Winners & Losers from Argentina   HomeContentsHelp




Argentine Grand Prix

Winners and Losers


Olivier Panis: Hung on to the coat-tails of a Williams-Renault with a huge fuel load in a car that just isn’t quite what Mr Villeneuve has at his disposal is a remarkable achievement. From a fantastic grid position (anyone remember a Ligier being up that far before?) he stormed through the first corner and gave the hapless H-H Frentzen a good scare before the untimely demise of a brilliant first lap scuffle between the three of them. Unfortunately, for all concerned, not least Alain Prost and Bridgestone, the Mugen-Honda had an uncharacteristic failure.


Rubens Barrichello: After being clobbered by a double world champion, it usually is best to get out and apologise for being in his way. Not Rubens. He nipped around to the pits and had a new nose slapped on, rejoined the race, and did a great impression of a scythe. He rattled many a cage as he slashed his way forward and put up a respectable fight before the now traditional Stewart failure. Both he and Magnussen put on a great show and had there been a decent director on the scene, we would have seen the tartan cars. It now seems de rigeur that host South American networks treat us to fantastic shots of gravel traps and empty track (see Losers).


Jan Magnussen: For having the patience to swap cars with Barrichello throughout qualifying as two out of their three cars were stricken with problems. Lucky one isn’t three feet taller than the other. Magnussen had a reasonable race, let down by the crap Ford engines.


Jacques Villeneuve: Marvellous. He had the squitters all weekend but still managed, after yet another disastrous Williams strategy decision (tyre option and three stops), to hang on. He would have been feeling like yesterday’s seafood and probably cursing that bump on turn 15 (or 14…wherever) which threatened to unseat whatever extra baggage he was carrying within. It does help that Adrian Newey made all the right decisions about the car this time last year. He held off a firework-like performance from Olivier Panis in the early stages and Eddie Irvine in the closing. He made it through the first turn unscathed (there’s something new) and created opportunities to warm-up their tyres with some canny work behind the pace car. This, however, does not mean I like him.


Mika Hakkinen: Coming from sixteenth to fifth on what had been a very difficult weekend for him. Eddie Irvine: for giving us a race, sticking it up the rabid Italian press and also managing to stay clear of the mess at the first turn.


Damon Hill: For being eternally cheery in the face Alesi-adversity. For being undeniably amusing whilst talking to the BBC saying "it was all very exciting" about three times in the interview. He’s making huge progress with that awful car and Mr Diniz deserves a hand too. Both made absolutely massive starts, Hill from thirteenth to seventh and Diniz from dead last to somewhere in the low-teens. Maybe the Yamaha has some decent low-down torque?


Michael Schumacher: Look at the money this guy gets paid. How could he be a loser? Apart from the fact he drove into Rubens Barrichello. Barrichello is but a minion.




Heinz-Harald Frentzen: (sigh) Here we are again. Through no fault of his own (at this stage, anyway) the car sputtered to a halt and he was forced to watch his team mate walk home with ten points. (sigh)


Heinz-Harald Frentzen: For allowing the revelation that he was short-shifting 3000 rpm from the redline in Brazil to avoid a retirement to get out. What is he on? All these people who were saying Frentzen is a born racer have been very quiet so far this year. (bigger sigh)


Williams: For hiring Frentzen. Stupid, stupid, stupid….


Yamaha: Two engines going in one race. Clever. I hear Tom has been chatting to Mugen-Honda. Apparently he’s after an engine that can finish a race. This is all speculation, you understand. The very thought that he would want to finish a race may seem laughable to some, but apparently this is one of his goals. Go figure. Maybe Yamaha are in competition with the works Ford for ‘highest number of detonations in a year.’ Or maybe ‘least powerful works engine deal.’


Jean Alesi: A regular visitor to the Losers section, he’s managed it again. Driving into Damon Hill was probably the most outstanding of his other, admittedly smaller blunders, particularly when he actually had Hill and Damon had just about conceded when the stupidest of the stupid drove straight into him. "Crazy" Alesi (I won’t use that nickname again) seems not so much a loose cannon, as a rampant US Marine Corps with an order to use deadly force at will. Alesi’s colossal stupidity seems to have rubbed off on Gerhard Berger over the seasons as he gets sillier and sillier as well. He waited until the dying laps before putting his foot down, setting and re-setting the lap record. Very clever. Flavio must be trying to re-write the performance-based contract with Mild Seven as we speak.


Benetton: For keeping both of the Terrible Two for a second season when there was a realistic chance of a decent driver joining them, in Giancarlo Fisichella. Dumping Alesi, even with a contract payout must surely be the most sensible move as he probably averages at least $100,000 damage per race, if not more. A more stable driver would bring in points and income from both race winnings and the sponsor. Gerhard should just be put out to pasture to play with his daughters.


Ralf Schumacher: What a clever piece of PR work. A team that desperately needs the points in order to keep the Peugeot were running two-three, looking great. Well, obviously Schumacher junior felt he ought to be in front so he took an excursion over the kerbs and clobbered poor old Giancarlo rather hard. Young Ralf seems to have the same attitude his brother had in ‘94 and ’95 – if you can’t pass ‘em, hit ‘em.


The Idiot in the pace car: This was one of the highlights of the race – listening to Martin and Murray give the pace car driver a good whacking. He was a ‘clown’ as Martin so gently put it. He should have been going ballistic and sticking the thing onto two wheels at every corner. Imola ’94 demonstrated the need for some talent in the pace car and it was only Jacques Villeneuve’s push-pull technique that kept any semblance of heat in the tyres.


The TV director: Oh, man. What a fool. We could so nearly have missed Eddie Irvine either punting JV off or getting past him and giving him the finger. Instead we got to see a bunch of flag-waving Ferrari fans. Who taught this guy how to build suspense and anguish in an audience, Hitchcock? We got some fantastic shots of empty track, the backs of cars going around corners, the type of thing the South Americans are becoming famous for. It was very ordinary. At least we had some sound, but in Australia, at least, the picture kept freezing and dropping out. Let’s get to Imola, please. Even one-eyed Ferrari watching is better than what we’ve put up with.


Peter Anderson


Argentinian Grand Prix Race Report

Formula 1 Contents