The opening of the Formula 1 season promises more than in turn major races. The inauguration of the 1996 championship leaves great memories to those who witnessed them.
After the IndyCar race and a victory over the Indianapolis 500 Mile in his saddle, Jacques Villeneuve (who has just signed a rallycross for the 2014 season) is the "new kid on the block", inheriting the coveted flying Williams-Renault. Arriving as Damon Hill's No. 2, Villeneuve proves on the Melbourne inning that he will never be counted on as a liner of the Englishman. Signing the pole position of his very first F1 Grand Prix by taking the top on Hill for 0.138s, the Quebecer is writing a page of the History of Sport.
Villeneuve kept the lead at the start of the race, while in the peloton, Martin Brundle (Jordan) and Johnny Herbert (Sauber) crashed into what would be one of the most spectacular accidents of the year. Villeneuve keeps his head after the neutralization and keeps himself in the lead until the 29th passage, moment chosen to realize his pit stop. He swaps the fastest laps in the race with Michael Schumacher, who plays his very first Grand Prix for Ferrari. Villeneuve emerged from the pits in second position behind his team-mate Hill and passed it on the 31st lap.
The Canadian seems to be on the brink of his first GP victory on his first appearance, but a smoke is beginning to escape from the back of his car around the 40th. At five rounds of the finish, Villeneuve's lead is only 1.5 sec on Hill and the Williams team passes a paneling from the wall urging him to slow down to preserve the mechanics: the telemetry leaves indeed to fear an irreversible oil pressure drop.
Villeneuve will thus return from his first race with the 6 points of the second place, the pole position and the best lap in the race.