Posts Tagged ‘history’

Happy birthday Monaco

May 21st, 2010 No comments

Sixty years ago today was the first Monaco Grand Prix of the new Formula One World Championship.

It wasn’t actually the first Monaco Grand Prix ever. That was in 1929 and it was won by British spy/racing driver William Grover-Williams but in 1950 Juan Manuel Fangio won his first race of his career in Monte Carlo.

As he tells Jake Humphrey in this great BBC interview, Sir Stirling Moss, the first British winner of the Monaco Grand Prix, considers Fangio the greatest ever Formula One driver. It’s easy to see why. Fangio would later go on to win 5 world championships, a record only surpassed by Michael Schumacher 46 years later.

This picture of Fangio racing his Maserati 250F around the streets of Monte Carlo is not a photograph. It is an airbrush painting by Italian artist Alberto Ponno. Ponno’s incredibly details paintings are the result of months of work all done freehand and without any masking.

Here are a few more Monaco examples of  of his amazing work. Visit his website to see the rest of his paintings.

Categories: Circuits Tags: , , ,

Which is the most successful country in Formula One?

July 7th, 2009 5 comments

Michael Schumacher, 2005The German Grand Prix, to be held at the Nürburgring on Sunday, will be the home Grand Prix for five drivers.

There are more Germans on the Formula One grid than any other nationality and this got me wondering how successful different countries have been in Formula One.  Which country has produced the most World Champions and which nationality has won the most races?

If we look at the number of Drivers’ Championships won then Britain tops the list with thirteen Championships won by nine different drivers.  Brazil comes a distant second with eight Championships split between Nelson Piquet (3), Ayrton Senna (3) and Emerson Fittipaldi (2).

Third and fourth places are each the result of a single driver that dominated their time in the sport.  Juan Manel Fangio won the Drivers’ Championship five times between 1951 and 1957, a record that stood until Michael Schumacher broke it on the way to his seven World Championships.

Drivers’ Championships won by nationality

Country Drivers Total Drivers by name (titles)
United Kingdom 9 13 Jackie Stewart (3), Jim Clark (2), Graham Hill (2), Mike Hawthorn (1), John Surtees (1), James Hunt (1), Nigel Mansell (1), Damon Hill (1), Lewis Hamilton (1)
Brazil 3 8 Nelson Piquet (3), Ayrton Senna (3), Emerson Fittipaldi (2)
Germany 1 7 Michael Schumacher (7)
Argentina 1 5 Juan Manuel Fangio (5)
Finland 3 4 Mika Häkkinen (2), Keke Rosberg (1), Kimi Räikkönen (1)
Australia 2 4 Jack Brabham (3), Alan Jones (1)
Austria 2 4 Niki Lauda (3), Jochen Rindt (1)
France 1 4 Alain Prost (4)
Italy 2 3 Alberto Ascari (2), Nino Farina (1)
USA 2 2 Phil Hill (1), Mario Andretti (1)
Spain 1 2 Fernando Alonso (2)
Canada 1 1 Jacques Villeneuve (1)
New Zealand 1 1 Denny Hulme (1)
South Africa 1 1 Jody Scheckter (1)

Looking at the total number of races won, the Brits are even more dominant with almost twice the number of Grand Prix wins than the Germans in second place.

France moves up into fourth place and many more countries make the list, including Mexico.

Races won by nationality

Country Wins Drivers
United Kingdom 206 19
Germany 106 6
Brazil 99 6
France 79 12
Finland 43 4
Italy 43 15
Austria 41 3
Argentina 38 3
USA 33 15
Australia 26 2
Spain 21 2
Canada 17 2
New Zealand 12 2
Sweden 12 3
Belgium 11 2
South Africa 10 1
Colombia 7 1
Switzerland 7 2
Mexico 2 1
Poland 1 1

This Mexican racing car driver was Pedro Rodríguez. His brother, Ricardo, also raced motorbikes and cars and the two of them were known as “The Little Mexicans”.

Pedro’s first F1 victory came in only his ninth race, in South Africa in 1967 and he went on to win again in Belgium in 1970.  He was a great all-round driver, competing in CanAm, NASCAR, rallies and even ice racing.  He won at Le Mans in 1968 in a Wyer-Gulf Ford GT40.

In 1971, when he was just 31 years old he was killed in a Ferrari 512M at the Norisring in Nuremberg, Germany.

The first hairpin at Daytona International Speedway is named the Pedro Rodriguez curve, and the Mexico City autodrome is named after him and his brother, who was also killed while practicing for the 1962 Mexican Grand Prix.

Pedro Rodriguez, Nurburgring, 1968

Categories: Drivers Tags: , , ,

Bluebird Garage

July 5th, 2009 No comments

Bluebird Garage c1930Last week, Keith Collantine at F1 Fanatic wrote a nice post about one of my favourite London buildings, the beautiful art-deco Michelin House on Fulham Road.

That building was the UK headquarters of Michelin from 1909 to 1985 before Sir Terence Conran bought it and turned it into the Bibendum Restaurant, named after the cigar-smoking, bicycle-riding, rubbery mascot of the Michelin Tyre Co.

But only a short walk away is another historic art-deco automotive building that Conran has converted into a restaurant; the Bluebird Garage on Kings Road.

When the garage was built in the early 1920’s, it was Europe’s largest motor car facility at some 50,000 sq ft.  As well as selling petrol and servicing automobiles, it also provided overnight accommodation for lady motorists and their chauffeurs in the two wings on either side of the main building.

The land speed record holder Sir Malcolm Campbell had a connection with the garage although it is hard to determine what it was exactly.  Some say the garage was where he built his famous ‘Blue Bird’ cars, others that he just sold cars there when he took over the Itala and Ballot concessions in London.

Campbell competed in Grand Prix racing, winning the 1927 and 1928 Boulogne Grands Prix but he is best known for breaking the world speed record on land and water several times in the 1920’s and 30’s.

His first land speed record was in 1924 when he piloted a V12 Sunbeam 350HP to 146.16 mph at Pendine Sands in Wales.  Between 1924 and 1935 he broke the land speed record nine times and on September 3 1935 he became the first person to drive a car over 300 mph when he hit 301.337 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

Campbell drove four Blue Bird cars (his son Donald drove a jet-powered Bluebird in the 1950’s) culminating in the 1935 Campbell-Railton Blue Bird.  This car had a 36.7 litre supercharged Rolls-Royce R V12 engine producing 2,300hp.  The car was so powerful that double rear wheels had to be fitted to stop the wheels spinning.

Here’s a video of Campbell driving Blue Bird at Daytona Beach.

Below are some pictures of the Bluebird Garage.  The tennis balls are a Wimbledon thing. 🙂

Images: Conran & Partners, David Keen

Categories: Opinion Tags: , , , ,

Brawn GP’s kill count

July 3rd, 2009 No comments

Brawn GP welcome sign, Brackley factory Like the nose of a WWII bomber, the welcome sign at the Brawn GP factory in Brackley has a tally of victories the team has notched up so far this season.

They’re not being overconfident, though — there are nine races left this year but only space on the board for another six wins, at least not without adding a second row.

But Brawn GP are not the only Formula One team with a connection to airplane nose art.

In World War I, Francesco Baracca was Italy’s top fighter ace scoring 34 kills. In recognition of his former cavalry regiment, Baracca adopted the embem of a prancing stallion — the Cavallino Rampante — and he became known as ‘The Cavalier of the Skies’.

After the war, Enzo Ferrari won a race in Ravenna where he met Baracca’s mother, the Countess Paolina.  Legend has it that the Countess asked Ferrari to use the prancing horse on his cars saying it would bring him good luck, as Enzo himself explains:

The horse was painted on the fuselage of the fighter plane flown by Francesco Baracca, a heroic Italian pilot who died on Mount Montello: the Italian ace of aces of the First World War. In 1923 … I met Count Enrico Baracca, the pilot’s father, and subsequently his mother, Countess Paolina. One day she said to me, “Ferrari, why don’t you put my son’s prancing horse on your cars; it would bring you luck.” … The horse was black and has remained so; I added the canary yellow background because it is the colour of Modena.

Ever since then the Cavallino Rampante has been the symbol of the Scuderia.

Francesco Baracca posing by his SPAD S.XIII.

Categories: Teams Tags: , ,

Happy 30th anniversary Renault!

July 1st, 2009 No comments

Jean-Pierra Jabouille, 1979A couple of days ago, in a post asking when will Toyota win their first race, I included a list of the current Formula One Teams and the years they won their first Grand Prix.

By chance today happens to be the 30th anniversary of Renault’s first Formula One Grand Prix victory by Jean-Pierre Jabouille at the 1979 French Grand Prix.

In 1977 Renault introduced the RS01; the first Formula One car to be powered by a turbocharged engine.  Completely different from every other car on the grid, the innovative but unreliable RS01 soon earned the nickname ‘Yellow Teapot’ and would often end the race billowing smoke.  The massive turbo lag also made the car uncompetitive on tight circuits.

Despite the problems, Renault were determined to make the new technology work, as Jabouille recalls:

The new technology was what interested Renault – they wouldn’t have come into F1 had it been a question of building another V8 like the Cosworth. They wanted that challenge, but on top of that, we were also developing Michelin’s new radial tyres. It was a lot of work, complicated work, in a short space of time, and with the engine, it wasn’t just a question of developing the technology, we then had to make it drivable. There was a world of difference between the engine delivering good power on the dyno, and being usable in the car.

The RS01 eventually developed into the RS10.  First introduced at the 1979 Monaco Grand Prix, the new car overcame the turbo lag by using twin turbos and had one of the new ground-effect chassis.

The RS10 went on to take five poles and Renault’s first win and in so doing kick-started the turbo years of the 1980’s.  Once Renault had claimed the first win for a turbocharged car in Formula One, all the major teams started developing turbos.  Soon the engines were producing up to 1500bhp or as Martin Brundle said ‘way more power than grip’.

Incidentally, the 1979 French Grand Prix also produced one of the most epic Formula One battles for second place between the Renault of René Arnoux and the Ferrari of Gilles Villeneuve.  After practically driving each other off the road in the final laps, Villeneuve crossed the line 0.24 seconds ahead of Arnoux in a race he would later describe as ‘my best memory of Grand Prix Racing’.

Categories: Teams Tags: ,