The 1996 Monaco Grand Prix (formally the LIV Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco) was a Formula One race held on 19 May 1996 at the Circuit de Monaco in Monte-Carlo. It was the sixth round of the 1996 Formula One Season and the 56th running of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Practice and qualifying were dry but rain was forecast for the race. In his lesser Ferrari, Michael Schumacher took pole position ahead of Williams' Damon Hill, with the Benetton pairing of Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger third and fourth. Hill's championship rival Jacques Villeneuve qualified tenth. Some controversy erupted as Schumacher, on his slowing-down lap, caused Berger to spin on a hot lap coming out of the tunnel.
In the warm-up, Olivier Panis was fastest, while Villeneuve, in a wet set-up, was 18th. Following the warm-up, it rained, and a fifteen-minute session was held so the teams and drivers could acclimatise. Andrea Montermini had damaged his car and was unable to start the race.
With the race start under the wet conditions, it was a surprise to see Hill take the lead from Schumacher. At the back, Jos Verstappen, on slicks, crashed out, as did the Minardi drivers who collided into one another. 18 cars climbed the hill, before Schumacher crashed out before Portier and Rubens Barrichello dumped it at Rascasse. 16 remained.
Soon Ukyo Katayama and Ricardo Rosset crashed out, and then Pedro Diniz's transmission failed; after five laps there were 13. Hill proceeded to run clear ahead of Alesi and Berger, with Eddie Irvine holding up the rest of the field in fourth. Berger retired after ten laps, leaving Irvine in third. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, behind the Ulsterman, dived in a little too rashly and damaged his front wing, ruining his race.
Soon, it was time to change to slicks. Hill, after pitting, overtook Alesi for the lead around the outside, and following Alesi's stop, had a 30-second lead. Panis by now how had made his way to fourth and attacked Irvine; they collided at the Loews hairpin and Irvine had to be push-started by the marshals. Expecting a retirement, then a disqualification, he had undone his seatbelts and needed to have them done back up as he went back out again damage-free and infraction-free. Around this time, Martin Brundle made eleven runners as he spun out.
Coming out of the tunnel on lap 40, Hill's engine emitted smoke and he was forced to retire, leaving Alesi a large lead over Panis, with David Coulthard third. Alesi led for 20 laps, before retiring with a suspension issue, leaving Panis in the lead, Coulthard second, and Johnny Herbert in third, and just nine drivers left out on track.
One of these was Luca Badoer, six laps down in his Forti. Obeying blue flags, he let Herbert through, but moved to the racing line when Villeneuve tried to pass, and the two made contact, and both retired, leaving just seven. Then, Irvine, continuing to entertain the fans, spun where his teammate had on lap one. In the process of putting himself in the right direction, the Finns Mika Salo and Mika Häkkinen came around the corner, and unsighted, ran into the Ferrari, and thus just four cars where left running.
Panis held off Coulthard, and with light rain returning, held it on the track and saw the chequered flag for his first (and only) victory, from fourteenth on the grid. Coulthard crossed the line second, Herbert was third, and Frentzen pulled off into the pits a lap early with fourth place (and last) the only possibility. It was Ligier's final win, fifteen years after their previous, and Mugen-Honda's first win.
Hill's championship lead remained 21 points over teammate Villeneuve, with Williams holding their 40-point lead over Ferrari.
Jacques Villeneuve's late retirement at the San Marino Grand Prix allowed the victorious Damon Hill to extend his Championship lead to 21 points, and saw Williams-Renault extend their lead over Ferrari to 40 points.
As always in Monaco, the first day of practice was Thursday, with no running on Friday before the race resumes on the weekend. There was rain forecast on race day and the teams expected a wet race.
|1||1||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1:20.356||149.097 km/h|
|2||5||Damon Hill||Williams-Renault||1:20.866||+ 0.510 s||148.156 km/h|
|3||3||Jean Alesi||Benetton-Renault||1:20.918||+ 0.562 s||148.061 km/h|
|4||4||Gerhard Berger||Benetton-Renault||1:21.067||+ 0.711 s||147.789 km/h|
|5||8||David Coulthard||McLaren-Mercedes||1:21.460||+ 1.104 s||147.076 km/h|
|6||11||Rubens Barrichello||Jordan-Peugeot||1:21.504||+ 1.148 s||146.996 km/h|
|7||2||Eddie Irvine||Ferrari||1:21.504||+ 1.186 s||146.928 km/h|
|8||7||Mika Häkkinen||McLaren-Mercedes||1:21.688||+ 1.332 s||146.665 km/h|
|9||15||Heinz-Harald Frentzen||Sauber-Ford||1:21.929||+ 1.573 s||146.234 km/h|
|10||6||Jacques Villeneuve||Williams-Renault||1:21.963||+ 1.607 s||146.173 km/h|
|11||19||Mika Salo||Tyrrell-Yamaha||1:22.235||+ 1.879 s||145.690 km/h|
|12||17||Jos Verstappen||Footwork-Hart||1:22.327||+ 1.971 s||145.527 km/h|
|13||14||Johnny Herbert||Sauber-Ford||1:22.346||+ 1.990 s||145.493 km/h|
|14||9||Olivier Panis||Ligier-Mugen-Honda||1:22.358||+ 2.002 s||145.472 km/h|
|15||18||Ukyo Katayama||Tyrrell-Yamaha||1:22.460||+ 2.104 s||145.292 km/h|
|16||12||Martin Brundle||Jordan-Peugeot||1:22.519||+ 2.163 s||145.188 km/h|
|17||10||Pedro Diniz||Ligier-Mugen-Honda||1:22.682||+ 2.326 s||144.902 km/h|
|18||21||Giancarlo Fisichella||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:22.684||+ 2.328 s||144.899 km/h|
|19||20||Pedro Lamy||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:23.350||+ 2.994 s||143.726 km/h|
|20||16||Ricardo Rosset||Footwork-Hart||1:24.976||+ 4.620 s||140.990 km/h|
|21||22||Luca Badoer||Forti-Ford Cosworth||1:25.059||+ 4.703 s||140.853 km/h|
|22*||23||Andrea Montermini||Forti-Ford Cosworth||1:25.393||+ 5.037 s||140.302 km/h|
- 107% time: 1:25.981
- * Did not start to an accident in the warm-up
- * Did not start.
Following his accident in the acclimatisation session, Andrea Montermini's car was damaged beyond the fixing abilities of his team and thus he did not take the start.
With the track wet, at the start, Hill overtook Schumacher lead into Ste. Devote. Jos Verstappen, on slicks, attacked Mika Häkkinen hard into the first corner and crashed. The two Minardi drivers collided and put each other out of the race, so 18 cars climbed the hill. Surprisingly, Schumacher crashed going into Portier, allowing Hill an opportunity to build a clear lead. Then, Rubens Barrichello had an accident, so just 16 drivers finished the first lap. The retirements continued quickly; Ukyo Katayama and Ricardo Rosset both crashed out while Pedro Diniz's transmission failed within the first five laps, leaving just thirteen cars.
Eddie Irvine was struggling in the sister Ferrari, holding fourth place, Heinz-Harald Frentzen pushing hard. David Coulthard, in a spare helmet lent by Schumacher, closed in. Further ahead, Hill, Alesi and Berger got away from Irvine while Panis made the race's first overtake of Martin Brundle for 11th.
On lap nine, Berger slowed with gearbox troubles and eventually retired, leaving Irvine in third and just twelve drivers on track. Frentzen attempted a dive but damaged his front wing and was forced to pit, with Sauber putting on some new slicks against Frentzen's wishes.
As the race ventured past twenty laps, the track began to dry and the lap times began to tumble. As Hill pitted on lap 28, Panis, seemingly the only driver able to overtake, had moved into seventh and Luca Badoer in his atomic yellow Forti was one and a half laps down. Frentzen, having made a second pit stop for slicks on lap 26, was a whole second faster than Hill before the Briton pitted. Alesi delayed his stop and managed to have Hill overtake him around the outside on the run-up to Casino Square; following the Frenchman's pit stop, Hill had a 30-second lead. Panis had managed to move up to fourth place as Brundle spun out, leaving just 11 cars (half the original field).
Panis was charging hard, and quickly closed on Irvine in third, and overtook him at the hairpin, the pair banging wheels, damaging the Ligier steering but not enough to stop the car. Irvine stopped the car had even unbuckled his seatbelts when he got the car restarted; he pitted to get them done back up again and emerged ahead of Panis, but a lap down. Despite the damage, Panis set the fastest lap.
On lap 40, the race threw up yet another surprise, as Hill's Renault engine gave way coming out the tunnel, giving Alesi a comfortable but ever-shortening lead over Panis, with Coulthard moving up to third a few seconds down on Panis after the Frenchman spun, but when Coulthard overshot the chicane Panis gained back a few seconds.
By now it was clear the race was going to go to two hours rather than 78 laps, and Alesi made a splash-and-dash pit stop on lap 54 that halved his lead over Panis from just under half a minute to a quarter. The pair were trading fastest laps until Alesi made an unscheduled stop on lap 60. A rear spring had broken in the suspension and Alesi was out, leaving Panis (who started 14th) in the lead, Coulthard in second, and Johnny Herbert in third from 13th on the grid.
The race kept on giving entertainment despite the dwindling participants. Badoer, six laps down, was being closed on by Herbert and Villeneuve. Obeying blue flags, Badoer let Herbert through but didn't realise Villeneuve was following close behind; as a result Badoer pinned Villeneuve against the barrier and sent himself airborne; both had to retire and nine became seven. Out at the front, Coulthard was closing in on Panis as the rain started once again. As a result, there were yet more accidents to be had as Irvine capped an eventful afternoon by spinning where teammate Schumacher had on the first lap. Amazingly, with just six other drivers on track, in the process of spinning himself in the right direction he collected one third of the possible drivers, Mika Salo and Häkkinen; thus sending all three out and leaving just four drivers left.
As the two-hour mark was passed midway through lap 75, Panis still lead Coulthard by a few seconds, eventually taking a stunning win by just under five seconds over the Scotsman, and Herbert crawled in 37 seconds down. Salo was classified fifth, Häkkinen sixth and Irvine outside the points in seventh; no-one else was classified.
Frentzen, who could have had a shot at victory were it not for his accident with Irvine, pitted in on lap 75 since he was the last remaining driver on track in fourth and his teammate, Herbert, had already crossed the line in third. Given that only four drivers were running at the end, that the two Sauber drivers had reached the finish line was an impressive achievement.
It was Olivier Panis' first win, Ligier's first win since the 1981 Canadian Grand Prix, and Mugen-Honda's first win. It was also to be Panis' only win and Ligier's final win. The race set a record for the fewest drivers still running at the end of the race, with just four, of which one didn't cross the finish line.
Due to the fact that none of Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher or Jean Alesi finished the race, the top of the Drivers' Championship remained the same, except for Panis, who tied Alesi on 11. Likewise, none of Williams-Renault, Ferrari or Benetton-Renault scored any points either; McLaren's seven (six from David Coulthard and one from Mika Häkkinen) held fourth ahead of Ligier.
For his accident with Villeneuve, Luca Badoer received a two-race suspended ban, which he would not incur.
Further down the grid, Giancarlo Minardi was furious with his drivers, stating that "in twelve years of Formula One, I've never seen anything like this". He was unable to apportion blame onto Giancarlo Fisichella or Pedro Lamy, with their collision being a racing incident.
Laps in the leadsEdit
|1||Damon Hill||1 – 27||27||89.856 km|
|2||Jean Alesi||28 – 29||2||6.656 km|
|3||Damon Hill||30 – 40||11||36.608 km|
|4||Jean Alesi||41 – 59||19||63.232 km|
|5||Olivier Panis||60 – 75||16||53.248 km|
|1||Damon Hill||38||126.464 km|
|2||Jean Alesi||21||69.888 km|
|3||Olivier Panis||16||53.248 km|
- Olivier Panis' only win.
- Ligier's first win for fifteen years.
- Ligier's final win.
- Mugen-Honda's first win.
- Panis was the first driver other than Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost or Ayrton Senna to win the Monaco Grand Prix since Keke Rosberg won the race in 1983.
- Johnny Herbert's fifth podium.
- Jean Alesi's fourth and final fastest lap.
- Ligier's 50th podium.
- Mercedes' 50th Grand Prix as an engine supplier.
Standings after raceEdit
|V T E||Monaco Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Circuit de Monaco (1929–present)|
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|Non-F1 races||1929 • 1930 • 1931 • 1932 • 1933 • 1934 • 1935 • 1936 • 1937 • 1948 • 1952|
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