Motor Racing: Prost and Hill go wild in the streets

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The Independent Online
PUBLIC rampaging seems to be part of life here this week. On Wednesday evening it was the fans of the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team who stormed the streets, smashing windows and looting shops after their idols had swept to a conclusive Stanley Cup victory over the Los Angeles Kings. As the local glaziers contemplated their jagged windfall, the cynical wondered what the fans might have done had their team lost.

On Friday, on the circuit on the St Lawrence River named in honour of the late French-Canadian racer Gilles Villeneuve, it was the turn of Alain Prost and Damon Hill to run riot once again as they decimated their opposition during qualifying for today's Canadian Grand Prix. It is a moot point which faction did the greater damage.

The Williams-Renault cars do not have the anti-lock braking system which had been anticipated here, but both Prost and Hill believe that the new electronically controlled throttles have again made a significant contribution.

'It's quite a benefit on a circuit like this when you have to brake hard in sixth gear and then change quickly all the way down to second,' Hill said. 'The gear changes are cleaner and you can concentrate all of your effort on controlling the car.'

The stewards of the governing body, Fisa, did some rampaging of their own yesterday when they suddenly declared all but the Scuderia Italia team's Lola cars to be illegal on the grounds that they break rules on aerodynamics or means of controlling the engine's power output.

Max Mosley, the head of Fisa, this week fended off a challenge from his fellow Englishman Geoffrey Rose in a successful bid to be elected as president of the overall world automotive authority, the FIA, as well. Since the Monaco Grand Prix in May, Mosley has adopted a hard line on technology, declaring a ban on all active suspension systems and similar 'driver aids' for 1994. Yesterday's surprise declarations are seen as a means of warning team owners such as Frank Williams, who steadfastly expresses his desire to see Formula One continue as the pinnacle of engineering progress, of the futility of any threat to take Fisa to interational law. The 'illegal' cars have been reported to Fisa, suggesting that the ultimate result of today's race may be the subject of controversy at a later date.

Williams' rivals must look to the day when the gap can be reduced between their machinery and the cars manufactured in Didcot. In the ideal, cool conditions of Friday's first qualifying session, Michael Schumacher and Riccardo Patrese were delighted that their Benetton-Fords had maintained the form they showed in Monte Carlo, to take third and fourth places respectively, and so were Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi as their improving Ferraris followed in fifth and sixth, but the Benettons were two seconds off Prost's pace, the Ferraris nearer three.

The championship points-leader Ayrton Senna was uncharacteristically even further adrift after losing time in the morning's free practice, and had to be content with eighth place on the grid, after complaining all afternoon about handling difficulties with his McLaren-Ford.

Hotter track temperatures yesterday prevented any of the front-runners from improving on the times they recorded in the first qualifying session.

CANADIAN GRAND PRIX (Montreal) Final qualifying times: 1 A Prost (Fr) Williams-Renault 1min 18.987sec (ave speed 201.907kph, 126.170mph); 2 D Hill (GB) Williams-Renault 1:19.491; 3 M Schumacher (Ger) Benetton-Ford 1:20.808; 4 R Patrese (It) Benetton-Ford 1:20.948; 5 G Berger (Aut) Ferrari 1:21.278; 6 J Alesi (Fr) Ferrari 1:21.414; 7 M Brundle (GB) Ligier-Renault 1:21.603; 8 A Senna (Bra) McLaren-Ford 1:21.706; 9 K Wendlinger (Aut) Sauber 1:21.813; 10 M Blundell (GB) Ligier-Renault 1:22.097; 11 J J Lehto (Fin) Sauber 1:22.198; 12 M Andretti (US) McLaren-Ford 1:22.229; 13 E Comas (Fr) Larrousse-Lamborghini 122.263; 14 R Barrichello (Bra) Jordan-Hart 122.509; 15 P Alliot (Fr) Larrousse-Lamborghini 1:22.819; 16 A Suzuki (Japan) Footwork-Mugen Honda 1:22.891; 17 C Fittipaldi (Bra) Minardi-Ford 1:23.119; 18 D Warwick (GB) Footwork-Mugen Honda 1:23.185; 19 A de Cesaris (It) Tyrrell-Yamaha 1:23.185; 20 J Herbert (GB) Lotus-Ford 1:23.223; 21 A Zanardi (It) Lotus-Ford 1:23.240; 22 U Katayama (Japan) Tyrrell-Yamaha 1:23.824; 23 F Barbazza (It) Minardi-Ford 1:23.946; 24 T Boutsen (Bel) Jordan-Hart 1:23.960; 25 L Badoer (Italy) Lola BMS-Ferrari 1:24.357. Did not qualify: 26 M Alboreto (It) Lola BMS-Ferrari 1:24.382.

Mansell on pole, page 29