- November 13 down the years
A title but no end of controversy for Schumacher
A day which will not rank among Michael Schumacher'sfinest and one which cast a black mark over his career came at the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide. Damon Hill, needing to win the race to secure the championship and swarming all over the back of Schumacher, pressured the German into a mistake, damaging his Benetton after running wide into a wall. This was unseen by Hill, who rounded the corner only to see Schumacher running slightly wide. Sensing it could be his only opportunity and not realising his rival's car was terminally damaged, Hill tried to overtake only for Schumacher to turn in on the Williams, breaking his front wishbone and sending him into retirement. Schumacher consequently won his first title by a point, but his victory came against savage criticism for the way it was achieved. He protested his innocence but many remained unconvinced. Nigel Mansell went on to win the race to claim his final grand prix victory.
Eleven years later, Nigel Mansell was on the top step of the podium again after winning the Altech Grand Prix Masters in Kyalami from Emerson Fittipaldi in front of a crowd of 70,000. "I started on pole and that was the critical factor today given how hard I was pushed by Emerson," said Mansell. "He just didn't give up and nor did I expect him to. I tried to break-away from him but he just kept his nose behind my car and on a couple of occasions made moves on the inside of corners." Mansell's former Williams team-mate Riccardo Patrese finished third.
Alain Prost recorded his 35th career win at the Australian Grand Prix despite suffering major handling problems after hitting debris while McLaren team-mate Ayrton Senna took second despite a malfunctioning gearbox. It was a sign of how dominant the McLarens had been that even with these handicaps the pair still finished well ahead of the field. Gerhard Berger realised his Ferrari had no chance of winning and told his fellow drivers he was out to enjoy himself. "I'm going to come past you," he grinned at Prost, "but you don't have to worry about it." Berger set off at a crazy pace which ensured he would run out of fuel long before the end but in the event his race ended when he piled into a slow-going Rene Arnoux.
Mika Hakkinen left the intensive care unit after his life threatening crash during practice for the Australian Grand Prix just over a week earlier. Hakkinen suffered a punctured tire in the high-speed Brewery Bend and his McLaren arrived in the corner sideways in fifth gear. As the car spun, it hit the kerbing backwards and was launched into the air. It then hit the ground just before smashing against the wall. It later emerged that Hakkinen suffered a fracture around the base of his skull and some internal bleeding as a result. Doctors were initially worried that Hakkinen's brain might swell inside the skull and cause brain hemorrhaging. That is what killed American F1 racer Mark Donohue two days after he crashed in Austria in August 1975. In fact, it was not a problem, and in the course of Saturday Hakkinen regained consciousness.