Monday 14 July 2014

On This Day in Formula One - 14 July

The British Grand Prix was supposed to be about the long-awaited appearance of the BRMs, but they had to settle for fifth and seventh. "The cars showed up exceedingly well," enthused the Guardian. "Their only untoward behaviour was a tendency to roast the driver … both had to receive first-aid treatment for burns to their arms and legs." The writer also noted one other issue: "The engine needs to be permitted to develop full power without the risk of blowing up." The race was won by Froilan Gonzalez in a Ferrari, the first time an Alfa Romeo had failed to win a championship event.

The death of two one-race Formula One drivers - Bill Whitehouse and Herbert MacKay-Fraser - came during an F2 race at Reims. Whitehouse died when his borrowed Cooper-Climax left the track after a tyre burst, somersaulted and exploded in flames, while later on MacKay-Fraser lost control of his Lotus at high speed and was killed on impact.

Fangio wins the 1956 British Grand Prix
Juan-Manuel Fangio won the British Grand Prix but it wasn't one of his most memorable successes. An early spin put him back down the field but he kept going as a steam of drivers ahead of him were forced to retire. Tony Brooks had a lucky escape when his BRM overturned and caught fire; he was thrown clear and was fortunate to avoid serious injury.

Paul Revson secured his debut F1 win at the British Grand Prix in a race which saw first-lap chaos following a series of accidents. It started when Niki Lauda was rear-ended by Jack Oliver, and at the end of the lap Jodi Scheckter lost control of his McLaren, hit the pitwall, and spun back into the middle of the track where it set in play a nine-car pile-up. Andrea de Adamich was the most seriously hurt, and it took half-an-hour to extract him from his Brabham and another hour before the race could be restarted with a reduced 19-car field.

Clay Regazzoni claims first win for Sir Frank Williams.
Clay Regazzoni, the oldest man in the field, gave Frank Williams his first grand prix win, and a home one at that. Alan Jones had led early on before his engine overheated. Regazzoni's podium antics were subdued, standing back as Rene Arnoux and Jean-Pierre Jarier splashed around the champagne - the team's Saudi Arabian sponsors insisted there could be no association with alcohol and so he resorted to lemonade.

Mansell gives Senna lift back to the paddock
All the talk ahead of the British Grand Prix had been about Nigel Mansell, who was second behind Ayrton Senna in the drivers' championship, and the excitement heightened when he took pole. He made a poor start to allow Senna into the lead, but straight away overtook his rival and went on to secure a win which left the 150,000 crowd delighted. "For the last two laps I was so terrified I was going to be left without gears," Mansell admitted after his gearbox started misbehaving. Senna ran out of fuel on the last lap but was saved a long walk back to the pits when Mansell stopped on his victory lap to pick him up.

Another British success was anticipated when Damon Hill took pole; like Mansell, he too made a poor start but did not battle back, spinning off as he tried to pass Mike Hakkinen. For the third consecutive race, Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine were both forced to retire with technical issues in the first six laps - Schumacher with hydraulic problems and Irvine with an engine fadeout.


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