Schumacher 1994

2019 is a special Formula 1 season. We just celebrated the 1000th Grand Prix and we remembered Ayrton Senna 25 years after his tragic death during “The Black Weekend.” To this occasion, ABMS and F1 Insider have collected the F1 stars’ favorite races in history. Read which Grand Prix, for example, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are particularly fond of remembering and what Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna have to do with it …

“It was my first victory with Jordan. Gary Anderson’s car was perhaps the best Jordan ever built. I was fifth in qualifying. It rained on Sunday. We knew we would have only one chance to finish on the podium if changed tires only once, unlike all the others. In lap 22, I changed tires for the first and last time. I drove like on raw eggs to spare my tires. At the same time, fast enough not to lose too much time. In the end, I won with 11 seconds ahead of Mika Häkkinen in his McLaren-Mercedes.”

“It was my first Formula 1 season at Williams after winning the Indycar Series a year before. My experience with oval races was to my advantage in Estoril, because the final super fast curve was a bit inclined. I set up my Williams as if I was driving an oval. It worked well for me and in the race, I caught up with race leader Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari. I told my crew that I wanted to overtake him at the finish line outside. The answer came promptly back: “Impossible. We’ll send an ambulance to the place where you will most likely crash into the barriers.” I did it anyway and it worked. Michael wasn’t thrilled. He later accused me of being completely insane. I just thought it was awesome.”

ROSS BRAWN: Magny Cours 2004
Michael won with four stops. That was a novelty. We decided that after the second stop. I said to Michael: Let’s try it because we couldn’t lose anything. That’s one thing that will go down in F1 history, that you can win a race with four stops. I think we were the first to do that and on purpose. It was amazing and wonderful at the same time. To be honest, we were so superior thanks to Michael at the time that we had to create new points of excitement and challenges in order to continue to work at the highest level.

The idea came to me at the beginning of the race. In qualifying, Michael had to drive every lap at the limit. I knew he could do it. He was immediately up for it. In the end, Fernando Alonso had no chance against Michael in his Renault. It was really impressive what Michael did that day. “

DAMON HILL: Suzuka 1994
“It rained horribly in Suzuka. The race was briefly stopped and restarted. That’s why the time was split. In other words, the time recorded until the stop was later added back to the restart. Hence, we had a ghost race. Michael fueled one more time and I still was 8 seconds ahead of him. I drove like the devil to keep the distance. In the end, I won with a 3.3 seconds lead. My team was speechless as well. Because Michael was known to be unbeatable in rain.”

JACKY ICKX: Hockenheim 1970
“After the boycott of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, we drove for the first time in Hockenheim. Hockenheim had implemented two chicanes in the middle of the straights – thus shortening two long straights into four shorter parts, which meant less speed and risk. On race day Hockenheim was completely sold out. 140,000 spectators gathered around the course. Jochen Rindt in his Lotus 72 and me in my Ferrari quickly led the field. For many laps, we used each other’s slipstream before the entrance to the Motodrom. Thus the leader changed 13 times, the fans roared for joy. Unfortunately, Jochen was in the lead for the last lap and he won with 0.7 seconds ahead of me. Although I didn’t win, I will always remember this race. Also because of Jochen Rindt.

“It was my first time as a spectator at Formula 1. Shortly after the start, it already crashed terribly. Eleven cars had wedged into each other in the pouring rain near the Eau Rouge. Wheels flew through the air, debris everywhere. It rained again during the restart. Later that race, Michael Schumacher collided with David Coulthard. So a lot happened that day. After the race, I made up my mind: I really wanted to become a Formula 1 driver.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER: Silverstone 1986
“I was twelve, drove kart races and was an absolute Formula 1 fan. It was the era of Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet and their fierce fighting as teammates at Williams. Mansell was my hero. Through a fence, I saw Mansell overtake Piquet just before the end of the race. At 300 km/h, they came so close that the sparks were flying. I was breathless and happy about Mansell’s victory. “

“I have to mention two races. First, Brazil in 2008. I watched on TV in pure disbelief how Felipe Massa lost his certain championship title to Lewis Hamilton just 600 meters before the start and finish line. I found that incredible after such a long season. Spontaneously, I remember Melbourne 2002. I was still a little rascal then but I was already a big fan of my countryman Mark Webber. I was overjoyed when he finished fifth in his first F1 race with the Minardi. And one more race! My own victory in Hungary in 2014 remains strongly in my memory. It was hot, there were many safety car phases and you always had to make the right decisions in a spur of a moment. In the end, I succeeded. “

SEBASTIAN VETTEL: Hockenheim 1995
“My dad watched all Formula 1 races back then, even those that were broadcasted late in the night. I got up with him and we watched every race together. In Hockenheim 1995, I was there on the stand. Michael drove his Benetton and everywhere there were German flags and chants. The Motodrom was like a football stadium. When he won, the crowds went wild. After that, I decided to do karting professionally.”

JEAN TODT: Japan 2000
“The first title win for Michael at Ferrari is my personal favorite. It was October, 8th in Suzuka. At that time, I was in my seventh year with Ferrari and we finally got the title. I remember well, how whispered in Michael’s ear on the way to the podium: From now on, nothing be the same! And that’s exactly how it happened.”

LEWIS HAMILTON: Donington 1993
“It’s no secret that I was and still am inspired by Ayrton Senna. The first thing I often did when I came home from school was to a video of Ayrton. And whoever wants to know how big Ayrton really was, just has to watch his victory in his inferior McLaren in Donington in pouring rain. Especially his first lap was probably the most amazing thing a racer has ever accomplished.”

MAX VERSTAPPEN: Spanien 2016
“The first victory – I will always cherish this memory. It was the first race with Red Bull after I just switched from Toro Rosso. Everything was hectic and went so fast. I had to get into the simulator, prepare my seat, learn the new steering wheel and at the same time get to know all the new people I would be working with. That I would be winning this race was both incredible and overwhelming.”

*This article was first published in German at

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