1999: MIKA HÄKKINEN

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1999
Driver: Mika Häkkinen (Finland)
Team: McLaren Mercedes
Car: McLaren MP4-14
Results: 5 wins, 10 podiums, 11 poles, 6 fastest laps
Mika Häkkinen’s title defence in 1999 was tougher than the previous year. With the McLaren not as reliable as the previous year, he lost out on a number of points early in the season, but by the time of Schumacher’s leg-breaking crash at Silverstone, he had overtaken the German in the standings. Eddie Irvine now took on the mantle of Ferrari team leader and through reliability problems with the McLaren, and mistakes from Häkkinen, took the title battle down to the last race, again in Japan. Häkkinen had made several major errors at Imola and Monza, both times crashing out whilst in a strong lead, and some questioned whether he could handle the pressure of a title decider once more. In fact, the normally cool and composed Finn was overwhelmed by his error at Monza and broke down crying in front of the cameras after running away from his car to hide during the race. Come Japan however, he was back on top form and romped to a victory that secured him a second world championship, almost an entire lap ahead of title rival Irvine with Schumacher a close second. Ferrari won the constructors’ championship for the first time since 1983.
(Source: Wikipedia)

See another great overtaking manouver by Hakkinen over Schumacher, although it’s from 2000 season …

 

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1998: MIKA HÄKKINEN

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1998
Driver: Mika Häkkinen (Finland)
Team: McLaren Mercedes
Car: McLaren MP4-13
Results: 8 wins, 11 podiums, 9 poles, 6 fastest laps

The season had many rule changes, including the introduction of grooved tyres and making the cars narrower to reduce downforce. After winning the last race of 1997 season, Häkkinen was confident of further success in 1998. With Adrian Newey, the renowned former Williams-Renault designer, now on board at McLaren, Häkkinen found himself in the fastest car for early 1998 season. Häkkinen comfortably won the first two races, with team-mate David Coulthard finishing second in both. With Goodyear making steps forward before Argentina, Michael Schumacher was able to win there and take second at Imola, both slow and twisty circuits. At Spain, however, the fast corners favoured McLaren and again they raced away to another 1-2 finish. A further win for Häkkinen in Monaco gave him a 17 point lead over Coulthard with Schumacher a further 5 points behind.

Schumacher fought back to win the next 3 races, while mistakes and bad luck cost both Häkkinen and Coulthard points. After the British Grand Prix Schumacher had closed the gap to Häkkinen to just 2 points. Wins in Austria and Germany for Häkkinen proved that McLaren still had the strongest car, but a strategic master stroke in Hungary allowed Schumacher to take the win and close the gap to Häkkinen to just 7 points.

The start of the Belgian Grand Prix saw one of the worst accidents in F1, with over half the cars on the grid involved, and four drivers unable to take the restart almost an hour later due to lack of spare cars. An action packed race saw Häkkinen spin out at the restart, whilst Schumacher was leading comfortably before crashing into David Coulthard’s McLaren whilst trying to lap the Scotsman. This led the way for Damon Hill to take Jordan’s first win.

Schumacher bounced back to take a surprise victory at the Italian Grand Prix, and with Häkkinen finishing only fourth after brake problems the championship was level with 2 races to go. This result also brought Ferrari back into the constructors world championship, being just 10 points behind. However, Häkkinen held his nerve, beat Schumacher in a straight fight in Luxembourg and win his 8th Grand Prix of the season in Japan, clinching his first world championship and the constructors championship for McLaren whilst Schumacher stalled on the grid, and later retired with a punctured tyre. Reigning champions Williams had a poor season overall, with only 3 podium finishes.

(Source: Wikipedia)

See the season review

1997: JACQUES VILLENEUVE

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1997
Driver: Jacques Villeneuve (Canada)
Team: Williams Renault
Car: Williams FW19
Results: 7 wins, 8 podiums, 10 poles, 3 fastest laps

Hill was dropped by Williams for 1997, making Villeneuve the team’s lead driver. German Heinz-Harald Frentzen was brought into replace Hill. Villeneuve once again challenged for the title, but instead of Hill, the Canadian found himself battling with then double World Champion Michael Schumacher.

Coulthard took the opening race in Australia but Villeneuve took the next two wins in Brazil and Argentina. Five more victories came that season at the Spanish, British, Hungarian, Austrian and Luxembourg Grand Prix. Villeneuve also claimed ten pole positions. His main rival Schumacher had five wins of his own to set up a showdown at the final race of the season.

The title was decided at the final round in Jerez. Villeneuve came out on top and won the World Championship in only his second season, but the race was remembered for a collision between himself and title rival Schumacher. Similar to Adelaide 1994, Schumacher was leading the championship before the last race and he was also leading the race. Villeneuve catched him and as he passed Schumacher at the Dry–Sac corner during the 48th lap, the German turned into the Canadian’s car; leaving Villeneuve with a damaged sidepod. Villeneuve recovered however and took third place and the title while Schumacher retired and was disqualified from the Championship.

At Jerez, the qualifying session was noteworthy, as three drivers, Villeneuve, Schumacher, and Frentzen, all registered the same fastest qualifying time; Villeneuve was awarded pole position since he had set the time first.

(Source: Wikipedia)

See the title deciding collision between Schumacher and Villeneuve

And here’s a great season review

1996: DAMON HILL

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1996
Driver: Damon Hill (Great Britain)
Team: Williams Renault
Car: Williams FW18
Results: 8 wins, 10 podiums, 9 poles, 5 fastest laps

In 1996, Schumacher joined Ferrari for a salary of $50 million over 2 years, a team which had last won the Drivers’ Championship with Jody Scheckter in 1979 and which had not won the Constructors’ Cup since 1983 with drivers René Arnoux and Patrick Tambay at the wheel. He left Benetton a year before his contract with them expired; he later cited the team’s damaging actions in 1994 as his reason for opting out of his deal.A year later, ex-Benetton employees Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn, who had been Technical Director at Benetton since 1991,and who was one of the key members behind Schumacher’s title successes with the team in 1994 and 1995, decided to join Schumacher at Ferrari. This increased Schumacher’s motivation to build a more experienced and potentially championship-winning team around him.

Damon Hill took his World Championship two years after being pipped by a point by Michael Schumacher, making him the only son of a World Champion to win the title himself. Hill who had finished runner-up for the past couple of seasons was not seriously threatened this year, though near the end, teammate and newcomer Jacques Villeneuve (another son of a great F1 driver) mounted a title challenge going into the final race of the season. Williams easily locked up the constructors title as well, as there was no other team strong enough to post a consistent challenge throughout the schedule. This was also the beginning of the end of Williams’ 1990s dominance, as it was announced that Hill and designer Adrian Newey would depart at the conclusion of the season, with engine manufacturer Renault also leaving after 1997.

Despite numerous reliability problems, Ferrari had gradually developed into a front-running team by the end of the season with Schumacher winning three races, more than the team’s total tally for the period from 1991 to 1995. Defending champion Benetton began their decline towards the middle of the grid, having lost key personnel due to Schumacher’s departure, and failed to win a race.

(Source: Wikipedia)

See Hill’s last lap at Williams, finally becoming a champion

See season highlights

1995: MICHAEL SCHUMACHER

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1995
Driver: Michael Schumacher (Germany)
Team: Benetton Renault
Car: Benetton B195
Results: 9 wins, 11 podiums, 4 poles, 8 fastest laps

The Formula One regulations changed prior to the 1995 season. The most significant change was the to the engine capacity. This was reduced from 3.5 Litres to 3.0 Litres, in order to reduce speeds.All of the cars were fitted with cockpit side protection, and the cockpit opening was made larger than the 1994-spec cars. The front and rear wings were modified to reduce downforce, thereby reducing cornering speeds.

The season was highlighted by the rivalry between Schumacher and Hill, with Schumacher winning nine races and Hill winning four races. Benetton and Williams drivers dominated the field, victorious in all but one race.  Hill and Schumacher were involved in some very close battles at numerous races, including at the 1995 Belgian Grand Prix, where the two championship contenders fought wheel-to-wheel for extended periods. Damon Hill received criticism during 1995, after several incidents that were attributed to driving errors. The 1995 British Grand Prix was overshadowed by a controversial collision between Hill and Schumacher, and Hill was widely blamed for the accident.Hill also suffered with mechanical problems in his Williams-Renault.

For the second year in succession, the Drivers’ Championship was won by Michael Schumacher, the Benetton driver defeating Damon Hill of Williams by 33 points. Benetton-Renault won the Constructors’ Championship, defeatingWilliams-Renault by 29 points.

The season also saw several dramatic incidents, including seven Grands Prix affected by rain and 4 Grands Prix were red-flagged on the first lap of the race.

(Source: Wikipedia)

See Schumacher vs. Hill wheel-to-wheel at rainy Spa Francorchamps

1994: MICHAEL SCHUMACHER

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1994
Driver: Michael Schumacher (Germany)
Team: Benetton Ford
Car: Benetton B194
Results: 8 wins, 10 podiums, 6 poles, 8 fastest laps

The big news in the paddock after the 1993 season was the retirement of defending World Champion Alain Prost after winning his fourth title, and his replacement at Williams by long-term rival Ayrton Senna. It was commonly thought that Senna’s move to Williams was a factor behind Prost’s retirement.

In order to combat the spiralling costs of running a Formula One team, and to counteract criticism that over-reliance on technology was reducing the drivers to a secondary role, sweeping rule changes were introduced for 1994, most notably banning of all electronic “driver aids” such as active suspension, anti-lock brakes, traction control and launch control.

The season is remembered as one of the most tragic and controversial seasons in the 1990s, if not in the sport’s history. 1994 was one of the closest championships in history as Michael Schumacher won the Drivers’ title by a single point from Damon Hill after the two controversially collided at the final round in Adelaide. British constructor Williams-Renault won the Constructors’ Championship. However, the 1994 season will also be remembered for the deaths of three-time World Champion Ayrton Senna and the Austrian Roland Ratzenberger at the San Marino Grand Prix.

On 1 May, F1 lost arguably its best driver ever. Senna took pole at Imola after Roland Ratzenberger got killed in qualifying. At the start of the race, Lehto’s Benetton B194 stalled and was hit by Pedro Lamy’s Lotus. Debris from the crash, including Lamy’s right front tyre, flew into the grandstand and injured four spectators and a policeman. Lamy was unhurt but Lehto received a light arm injury. The Safety Car was called out. The race restarted at the end of lap 5. And Senna tried immediately to pull away from Schumacher. At the start of the 7th lap, Senna lost control, for reasons that are still the subject of controversy, and his car went straight on at Tamburello into an unprotected concrete wall at 131 mph (210 km/h). The suspension of the Williams broke on impact, flying backwards and hitting Senna on the head, piercing his helmet and fracturing his skull. The car slid to a halt on the circuit, with Senna motionless. From the helicopter pictures, a slight movement of Senna’s head gave a hint of hope. Doctor Sid Watkins was on the scene in less than two minutes. Senna was airlifted to hospital but nothing could be done and Senna was pronounced dead later that evening. After the race, a poignant detail was revealed when an Austrian flag was found in Senna’s car; he had planned to dedicate the win to Ratzenberger had he won the race. Schumacher went on to win his 3rd race in a row.

After Senna’s death Damon Hill found himself team leader. Hill came back into contention for the title after winning the British Grand Prix, a race which his father had never won. Schumacher was disqualified from that race and banned for two further races for overtaking Hill during the formation lap and ignoring the subsequent black flag. Four more victories for Hill, three of which were in races where Schumacher was excluded or disqualified, took the title battle to the final event at Adelaide, with Schumacher’s 1 point lead over Hill.

Neither Hill nor Schumacher finished the season-closing Australian Grand Prix, after a controversial collision which gave the title to Schumacher. Schumacher ran off the track hitting the wall with the right-hand side of his Benetton while leading. Coming into the sixth corner Hill moved to pass the Benetton and the two collided, breaking the Williams’ front left suspension wishbone, and forcing both drivers’ retirement from the race. BBC Formula One commentator Murray Walker, a great fan and friend of Hill, has often maintained that Schumacher did not cause the crash intentionally. WilliamsF1 co-owner Patrick Head feels differently; in 2006 he said that at the time of the incident “Williams were already 100% certain that Michael was guilty of foul play”, but did not protest Schumacher’s title because the team was still dealing with the death of Ayrton Senna. In 2007, Hill explicitly accused Schumacher of causing the collision deliberately. Williams took the constructors’ title.

(Source: Wikipedia)

See the Senna’s fatal crash

See the final race crash between Schumacher and Hill

 

1993: ALAIN PROST

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1993
Driver: Alain Prost (France)
Team: Williams Renault
Car: Williams FW15C
Results: 7 wins, 12 podiums, 13 poles, 6 fastest laps

1993 saw a major shake-up of drivers, especially among the top teams. Across the grid a number of experienced drivers retired or moved to other series and new faces emerged. After hearing that Prost would be his teammate again in 1993, Mansell left Williams to race in the CART series. The Frenchman had a clause in his contract which prevented rival Ayrton Senna from joining the team that year. Prost was part of a new-look driver line-up at Williams, with test driver Damon Hill, son of Graham Hill, coming in to replace Riccardo Patrese. Uncertainty also surrounded the McLaren team, whose iconic driver Ayrton Senna was reluctant to re-sign for 1993 as the team had lost their Honda engines and were not expected to be competitive with their customer Ford engines. McLaren signed Michael Andretti, a successful IndyCar driver, and Mika Häkkinen who had impressed for Lotus in 1991-92. Senna eventually signed on a race-by-race basis for the team and was partnered by Andretti for most of the season.

Prost won his fourth, and final, title, but in a year where he was regularly challenged by teammate Hill, and Ayrton Senna driving an inferior McLaren. Shortly before the Portuguese Grand Prix in October 1993, Prost announced he would not defend his world title, as the clause in the Frenchman’s contract did not extend to 1994 and Senna would be able to join Williams for the upcoming season, and instead opted to retire as the driver with the record for most grand prix victories — a record which stood for almost a decade. On the podium in Adelaide in 1993, Prost’s last race, he and Senna embraced, and it was as if — now that Prost was no longer a rival — Senna saw no reason for any more hostility. Prost was surprised by the gesture. It was the end of historic Prost vs. Senna era.