Sunday 2nd June 1996
The Spanish Grand Prix was held in Barcelona. Michael Schumacher’s first Ferrari victory, it is generally regarded as one of his finest. In the torrential rain, he produced a stunning drive, and a prime example of why he earned the nickname “Regenmeister” (“Rainmaster”), despite his early and unforced crash at a wet Monaco Grand Prix two weeks earlier.
Mika Salo was disqualifed for the second time this season, for changing cars after the field was under starter’s orders.
Damon Hill had started the race from pole position, but dropped to 8th after spinning twice in the opening laps, before another spin into the pit wall on lap 12 ended his race. Schumacher recovered from a poor start to take the lead from Villeneuve on lap 13, and from then on he dominated the race, lapping over three seconds a lap faster than the remainder of the field.
Rubens Barrichello, who was running in second place after Jacques Villeneuve and Alesi made their pit stops, put in a strong performance in this race, but was forced to retire with 20 laps to go after a clutch problem caused his engine to fade out. On the previous lap, Gerhard Berger had spun his Benetton out of fourth place while trying to lap Diniz.
After an uneventful race on his part, Heinz-Harald Frentzen finished in fourth, while Mika Häkkinen took fifth after surviving a spin off the track in the closing stages of the race. Jos Verstappen, running fifth after the retirements of Barrichello and Berger, crashed into the tyre barrier with 12 laps left, guaranteeing Pedro Diniz his first Formula One point as by this time only six drivers were left in the race. With no further retirements, Diniz brought his car home in sixth, after driving at a more cautious pace that saw him fall two laps adrift of the front runners by the end.