Wednesday 16 July 2014

On This Day In Formula One - 16 July

Jim Rathmann, born on this day in Alhambra, California, drove in all but one of the 11 Indianapolis 500s between 1950 and 1960 which counted towards the FIA World Championship, winning the last one and also finishing second on three occasions. He also participated in the two runnings of the Race of Two Worlds at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Italy, winning the 1958 event. He had six victories in addition to his Indy 500 win.

Juan Manuel Fangio beats Sir Stirling Moss by three feet at the Nurburgring.
The British Grand Prix might have been staged in the shadow of the previous month's Le Mans tragedy, which had led to the cancellation of the French GP scheduled for July 3, but it was nonetheless a classic race dominated by Mercedes. The venue was moved from Silverstone to Aintree and a 150,000 crowd saw an epic battle between Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio, the pair swapping the lead and racing nose-to-tail lap after lap. At the finish Moss was ahead by 0.2 seconds to secure his maiden F1 win. Coming out of the final corner just ahead, the Guardian reported Moss "waved Fangio through … Fangio drew alongside him as they approached the chequered flag and then, it seemed, hung back to let Moss cross the line first … it was a sporting gesture and fair". Fangio always denied he had allowed his young team-mate to take the win.

This British Grand Prix was memorable for the searing pace set by Graham Hill's BRM for much of the race, the moustachioed Londoner leading until a few laps from the finish when he spun off while lapping some slower cars under pressure from the wily Jack Brabham, who was thus able to score another good win for Cooper. Not only did this race showcase Hill's rising star, it did much the same for the brilliant John Surtees who finished a magnificent second on his Grand Prix debut, bringing his Lotus 18 past the chequered flag ahead of his more seasoned team-mate Innes Ireland.

Strikes in Italy meant the Ferraris missed the British Grand Prix and saw the field filled by some quirky local entries. On a drying track, Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme secured a 1-2 for Brabham's eponymous team, while Jim Clark put in a brilliant drive after having to pit without brakes, fighting back to take fourth.

James Hunt driving the McLaren M26 at the 1977 British Grand Prix.
Defending champion James Hunt appeared to have his work seriously cut out if he was to do well at the British Grand Prix, not least because he was driving the tricky McLaren M26 rather than the user-friendly M23 which had carried him to the previous year's title crown. Sure enough, in the opening stages John Watson had the legs of him at the wheel of Bernie Ecclestone's flat-12 Alfa-engined Brabham BT45, but this fine performance from the Ulsterman was blighted by a fuel pick-up problem, allowing Hunt to romp home ahead of Niki Lauda's brake-troubled Ferrari.

Lotus' early-season domination ended with a trio of mechanical failures at the British Grand Prix, and a large Silverstone crowd were further disappointed when James Hunt spun off early on, but it allowed Carlos Reutemann to take the win less than two seconds ahead of Niki Lauda.

Alain Prost did not manage to win the 1983 world championship, but his pace and fitness at the wheel of the works Renault RE40 in torrid conditions at Silverstone saw him see off an early challenge from the Ferraris of Patrick Tambay and Rene Arnoux as well as the Brabham-BMW of Nelson Piquet to take one of his most memorable victories. Nigel Mansell was also one of the stars of the show, demonstrating great determination to finish fourth in the promising new Lotus 94T on its debut outing.

A collision Michael Schumacher & Damon Hill ended there race prematurely.
A collision between Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher as they contested the lead prematurely ended the British Grand Prix for them both and allowed Schumacher's Benetton team-mate Johnny Herbert to take the first of his three career wins . Hill had led but a two-stop strategy left him behind Schumacher, and when he tried an ambitious overtake on the 46th lap Schumacher cut him off. Most experts blamed Hill, and the pair did not hold back post race. "It was a stupid overtaking manoeuvre," fumed Schumacher. "I know Damon wanted to win his home grand prix badly, but it was crazy." Hill was having none of it, merely admitting: "Michael is a bit harder to pass than that."

No end of controversy at the Austrian Grand Prix which was eventually won by Mika Hakkinen in a McLaren. A six-car collision on the first lap forced the retirements of championship leader Michael Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella and Jarno Trulli, and then McLaren were docked ten points because an FIA seal was missing from Hakkinen's car.

Michael Schumacher wins the 2006 French Grand Prix.
Michael Schumacher became the first driver in F1 history to win the same grand prix - in this case the French - on eight different occasions, and such was his dominance he also achieved his 22nd career hat trick (pole position, win and& fastest lap at the same race), also a record.

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