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Your classic European Grand Prix

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Andrew Benson | 10:07 UK time, Monday, 17 August 2009

There are no prizes for guessing the great Formula 1 race we have chosen to highlight in the latest edition of our classic races series.

Ayrton Senna's stupendous victory in the rain in the European Grand Prix at Donington Park in 1993 gets the treatment - the full Grand Prix highlights programme of the time as well as the shorter highlights package that we have also cut for the other four races we asked you to debate.

That debate was interesting, not least for the fact that it was not quite the runaway I expected it to be.

So famous has Senna's drive become, that I expected the other races to barely figure. But plenty of you made the case for Michael Schumacher's brilliant fight back in the 1995 race at the Nurburgring and the topsy-turvy thrill-a-minute 1999 event that resulted in an unexpected win for Johnny Herbert's Stewart.

Fernando Alonso's two great victories in 2005 and 2007, which might have got the nod out of a weaker selection, barely figured. Which just goes to show how many fabulous races have gone under the title of European Grand Prix over the years. Let's hope this weekend's event in Valencia matches up.

Whatever happens on Sunday, though, it will have to go some to bear comparison with Senna's performance.

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Watch short highlights of the 1993 Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1995 Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1999 Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 2005 Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 2007 Grand Prix

I was at Donington that day, standing in the pouring rain at the chicane at the end of the back straight, and I can still vividly remember the buzz that passed through the crowd on that famous opening lap.

Fourth on the grid, Senna made only an average start, and was down to fifth by the first corner. From then on, the Brazilian was touched by genius for the rest of the afternoon.

Once he had passed Schumacher exiting the first corner, Senna produced two brilliant overtaking moves to pass Karl Wendlinger's Sauber and then Damon Hill's Williams and by the time he had reached the chicane, with only the Melbourne hairpin and final corner to go, he was looking for a way past Hill's team-mate Alain Prost and into the lead. He duly found it at the hairpin, and he motored away into a race of his own for the rest of the afternoon.

I have to disagree, though, with those of you who said the race was all about the first lap. That might have been the end of the racing as far as Senna was concerned, but it was just the beginning of a display of outstanding wet-weather driving.

The changeable conditions made it hard to know what were the right tyres at any given time - Senna made five pit stops and Prost an astonishing seven - but whatever tyres he was on and whatever the conditions Senna was peerless.

Great as his performance was, though, Senna himself said the fact his McLaren had traction control meant this drive was second rate compared to another of his wet-weather wins - his maiden F1 victory driving for Lotus at the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril in 1985.

There were other things to admire that day in Leicestershire, too, chief among them a superb drive from Rubens Barrichello in only his third grand prix. The Brazilian was on course for third place in his Jordan-Hart only to suffer a heartbreaking retirement with six laps to go. Enjoy the video on offer from that race - but don't forget the others. As I wrote in my last blog, there is much to enjoy there, too.

To close, I'll address a couple of the more general points made in comments from last time.

Firstly, several respondents asked why we had not included the 1985 European Grand Prix. We considered it. It was, as many of you said, the first victory of Nigel Mansell's career, and it opened the floodgates for him. It was also, as none of you pointed out, the day Prost won his first world title - at least one year later than he should have.

However, while it certainly marked two momentous occasions, I'm less convinced it can compare with any of our five choices for excitement and drama. And for those disappointed by its omission, there's always next year.

Secondly and finally, many of you wanted to know why we had not included the 1997 European GP at Jerez, scene of the famous title-deciding clash between Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve. Those of you who guessed that this will be included in our 'great title deciders' selection later in the season were spot on.

You can take me at my word that that - plus our selection for Singapore of great races at venues that are no longer on the calendar - is worth waiting for.


  • Comment number 1.

    Why doesn't 1995 get full highlights when a LOT of people voted for that. =[

    For previous GP's you've put up two full highlight shows where possible.

  • Comment number 2.

    @D_M_N_ - Since 1997 onwards will only get short highlights regardless, giving full highlights to both of the remaining ones would defeat the point of the vote!

  • Comment number 3.

    10/10 for content on that post, Andrew. 0/10 for telling us where and when it will be on television!

    Do pray tell!

  • Comment number 4.

    When is it going to be on the BBCi?

  • Comment number 5.

    Andrew, do you know which cars had traction control that day? I believe McLaren and Williams had it. Benetton didn't and that is given as the reason for Schumacher's poor performance, but I don't know that the Jordan of Barrichello would have had it given Jordan were a small team and yet his performance was extraordinary!

    Even if McLaren had TC, Senna's performance against the two Williams drivers was exceptional.

  • Comment number 6.

    @MrFlux, 1995 is before 1997 - so full highlights should be put up. A lot of people voted for it after all.

  • Comment number 7.

    Not my preferred choice, was actually my third or fourth favourite but still. Least I didn't lose anything in terms of short highlights, can watch long highlights of the 1999 race on youtube so not too bothered

  • Comment number 8.

    Really looking forward to the 'Singapore' selection.

    And all the rest, naturally.

  • Comment number 9.

    1999 was action packed all the way through :(

    Also, It seems that 3 of the 5 races have Ralf Schumacher failing horribly. He was never good enough for the Williams team. Or even the Toyota, for that matter...

  • Comment number 10.

    Did you completely forget about Luca Badoer in the 1999 race. I didn't hear him mentioned once. Was that not the reason why so many people wanted to see the 99 race.

  • Comment number 11.

    When is it on Freeview 301/302?

  • Comment number 12.

    @D_M_N_ - I know, that's what I meant... showing full highlights of both 1993 and 1995 would defeat the point of the vote. Most people sensibly didn't choose post-1997 races in order to get the longer highlights, so showing both of the other two (93 and 95) would make the vote pointless.

    I'm just pleased to see the highlights at all, it's a tough selection this time - shame the race at the weekend most likely won't match up...

  • Comment number 13.

    I was lucky enough to be at Donnington in 1993 and was gobsmacked as they came by on lap 2 .......Senna.......wait .......Prost etc. I feel privelidged to have seen Senna and Prost at trackside with future champions Hakkinen (Lotus) Hill and Schumacher all driving. This one gets my vote but I am biased.......

  • Comment number 14.

    This race has been written about and shown so many times that it would've been nice to see something different (ie, 1995). Senna's performance was incredible but lets face it we've all seen the highlights of that opening lap several times, we know exactly what happened already!

  • Comment number 15.

    I can see folks' arguments against '93, as Lap 1 has been done to death, but I agree with AB that there's more to it than that. For those who've never seen anything except L1 of that race, the win also has to be seen in context with the chaotic pitstops. In fact, one really needs to see the whole race to get a flavour, but that ain't gonna happen!

    I'm still disappointed that '85 was not included or added later given the response, since there is a rather 'modern' slant to the list - though that is also due to the transient nature of the 'European' GP. But since a number of national GPs also were titled the 'Grand Prix of Europe' some of those could've been considered; the Dutch GP of '76 might have been a push, but I'd be surprised if the GBGP of '77 wasn't in the archive. I suspect that fewer respondents to this blog have seen Brands '85 or had a VCR at the time (more so for the '77 GBGP!), and it seems to me that the point of screening an archive is to show stuff people are least likely to have seen, but can now get to appreciate.

    D_M_N_ above noted that only '93 is to get the full highlights treatment when in the past there have been two plus some cut-downs. I think it's been a couple of grands prix since BBCi showed two full 'GP' repeats (I'm open to correction there), and it seems to be symptomatic of a slow tailing-off of the Beeb's 'all guns blazing' start to its coverage. The highlights show recently got 'bounced' to a later slot, the GBGP highlights lost 30mins for no good reason, and a previous show also lost 10mins off its normal run-time. It's bad enough that the highlights aren't on indent-free BBC2 where it ought to be, without being messed around as well.

    covfan87 asked about schedules for the archive. Good luck! I've asked a few times if the F1 BBCi times - not just dates - could be published online (especially for Freeview, where the EPG for Ch301 and Ch302 just says "Red Button", so it could be anything!), but sadly I've got no reply. You'll just have to take your chance, I'm afraid!

    I hate to complain in some ways, because in others the BBC output is great (esp. free practice), but there's a kind of half-heartedness creeping in.

    Finally Tombstone7 mentioned tongue-in-cheek about the archive for Singapore. Abu Dhabi should be fun, too!

  • Comment number 16.

    Its slightly disappointing how Luca Badoer isn't getting much mention at all on the BBC F1 website....surely he's at least worth an article seeing as he's having a comeback of Jan Lammers proportions and could quite possibly get out of that record of his (most races without points).

    We have an article on Grosjean and Alguesuari - why not Badoer?

    Anyway, pleased to see 1999 again, even though it does miss out the famous Badoer crying at the side of the track clip.

  • Comment number 17.

    "Firstly, several respondents asked why we had not included the 1985 European Grand Prix. We considered it. It was, as many of you said, the first victory of Nigel Mansell's career, and it opened the floodgates for him. It was also, as none of you pointed out, the day Prost won his first world title - at least one year later than he should have.

    However, while it certainly marked two momentous occasions, I'm less convinced it can compare with any of our five choices for excitement and drama. And for those disappointed by its omission, there's always next year."

    Sorry Andrew but I completely disagree. What on earth gave you that idea?

    I watched the season review highlights recently and I can verify it was an exciting race equal to the original suggestions.

    Mansell made a bad first lap and came back stunningly for the win.

    Senna, which was then as per usual, out drove the Lotus for pole and then during the race had to fend off faster cars like Rosberg's Williams.

    The race is also remembered for Marc Surer out driving the lowly Brabham into a podium spot only for his race to end tearfully by an engine failure.

    Oh another example of you getting things wrong was the 1982 German GP. That race was absolutely dull. The only dramatic moment was when Piquet/Salazaar incident and then after that I skipped to the end - sadly because (apart from dry Spanish GP at Barcelona) it is very rare that I do such things.

  • Comment number 18.

    Nick_Robertson, Ralf failed horribly during the 1999 European GP?

    He stayed with Hakkinen, DC and HHF for the first 20 laps, when the rain came he was much faster. Didn't throw it off the road like Fisi or DC. It would surely have been his first win if it wasn't for that puncture.

  • Comment number 19.

    May I make two requests?
    For the Singapore round - please include Dallas 1984. It has been requested a few times and it is probably one of the better non-current venue, non-championship deciding races.
    For the next round - please include Zolder 1981. What a shmozzle!

    I'm happy Europe 93 was picked, thank you for showing this and the other small edits. I've really enjoyed this feature.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi all,
    I'm sorry nobody gave you this information sooner.

    The Classic European GPs will run on digital satellite and cable from 0900 on Wednesday, through until Friday mornig - although it will be interrupted by the cricket commentary on Thursday.

    Freeview availability is very limited due to the cricket and World Athletics coverage - so it will have one outing from 1830 on Thursday. I think this will be on 302 but I will double-check and post on here tomorrow.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hi all,

    Thanks for your comments so far. I'd like to respond to some of the points you have raised:

    1) Why didn't we show the full Grand Prix programme from 1995 as well as '93?

    The point of this exercise is to pick one race to highlight - and if it is from pre-97, when the BBC last had the rights to F1, we will show the Grand Prix programme that was broadcast at the time as well as the shorter highlights edit. There have been four occasions so far this year when we have actually broadcast two Grand Prix programmes. In each case the reasons were similar, if not exactly the same, and none of them apply here. For Australia, the views of the readers of this blog were very closely matched between 1986 and 1994, and although more of you wanted to see '94, I thought '86 the better race, so I decided to show both. For Spain, your views - by my reckoning - were tied equally between '81 and '86. For Monaco, again the vote was very close and again I thought that although '96 was a worthy winner, '82 was so exceptional that it, too, deserved to be shown. Finally, for Germany, 2000 was rightly the most popular request, but the BBC did not have the rights then, so I decided to show the Grand Prix programme from 1982, which was the second most popular among the audience. None of that applies here. I will re-iterate something I have said before - this is not a vote. We ask for your views and take them into account when choosing the race to highlight. In this case, though, it is worth pointing that the 1993 race 'beat' 1995 in the 'popular vote' by a ratio of 2:1 - a landslide in electoral terms. And good though the 1995 Euro GP was, I think you would struggle to make a case that it stands with events like Spain '81, Monaco '82 and Australia '86 as an all-time classic. I hope that makes the decision easier to understand.

    2) There is a "slow tailing-off of the Beeb's 'all guns blazing' start to its coverage".

    Nothing could be further from the truth. We are as committed to F1 as we have ever been since we regained the rights. But you must understand that the BBC is a big organisation with a lot of important programming over a vast number of areas competing for limited scheduling, and that F1 will not always win that battle.

    3) Why can't F1 BBCi times be shown on the website.

    They are: The only exception is these classic grands prix. So far, it has not practical for us to put the times for those on that page because we have to fit them around other higher-priority programming. We will look again at that, but if we can't rest assured that they will always be on this blog. See my colleague Martin Richardson's post #20.

    4) We haven't done anything on Luca Badoer but we have on Romain Grosjean.

    So far, the two have been given comparable coverage - a news story. We covered Badoer in the same story as Michael Schumacher deciding to call off his comeback - - which was the right thing to do. Let's be realistic, Badoer's return is hardly comparable with Schumacher's. We don't even know if Badoer is doing more than one race at the moment - Ferrari have pointedly not specified. Having said that, either I or my colleage Sarah Holt will cover the Badoer/Schumacher situation on Thursday when we get to Valencia, and within that we will address the topic of Badoer's return. It is also planned that he will be covered on TV. Likewise, we will give Grosjean the coverage he requires on merit.

    5) I got it wrong by not picking the 1985 European Grand Prix for this selection.

    You might well be right. But as I have repeatedly said, there is always next year.

  • Comment number 22.

    Great selection there, loved them all and they all awoke great memories. 1999 and 2007 have got to be my all time favourites though, they were just stunning.

    I hope Valencia proves all its critics wrong this year, as everyone seems to hate it after just ONE race, so, fingers crossed...

  • Comment number 23.

    Hi Andrew.

    I voted a joint first for 2005 and 1999 and from watching all of these highlights packages again I still hold that view. 1999 was an emotional win for Stewart Grand Pix and it was great to see it again. Thankyou for all of this fantastic coverage and this excellent feature on the BBC website.

    Regarding the higlights packages, a couple of points.

    2007 - I had not heard Murray's commentary on the race before today and I believed he had retired at the correct time. However hearing his old style on a modern GP had me yearning for him to make a comeback again!

    1993 - I still loose count on the amount of pitstops that occured during that race. Does anybody know how many pitstops in total that there were in that race? Also well done in getting almost 10 minutes worth of footage for the post 1996 races.

    I do not think that you made a mistake in not picking 1985. The five races that you chose made excellent viewing and as you have repeatedly said - the feature will continue next season too, and popular races that have been overlooked this time(such as Monaco 1984) may well be included next time.

    I also disagree with Kif001 post#15 that the BBC's coverege is "tailing off". The coverage is street's ahead of anything that we have had in the past. I for one am very grateful for not only this feature but also the other excellent additions to the BBC's coverage this season.

    Looking ahead, for the Singapore race (tombstone7 post# 8)I understand that we are to have coverage of a race no longer on the calender. Have you already picked your five races or are you still open for suggestions? If so I would ask you to consider Portugal 1989 or Mexico 1990.

  • Comment number 24.

    I am loving the choices this week, except for 1985 and 1997 being left off (I know 2005 and 2007 were good races but they don't even begin to compare), but I am still rather angry that those of us who only have Freeview always seem to get a raw deal. There are more channels popping up on my freeview tv (303, 305 and I can't remember if I saw 303 and 306), so why do we get the raw deal and end up watching something not really worth broadcasting? The last 3 races freeview broadcast time has been limited because the channels were supposedly full. one of them was showing cbbc on repeat loop, and the other was showing sports news loop. Sports news loop, I'm sure many will agree, is a waste of time and money, showing the same 3 or 4 non stories on repeat for hours at a time. On freeview we have sky sports news for that, so why should the bbc bump genuinely excellent programmes for sports news loop?

  • Comment number 25.

    In general the coverage is excellent, but I did have a problem with the last grand prix. I was working on race day so couldn't watch the live coverage and thought I'd watch the re-run on iPlayer. At about 9 or 10pm on race day I tuned in to find only part 1 (the build up) on iPlayer. There were other places to watch the race (online, Sport Multiscreen) but both of these options had to be entered via "home" pages or screens which told me the result of the race. The race coverage did appear on iPlayer later (not sure when but it was there the following day).
    According to the schedule the race should have been on iPlayer from 3pm. Was this a one off delay or will it be happening every time?

  • Comment number 26.

    Just confirming the details in post #20

    The classic GPs will be on Freeview channel 302 at 1830 on Thursday, although this is subject to no overrun on the cricket.

  • Comment number 27.

    #24 i think you're missing the point that the 1997 race is almost certainly gonna be a selection in the "Abu Dhabi" selection of championship deciders...

    Regarding the 2007 event, it seems to show quite a bit of Lewis overtaking people but failed to mention the fact he threw it off the road after the restart because he was on dry tyres far too early - or was this a ploy to keep the Hamilton-maniacs out there happy? (yes, i am not a lewis fan, sorry!)And it was also a pity the 1999 highlights didn't show Badoer's moment of dispair.

    But ignoring these two bits I think you guys have done a brilliant job trying to capture the excitement and drama of these two races in just 10 minutes of footage - well done!

  • Comment number 28.

    "The Classic European GPs will run on digital satellite and cable from 0900 on Wednesday, through until Friday mornig"

    It's now Wednesday afternoon and nothing on the red button yet (Virgin Cable) should I be looking somewhere else?
    With so many channels and interactive options you need to be specific with your information.

  • Comment number 29.

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for the plug. Hey how do I get my website added to your related links? This site has been up non-stop since May of 1997 and offers a historic perspective of the sport I have been following since Clark's first Championship year in 1963.

  • Comment number 30.

    I have to say I'm ever so slightly baffled by those who complain about watching the classic F1 on Freeview or whatever and it not getting much airtime........if it bothers you that much, why not just watch them on the website? It's not like the TV is the ONLY place to watch them, and even though it's better than on the website, it's not the end of the world if you watch it on the website.

  • Comment number 31.

    I completely agree that the 1993 GP is the pick of the bunch. I was there as an 11-year old standing at the Craner Curves, new to Formula 1, and Senna's display of dominance in a rubbish car made a huge impression on me and cemented my love for the sport.

    Sure, the other GP's may be more exciting, but nothing beats the masterclass Senna showed us all that day and Prost was made to look foolish by comparison. It was possibly the best F1 race ever!

  • Comment number 32.

    #30 "It's not like the TV is the ONLY place to watch them, and even though it's better than on the website, it's not the end of the world if you watch it on the website."

    Perhaps the BBC could use this sentiment in their marketing, something like:

    The BBC, we don't always broadcast what we say we will, when we say, but it's not the end of the world...

    Seriously though, I can watch online, but I prefer the TV when it's available. I just want to know!
    Accurate information on what is available and when would seem to be a very important part of an international broadcaster's service.

  • Comment number 33.

    1995 wasnt a classic and I am glad that 1993 was chosen, its at Donny in its old look and we wont ever see that again, plus the 1993 race wasnt just about Lap 1, we saw what COULD have been the best rivalry in F1...Schumacher v Senna...snuffed out at Imola 1994 when Senna was killed, F1 Racing made this point once and I have always wanted to see that main show so thanks Andrew for putting it on for us who want to see it again.
    1999 was a classic and was 2005 when Kimi did the daft thing and wrecked his chances of winning the title that season by driving dangerously and his car just giving up...seriously, he could have slowed down, Alonso was miles away from why did he risk it???

  • Comment number 34.

    I have to disagree with #30 stevvy - what about users of mobile broadband? Wildly varying bitrates (sometimes as low as 14Kbps) and capped data allowances. Plus, theres something to be said about watching TV on a, shock horror, TV, also the TV is so much more convenient - just switch on, select channel 301 or 302 and go.

  • Comment number 35.

    "There are no prizes for guessing the great Formula 1 race we have chosen to highlight in the latest edition of our classic races series.

    "Ayrton Senna's stupendous victory in the rain in the European Grand Prix at Donington Park in 1993 gets the treatment - the full Grand Prix highlights programme of the time."

    Except when we tuned in for the one and only showing on Freeview tonight, it wasn't broadcast while the shorter highlights were and even got repeated!

    Is there no chance of having it shown once on Sunday morning before this weekend's race or instead of one of the repeats of practice or qualifying? Please?!

    I appreciate the schedule is very tight, but the cricket finished on time at 6.30 and the Test Match Special coverage ended within five minutes so it seems a shame not to have shown the main race when we were told it was going to be.

  • Comment number 36.

    I've just been waiting for 1993 on Freeview, I think the programme did start 10 or so minutes late

    started at 95 and worked upto 2007, so 1993 is next.... no it went backwards to 95 again

    Oh well, went and tried on the red button on Sky.... and no classic grands prix are on there at the moment

    Is it still being shown until Friday morning, and if so what's the cut off time, I'll try and catch it before then

  • Comment number 37.

    What made it even more frustrating bearing in mind the BBC's comments about a tight schedule is that the F1 was reduced to make way for athletics at 7.45pm - which was exactly the same live broadcast as was being shown at the same time on BBC2 until 8.05pm!

    Regardless of whether its F1 or anything else losing out, it seems the red button facility isn't being used to its maximum potential at the moment.

    If a schedule is so tight, why waste 20 minutes showing the same programme as another channel? And I must agree with previous comments about the sports news loop - 2 minutes of news repeated endlessly over several hours.

    Surely the time and channel could be put to any number of better uses?!

  • Comment number 38.

    I too waited for the 1993 highlights package on Freeview and was not to happy to see it cut to pieces and cobbled back together without the main ingredient. Some of us record the repeated highlights to add to our collections. Not everybody has Sky or cable.

    Andrew, as we didn't get what we were promised, could we please have the Europe highlights package on Freeview at the next available opportunity? If so, could you tell us when it might be?

  • Comment number 39.

    '93 was my first year watching Grand Prix on an even semi-regular basis.

    Coming into the season I was looking forward to the Prost vs Senna battle and sure enough, both legends had won one race each coming into Donnington.

    The first think that stood out about the Grand Prix programme was the intro, with Damon Hill's '0' Williams in the starring role. Why? Damon didn't even get my attention before he finished 2nd in Brazil(race before Donnington). At the start of the the year, well OK, Damon was a Brit in a Williams as was Mansell the year before. Even at the end of '93, Damon didn't quite have Mansell' status.

    Was there any pre-season hype about Damon that I don't remember?

    Other than that, the SEGA sponsership boards took me 'way' back and I have to admit, it was interesting to see Barrichello give Prost a race.

    Prost was also very lucky to make the podium given the circumstances.

  • Comment number 40.

    Freeview '93? **** you BBC.

    You make me SICK.

  • Comment number 41.

    Andrew, you were absolutely correct to show Donington. This was an immaculate display ( and not just a good lap as you correctly pointed out)by Senna in a car which was probably worse than the Benetton, Williams and even the Sauber.
    What true Grand prix fan could ever tire of seeing the fastest driver in a poor car dazzling the rest of the worlds drivers with his incomparable talent?

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm sure there's others like me who like to record for their personal collection offered on Freeview.

    Utter disappointed by BBC efforts to redeem themselves. We've had the same programmes repeated during the evening over the past few days.

  • Comment number 43.

    It would have been nice if Andrew or anyone else from the BBC could've replied to a few of the above posts to let us know why the mini highlights were chosen to be shown twice rather than the 93 highlights that were promised.

    I'd much rather have seen the 45-minute 93 highlights shown once the other night rather than the 20-odd minute shorter highlights repeated.

    Still, Andrew's moved on to his next blogs - telling us all about the classic Belgian GPs we probably won't be able to catch on Freeview! From what one poster said, it doesn't even seem as if the races were available on sky at the times that had been promised.

    Would there not be any chance in the coming weeks or months where we could have a catch up of the full highlights shows on Freeview over a couple of days when there aren't any special events being broadcast such as athletics, music festivals etc?


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