Jacques Villeneuve leads Williams teammate Damon Hill in the 1996 Australian GP © LAT
March 10, 1996
Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne, Australia
Despite Jacques Villeneuve's arrival from the United States as the reigning IndyCar champion, many observers scoffed at his chances of winning in an altogether different world - Michael Andretti, after all, had proved in his efforts with McLaren just three years earlier that the step up was too tough to make.
But the Canadian made an immediate impact with a supreme display at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit, when he put his Williams on pole position ahead of established team leader Damon Hill. Only a self-induced oil leak on his Williams, caused by a brief off during the race, prevented him from claiming a maiden victory.
Villeneuve let Hill past with five laps to go to make sure he finished the race and followed the Briton home in second, but he said: "I feel absolutely fantastic. It was a thrilling race and a terrific result. It's disappointing, but it was a good battle with Damon and the race was fun. He put a lot of pressure on me."