1996 Formula One season
FIA Formula One World Championship season
|Races by country • Races by season|
The 1996 Formula One season was the 47th season of FIA Formula One motor racing. It featured the 1996 FIA Formula One World Championship, which commenced on March 10, 1996, and ended on October 13 after sixteen races. Two World Championship titles were awarded, one for Drivers and one for Constructors.
Damon Hill won the Drivers Championship two years after being beaten by a point by Michael Schumacher, making him the only son of a World Champion to have won the title. Hill, who had finished runner-up for the past two seasons, was seriously threatened only by his teammate, newcomer Jacques Villeneuve. Williams Renault easily won the Constructors title, as there was no other competitor strong enough to post a consistent challenge throughout the championship. This was also the beginning of the end of Williams' 1990s dominance, as it was announced that Hill and designer Adrian Newey would depart at the conclusion of the season, with engine manufacturer Renault also leaving after 1997.
Two-time defending drivers' title holder Schumacher had moved to Ferrari and despite numerous reliability problems, they had gradually developed into a front-running team by the end of the season. Defending Constructors champions Benetton Renault began their decline towards the middle of the grid, having lost key personnel due to Schumacher's departure, and failed to win a race. Olivier Panis took the only victory of his career at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Teams and drivers 
The numbering system used since 1974 was dropped. Ferrari was given the numbers 1 and 2 after hiring the defending champion Michael Schumacher. Benetton received numbers 3 and 4 for winning the Constructors Championship. Williams got numbers 5 and 6 for finishing second, McLaren got 7 and 8 for finishing fourth, Ligier and 9 and 10 for finishing fifth, and so on.
Forti Grand Prix were declared bankrupt after the British Grand Prix and took no further part in the championship.
Formula One 1996 race schedule 
|1||Australian Grand Prix||10 March||Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit|
|2||Brazilian Grand Prix||31 March||Autódromo José Carlos Pace, São Paulo|
|3||Argentine Grand Prix||7 April||Autódromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez, Buenos Aires|
|4||European Grand Prix||28 April||Nürburgring|
|5||San Marino Grand Prix||5 May||Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola|
|6||Monaco Grand Prix||19 May||Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo|
|7||Spanish Grand Prix||2 June||Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona|
|8||Canadian Grand Prix||16 June||Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal|
|9||French Grand Prix||30 June||Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, Magny-Cours|
|10||British Grand Prix||14 July||Silverstone Circuit|
|11||German Grand Prix||28 July||Hockenheimring|
|12||Hungarian Grand Prix||11 August||Hungaroring, Budapest|
|13||Belgian Grand Prix||25 August||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Spa|
|14||Italian Grand Prix||8 September||Autodromo Nazionale Monza|
|15||Portuguese Grand Prix||22 September||Autodromo do Estoril|
|16||Japanese Grand Prix||13 October||Suzuka Circuit|
Rule changes 
The race weekend schedule was changed for the 1996 season compared to the 1995 season. The number of free practice sessions was increased from the two to three with the number of laps allocated for each day increased from 23 to 30. Also, to increase the spectacle, the Friday qualifying session was dropped, with the FIA World Motor Sport Council opting to have only one qualifying session, held on Saturday afternoon.
The old system of having a red and green light to start the race was replaced by the current system of five red lights coming on individually and then all going out to start the race.
This year saw the introduction of the '107% rule', which meant all cars had to be within 107% of the pole position time in order to qualify for the race.
A new numbering system for cars was adopted for 1996 and remains in place as of 2013. Previously the reigning Drivers Champion's team had simply swapped car numbers with the previous Drivers Champion’s team to carry numbers 1 and 2, with all other teams retaining their existing numbers. For 1996 the reigning Drivers Champion was given number 1 and his team-mate number 2 with the rest of the teams numbered in the order of their finishing position in the previous year's Constructors' Championship. Any new teams were allocated the following numbers.
Grands Prix 
Championship results 
Drivers Championship 
Bold – Pole
† Drivers did not finish the Grand Prix, but were classified as they completed over 90% of the race distance.
Drivers Championship points were awarded on a 10-6-4-3-2-1 basis to the top six finishers in each race.
Constructors Championship 
Constructors Championship points were awarded on a 10-6-4-3-2-1 basis to the top six finishers in each race.