The season started well enough, with Prost taking pole position in every race until the Canadian Grand Prix. Race days were more of a challenge, however, and the Senna threat was very real. Three wins apiece in six races spiced up the championship, until Prost took the advantage with four consecutive mid-season victories. Quietly, new recruit Damon Hill was also gathering momentum and sealed his first win at the Hungarian Grand Prix in mid-August. Williams had consolidated its championship leading status and it was just a matter of time before a second constructors’ crown was wrapped up.
Head of engine build, Régis Ramauge, was working on both cars in the Williams garage in 1993. He remembers arriving in Belgium as Prost and Williams edged closer to the title. ‘Spa was a classic track, even back in the early 90s. The corners were fast and flowing, and you needed to be brave. Eau Rouge could just about be taken flat if you had the right car, but the threat of an accident was never far away. Every off track excursion would have serious consequences ; Alex Zanardi had had a huge crash in Friday practice that ended his season.
‘We arrived in Spa fairly confident. Alain had had a difficult race in Budapest, with some mechanical issues, but he was not far from the championship at that point, despite a strong early season challenge from Senna. Williams had built the best car again and it worked in perfect harmony with our engine.
‘Damon had taken his first victory in Hungary just two weeks before. He had been very impressive that season, stepping up from the test driver role quite easily. He was very well prepared, had done lots of kilometres, and knew the team well.
‘We went to the resplendent Spa circuit under a certain amount of pressure. Lots of people from Viry had made the trip, as well as a large delegation from Renault. Trackside, we knew that it would be tough for Alain. Damon would be strong, but Ayrton Senna too and a certain Michael Schumacher as well.
‘We took pole position relatively easily, as we had done in all the races so far. Alain kept the lead at the start from Ayrton and Damon. He was far from at ease with all the complicated electronic systems in the car, but he wasn’t called The Professor for nothing : he drove round his worries and could pull out a lead when he needed to. He looked in control until his second stop, but a slow stop dropped him back behind Damon.
‘Damon inherited the lead, while Alain fell to third behind Schumacher. He tried to get back into second, but with the championship close by he kept position. Damon held on to take the win, his second of the year. It was also the 50th win for Renault in F1. It’s a big number, but it’s funny as I don’t remember a lot of celebration about that statistic at the time. It seems that we were so dominant in the 90s that we knew we could achieve that number sooner rather than later.
‘What was important, though, was the fact we won the constructors’ championship with that result. It proved that we’d yet again built a fantastic car with Williams. Damon would win again in Italy just two weeks later, and Alain would go on to take his fourth championship in Portugal after that. It may have taken a bit longer to get the wins than the previous year, but in the end we got what we wanted.’