Motor Racing: Coulthard leaves Hill with uphill battle

One ambition rekindled, another extinguished: the best of times and the worst of times, all captured in the emotions of David Coulthard and Damon Hill here yesterday.

Coulthard's maiden victory, in an engrossing Portuguese Grand Prix, may prove as significant in the annals of Formula One as Hill's capitulation.

The Williams-Renault pair were ultimately split by Michael Schumacher, the German's second place extending his lead over Hill in the championship to 17 points with four races and a maximum 40 points to be contested.

Yet again, Schumacher's wit and strategy gave him the edge over Hill, who was bold enough to back a hunch that two pit-stops would carry him through but always struggled to resist the Benetton-Renault on his disintegrating tyres.

Schumacher speared his car past Hills' nine laps from the end, the attack as devastating as any lance into the heart. In that one moment, Hill knew his destiny lay in the hands of the Almighty.

Coulthard felt the gods had conspired against him on more than one previous occasion, but this time the momentum generated over another excellent weekend of practice and qualifying was sustained through every turn and gear change of the race.

The 24-year-old Scot always insisted the effects of tonsillitis drained him of his competitive potential in the first half of the season, but even he sensed the grip of self-doubt tightening around him. Two consecutive pole positions revived his confidence and, in his 21st grand prix, he became Britain's 16th winner in world championship racing.

"It was a very warm feeling, and a relief," he said. The worst part was in the closing laps, keeping my concentration and worrying something might go wrong. I didn't want to miss another chance of winning. It was important to be a winner, and a winner fairly and squarely, without others dropping out."

Williams provided him with the reliability, abandoning a modification used over the weekend to avoid risk, and the freedom to race, as long as he did not hold up Hill. That potentially awkward situation never arose because Coulthard was simply too quick.

His boss, Frank Williams, said: "With all these Scottish epics around, Braveheart and the like, it's probably appropriate for David to have won _ and beaten an Englishman."

Ironic, too. Coulthard is to be replaced at Williams by Jacques Villeneuve and join McLaren-Mercedes. Alain Prost confirmed yesterday he would not be making a return to racing, an option offered by McLaren, who plan to name their drivers for 1996 on Sunday.

Coulthard commanded the race from the start, leaving Hill to contend with Schumacher. Hill's lengthy first stop, required to take on extra fuel but also enforced by an uncooperative gearbox, compounded his problems and although he went ahead of Schumacher as the Benetton stopped a third time, his advantage quickly dissipated.

Breaths were held as the two men - under the threat of suspension after early skirmishes - were side by side through the chicane, but Hill acknowledged the inevitable. He said: "I thought I had a good gap but he caught me up and just went through. Without crashing into him, I couldn't stop him."


1 D Coulthard (GB)

Williams-Renault 1hr 41min 52.145sec

(ave speed 113.9mph)

2 M Schumacher (Ger)

Benetton-Renault +7.248sec

3 D Hill (GB)

Williams-Renault +22.121

4 G Berger (Aut) Ferrari +1:24.879

5 J Alesi (Fr) Ferrari +1:25.429

6 H-H Frentzen (Ger) Sauber-Ford +1 lap

7 J Herbert (GB) Benetton-Renault 1

8 M Brundle (GB) Ligier-Mugen Honda 1

9 M Blundell (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 1

10 E Irvine (GB) Jordan-Peugeot 1

11 R Barrichello (Bra) Jordan-Peugeot 1

12 J-C Boullion (Fr) Sauber-Ford 1

13 M Salo (Fin) Tyrrell-Yamaha 2

14 L Badoer (It) Minardi-Ford 3

15 T Inoue (Japan) Footwork-Hart 3

16 P Diniz (Bra) Forti-Ford 5

17 R Moreno (Bra) Forti-Ford 7

Did not finish (not classified): 18 A Montermini (It) Pacific-Ford 53 laps completed; 19 M Hakkinen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes 44; 20 J-D Deletraz (Swit) Pacific-Ford 14; 21 O Panis (Fr) Ligier-Mugen Honda 10; 22 P Lamy (Por) Minardi-Ford 7.

Did not start: U Kayatma (Japan) Tyrrell-Yamaha; M Papis (It) Footwork- Hart.

Fastest lap: Coulthard 1:23.220 (117.88mph).

World Drivers' Championship standings (after 13 races)

1 Schumacher 72pts

2 Hill 55

3 Coulthard 39

4 Herbert 38

5 Alesi 34

6 Berger 28

7 Frentzen 15; 8 Hakkinen 11; 9 Blundell 10; 10= Panis, Barrichello 8; 12 Brundle 7; 13 Irvine 6; 14 Boullion 3; 15 Salo 2; 16= Morbidelli, Suzuki 1.

Formula One Constructors' Championship standings

1 Benetton 100pts

2 Williams 88

3 Ferrari 62

4 McLaren 21

5 Sauber 18

6 Ligier 16

7 Jordan 14

8 Tyrrell 2

9 Footwork 1

(Benetton deducted 10pts and Williams six for fuel irregularities).

Race distance: 71 laps, 193.465 miles.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Content and PR

£35000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Mid / Senior

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing digital agenc...

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Partnerships Manager

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a newly-created partne...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor