My team-mate passed me and that was when I saw that his tyres were blistered. It was at that moment – call it luck or coincidence – that I realised it would be a good time to come into the pitlane. The team were instantly responsive: they were great and that is the magic key. If you have changeable conditions and you take the decision at the right moment then you always benefit from it. At that moment in time it wasn’t clear if I could get such a lead and win the race. But there was some luck, as Nigel Mansell, who was clearly quicker than me, had a problem with his exhaust and couldn’t go 100 per cent, which meant that I was able to maintain enough of a lead to win the race. Even if he had his speed, I would have made sure I was as wide as a bus and he wouldn’t have been able to overtake me!
Twenty years is a long time, isn’t it? Do the days of racing against the likes of Mansell, Senna and Prost seem like they were a lifetime ago now? They do. In those days the experienced race drivers, like Gerhard Berger, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell, didn’t like young drivers coming up and showing off – and certainly not trying to be their equals. So they really pushed out their elbows and knocked the edges and corners off me to try to keep me down. Naturally I wasn’t happy with that, thinking that everyone should be equal. I put my fingers into some areas that they were unhappy with and that caused some friction initially – and some good laughter afterwards. I remember leaving a test in Monza with Gerhard Berger once – we shared a car because we both lived in Monaco at the time. We talked about the old days and had a good laugh about them.
Didn’t Ayrton once wag his finger at you at Magny-Cours in 1992? He did a couple of times, I think. In MagnyCours he was right: I have to admit that I made a mistake. There was also the memorable thought that it was a good moment to clear the air and from that point on we had a much better relationship as things developed.
Your next best race was Spain 1994, stuck in fifth gear… No, I think you’ve missed out one. Interlagos ’94 was a hell of a race – I think it was the first one of the season. Qualifying was very tight and Ross had a great idea in terms of strategy. We managed to get in front of Ayrton by a one- or two-second gap; I was absolutely on the limit and just driving at a qualifying level and Ayrton was doing the same. But the fact that it was in Brazil, beating Ayrton at his home race and actually forcing him into a spin… I was just over the moon at that moment. Spain 1994 was also very exciting – especially those pitstops. In getting out of the pits in fifth gear I was afraid to blow up the clutch, so the mechanics would help me with a push every time I stopped to make sure that I was able to drive out again.
How good was the Benetton B194? It was a very good car. I remember a Silverstone test at the start of the year: it was really miserable, foggy, wintry weather and we’d been there with the 1993 car. I knew the lap time I was capable of. I had a good feeling about what was possible and then going out, after I had a few reliability problems with the car, and finally running it in its proper spec – it was magic! It was such a clear step forward, one-and-a-half to two seconds quicker from the year before. We
“With Damon, I always took things closer to the edge. I was a master of exploring limits”
Hockenheim test when he furiously got out of his car and wanted to have a personal discussion with me – and I did with him. So I got out of my car to go and see him. He blocked me two times unnecessarily in a normal test session – both of us just wanted to do our job, but you could really tell that he felt that I was a little guy and that he wanted to teach me a lesson. The moment I did that to him, I thought, ‘Okay big guy, here’s the little one showing you that two can play at that game.’ He didn’t agree with that! But I
52 F1 Racing September 2011
Spain 1994 was one of Schuey’s finest drives: he finished second behind Damon Hill, despite having been stuck in fifth gear for most of the race 20yearsinF1
F1 Racing September 2011 53