Friday, 29 August 2014

On This Day in Formula One - 29 August

The 1976 World Champion James Hunt.
1976 world champion James Hunt was born in Belmont, Surrey. A young aristocrat with a devil-may-care attitude, Hunt got his Formula One break in 1973 thanks to funding from Lord Hesketh. Hunt moved to McLaren after Emerson Fittipaldi quit to join his family team and he scored six wins and took the title amid a downpour in the final race, in Japan, when friend and rival Niki Lauda pulled into the pits and said that it was too dangerous to race. Hunt stayed out and clinched the third place he needed to lift the crown.

En route to winning the title, Hunt won the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. Two weeks after Niki Lauda came off the critical list following his horrific accident at the Nurburgring, Hunt trailed Ronnie Peterson and John Watson in the early stages of the race before both men dropped back, leaving Hunt to claim victory from Clay Regazzoni and Mario Andretti and close the gap between himself and Lauda to just 14 points.

Keke Rosberg won the 1982 world championship with Williams despite winning just one race all season at the Swiss Grand Prix. The race was held in Dijon, France with motor racing still banned in Switzerland following the 1955 Le Mans disaster. Rosberg started eighth on the grid and overtook Alain Prost late on to secure victory.

David Coulthard won the Belgian Grand Prix after clashing with team-mate Mika Hakkinen into the first corner. Hakkinen had qualified on pole but was slower off the line, allowing Coulthard to pull alongside. The pair then touched into the first corner as Coulthard muscled his way past on the inside. Hakkinen's second place allowed him to overtake Eddie Irvine by a single point at the top of the drivers' standings.
Kimi Raikkonen took McLaren's first victory of the season at the Belgian Grand Prix but it was not enough to stop Michael Schumacher from securing his seventh drivers' title as he finished second ahead of Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello.


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

'No more Mr Nice Guy' - By Jake Davis

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On This Day in Formula One - 26 August

Gilles Villeneuve continues on with a puncture on the rear of his Ferrari.
Gilles Villeneuve cemented his cult-hero status at the Dutch Grand Prix when he refused to retire with a puncture, and instead drove a lap of the circuit on three wheels with sparks flying from the rear of his Ferrari. Villeneuve had been leading the race after a brave move on Alan Jones at Tarzan corner and looked set for victory until a spin on lap 47 dropped him to second. Villeneuve rejoined but two laps later he spun again, this time the rear-left tyre exploded and left the Ferrari strewn across the middle of the track. However, he didn't give up and raced back to the pits on three wheels, pulling wheelies along the way and making good time. When he returned to the pits, however, the suspension was too badly damaged to carry on and he was forced to retire. Jones went on to win the race ahead of Villeneuve's team-mate Jody Scheckter.

Alain Prost won the Dutch Grand Prix to close within half a point of championship leader Niki Lauda. Nelson Piquet had taken an early lead but falling oil pressure forced him to retire early on, handing the lead to Prost. Meanwhile, Lauda picked his way through the field from sixth on the grid to finish 10 seconds off the pace of his McLaren team-mate. Lauda managed to maintain his half point lead for the remaining three races to take his third title.

After three attempts the Belgian Grand Prix finally got underway with Ayrton Senna leading from lights to flag. At the first attempt Aguri Suzuki's Larousse started a chain reaction crash into the first corner that, via Nelson Piquet, shunted Nigel Mansell into the barrier. As everyone tried to avoid the accident the two Lotuses collided and then further around the first lap Satoru Nakajima parked his Tyrrell on a kerb. The red flags came out and the grid reformed. At the second start Paolo Barilla had a huge accident at Eau Rouge, leaving bits of his Minardi scattered across the track. Again the race director put out the red flag. Finally on the third attempt everybody got away without incident and Senna, as he had on the previous two occasions, sped off into the lead. His closest competitor was the Ferrari of Alain Prost who finished 3.5 seconds behind.

One of the most iconic F1 sponsorship deals came to an end when the Philip Morris tobacco company announced it would not renew its sponsorship of McLaren in 1997. Philip Morris' European president said: "During our 23 years of sponsorship, the Marlboro McLaren team has had unprecedented success, winning nine drivers' world championships, seven wolrd constructors' championships and 96 grands prix. We are very proud of that record."

Lewis Hamilton suffers with a puncture at the 2007 Turkish Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton's title bid took the first of two major blows as a result of a tyre failure. He had been running in a comfortable third position at the Turkish Grand Prix, ahead of title rival and McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, when his front left tyre failed at high speed. He dropped back to fifth, missing out on two points - the exact same margin he lost the championship by to Kimi Raikkonen. His second tyre failure, which stopped him taking the title on that day, came at the Chinese Grand Prix when he ran wide on the pit lane entrance with a balding intermediate. Felipe Massa went on to win the Turkish Grand Prix, ahead of Raikkonen and Alonso.


Monday, 25 August 2014

On This Day in Formula One - 25 August

McLaren took a dominant one-two victory at Zandvoort ahead of Ayrton Senna in a Lotus. Niki Lauda led home Alain Prost by just 0.232 seconds after the pair ran nose-to-tail for the last few laps. Senna had led at the start but lost out in the pit stops as the McLarens worked their way through the field. Alain Prost went on to win the title comfortably.

Michael Schumacher got his F1 break driving for Jordan
Sutton Images

Michael Schumacher made his Formula One debut at the Belgian Grand Prix. He drove for Jordan after replacing Betrand Gachot, who had been jailed for assaulting a London taxi driver the year before. Schumacher immediately caught the world's attention by qualifying seventh, albeit 3.4 seconds off the pole time set by Ayrton Senna. In the race the clutch failed on the grid and he retired immediately while Senna led a McLaren one-two at the front of the field. However, Schumacher had made his mark on the sport and was immediately snapped up by Flavio Briatore to race for Benetton at the next event, much to the anger of Eddie Jordan.

Michael Schumacher took victory at the Belgian Grand Prix but only after a strategic cock-up cost Williams an easy win. Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill had locked out the front row and although Schumacher split the pair at the start Villeneuve had the faster car. However, a third of the way into the race the throttle on Jos Verstappen's Arrows pinned wide open and he crashed at 135mph. A safety car was called out and Williams radioed Villeneuve to come in, but somewhere over the vast expanse of the Spa circuit the message got lost and Villeneuve stayed out on track. As a result Schumacher took the lead and with Villeneuve concerned about some knocking noises from his Renault V10, he settled for second. After the race an elated Schumacher said: "I would not have bet anything for this to happen. There was no way I thought I could win this race. Spa is lucky for me."

Founder and team principal of Tyrrell Racing, Ken Tyrrell, passed away at his home in Surrey. Tyrrell cars were a mainstay of the F1 grid from 1970 to 1998, taking 23 wins before the team entry was sold to British American Tobacco for the start of the 1999 season. It went on to become BAR, then Honda and eventually relived its glory days under the Brawn name. Jackie Stewart, who took all three of his world championships with Tyrrell as the team principal said: "Ken was the most important person in my life outside my family. Without Ken Tyrrell, I would not be where I am today."

Vettel impresses on his F1 debut in the BMW Sauber.
Sebastian Vettel became the youngest ever F1 driver as he made his debut for BMW Sauber during Friday practice for the Turkish Grand Prix. He immediately made an impact on the sport, setting the fastest time of the day with a 1:28.091 at just 19 years and 53 days old. However, he was also fined for exceeding the pit lane speed limit by 4.3km/h. He had to wait until 2007 to get his race debut with Toro Rosso and then won his first grand prix the next year for the same team.