After eight years break the European GP returned to Formula 1 calendar in 1993 for so far the one only F1 race at Donnington Park, the planned post 2009 British GP venue. And again same as back in 1983 the European GP happened because plans for another race, the Asian GP in Japan, failed. There were several memorable European GP races in the past and the 1993 Donnington race is one of them, remembered as perhaps the greatest Ayrton Senna’s victory. The race started in wet rainy conditions. After start Prost held on to his P1 ahead of Hill while Senna dropped one back behind to fifth behind Wendlinger and Schumacher. However by the end of lap one Senna was leading the race (video). He won this wet-dry-wet-dry race over a minute ahead of Damon Hill who was the only driver on the same lap Senna (after unlapping himself).
Then came 1994 and another need to replace failed race. The track for Argentinian GP was not ready on time and so the race moved to Jerez as European GP. Michael Schumacher started the race from pole position ahead of Hill and Mansell. Hill took lead at the start but lost it after first pit stop. He then had to pit again due to refueling error and his chances for race win were gone. Hill finished second, ahead of Hakkinen, Irvine, Berger and Frentzen.
In 1995 European Grand Prix returned to Nurburgring for the first F1 race on that track since 1985. Thanks to Michael Schumacher it was another European GP to remember. David Coulthard took the pole position before weather spoiled the session for several other drivers. Coulthard however spun and stalled the car on damp track during the installation lap and had to switch to a spare car. Despite this error he still managed to take the lead at the start, ahead of Schumacher and Hill. As the track began to dry all the cars on wet tyres made pit stops and as a result Alesi found himself leading the race about 20 seconds ahead of Coulthard, Schumacher and Hill. Hill was trying to overtake Schumacher and the two traded places few times, at the however Schumacher claimed his position back and pulled away. Both Schumacher and Hill later overtook in the spare car struggling Coulthard.
While Alesi and Schumacher pitted Hill closed the gap to the leader. He however broke his front wing, had to make pit stop and later crashed out. It was Schumacher’s turn now to challenge Alesi. He closed down the gap and with few laps to go there was nothing separating these two. Schumacher went for it with a risky move into the chicane (video). He pulled it off and went on to win the race in front of his home crowd. After the race even Damon Hill joined the German fans in applauding Schumacher’s drive.
Crowd Dynamics: I was at the N-ring for the euro races in 95 and then again in 96. The races were only a few months apart due to the 95 race being at the end of the season and the 96 race being near the beggining of that season. At the 95 race I had one of only two (that I could see) Ferrari flags flying amidst the Germans. Everytime the Ferrari drivers or car showed up on the big screen there was a chorus of whistles and boos across the entire circuit! I proudly kept my colors aloft the whole weekend and Jean Alesi was barely beat out by Schumacher in the closing stages of the race to the delight of the Germans. The next year was a completely different story. The same Germans that had made wise cracks at me about the questionable reliability of the Ferrari all weekend were now all in red! Aaahh! It drove me nuts to no end and I had real trouble accepting the Germans into the tifosi community. Of course I had mixed feelings about Schumi too at that point but the rest is history, wonderful history, wrapped in a red banner with a black prancing stallion. I’m not sure what this has to do with Valencia but the “euro” gp moniker got me to thinking about those days.