Vettel, Schumacher and Alonso - three key names in years ending in -2 and -7. Photo: Getty Images

There are a lot of five-year interval anniversaries in F1 in 2017

Leave a comment

You could probably say this for every new year of Formula 1, but there are a lot of anniversaries of note this year.

Some years though tend to have more anniversaries than others and as 2017 beckons, while we’re still a month-plus away from the lights going out for the Australian Grand Prix on March 26 (March 25 in U.S. time), there are quite a number to reflect on at various points this year.

We’ll start most recently and work backwards:

2012

VALENCIA, SPAIN – JUNE 24: (L-R) Second placed Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Lotus, race winner Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari, third placed Michael Schumacher of Germany and Mercedes GP and Alonso’s race engineer Andrea Stella celebrate on the podium following the European Grand Prix at the Valencia Street Circuit on June 24, 2012 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

This year marks five years since these following items occurred:

  • Mercedes AMG Petronas won its first race since re-entering the sport in 2010 (Nico Rosberg in China)
  • Lewis Hamilton last drove for McLaren
  • McLaren (Jenson Button in Brazil) and Williams (Pastor Maldonado in Spain) last won a race
  • Fernando Alonso properly contended for a championship with Ferrari
  • Michael Schumacher scored his final pole (Monaco), podium (Valencia) and drove his final Grand Prix
  • A Senna last raced in F1 (Bruno Senna with Williams)
  • Romain Grosjean branded a “first-lap nutcase,” and sat down for Monza after Spa acrobatics
  • More than five drivers won a Grand Prix in a season (there were seven in first seven races, from five different teams), as eight won a race. There have not been more than four Grand Prix winners in a year since 2013
  • Sauber stood on a podium (three times with Sergio Perez, once with Kamui Kobayashi)
  • Circuit of The Americas in Austin made its debut on the F1 calendar, the first year since Indianapolis in 2007

2007

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 18: (L-R) Mclaren Mercedes team mates Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Fernando Alonso of Spain appear at the drivers press conference during previews prior to the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Interlagos on October 18, 2007 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

It’s been 10 years since these items happened:

  • Kimi Raikkonen won his first and only World Championship by one point over Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso
  • McLaren’s espionage scandal hit, which triggered a huge fine and a loss of all Constructor’s Championship points
  • Alonso drove for McLaren for the first time, before leaving following an acrimonious season
  • Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel made their debuts (so did Heikki Kovalainen, Kazuki Nakajima and Markus Winkelhock)
  • Hamilton’s second career win, at Indianapolis, saw Vettel score points on debut for BMW Sauber as an injury fill-in for Robert Kubica. It was the last F1 race held at IMS
  • BMW Sauber finished second in the Constructor’s Championship as a result of McLaren’s exclusion
  • Alexander Wurz scored his final podium in Formula 1 for Williams
  • Ralf Schumacher ran his final full season with Toyota
  • Super Aguri ran its last full season and scored points
  • Markus Winkelhock started last, first and led in the same race – his one and only Grand Prix start at the Nürburgring
  • Adrian Sutil scored a point for Spyker, and Rubens Barrichello didn’t for Honda

2002

A1 RING - MAY 12: (from left to right) Race winner Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher of Germany, runner-up Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello of Brazil and third placed BMW-Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia stand on the podium after the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix held at the A1 Ring in Spielberg, Austria on May 12, 2002. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
A1 RING – MAY 12: (from left to right) Race winner Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher of Germany, runner-up Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello of Brazil and third placed BMW-Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia stand on the podium after the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix held at the A1 Ring in Spielberg, Austria on May 12, 2002. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

It’s been 15 years since this happened:

  • Michael Schumacher wrapped up the championship by July at the French Grand Prix
  • The infamous Rubens Barrichello/Michael Schumacher lead swap occurred at the Austrian Grand Prix
  • Ferrari won 15 of 17 races, interrupted only by Ralf Schumacher (Williams, Malaysia) and David Coulthard (McLaren, Monaco)
  • Juan Pablo Montoya managed to score seven pole positions, including five in a row, yet didn’t win a race
  • Mark Webber scored a famous fifth place on debut with Minardi at the Australian Grand Prix, and got a special exemption for he and Paul Stoddart to go up to the podium separately
  • Toyota also scored points on its debut as Mika Salo was sixth in Australia
  • Jaguar scored its second and final podium in F1, both with Eddie Irvine, at the Italian Grand Prix
  • The points system was 10-6-4-3-2-1, before expanding to eight drivers the following year
  • The one-hour, 12-lap qualifying session had its final year of operation
  • Arrows folded midseason

1997

Jacques Villeneuve (C) of Canada sprays champagne to celebrate with second placed Damon Hill (L) and third placed Johnny Herbert after winning the Hungarian Grand Prix on 10th August 1997 at the Hungaroring Circuit, Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Jacques Villeneuve (C) of Canada sprays champagne to celebrate with second placed Damon Hill (L) and third placed Johnny Herbert after winning the Hungarian Grand Prix on 10th August 1997 at the Hungaroring Circuit, Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

This marks 20 years since these items occurred:

  • Jacques Villeneuve’s first and only World Championship win, and Williams’ most recent
  • The infamous Villeneuve/Michael Schumacher “desperation at Dry Sac” lunge by Schumacher in Jerez, which saw the German excluded from the Driver Championship standings. Interestingly, although these two were the title contenders, they never shared a podium all season
  • David Coulthard delivered Mercedes its first F1 win since the 1950s, McLaren its first since 1993 and first in the McLaren-Mercedes partnership, in West’s first race as title sponsor. Mika Hakkinen then won his first Grand Prix at Jerez, admittedly overshadowed
  • Gerhard Berger scored both his and Benetton’s final Grand Prix victory
  • Heinz-Harald Frentzen scored his only victory for Williams
  • Damon Hill scored his first and only podium finish for Arrows
  • Giancarlo Fisichella, Ralf Schumacher and Alexander Wurz scored their first career podiums
  • Bridgestone scored their first podium upon entering the sport with Olivier Panis coming third in Brazil; Panis (Prost) and Rubens Barrichello (Stewart) also delivered their teams’ first career podiums. Stewart eventually became Red Bull Racing…
  • 15 different drivers from nine different teams (all teams in the field except Tyrrell, Minardi and Lola) scored at least one podium finish
  • Jan Magnussen and Jos Verstappen raced, while their sons Kevin and Max were 5 years old and 1 month old by season’s end
  • MasterCard Lola competed at its one and only Grand Prix, failing to qualify both cars in Australia, and nearly ending Lola’s career before being saved
  • The Nürburgring round was called the Luxembourg Grand Prix, held for the first time in a World Championship setting and first time overall since 1952
  • The Argentine round was the 600th Grand Prix in history

1992

1992: Nigel Mansell of Great Britain in action in his Williams Renault during practice for the Canadian Grand Prix at the Montreal circuit in Canada. Mansell retired from the race after spinning off. Mandatory Credit: Pascal Rondeau/Allsport

It’s the 25-year anniversary of these items:

  • The crushing reign of the Williams FW14B chassis, which saw Nigel Mansell win nine races and Riccardo Patrese one more, with the two scoring 14 of 16 poles. They completed a 1-2 sweep in points, for Williams’ first Constructor’s Championship since 1987. Mansell promptly dropped the mic and headed Stateside to IndyCar
  • Alain Prost had his one-year sabbatical from the sport post-Ferrari, before replacing Mansell in 1993
  • Michael Schumacher’s first Grand Prix victory at Spa, which in itself came a year after his debut at the same circuit
  • The final win (thus far) for a McLaren-Honda. Ayrton Senna won three times that year, famously holding off Mansell in Monaco and then capturing the Italian Grand Prix. But it was Gerhard Berger’s second of two wins in Adelaide that stands as the most recent McLaren-Honda win
  • Mexico City’s last run on an F1 calendar prior to its 2015 return
  • Seven of the 16 teams from 1992 are still racing in 2017, 25 years later, albeit after name changes in some instances: Williams, McLaren, Benetton (as Renault), Ferrari, Tyrrell (as Mercedes), Jordan (as Force India) and Minardi (as Toro Rosso)
  • Teams no longer active from 1992: Lotus, Footwork, Ligier, March, BMS Dallara, Venturi Larrousse, Fondmental, Brabham, Andrea Moda. Pre-qualifying was still a thing that happened on Grand Prix weekends
  • A then-unheralded Damon Hill made his Grand Prix debut for Brabham and Giovanna Amati was the most recent female driver to qualify for a Grand Prix for the same team

1987

This year marks 30 years since these items took place:

  • Nelson Piquet’s third and final World Championship victory
  • Ayrton Senna’s final wins for Lotus before his switch to McLaren in 1988
  • The final wins for the McLaren-TAG partnership before McLaren’s switch to Honda
  • Seems crazy to think about but within the next decade, all of Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Stefan Johansson, Michele Alboreto, Teo Fabi and Eddie Cheever – six of the top-10 in points – had all moved Stateside to race in IndyCar

1982

Apr 1982: Portrait of Gilles Villeneuve of Canada in his Scuderia Ferrari before a Formula One race. Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport

One of the strangest and most tragic seasons on record took place 35 years ago:

  • Keke Rosberg won his first and only World Championship with one win, the first one-win champion since 1958. Rosberg’s Cosworth DFV FW08 was the last naturally aspirated engine to win a title since 1989
  • Eleven different drivers from seven different teams won at least once, and an additional seven drivers scored at least one podium finish
  • Ferrari’s nightmare season sees Gilles Villeneuve killed at Zolder, and Didier Pironi seriously injured later that year in Hockenheim. Pironi had beat Villeneuve at Imola that year in a tense race at the height of the FISA/FOCA war
  • Riccardo Paletti was then killed at the Canadian Grand Prix, only a few weeks after Villeneuve’s death
  • The late, great Michele Alboreto won his first victory for Tyrrell in the final Caesar’s Palace Grand Prix
  • Carlos Reutemann quit Williams after two races
  • Mario Andretti raced for both Williams and Ferrari, finishing on the podium for the latter team
  • Eliseo Salazar and Nelson Piquet had their famous coming together in Hockenheim
  • The U.S. held three races at Long Beach, Detroit and Caesar’s Palace
  • Owing to the FISA/FOCA spat and a reduced grid in Imola, only nine of the 40 drivers who raced that season participated in each of the 16 Grand Prix weekends

1977

Mario Andretti (USA) in action at the 1977 Monaco Grand Prix.

This is the 40-year mark since this occurred:

  • Niki Lauda won his second World Championship, and first after his dramatic bout with James Hunt in 1976
  • Hunt won his final three races of his career
  • Mario Andretti won four races in the Lotus 78, a car he has hailed as one of his all-time favorites, even more than his title-winning Lotus 79 the following season
  • Gunnar Nilsson won his first and only Grand Prix (Belgium) before succumbing to cancer a year later
  • Jody Scheckter won three races for Walter Wolf Racing, including on Wolf’s debut in Argentina
  • Gilles Villeneuve made his F1 debut in extra cars for McLaren, then Ferrari
  • Both Tom Pryce and Carlos Pace were killed in separate accidents
  • This was the last Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji until 2007, and overall until 1987. The Japanese Grand Prix resumed at Suzuka in 1987 and has been there every year since, except the two-year run at Fuji in 2007 and 2008

1972

It’s been 45 years since these events happened:

  • Emerson Fittipaldi became, at the time, the youngest World Champion at age 25 with his first of two titles
  • Jean-Pierre Beltoise won his first and only Grand Prix at Monaco for BRM

1967

Jack Brabham of Australia driving the #5 Brabham Racing Organisation Brabham BT19 Repco 3.0 V8 lines up in pole position alongside team mate Denny Hulme in the #6 Brabham BT20 and Dan Gurney of the United States in the #16 Anglon American Racers Eagle T1G Climax 2.0 V8 before the start of the British Grand Prix on 16th July 1966 at the Brands Hatch circuit in Fawkham, Great Britain. (Photo by Don Morley/Getty Images)
The pic is from 1966 but the front row here featured heavily in 1967: Jack Brabham of Australia driving the #5 Brabham Racing Organisation Brabham BT19 Repco 3.0 V8 lines up in pole position alongside team mate Denny Hulme in the #6 Brabham BT20 and Dan Gurney of the United States in the #16 Anglo American Racers Eagle T1G Climax 2.0 V8 before the start of the British Grand Prix on 16th July 1966 at the Brands Hatch circuit in Fawkham, Great Britain. (Photo by Don Morley/Getty Images)

This is the 50-year mark for these events:

  • Denny Hulme’s first and only World Championship
  • Dan Gurney’s famous win in the American chassis, the Eagle-Weslake, at the Belgian Grand Prix
  • Pedro Rodriguez’s upset first career win in a Cooper over an even bigger surprise, Rhodesian driver John Love at the season-opening South African Grand Prix
  • The first three Grand Prix starts for NBCSN F1 analyst David Hobbs, which produced three top-10 finishes for BRM and Lola in Britain, Germany and Canada
  • Lorenzo Bandini’s fatal accident in Monaco

1962

These events occurred 55 years ago:

  • Graham Hill won his first of two World Championships
  • Dan Gurney won his first Grand Prix, in a Porsche 804, at the French Grand Prix

1957

It marks 60 years since these happened:

  • With four wins from seven starts, Juan Manuel Fangio won his fifth and final World Championship
  • Sir Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks shared a Vanwall to win the year’s British Grand Prix, marking the third and last time in F1 history two drivers did so. Moss won two other races on his own
  • Sam Hanks won the year’s Indianapolis 500, which counted for World Championship points. Fellow Americans Masten Gregory and Harry Schell also scored podiums in other F1 races
  • Jean Behra won five races for BRM and Maserati in non-championship F1 races

1952

It’s 65 years since this occurred:

  • With six consecutive wins to end the season, Alberto Ascari waltzed away to his first of two World Championships. His only non-score was a DNF at the year’s Indianapolis 500, won by Troy Ruttman, who remains the race’s youngest winner in history at age 22

Will the 2017 season feature memories to join the list of others ending in -2 or -7 that have featured significantly throughout F1 history? Stay tuned.

IndyCar Paddock Pass: Indy Carb Day Special (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS – Alongside NBCSN’s coverage of Carb Day practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, we have the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, which this week features interviews from Indy 500 media day leading into Carb Day.

Anders Krohn is back in action, ahead of a busy day for him as he will be in the booth calling the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires’ Freedom 100.

Interviews took place with Ed Carpenter, Marco Andretti, Scott Dixon and Fernando Alonso. Alonso’s coverage highlighted media day, as there was an absurd number of people populating around his station on Thursday.

Dixon has the pole for Sunday’s race, with Carpenter starting second, Alonso fifth and Andretti eighth.

You can see the episode above. Past IndyCar Paddock Pass episodes are below:


It’s ‘Indy Leist’ – Matheus Leist, Carlin dominate Freedom 100

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS – Brazilian rookie Matheus Leist has his first career victory in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires following a flag-to-flag victory in the No. 26 Carlin Dallara IL-15 Mazda from pole position in the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It was a tough race, we had the pace and the car was just amazing. It was just an amazing race. It’s my first race on an oval and I couldn’t be happier,” Leist told NBCSN’s Katie Hargitt.

The usual photo finishes that have been a staple of this race ceded to Leist’s dominance, with a win by 0.7760 of a second over Aaron Telitz, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires champion posting his second podium finisher of the year.

Telitz edged Dalton Kellett for second at the line by just 0.0641 of a second. Both drivers took shots at Leist but were unable to pass him.

“Definitely an exciting finish. I was trying to get around Matheus. Our car was good in traffic but they were more trimmed out. When I got alongside, I couldn’t get him,” Telitz told NBCSN’s Jon Beekhuis. “I had limited opportunities. I wore off my front tires, then went more aggressive on my roll bars. We had a great car but not the car to win.”

“It was a great move by Aaron. I had a big run on Leist and have another photo finish. I was trying to play with the apron. Aaron got me – it was great pass by him,” Kellett told Hargitt. “We go slower. It makes for great drafting.

Meanwhile with Kyle Kaiser and Nico Jamin having anonymous finishes in ninth and 10th, and with Colton Herta crashing out on the first lap, it’s brought the championship even tighter.

Herta’s boom-or-bust rookie season in the No. 98 Andretti/Steinbrenner Racing car rolled on. After starting second, the 17-year-old ran on the outside of teammate Dalton Kellett through Turn 2, but spun after contact between the two – and collected teammate Ryan Norman in the No. 48 car in the process. Kellett was lucky to avoid damage to the right front wheel and suspension, which touched the left rear of Herta’s car to send him spinning.

It shifted the order with Zachary Claman De Melo moving up to second off the start behind Leist, with Kellett third, Neil Alberico fourth and Aaron Telitz in fifth. Kyle Kaiser and Nico Jamin noved up to ninth and 11th from 11th and 13th in the incident, respectively.

“Well, I don’t know if I can say what he was thinking!” Bryan Herta, Colton’s father, told NBCSN’s Katie Hargitt. “It’s a shame. They both had great cars. Looking at it, maybe he didn’t know Dalton was still on the inside. It’s not how you want to start the race. Unfortunately he is out early.”

Both drivers were understandably disappointed, but relieved to be OK after being checked and released from the infield care center, cleared to drive.

“I’m fine. Little X-Ray. No problem. I saw (Kellett) but I don’t really know what happened. I need to look at the data and video,” the younger Herta told Beekhuis.

Norman told Beekhuis, “I’m physically fine, but just really disappointed. It was our highest starting position. Wrong spot at the wrong time. Andretti gave me a great car all month. We’ll come back stronger at Road America.”

Kellett, post-race, told Hargitt about the incident: “I’m on the inside, it’s the first lap, caught some dirty air, I understeered up into him and that collected him, and collected Ryan. You never want to have contact with your teammates. At least we’ve got a podium finish.”

The restart occurred at the conclusion of Lap 5, and start of Lap 6, after the first and only caution flag of the race.

By Lap 15, Leist led by 0.6077 of a second but Kellett, Telitz and Alberico had moved up to second, third and fourth with Claman De Melo falling back from second down to fifth.

At half distance Telitz moved within striking distance of Leist into second. At the halfway mark it was Leist 0.3486 of a second ahead of Telitz with Kellett, Alberico and Claman De Melo in the top five.

Leist pulled away from there and the only photo finish this time around was for second, as Telitz got Kellett right at the line. The gap was a huge one by recent Indy Lights standards, 0.7760 of a second to Telitz and 0.8401 to Kellett.

Alberico and Santiago Urrutia, who started 12th but moved forward during the race, completed the top five.

Forgettable races occurred for points leaders Kaiser and Jamin, who ended ninth and 10th. Unofficially they still sit 1-2 in points with 151 and 137, Herta falls to third with 129 while Telitz and Alberico (122) and Leist (121) are within range.

Bourdais, Coyne upbeat during Carb Day practice check-ins (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS – Sebastien Bourdais hopes to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, just over a week after his accident left him with multiple pelvic fractures and a fractured right hip in an accident in qualifying.

The Frenchman has already been released from IU Methodist Hospital on Wednesday and during NBCSN’s coverage of Carb Day practice, checked in with the booth crew to update his recovery progress.

“I think I’m doing as well as I could have ever hoped for,” Bourdais told NBCSN’s Kevin Lee. “My surgery went well. I was walking two days after the wreck. It’s been a little weird! But the pain is managed.”

Team owner Dale Coyne also checked in on Bourdais’ progress as well.

“He’s feeling good. He moved out of hospital Wednesday,” Coyne told NBCSN’s Katie Hargitt. “If all goes as planned, we’ll get him out here Sunday.”

As for when Bourdais can return to the cockpit?

“The surgeon said he’s out for season… of course Seb says he wants to do Le Mans!” Coyne laughed. “It’s going to be a long recovery. But Sonoma? Maybe.”

Also during the segment, NBCSN pit reporter Jon Beekhuis noted an older specification rear wing configuration on the back of Bourdais’ replacement, James Davison’s No. 18 GEICO Honda. This should help Davison on Sunday.

Hinchcliffe engine issue hits Carb Day practice, as Castroneves leads

Photo: IndyCar
Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS – Helio Castroneves has led the final one-hour practice session ahead of the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, in the No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Team Penske Chevrolet, but it’s a Honda that made the bigger news during the extended session.

Another Honda engine issue – at least the eighth this month between the INDYCAR Grand Prix, practice and qualifying – now struck James Hinchcliffe during the final 20 minutes of the session in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.

Heading into Turn 3, Hinchcliffe’s gold and black car took on a distinctly white hue by contrast, as smoke billowed out the back of the car. It littered the track between Turns 3 and 4.

Yet as Hinchcliffe, the 2016 race polesitter explained to NBCSN’s Katie Hargitt, the timing was as good as it could have been considering had it happened later it would have been in the race itself.

“I felt what the engineers would call a suboptimal rapid negative acceleration heading into Turn 3,” Hinchcliffe told NBCSN. “We’ve had some issues across the Honda camp. It’s less than ideal.

“I felt bad going into 3. I hope we weren’t leaking too badly. I’m happy it didn’t happen 20 minutes later, that would have been Lap 5 of the race. We’ll get an engine, we’ll put it in. But that was by far the best we’ve felt on the 5 car all month. Let’s put this thing to bed. The car feels really good in traffic.”

Hinchcliffe will start 17th on Sunday. He ended his truncated practice in 14th.

Photo: IndyCar

Behind another gold car – the gold-and-white No. 3 car of Castronves – Takuma Sato and Tony Kanaan completed the top three, with Scott Dixon and Fernando Alonso completing the top five.

Speeds are below.