1994 F1 Benetton B194 - The Beast Only Schumacher Was Able to Tame
Whether it was illegal or not, Benetton B194 made history. Not just because it light, fast, reliable, but because it showed that not everyone could get the maximum out of it.
Taming this beast helped Michael Schumacher win the 1994 Formula 1 World Championship title.
Designed under the new regulations
This amazing machine was designed by Rory Byrne in order to meet the new regulations that followed the ban of the electronic driver aid. Byrne alongside Ross Brawn and Nicholas Tombazis did a good job and the B194 in the hands of Schumacher proved to be the most competitive car on the grid. Many teams complained that the B194 was illegal, but FIA dropped all the complaints after detailed investigations.
Interestingly, Schumacher had three teammates that year – Jos Verstappen, Johnny Herbert, and JJ Lehto – and all of them were unhappy with the car, stating that it is difficult to drive. The Benetton team did not win the title in that quite controversial season, marked by a death of Ayrton Senna, but everybody was more than happy when Schumacher won his first championship after a huge battle against the Williams driver Damon Hill.
Michael Schumacher and Benetton B194 were superior at the start of the 1994 F1 season
The beginning of the campaign was brilliant for the team and particularly for Schumacher who won four opening races. The first triumph was in the Brazilian Grand Prix and then in the Pacific Grand Prix at TI Circuit in Japan. Interestingly, Jos Verstappen retired from both races.
Schumacher continued his winning streak in San Marino Grand Prix, while JJ Lehto, who stepped in for Verstappen, retired. A fourth win in a row for the German was in Monaco where Lehto was 7th. Michael was stopped in the Spanish Grand Prix. Anyway, he was pretty happy with the 2nd place in the race in which Lehto again retired.
The Canadian Grand Prix was the first race of the season in which both drivers of Benetton B194 scored points. Schumacher clinched the 5th victory, while Lehto was 6th. Schumacher supremacy continued in France where he scored the 6th triumph in 1994, while Verstappen, who returned to the seat of the second B194, spun-off. At that point, Schumacher topped the standings with 66 out of possible 70 points.
With a lot of confidence, Benetton arrived at the British Grand Prix, but the outcome was bad. Schumacher was disqualified after failing to serve the five-second penalty and after he ignored black flag twice. After the race, both team and Schumacher were fined and he was also banned from two races.
Lehto, Verstappen, and Herbert all struggled with Benetton B194
Both Schumacher and Verstappen retired from the German Grand Prix, but they recovered quickly and perfectly. Michael won the race at Hungaroring and Jos finished 3rd, so that was the best race of the season for Benetton. The Belgian Grand Prix brought another controversy. Schumacher won the race but the German was stripped of his win due to excessive wear on his Benetton B194’s skid block, Verstappen’s 3rd place at Spa was some kind of consolation for the team.
In the next two Grand Prix events, in Italy and Portugal, Benetton was without Schumacher who served his penalty. His absence was probably decisive in the battle for the Team’s championship title which was later won by Williams. Lehto acted as a Schumi’s substitute but failed to earn a single point, while Verstappen finished 5th at Estoril.
Close battle for the title ended pretty bad
Three races before the end of the season, Schumacher was still on the top of the championship but his advantage was only one point to Damon Hill. The situation became better after he won the European Grand Prix at Jerez, while in Japan he was 2nd. Before the final race of the season in Australia, Schumacher was a point ahead of Hill, so the fans were excited and impatient to see who will be crowned as a champion.
Nigel Mansell won the pole position for the race at Adelaide Street Circuit, Schumacher started from the second position, while Hill started from the 3rd place. Right after the start Schumacher took the lead and Hill was one second behind him. Until the lap 36, the standings remained unchanged but Hill was catching his rival. When the British driver tried to overtake Schumacher, the two collided. Schumacher was immediately eliminated but Hill went to the pit. However, his car was badly damaged and he also retired soon.
First Schumacher’s title won under suspicious circumstances
After the race, Schumacher stated that the collision was a racing incident but his words didn’t convince the press while the Williams team was angry. After many years, Hill said that Schumacher deliberately ran into him. Schumacher won the title and he was the first German who became F1 champion.
The conclusion is that Benetton B194 was reliable only in Schumi’s hands. He scored all of team’s eight wins in 1994, had two podiums, while Verstappen added other two. The Benetton B194 also scored eight fastest laps and six pole positions and announced even better next season with a new car.
Chassis: Carbon-fibre monocoque
Engine: Ford EC Zetec-R V8 produced by Cosworth, 3498cc, longitudinally mounted at 75 degrees
Transmission: Semi-automatic Benetton transverse 6-speed
Front suspension: Double wishbones, pushrod
Rear suspension: Double wishbones, pushrod
Wheelbase: 2880 mm
Front axle track: 1690 mm
Rear axle track: 1618 mm
Weight: 515 kg