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.

Lewis Hamilton completes Friday F1 practice double in Australia

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton continued his march at the top of the timesheets in practice for the Formula 1 season-opener in Australia on Friday afternoon, leading the way once again for Mercedes.

Hamilton entered the weekend unsure about his chances after an impressive display from Ferrari through pre-season testing, prompting the Briton to pick the Italian team as the favorite for victory in Melbourne.

Hamilton set the pace through first practice at Albert Park as the new-style F1 cars got their first official running, heading up a one-two finish for Mercedes with Valtteri Bottas in tow.

FP2 was expected to offer more insight into Ferrari’s true pace after it opted to limit its running through first practice, but it was Hamilton who led the way once again.

Running on the ultra-soft tire, Hamilton produced a stunning lap of 1:23.620 to finish half a second clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, the German driver unable to respond to his rival’s pace.

Bottas continued his impressive start to life with Mercedes, finishing the session third-quickest, while Kimi Raikkonen rounded out a Mercedes-Ferrari top-four lock-out in the second SF70H car.

Despite Ferrari’s inability to challenge Mercedes, it was Red Bull that came away from FP2 as the biggest disappointment after Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen had scruffy sessions en route to P5 and P6 respectively. Verstappen had been on a quick lap and due to improve his time, only to run wide at Turn 12 and narrowly avoid losing control.

Carlos Sainz Jr. finished a solid seventh for Toro Rosso ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who was fortunate to keep his car out of the wall as the American team’s brake issues arose once again. Nico Hulkenberg was ninth for Renault, with Daniil Kvyat rounding out the top 10.

FP2 was red flagged early on following a big shunt for Jolyon Palmer at the final corner. The Briton lost the rear-end of his car coming through the right-hander, causing him to slide into the wall and suffer a large amount of damage to his car. Felipe Massa was another driver to hit trouble, with his Williams FW40 grinding to a halt midway through the session, forcing the Brazilian to end his day early, while Marcus Ericsson spun off with five minutes to go, beaching his Sauber.

Lewis Hamilton sets rapid pace to open F1 2017 in Australia FP1

Getty Images
2 Comments

Lewis Hamilton kicked off Formula 1’s new technical era in style by heading up a one-two finish for Mercedes in opening practice for the Australian Grand Prix on Friday morning in Melbourne.

Despite predictions from many that Ferrari and Red Bull would pose a greater challenge at the top of the timesheets in Australia, FP1 offered a familiar result as Hamilton led home new teammate Valtteri Bottas.

The added downforce of the new-style 2017 cars had the desired effect of slashing lap times, with Hamilton’s best effort of 1:24.220 being less than four-tenths of a second off his pole position time for last year’s race.

Bottas made a good impression in his first F1 weekend session in Mercedes colors, leading the bulk of the session before Hamilton jumped ahead on the ultrasoft tires with around 30 minutes remaining.

Daniel Ricciardo led Red Bull’s charge, finishing third ahead of teammate Max Verstappen, but Ferrari decided against showing its hand early and limited its running, only pushing for fast laps in the final 15 minutes of the session.

Kimi Raikkonen ended FP1 fifth in the SF70H, 1.1 seconds off Hamilton’s best time, while Vettel was a further tenth back in P6.

The session went by without any major incident, although a handful of drivers did have minor technical issues that are part and parcel of the first session of the year.

McLaren’s difficulties continued from pre-season as Stoffel Vandoorne was limited to just 10 laps, while Jolyon Palmer and Esteban Ocon also had their running cut due to problems. All three featured in the bottom five of the standings.

Times are below:

Sean Gelael set for Toro Rosso F1 tests in 2017

FIA Formula 2
Leave a comment

Formula 2 driver Sean Gelael will play a part in this year’s in-season Formula 1 test running after agreeing a deal with Toro Rosso.

Gelael, 20, raced full-time in GP2 last year before the championship evolved into F2, scoring one podium finish in Austria.

The Indonesian driver also appeared in the final three rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship, scoring an LMP2 podium for Extreme Speed Motorsports in Shanghai.

Gelael will race in F2 this year with Arden, but will also get his first taste of F1 machinery in the upcoming tests for Toro Rosso.

All F1 teams will get four days of in-season running this year (two in Bahrain, two in Hungary following their respective races) as well as the traditional end-of-year test in Abu Dhabi.

Gelael will feature in all three for Toro Rosso, having undergone a seat fitting at Faenza earlier this week.

All F1 teams are required to allocate at least half of their in-season running to junior drivers who have made fewer than two grand prix starts.

Gelael will make his first appearance for Toro Rosso following the Bahrain Grand Prix, with running set to take place at the Bahrain International Circuit on April 18 and 19.

More speed, but will Formula 1 be more of the same?

Getty Images
3 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Faster cars and fiercer competition are the great expectations of the new regulations in Formula One, yet the championship outlook hasn’t altered much ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton remains the hot favorite to win another title for Mercedes.

Hamilton won 10 GP events last season and was close to claiming his fourth drivers’ title but was narrowly beaten by his teammate Nico Rosberg, who secured Mercedes a third consecutive championship and then retired.

While Hamilton talked about wanting more drivers competing for the title, and even tipped Ferrari to be quickest this weekend, he’s already lining up a victory he thinks would be unprecedented.

“I don’t believe (any) team has won back-to-back through rule regulation changes,” Hamilton said Thursday during the first official news conference ahead of Sunday’s race. “So that’s our goal as a team. We’re here to win. We’re here to do what no-one else has done.

“I have every belief in my team that we can do that.”

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel won four consecutive season titles from 2010-13 while he was racing for Red Bull, so he knows what it’s like to be in Hamilton’s position. He has no doubt who is favorite this season, regardless of the rule changes that dictated wider tires, greater aerodynamics, bigger fuel loads and increased downforce and which are expected to make the heavier cars faster.

“Obviously Mercedes has been in a very, very strong form the last three years and even with changes to the rules and regulations, if the team is strong then they will build a strong car the year after, no matter what they do,” Vettel said. “It is very clear who is the favorite.

“For all of us sitting here we are obviously trying our best to catch up. As the season goes on obviously, I’m sure the cars will have big progression.”

Ferrari had good results in the eight days of pre-season testing, and Hamilton predicted Vettel and former champion Kimi Raikkonen would have the fastest cars in the first practice sessions Friday and Saturday.

“I see Ferrari being the quickest at the moment – and I think they’ll definitely be the favorites,” said Hamilton, who was joined at Mercedes this season by former Williams driver Valterri Bottas. “It’s interesting to see, Sebastian is usually a lot more hype. I can tell he’s trying to keep a lid on it. But their pace was obviously great in testing.”

Hamilton said he couldn’t judge the pace of the Red Bulls in testing, saying they were “quite far behind” and he didn’t see many upgrades to the cars.

“I’m assuming they’re bringing something new,” he said, “which I’m excited to see.”

Daniel Ricciardo finished as the highest-ranked of the non-Mercedes drivers last season, winning the Malaysian GP and placing third in the season standings. He concedes Hamilton will start favorite, but is hoping for a shakeup at the top.

“I think for everyone it’s like when Red Bull were dominating a few years ago – everyone wanted to see someone else win,” Ricciardo said. “It’s natural that people like change.

“For us drivers, not being in Mercedes, we want to see change as well. Even for the fact to have more cars fighting for the win makes it more exciting.”

Hamilton wanted more frequent changes to the regulations, to keep the cars getting faster and the competition “spicier.”

That’s something on which all the leading drivers could agree.

If Hamilton “wins a race against four of us as opposed to maybe just his teammate I think that reward is bigger as well,” said Ricciardo, who is aiming to be the first Australian to win the Australian GP since it became part of the world championship in 1985.

“If you can win against more … that feeling of self-accomplishment is greater. Ferrari showed good pace in testing. If they can take a few points away as well it kind of opens up the championship over the long time.”