Both the Benetton's drove well in the warm up today. Alesi drove a fast lap of 1:29.128 and Berger did just slightly less with a time of 1:29.133. Both times were faster than the pole position of Damon Hill (1:30.346). Jos Verstappen drove the 8th fastest time, 1:30.616. He could only drive a few laps at the end of the session because of technical difficulties.
Irvine had a very bad morning warm-up: his Ferrari broke down at the beginning of the session.
Montermini, Marques and Katayama all had spins.
1. Alesi (Benetton-Renault)
2. Berger (Benetton-Renault)
3. Schumacher (Ferrari)
4. Hill (Williams-Renault)
5. Villeneuve (Williams-Renault)
6. Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes)
Damon Hill lead the entire race in his Williams-Renault to win for the third time in a row. Jacques Villeneuve had an appalling start, dropping from 3rd to 10th. Alesi, Berger and Schumacher were on the same pace for a long time but Hill just drove away from the pack, only to see his lead disappear when the pace car was brought out because the Forti of Luca Badoer flipped onto the grass after colliding with a Ligier. Badoer was not hurt.
While the pace car was still out, Pedro Diniz's Ligier burst into a spectacular show of flames while leaking fuel and braking into a turn. The fire was quickly extinguished and Diniz escaped flustered, but unharmed. The pace car continued on the track allowing drivers to group. At this time, Hill lost his margin of lead and Villeneuve was able make up for his slow start.
After the race resumed, Schumacher, in second, pitted on lap 39. A faster Alesi pitted on lap 44. Alesi was almost sure to beat Schumacher to second while exiting the pits, but he stalled the car, causing to Schumacher to retain a position over him.
Afterward, Schumacher soon slowed and gave way to Alesi and the pack as his Ferrari became uncontrollable due to a small collision during the pace laps. His rear-wing was damaged.
Berger pitted on lap 56 only to retire on lap 57, allowing Villeneuve to gain and retain second for the rest of the race behind an unmatchable Hill. Alesi followed in 3rd
Damon finished in the range of 15 seconds ahead of his teammate. It is the second time this season that Williams has finished first and second (Australia was the first). It is also the second consecutive time that Hill has finished by such a dominating margin. An outstanding performance was given by Jos Verstappen. He finished sixth in his Arrows-Hart, grabbing the first championship point for the Arrows-Hart team this season.
Hakkinen went out of the race because of a broken throttle. (lap 19).
Diniz blew the engine of his Ligier when the safety car was on the track causing the car to burst into flames. Diniz walked away unhurt (lap 29).
Frentzen spins off on lap 32.
Tarso Marques hits the back of the Jordan of Brundle causing him to spin off (lap 33). Brundle goes into the pits and retires (lap 34).
Schumacher retires because someone hit his rear-wing when he was behind the pace car which made the car very difficult to drive (lap 46).
Berger retires because of a broken suspension (lap 56).
Hill on increasing his championship lead: "It's a great day, it's a fantastic result for the Rothmans-Williams-Renault team and I'm delighted to pull off three wins to start the season with. It's difficult to imagine it could get better than this."
Hill on pacecar situation: "It was a bit disappointing to have an incident where the pacecar came out but then we just had to get on with it and it was the same for everyone."
Villeneuve on his start: " The start went really bad. The clutch slipped a lot and a lot of cars got by me, then we got up to fifth and luckily for us there was the pacecar out so we could catch up with the rest of the field."
Alesi on challenging Hill for the lead: "I don't think so. We were just able to follow each other but never to be able to try anything."
1. Hill 1:54.55.322
2. Villeneuve +12.167
3. Alesi +14.754
4. Barrichello +55.131
5. Irvine +1:04.991
6. Verstappen +1:08.913
7. Coulthard +1:13.400
8. Panis 1:14.295
9. Herbert 1 lap
10. Montermini 3 laps
1. Hill 30
2. Villeneuve 12
3. Alesi 10
4. Irvine 6
5. Hakkinen 5
6. Schumacher 4
7. Berger 3
8. Barrichello 3
9. Salo 3
10. Panis 1
11. Verstappen 1