Friday, 15 August 2014

On This Day In Formula One - 15 August

Manfred von Brauchitsch racing the Mercedes-Benz W125 at the 1937 Donington Grand Prix.
Manfred von Brauchitsch, who was born on this day in Hamburg, was one of the great drivers of the legendary pre-war Mercedes team. Nicknamed Pechvogel - the unlucky fellow - he would have achieved more with a more circumspect approach, but that was never his style. After a inauspicious start with Mercedes, he won the 1937 Monaco Grand Prix and the 1938 French Grand Prix at Rheims, a victory followed by a near-death incident when his car was engulfed in a fireball at a pit-stop. In the war he worked for the armaments ministry, and that allied to the family connections with the army made things hard for him after 1945. He tried and failed in business, and in 1953 he was arrested on suspicion of treason against the federal republic. On his release he defected to East Germany, partly to avoid massive debts, where he became head of the country's motor sports association. After unification he made occasional appearances at Mercedes events where his haughty demeanour was still in evidence. At the time of his death in 2003 he was the oldest man alive to have driven in a grand prix and the last to have won one before the war. He had little time for modern racing, dismissing the modern Formula One drivers as "overpaid pimps".

Swiss driver Jo Siffert won the Austrian Grand Prix at the Osterreichring to secure his second F1 victory. It would prove to be his last as he was tragically killed in a non-championship race at Brands Hatch later that year.

Another English driver, John Watson, also secured his maiden grand prix on this day by winning the Austrian Grand Prix. Victory marked the first and only win for the Penske team and legend has it that Watson was forced to shave off his beard after the victory, having promised Roger Penske he would if the team won a race.

The build-up to the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend was awash with rumours that Ayrton Senna was in advanced talks with the Williams team for a drive in 1994. On track, it was business as usual with Alain Prost on pole from team-mate Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher's Benetton. Prost stalled on the parade lap and had to start from the back, handing Hill an initiative he was not to squander, taking his maiden grand prix victory by over a minute. With Schumacher and Senna forced to retire, Riccardo Patrese finished second ahead of Gerhard Berger's Ferrari. Derek Warwick was fourth in his Footwork.

Mika Hakkinen needed a win in Hungary to close the gap to Eddie Irvine in the drivers' standings and qualified on pole ahead of the Ulsterman. Hakkinen established a clear lead and the race developed into a fight for second as David Coulthard began to reel Irvine in. In the closing laps, Irvine cracked under pressure and slid wide, allowing Coulthard through to the delight of his McLaren team-mate.

Michael Schumacher celebrates his 2004 Hungarian Grand Prix victory.
Michael Schumacher won the Hungarian Grand Prix at a canter from Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello to take his 82nd career victory. In doing so, Schumacher broke his own record for wins in a season at 12. It also gave Ferrari its sixth successive constructors' title.


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