Murray's Memories: Damon Hill wins the 1994 Japan GP

By Murray WalkerFormula 1 Analyst, BBC Sport
Murray's Memories Japan 1994

There have been so many dramatic races at Japan's unique figure-of-eight Suzuka circuit, but none more so than the 1994 epic between Benetton's Michael Schumacher and Williams's Damon Hill.

The title fight between the two was on a knife edge - Hill knew he had to beat Schumacher to ensure he went to the final race in Australia with the best chance of the title.

Win, with Schumacher second, and Hill would be just a point behind, and simply beating his rival in Adelaide would be enough for the Englishman, as long as he was in the points.

But if Schumacher won in Japan, he would be nine points clear and almost unassailable.

To add to the tension, the weather was appalling and on lap four of 50, with Schumacher leading Hill, three crashes brought out the safety car.

Then it got even worse and the red flag stopped the race when Martin Brundle's McLaren went off and hit a marshal, breaking the poor man's leg.

So now it would be a two-part race, with the result decided on aggregate times - with Hill needing to beat Schumacher by more than 6.8 seconds to win.

The lead swapped backwards and forwards as the two men's pit-stop strategies played out.

Schumacher stopped and Hill led by 19 seconds.

Damon still led after his own stop but on lap 35, with 15 still to go, Schumacher went ahead so surely that was it? But, no, it wasn't!

Schumacher made a second stop, rejoining 14.5 seconds behind Hill to start a charge with 10 laps to go.

Lap after lap he carved into Hill's lead and when they started the last lap there were only 2.4 seconds between them on aggregate.

Could Damon hold on?

He certainly could. He pulled out all the stops on that last lap, as Schumacher encountered some traffic, and I'll never forget excitedly shouting "3.36 seconds" - Hill's aggregate winning margin - as Schumacher crossed the line.

Damon had won a superb victory - his best ever - and was on the cusp of a first world title, just a point behind Schumacher with one race to go. And there was more drama to come in Adelaide.


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