The 1996 Brazilian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 31 March 1996 at Interlagos in heavy rain. Six different teams scored points, with Damon Hill following up his win at the first round of the season.
Two local drivers, Marques and Diniz, had their qualifying times disallowed for, respectively, a push-start and missing the signal to go to the weighbridge. They had to start at the back of the grid.
Johnny Herbert started from the pit lane after switching to the backup-car due to electrical problems.
Damon Hill, who loved driving in the rain, took the lead and won the race under these difficult conditions with a comfortable winning margin of 17 seconds. São Paulo saw the 15th GP victory of Damon Hill, who thereby outperformed a record established by his father Graham Hill, who had won 14 races.
Major battles in the race were going on between Barrichello and Alesi, Alesi and Villeneuve, Schumacher and Frentzen and Schumacher and Barrichello.
Barrichello, who had qualified as second, lost ground to Villeneuve and Alesi on the first lap, but he kept sticking to the back of the Benetton and attempted to overtake Alesi three times in the early stages of the race, outbreaking him into the first corner only to slide wide on the exit allowing Alesi back through.
After a while, Alesi picked up pace and began to harry Villeneuve for 2nd place. After a battle Villeneuve eventually succumbed to the pressure and spun off. Approaching half-distance, Alesi had a brief off track excursion which finally allowed Barrichello through into 2nd place. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, he was forced to make what was supposed to be his only fuel stop on lap 35, when the track was still too wet for slick tyres. Alesi, on the other hand, did not have to pit until lap 42, by which time the track was dry enough to switch to slick tyres. This forced Barrichello to make unscheduled pit stop to make the switch to slicks, dropping him back behind Alesi.
To compound his misfortune, Barrichello made the switch too late, three laps later than Schumacher, meaning that he also dropped behind the German when he finally made his stop. With a clearly faster car, Barrichello began to harry Schumacher for the final podium spot. However, the German would not give in and eventually he braked too late and spun of into the gravel at the end of the back straight.
With little time between Melbourne and São Paulo, the Ferrari was still underdeveloped and Schumacher did not show the performance he later would deliver in Barcelona, for example. In his early days at Ferrari, Schumacher had to use the races as testing sessions.
Gerhard Berger had to park his Benetton in the pits after 27 laps. The Austrian had difficulties during qualifying which he could not explain. When the race then started under wet conditions, Berger had to drive carefully because he had never before piloted the Benetton in the rain. Not too unsatisfied with his performance, Berger experienced cut-offs due to hydraulic problems which became worse and worse and finally forced the car back to the garage.
Both Martin Brundle and David Coulthard did not see the finish line in the first two races of this season.
This was also the first ever Broadcast for Formula One racing on Speedvison In the United States