On the Thursday at Interlagos the drivers were weighed. In previous years the car had to be a minimum of 515kg, but under one of those rule changes the car and driver must now be a minimum of 595kg. This seemed straightforward and worked like this: the cars would be weighed again during the season but the drivers' weights from this Thursday taken as a constant - because they wouldn't vary much - and added. No point in weighing the drivers the whole time. Schumacher was 77kg, which seemed mildly curious because at the beginning of 1994 he'd been 69. (A kilogram is 2.2lb, so he'd put on over a stone.) Whatever, a man could clearly gain that over 12 months, as many of us know to our cost.
In Friday first qualifying he was sixth and pushing hard. In a corner he felt 'a little movement' from the car and in the next corner he had no steering at all. He missed the apex and the Benetton flowed onto the grass. He reacted instinctively - so instinctively that subsequently he wasn't quite sure what he'd done - and changed down, making the car slew to strike a tyre wall, backwards. The tyre wall shattered and scattered. Schumacher, shaken, said he wouldn't race unless the cause of the problem could be discovered and cured. It was, but only after much consternation at anticipating Schumacher v Hill minus Schumacher.
In second qualifying Schumacher went quickest, but not quick enough to dislodge Hill who'd taken provisional pole on the Friday. Schumacher led the race until he pitted on lap 18, ceding the lead to Hill, but on lap 30 Hill's gearbox seized and he spun off. Schumacher pitted a second time, ceding the lead to Coulthard, but regained it when Coulthard pitted, and never lost it. He beat Coulthard by some eight seconds. Nothing unusual, another Schumacher win. He'd set off any minute for a relaxing break on the coast.
Before that he was weighed again (a spot check) and the scales said 71.5kg. This would cause an eruption, although not before a different eruption. Five hours after the race - Schumacher long departed, and Coulthard too - the FIA announced that Elf fuel samples taken from the Benetton and Williams did not match the fuel samples previously submitted for approval. Schumacher and Coulthard were stripped of their points pending appeals by the teams. While Formula One tried to ingest this, word emerged of what the scales said and a ringing question was born that anyone who has even dieted found fascinating. How could Schumacher be 77kg on Thursday and 71.5kg on Sunday? Without the Sunday check, 77 would of been added to the car during the season rather than 71.5. Patrick Head, the Williams designer, estimated that pulling 5.5kg less meant around 14 seconds gained over a race.
Many mischievous theories were put forward but Heiner Bickinger, Schumacher's PR countered. 'First of all he had a couple of days off before Brazil. He went to the Club Med and they have a pretty good French cuisine. He likes to eat and he likes to eat good. Therefore when he arrived at the racetrack he had one or two more kilos than usual. Secondly he didn't have his race helmet when he was on the scales, because that didn't arrive until Friday - but that's only a few hundred grams. He drank between two to three litres of water, and you can translate one litre of water to one kilo of weight, as part of his fitness programme. That was coupled with some salt tablets to keep the water in the body and make the blood thin. He's naturally losing between one and two kilos during the race, and if you watched I think you saw that the car wasn't very good at all compared to the Williams and Ferrari. He had to work a lot harder than the other drivers.'
Schumacher said, 'I certainly did not go to the toilet before the weigh-in.' Surely billion-dollar Grand Prix racing hadn't come to this?
[Bit skipped about Argentina; Benetton-Ferrari row]
At Imola, Mosley gave a Press Conference and admonished Schumacher. 'I think it is unfortunate that the World Champion gets involved about how much he may or may not weigh at any time on a race weekend. It reflects poorly on the sport and shows a lack of adult attitude. It's not extraordinary that someone should put on a stone over a year, particularly as weight no longer matters and they've been doing a lot of training and so on. What is extraordinary is that he should lose it in three days. It was a pity that it became a matter for public discussion, whether he drank a heavy amount of water, didn't go to the loo or had a heavy helmet. It is just a pity he didn't take care that it didn't happen.' Schumacher struck back at that. During the weekend he met Mosley. 'I told him that in future it might be good if he had a word with me before [he said such things] so he can judge from the facts.'
I laughed when I first seen it, but I guess there's a point to it that maybe the media took it out of hand. At the same point, I wonder if Schumacher would of been less successful then if he hadn't of lost so much weight during the race.
I also wonder how much todays drivers lose typically during the race. Anyway, an interesting section nevertheless.