a clear bit of track I got away.

“The worry for the rest of the race was always Jean. I am delighted to have got into double figures with grand prix wins now.”

Schumacher was a distant third, and the only other unlapped runner, while Herbert took fourth in the second Benetton. Heinz-Harald Frentzen finished fifth for Sauber, ahead of Berger. Only nine cars finished the race, with Domenico Schiattarella equaling Simtek’s best-ever finish in last.

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2

Jean Alesi, Ferrari 412T2 Motorsport Images

Motorsport Images