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Rivals of Adelaide – The Infamous Point Between Schumacher and Hill

Written by Mina Jigau, Edited by Sharifah Zaqreeztrina

Image credits: Julio Pereira/Getty Images

Impressive maneuvers, disarming aggressivity and a winning smile drove Michael Schumacher to such widespread popularity throughout his F1 career. Well-known for his steel ambition and exceptional determination, Schumacher became one of the best drivers motorsport has ever seen. 

But with great fame comes great controversy, which Schumacher was no exception to. Numerous incidents wore his signature, but perhaps one of the better known is the heated championship battle between the German and Williams’ driver Damon Hill in the 1994 season. 

With the sudden passing of racing legend Ayrton Senna, the winning spot was up for grabs once more. Every team turned into hungry wolves, fighting ferociously for the title. The pressure on Williams’ drivers was higher than ever, having to rotate between reserves that would drive alongside Hill, while Schumacher’s career had just begun to gather momentum. 

Damon Hill was 37 points behind Schumacher by July 1994 at the British Grand Prix. It was at that race, that the friendly competitiveness would morph into a fierce rivalry, with Schumacher being forced to retire after ignoring a black flag as he overtook Hill, who ended up winning his home race.

Fast forward to the Belgian Grand Prix, where Schumacher once again warmed the bench for overstepping the new flat-bottom rules, bringing Hill a third victory. The final point separating Hill and Schumacher had been gained by the Williams driver in Japan.

Be it the talent, luck, good strategy, or a powerful car that brought the Brit those victories, they only acted as extra fuel to an already burning fire between the two drivers. 

The last fight in Adelaide, Australia would decide the winner of the 1994 season. All eyes were on the ruthless Michael Schumacher and talented underdog, Damon Hill.

Anticipation and questions would thicken the opposition between the drivers until a highly anticipated finale saw the desperate fight Hill put up to defeat Schumacher. 36 tries, with no successes until Hill managed to lure his opposition with a fake plunge at turn five, opening for the perfect overtake of the Benetton car. 

Image credits: Getty Images

However, Schumacher surprised everyone with a hard right turn, colliding right into the Williams car. The two drivers drove around turn 6 glued to each other, the friction between them intensifying, the answer to who would be defeated in this one last battle becoming clearer with each inhale of burnt tire. Both cars rolled away to a DNF. 

But at one point, snatched from Hill’s grasp by Schumacher’s seemingly spiteful collision, marked the German's first of seven World Champion titles. This victory became shrouded in scrutiny from the motorsport industry and earned Schumacher a very controversial reputation. Many still see his first title as apparently attained at Hill’s expense, and rule it vicious rather than strategic. 

We won’t ever know what the intention behind this infamous maneuver was, but it gave Schumacher the traction he needed to pave his way to earn six more championship titles, solidifying his standings in the F1 realm, while Hill’s glamor began to fade. 

The rivalry earned a place in F1’s bitterest competitions between drivers, with Hill calling Schumacher his ‘arch nemesis’.

Image credits: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

1 comment

1 Comment

Feb 01

Hill was hurt by the 94 outcome, a shame as in Suzuka that year he had been electric !! Unfortunately he carried the exhaustion of 94 which let's not forget thrust Hill into a battle once poor Ayrton had left us. Still, a tough 95 and then Hill came back in 96 exactly as his father Graham would have, twice as determined, focussed and fit. Hill, quiet and considered and British rather than something more exotic, much like Mansell before, was a very underrated Champion. It takes a huge effort to be F1 Champion.... which whilst Hill, Mansell, Rosberg, Jones etc etc are amazing really does go to show that the multi champs, Prost, Senna, Piquet, Lauda, Stewart, Hamilton, Vettel..…

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