Australian Grand Prix in 1994 was the last race of the championship in which Michael Schumacher won his first world title by only one point after a controversial collision with Damon Hill.
It was first title-deciding final race after eight years and the final two races were held within a week of each other.
Damon Hill, after winning the previous race in Japan, arrived in Australia just one point behind the leader Michael Schumacher. Nigel Mansell, who was back in Formula 1 after Senna’s death in Imola, was on pole position, but after a poor start he dropped behind Hill and Schumacher.
Schumacher went off the track in lap 36 and enabled Hill to catch up on him.
“I got caught out on a bump when the car stepped out and went sideways, but I caught it,” explained Schumacher.
“Then I had to go on the white line and I had to use the run-off area. I went over the grass, touched the wall, but continued.”
Hill didn’t know Schumacher damaged his Benetton: “I didn’t see him hit the wall,” he said. “I saw him coming back across the grass, and onto the track. I thought ‘hello, you’ve slipped up there’, but of course I thought his car was OK.”
Hill commited his Williams to the inside of the next corner, Schumacher turned sharply and contact was inevitable – Benetton B194 seemed it would flip over, but it came down on all four wheels before crashing into the barriers.
Both drivers retired and Michael Schumacher won his first drivers’ championship by only one point.
“I was waiting and looking for Nigel passing the first time, the second time, the third time without seeing Damon. Then my first hopes came up that it’s still going to happen. And then I heard it over the speaker. A tremendous feeling,” said Schumacher after the race.
Hill’s team-mate at Williams, 41-year-old Nigel Mansell, won the race and became the oldest winner in Formula 1 since Jack Brabham in 1970.
Mansell was instructed to have a bad start
Nigel Mansell won the pole position by 0.018 seconds ahead of Schumacher in the Benetton and 0.651 seconds ahead of team-mate Hill, but he was told to have a bad start and doesn’t mess up with the championship contenders.
“On the eve of the race some powerfull people were telling me all kinds of things, ‘you will not be part of this race, don’t make a good start, just watch the race, do not mess up with them …’. So I deliberately made a bad start and just waited and watched.”
“It was interesting and frustrating to see how it went in front of me. I yelled to Damon in my helmet, ‘do not let him outsmart you, don’t!’. In fact he had a really good car and I knew how much my car was faster, but I stayed behind.”
“Of course, the inevitable happened. It is best to say – ‘no comment’.”
1994 AUSTRALIAN GP