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Your classic grand prix - race 17

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Andrew Benson | 10:42 UK time, Wednesday, 20 October 2010

It is a first for classic Formula 1 this week - a father and son victory double bill featuring Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve.

In a break from the normal tradition, we have decided to broadcast extended highlights of two of last week's five choices - the 1996 Portuguese Grand Prix and the 1979 South African Grand Prix.

The Portuguese race - the last one at the Estoril circuit, one of the more enjoyable stops on the F1 calendar in the 1990s - was won by Jacques Villeneuve as he sought to beat Williams team-mate Damon Hill to the world championship.

Villeneuve failed in that quest as Hill was crowned champion at the subsequent race in Japan, but Villeneuve's superb win in Portugal kept the title race alive to that final grand prix of the season.

This race was the most popular choice among respondents on this blog last week - and with good reason. Villeneuve drove probably the greatest race of his F1 career to make up the ground lost by a poor start and a delay behind Ferrari's Michael Schumacher in the early laps and overhaul Hill.

The win was made possible by a brilliant overtaking move - one of the best of the 1990s, and possibly ever - on Schumacher around the outside of Estoril's banked, 150mph final corner.

Inspired by this, Villeneuve then made up 15 seconds on Hill, partly with the help of traffic, partly by simply being faster on the day, and passed him at the third and final pit stops for a brilliant victory.

The 'Grand Prix' programme broadcast on BBC Two on the evening of this race is embedded below, with the shorter highlights edits of all the races linked underneath.

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The classic races will be shown on the red button on interactive television in the UK from 1800 Wednesday 20 October to 1300 on Friday 22, although they will not be broadcast between 1600 and 1900 on Thursday. They will not be broadcast on Freeview.

There is no question that Portugal 1996 was an exciting race, and a stirring drive by Villeneuve but, in my opinion, it was eclipsed by his father Gilles's victory in South Africa 17 years previously.

This was the second most popular race among respondents on this blog and we feel the strongest contender, so we have decided to broadcast the full 'Grand Prix' programme from that race, too. It is embedded below.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

I went into the details of this race last week; suffice it to say here that a stop to change tyres dropped Villeneuve Sr 30 seconds behind his Ferrari team-mate Jody Scheckter. The Canadian made up the deficit in just 33 laps, then forced the South African into a mistake and went on to take a brilliant win.

It was the first of many stunning drives by Villeneuve in 1979, a season which he started as the junior partner to Scheckter at Ferrari.

Thanks to consistency, the judicious application of team orders in the decisive race, and some critical errors by the still-inexperienced Villeneuve, Scheckter ended the year as world champion, as had been his and Ferrari's aim when they signed him.

By then, though, Villeneuve ended it established as not only the fastest driver at Ferrari, but in the world - a position he maintained until his death three years later.


  • Comment number 1.

    FANTASTIC andrew brilliant choice thankyou for 2 sets of full highlights

  • Comment number 2.

    Does this get shown on IPlayer? I only have an iPad which doesn't play Flash content and if it's not on Freeview I may not see these races.

  • Comment number 3.

    Great choices Andrew!

    Shame about the freeview and the very diploimatic detail of the broadcast times...get the Freeview controller by the neck next time and show him how many hits your getting online!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Great choice. That overtaking manoeuvre by J. Villeneuve on Schumacher was as exciting as it was brilliant ... made all the sweeter by the Ferrari driving whining afterwards that it was "dangerous" (a sure sign that the German knew he'd been made to look silly).

  • Comment number 5.

    Andrew - Great Choice

    Freeview Controller - Get your coat mate. We've had enough

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Great to see 2 races getting the full highlights treatment Andrew.

  • Comment number 8.

    Great, two extended highlights, plus given the timelines, I take it the two just about bookend the original run of BBC's Grand Prix before they moved to ITV!

    Can't wait to watch these when I get home from work!

  • Comment number 9.

    No Freeview? Why is the Chuckle Brothers on loop or something! BBC PULL YOUR FINGER OUT!

  • Comment number 10.

    Good lord Jonathan Palmer's co-commentary is infuriatingly patronising and irritatingly delivered. Always such a jarring contrast between Hunt's graceful dulcet tones on the 80s and early 90s commentary and Palmer's enthusiastic but sadly misguided attempts at appearing informative..

  • Comment number 11.

    I realise live footage and camera angles of the event were patchy, and thus underwhelming commentary that went with it; but Andrew, don't you think should have shown the less-experienced fans the McLarens hitting each other at Estoril 1996? If anything, just for mere relevance, it would show as a good example of the heated competitive spirit that Lewis and Jenson will be risking inflicting to keep themselves in the championship, if they came to be following each other on track this Sunday ;)

  • Comment number 12.

    You build us up and shoot us down...

    Agree with Comment 5....

    What a shame (again) no freeview broadcast.
    Freeview controller - get your coat AND satchel, and close the door on the way out.

    I LOVE Formula One and feel as cheated as Massa or Barichello driving a Ferrari and asked to move over...

    Yours faithfully,

    Soddin Typical,

  • Comment number 13.

    well after watching the villenueve v schumacher move, whats so amazing about it? schumacher got completely held up by the minardi on the drive out of the 2nd to last corner which is why villeneuve got the jump.
    taking into account the fact that the williams was a far superior machine to the ferrari, on a high downforce track, i don't see what is soooo spectacular about this move...

    get a grip. 'greatest move of the 90's, possibly ever'. Lol.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hey James Chapman (comment 8.); your comment about the two chosen races bookending the BBC coverage of F1 jogged my memory. Estoril '96 was the last European race of the season and it was intended to be Murray Walkers last trackside commentary. I distinctly remember the American commantary team (I live in't States) paying tribute to the great Murray Walker at Estoril.

    As it turned out the championship went down to the wire and the Beeb decided to splash out and send Murray to Suzuka; so that became his "last race".

    But then he retired again at one of the F1 races I attended at Indianapolis!

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Andrew, thanks for putting up two extended highlights.

    Did anyone else see Jackie Stewart on the rostrum at the end of the 1979 South African GP highlights?

  • Comment number 16.

    Sigh..Watching the 1996 Portuguese Grand Prix just makes you think how much refuelling is missed. Even if drivers were not overtaking on the track (but it still happened) we still had the thrill of drivers pushing till the pit stops and the many changing of positions which alternative strategies provided. The 1996 Portuguese GP was probably Villeneuve's best drive in F1 to.

  • Comment number 17.

    Yes Portugal 1996 WON!!!! Didn't it?, I hope!
    Thankyou Andrew..

  • Comment number 18.

    @13 - I couldn't agree with you more - I never realised how much Schumacher had been held up. It looked good from onboard, but not really a great overtaking move by Villeneuve.

    Also Andrew, can you confirm something please? According to my Freeview EPG, 'Formula 1' is scheduled on Friday between 6pm and 7pm on Channel 301 and the programme information is blank. Is there a chance that us Freeviewers will be able watch some of these races or is this a mistake?

  • Comment number 19.

    9. tj wrote: "No Freeview? Why is the Chuckle Brothers on loop or something!"

    Close - it's a hard-hitting programme of international importance that cannot be limited to just a few hours. Namely a quiz about the fictitious character of Merlin, not based on Mallory (or anything else for that matter), that absotively, posilutely must run ad nauseum or the Earth will stop spinning.

    Or something like that.

    By the way, the BBC needs to make staff cuts. Suggestions anyone?

  • Comment number 20.

    Re: 16. F1 has now got so bad that people have even given up longing for real overtaking and have begun reminiscing about pit stop overtaking. How much further can it sink? With so little racing to discuss, the media is left with only speculaton for content. This will be my 32nd and final year of supporting this sport.

  • Comment number 21.

    Oigioieee, yes it's lauded by many drivers, commentators & jourons as one of the best if no the best overtakes of all time. Just a pity there were no outside shots of it.

    Of course it doesn't take much effort to guess why you feel the need to slate it.

  • Comment number 22.

    F1 reply this time:

    15. LordWoz wrote: "Did anyone else see Jackie Stewart on the rostrum at the end of the 1979 South African GP highlights?"

    Yup - he's stuck at the back totting a mic, and I was a bit surprised Murray didn't spot him. But commentators are always complaining their monitors are too small, so that might be why. This must've been when JYS was a pundit for ABC in America.

    16. Christopher Foxon wrote: "Sigh..Watching the 1996 Portuguese Grand Prix just makes you think how much refuelling is missed."

    To be honest, I don't miss it at all. We've had a fantastic season this year because cars are not passing in the pitlane. Each year I write a season review and go through the lap charts after each event, and in recent years it's been depressing to see how few passes were taking place on track. A couple of years ago one race had just three passes on track for the entire race after Lap 1 (which is exceptional). It was probably Spain - always a snorefest - but I'd need to check that.

    This year it's been different. Instead we've had some interesting tyre strategies that have seen either early race gambles or late race burns from the stern (well, mid-field burns, at least) which have spiced up the ends of races that, in themselves, can be pretty dull as drivers settle for position and nurse cars to the flag.

    What I DO find interesting about the old non-refuelling stops is the number of pitcrew. I'm of the opinion that it might be an idea to try (as an experiment) to limit the crew as in GP2, to see what happens. It may put more emphasis on the whole teams' impact on the race (not just those sitting on the prat perches, jiggling their trainers, or boffins glued to data traces), as well as offering cost-cutting by reducing travel expenses. After all, Ron Dennis also used to double as McLaren's lollipop man!

    Today's stops look robotic (though that's partly due to intense training), but with fewer wheelmen there's a sense that individual involvement and responsibility becomes more important. Look at the guys changing the tyres in the old races; they're active, busy, thinking, maybe sometimes desperate, as they co-ordinate the change. Pit-stops will be slower, but also we might have fewer wheels falling off. There would be fewer people likely to get injured if there is a mishap, and cars are less likely to crash into each other going into and leaving pit boxes if the place is less crowded and visibility improved.

    We, the spectator, will also be able to see more because our view is less obstructed. Watching on TV is one thing, but if you're in the stands overlooking (say) Silverstone or Hockenheim, the car comes in, disappears beneath a host of Sparco romper suits, and then emerges again. You haven't seen a flippin' thing.

    And that, your Honour, is the case for the defence.

    20. cheatinggermanslag wrote: "Re: 16. F1 has now got so bad that people have even given up longing for real overtaking and have begun reminiscing about pit stop overtaking. How much further can it sink?" Following from my comment above, I'm not sure that that's true. Looking through the lap charts we've had quite a lot of passing on track this year compared to recent seasons.

    However, I would agree that this remains a lot less than, say, before the turn of the millennium. Aero is still, I'm sure, the main cause of this. It was notable that James Hunt commented during one of the recent 1980s archive races that aero in the corners restricted passing even then, so you can image what it's like today. If the FIA can be more robust in the regs (properly losing barge boards, diffusers, those ghastly shark fins, and making suspension parts circular in cross-section again), we might see further improvements. Maybe if you limited the number of elements in the front wings, the rear wings (a major cause of the problem) would need to be reduced too to keep front and back in balance.

    The alternative being suggested is a return to ground effects. I can't say that fills me with a lot of joy after the problems drivers had the first time around coping with the G, when the technology was comparatively primitive.

  • Comment number 23.

    That pass by Villeneuve is text book (indycar) oval racing pass, amazing to think f1 cars could do that

  • Comment number 24.

    Re 22 - how do overtaking stats show the last few laps of Monaco with mansell all over senna? It's an obvious place to look, but tells nothing about the enjoyment of a race. I find them irrelevant.

  • Comment number 25.

    24. cheatinggermanslag wrote: "Re 22 - how do overtaking stats show the last few laps of Monaco with mansell all over senna? It's an obvious place to look, but tells nothing about the enjoyment of a race. I find them irrelevant."

    Stats obviously don't contain subjectivity, and I'd never pretend they do. I believed from your comment that "F1 has now got so bad that people have even given up longing for real overtaking and have begun reminiscing about pit stop overtaking" you were disappointed with the amount of on-track overtaking. Is this incorrect?

    If the comment was not about the comparative quantity and location of passing today relative to some point in the past, perhaps you could put me right on what you were trying to say about overtaking. Your Monaco example (which I assume refers to 1992) I agree wholeheartedly was thrilling, and still is, but it doesn't say much about peoples' "longing for real overtaking" since Mansell did not overtake Senna. Perhaps you could clarify to remove my misunderstanding.

  • Comment number 26.

    I too am glad for the new era of no refueling. In the recent past races, and championships, have been won and lost by button pressing strategists sitting on the pit wall. Drivers rarely had to sully themselves with the physical act overtaking, they could get the desired results by speeding up, slowing down, or blocking as dictated from the pit - not much fun at all for drivers or spectators.

    So refueling is gone; now we need to get rid of the option tyre rule so drivers can run from flag to flag without stopping. This might cause a bottle neck of cars building up behind a leader on ragged tyres, but that might lead to more fun than we're allowed to expect from the modern F1 era.

  • Comment number 27.

    Why has BBC become so stingy with F1 coverage on the red button? If there are other viewers as annoyed as I am about this degradation of service please also express your dissatisfaction at:

    Otherwise, keep up the good work Andrew. We love it!

  • Comment number 28.

    26. theNige wrote: "So refueling is gone; now we need to get rid of the option tyre rule so drivers can run from flag to flag without stopping."

    I've been trying to recall what the logic was of introducing Primes and Options, apart from that it had been used in CART for a few seasons before. I think it was to artificially introduce strategy to compensate for Michelin's departure. The Q3-to- Grid tyre rule has a similar origin.

    I think we're probably much on the same wavelength, here. I'd rather see teams have the chance once again of either running softs and pitting once or twice, or bolting on hards and trying to make 'em last, or a combination. I'm not ardently against the current tyre regs, but feel more that F1 would be improved without.

    With teams forced to use a given number of tyres, it appears rather wasteful to compulsorily run both sets, especially now that the Primes seem pretty much capable of running for the whole race. Seems a shame (as in the case of Kobayashi earlier this season) to use a set of tyres for just six or seven laps, after which they're practically useless. We have that during the early laps, too, where some of the top 10 qualifiers coming in to lose their qually Options after a handful of laps, and if there's an early SC, then some tyres on the midfield cars are also barely used as drivers pile into the pits to switch as well.

    If the Primes could be made more robust, and the Options less so (the thinking behind the compound 'step'), there is a possibility for more variation in tyre strategy than we have at present. That there was such a fuss when Lewisham and Jenson ran different tyre strategies within the same team - common in past years, where a driver could even choose to have softs on three wheels and a hard on the 4th if they liked it that way - does tend to indicate how formulaic and/or restrictive strategy can be under the Prime/Option rule.

    However, with Pirelli coming in, and their compounds being a bit of an unknown (to say the least), I suspect that we'll have the current tyre rules for at least another season until a proper and fair assessment can be made.

  • Comment number 29.

    Best overtaking move ever? I can't begin to tell you how much I disagree! I think any decent driver could've pulled that one off. Certainly Kobayashi would've walked it. ;-)

    It was a good move, don't get me wrong, but that Williams was by far superior to Schumacher's Ferrari. You only have to look at the points gap between Hill and Villeneuve, and Schumacher to see this is true - and he used to wring the neck of those early Ferrari cars trying to keep up.

    In my opinion Villeneuve was a good driver, but not a GREAT driver. If he was driving the Ferrari, or indeed if Schumacher was driving the other Williams, Villeneuve would've been a long way behind.

    Having got that off my chest...

    Thanks Andrew for the videos. You've been great this season, like last time, and I'm hoping for more of the same next year! ;-)

  • Comment number 30.

    Portugal '96: First eyebrow raiser was the speculation about Hill going to Jordan for '97. Had forgotten that rumour was buzzing around before Damon was snapped up by Arrows. The one I remember had Hill and DC pairing up at McLaren for that year.

    As for the race itself, the hype about Villeneuve was that no one had overtaken anyone on the outside of Parabolica previously. Amazingly I can't remember than much about this race - probably because Damon blew a chance at winning the title and then 'took' the title the following race.

  • Comment number 31.

    Great feature, Andrew. The opening laps of that South African Grand Prix are fantastic- great to see the relative strengths of two very different cars providing real Racing: 3-litre flat-12 vs blown 1.5 V6. Makes me feel that the current crop of machinery is too tightly regulated. Why do they all have to be V8's? A greater degree of variety and opportunity for creative engineering would only be a good thing, shirley.

    I also fail to see the benefit of mandatory tyre stops. How good would the Japanese GP have been if the soft runners had been obliged to hunt down and RACE Button, rather than hold back, knowing he'd have to stop 'cause the rule book says so.

    And I'm fully with oigioeiee on Villeneuve Minor's pass- fairly underwhelming. When the footage cuts to Schumacher he's clearly backed right off- as he admits after the race- to get a clear run out of the corner to pass the Minardi on the straight. Good bit of opportunism from Jacques, and fairly brave; but hardly in the pantheon of great manouevres. For me, that requires the other fellow to be defending his position. Herr Schu was just caught napping!

    Amazed he didn't push Jacques of the circuit...

  • Comment number 32.

    On Gilles/Jody, much as Gilles Villeneuve was a very good driver, I can't help but think Scheckter gets a bit of a rough deal from people (including Andrew Benson) looking through Villeneuve-tinted spectacles.

    The story as told is that Villeneuve was much faster than Scheckter but through a combination of Villenevue's bad luck and some inconsistency, Scheckter was able to win, but even then relied on Villeneuve "allowing" him to win in Monza.

    Well, I don't think it's as simple as that. First of all, the qualifying results were 8-7 in favour of Villeneuve. This is arguably the best measure of raw speed, and it's actually very close. Secondly, what evidence is there that Villeneuve could have just passed Scheckter to win in Monza? The fact is Scheckter qualified ahead and was ahead all race. The rest is surely speculation. And thirdly, Villeneuve passing Scheckter at Monza would not automatically have given him the title anyway.

    After Monza there were two races left, so by winning there, Scheckter clinched the title with two races to spare. Yes, it's true that had Villeneuve won and the other two races gone exactly as they did, Villeneuve would have been champion, but there's no guarantee that this would have happened. Scheckter had arguably backed off, and he had some of his own bad luck anyway.

    Myth busted?

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm reading all the comments about the Villeneuve Estoril overtaking, but it doesn't stick in my head as something significant. When I think of Estoril and brilliant overtaking I think 1991.

    Senna and Mansell were the two remaining contenders in the championship hunt. They qualified 3 rd and 4 th, behind their respective team mates (Berger McLaren, and Patrese in the Williams}. All had good starts and entering turn one Senna had the inside line just behind his team mate Berger. Mansell was on the outside of Senna's left rear. Exiting turn one Mansell was ahead of both McLarens (!)

    It was hard to comprehend.

  • Comment number 34.

    Talking about the debacle that is F1 Freeview coverage are we going to get the driver tracker again rather than the in car view?

    Whoever decided a static map with movable dots was preferable to actually watching the racing needs to be sacked.


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