JoeBlogsF1 The real stories from inside the F1 paddock Aug, 01 2017 00:00:30 EST Fascinating F1 Facts: 55

Fascinating F1 Facts: 55

Formula 1 is all about improving efficiency. The thermal efficiency of F1 engines has moved the goalposts in the last five years, climbing from around 30 percent efficiency to a remarkable 50 percent. That is astonishing given how long it took the industry to get to 30 percent. There is still a lot more to come because efficiency can be found throughout the drivetrain, not just from the power units. The transmission is also key but in this respect the FIA has worked hard NOT to have better transmissions, because it wants to stop costs spiraling out of control. This is a shame in some respects because there are known solutions that could be developed further. The most efficient transmission is one that allows the engine to turn at the rpm at which it is at its most fuel efficient. This keeps emissions low and also creates a smooth ride.

The system is known as Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), first developed successfully by Dutchman Hubert Van Doorne.

Hub, as he was known, was the son of a blacksmith, born in the strangely-named village of America, in the Dutch province of Limburg, near Eindhoven, not far from the German border at Venlo. Hub and his brother Willem (Wim) soon set up their own business to manufacture ultra-light trailers for articulated trucks, which were beginning to be used around Europe in that era.

The company was known as Van Doorne's Aanhangwagenfabriek, but was better known as DAF. With success, Hub began to experimenting with other engineering problems and soon Van Doorne's Automobielfabrieken was established, also called DAF. This quickly developed an impressive reputation, notably with an all-wheel-drive system, which was used by the Dutch military and was adopted by NATO after World War II.

Hub's next challenge was what he called the variomatic transmission, which was in effect his CVT. This would end up being built into a car called the the DAF Daffodil, which was unveiled at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1958. The Daffodil was small but the variomatic system was a revelation. It was simple and very effective. It had only one drawback. The rubber belt was only strong enough to work with low-powered engines. Despite this a series of cars were built using the technology in the years that followed. In 1965 Van Doorne retired from DAF. It was agreed that his patents would be transferred to a new company that he had set up, called Van Doorne Transmissie, known as VDT. He continued to work on new versions of the system, incorporating flexible steel belts but he did not live to see the system he wanted to design, dying in 1979.

Formula 1 engineers had long understood that CVT offered huge possibilities but there was no system that could deal with the 850 hp that F1 cars were generating. Williams was on top of the world in 1993. It had developed the successful active suspension and had won the World Championship in 1992 with Nigel Mansell and in 1993 with Alain Prost. The team was pushing hard to stay ahead and the engineers decided that CVT might offer a big leap forward. Advances in high strength materials and advanced lubricants suggested that CVT might work with powerful engines and Williams set out to prove it, working with VDT.

A solution was found and the CVT system was fitted into the back of a FW15 test car and was tried for the first time at Pembrey in Wales by the team's young test driver David Coulthard. It was wet but it was clear that the system might provide a major breakthrough, gaining several seconds a lap for a car that was already well ahead of the opposition.

Word got out what was happening and the FIA acted quickly. In August 1993 the World Council announced that CVT would not be allowed in 1994 with rules dictating that there be a maximum number of gear ratios required, thus safeguarding gearboxes. The Williams fiited with CVT never raced. It was tested again that summer by Williams BTCC racer Alain Menu at Abingdon airfield, but can be found today in the DAF Museum in Eindhoven…

Tue, 22 Jan 2019 08:00:01 +0000
Fascinating F1 Facts: 54

Fascinating F1 Facts: 54

In the racing world, knowledge tends to move around very quickly, with technology developed by one team being used by others. This was certainly the case with the BMW 328, which was the base of a series of so-called eigenbau (specials) in the years after the war. These were raced with great success in Formula 2 events in the late 1940s and early 1950s. As these developed small car construction businesses sprang up using the BMW 328 engine and so the lines between BMWs and prototypes became increasingly blurred. The best known BMW engine users at the time were Veritas in the West and most of the racers in East Germany. By 1952 competition had developed so much in the West that the BMW Specials were largely out of date, although they continued to be very effective in the East. That year the World Championship was run for F2 cars and several BMW Specials turned up at international races such as the Eifelrennen and the Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay.

Veritas was a company that literally grew from the ruins of BMW. It was created by a group of former BMW staff in 1946 after the company's factories were either taken over by the Soviets or bombed flat by the Allies. Ernst Loof was an engineer who played an important role with BMW in the 1930s, developing the Munich firm's competition cars, among them the 328, which was powered by a six-cylinder 2-litre engine, which had been designed by Rudolf Schleicher. He joined forces with commercial manager Lorenz Dietrich, driver Georg Meier and production man Werner Miethe to begin building their own automobiles, based around the BMW 328 engine, in an old armaments factory in the village of Hausen am Andelsbach, near Sigmaringen, not far from the Swiss border, near Konstanz. The firm quickly outgrew the original workshops and moved to nearby Messkirch  and diversified rapidly. Dietrich had been the manager of the French Gnôme & Rhône engine company during the Occupation and knew Paul Panhard and soon struck a deal to use the Dyna-Panhard to build a small convertible, which would be called a Veritas for the German market.

Loof was more interested in building racing cars and developed his own version of the BMW engine, manufactured for the company by Heinkel and known as the Veritas Meteor. These engines were fitted into various chassis, based on the BMW 328, and in 1948 Karl Kling and Meier began to win races in different versions of the car. Around 10 of the cars were built for Formula 2.

The rapid growth meant another move, this time to Muggensturm, near Karlsruhe, but the partners wanted different things and so Lorenz set up his own business called Dyna Veritas, while Loof stuck with racing and set up a small workshops at the Nürburgring, building and servicing his racing cars. At the German GP of 1953 he drove one of his own cars and enjoyed the shortest F1 career ever when he retired at the start of the race after his transmission broke after less than a metre...

Loof began to produce road-going versions of his cars but the company soon went bankrupt and the reviving BMW took over the assets and hired Loof to develop cars for them at the Nurburgring. Sadly the arrangement did not last long, Loof died of a brain tumour in March 1956 at the age of only 56 years. 

Mon, 21 Jan 2019 08:00:01 +0000
Fascinating F1 Facts: 53

Fascinating F1 Facts: 53

One can enjoy huge success outside Formula 1, but that is no guarantee of success in Grand Prix racing. F1 requires more than skill and energy. It always requires political nous and money. Lots of money.

"Wiggy" is a nickname that might be applied to one or two Formula 1 team bosses over time, however, the man known as "Wiggy" in F1 circles was not a wearer of toupees. He had the nickname because his name was Keith Wiggins.

Wiggy had started racing karts when he was still at school, back in 1973. While learning engineering, Wiggy joined Ron Dennis's Project 4 Racing team in 1977 in Formula 2 and then worked for the team as an engineer in British Formula 3 in 1978. He had not given up his own racing ambitions but he never had the money required and so in 1980 joined Rushen Green Racing and in 1982 ran Ayrton Senna's programme in Formula Ford 2000.

Accepting that his driving career was probably done, Wiggins set up his own team in 1984, with backing from Marlboro for Norway's Harald Huysman. It was called Pacific Racing and success was immediate, with Huysman winning the Benelux and European Formula Ford 1600 championships. Harald then introduced Wiggins to another talented youngster he knew by the name of Bertrand Gachot and in 1985 Wiggins ran Gachot in British FF1600 and won the title, going on to win the Formula Ford 2000 championship in 1986. Pacific then ran a Finnish youngster called JJ Lehto to the British and European FF2000 titles in 1987 and moved into British F3 the following year and won the title at its first attempt. Pacific Racing was a team on the move.

In 1989, based at a new factory in Thetford, team team entered Formula 3000 with Lehto and Eddie Irvine, both sponsored by Marlboro but this was not a success and Marlboro departed, leaving Pacific to struggle for money until 1991 when Wiggins signed Christian Fittipaldi won the Formula 3000 title.

Wiggins was left with no real option but to look to Formula 1 and in September 1992 he set up Pacific Grand Prix, but he couldn't find the money and so ran David Coulthard and Michael Bartels in F3000 with DC coming close to winning the series. Wiggy then took the decision to go ahead with a Reynard-designed F1 car, built by Reynard Composites and powered by an Ilmor V10 engine.

The Pacific-Ilmor PR01 was not a success despite the best efforts of Gachot and Paul Belmondo, who qualified for only a handful of races  and retired in all of them. By the mid-season, Wiggins announced a plan to design a new car with funding coming from a drinks company called Ursus. Frank Coppuck designed a new PR02 and Cosworth supplied engines and Gachot and a Japanese sponsor called Ko Gotoh bought into the team. The results were still disappointing and at the end of 1995 Pacific was forced to quit F1.

Wiggins ran a Formula 3000 team in 1996 and tried to build up a sports car team, using the BRM name but at the end of 1997 the team was shut down and Wiggins went to work for Lola in the United States. The ambition still burned and in 2001 he acquired the Bettenhausen CART team after team boss Tony Bettenhausen was killed in a plane crash. The team was renamed Herdez Competition and ran Mexicans Michel Jourdain and Mario Dominguez, winning the race at Surfers Paradise and the rookie of the year title. Ryan Hunter-Reay joined the team and soon became a winner but by the end of 2005 the team was running out of money. By 2007 he had sold part of the team to former Minardi owner Paul Stoddart, to establish Minardi Team USA with some success but the collapse of Champ Car meant that Wiggins moved into IndyCar with the team renamed as HVM and brought in rookie Simona De Silvestro but after she departed in 2013 the team was left struggling again, working as a satellite operation of Andretti Autosport until the end of 2015 when the money ran out. It has scored six wins.

Last year, Wiggins returned to the F1 world, working with Stoddart, running the F1 two-seater programme.

Sun, 20 Jan 2019 08:00:01 +0000
Fascinating F1 Facts: 52

Fascinating F1 Facts: 52

Much of the FIA is now housed in a drab building next to the airport in Geneva, Switzerland.

Las Vegas, it is not.

The Chemin de Blandonnet, with the emphasis on bland, is not quite in the same league as the FIA's traditional home in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

Then again, there are not many addresses that do come close to the Place de la Concorde.

Originally, before the French Revolution, this 18-acre space was known as the Place Louis XV, after the French king who planned it. There used to be a statue of him in the Place, but it was torn down when the people rebelled in 1789. They renamed it the Place de la Revolution and a guillotine was kept busy removing the heads of royalists and it was there in 1793 that King Louis XVI - Louis XV's grandson - was executed, a few months before his wife Marie Antoinette departed in similar fashion.

By 1795 it was renamed Place de la Concorde, although the name did not stick until after the second French Revolution in 1830.

Back in 1758 Louis XV had commissioned the architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel to create two identical buildings on either side of the Rue Royale, on the north side of the Place. He wanted them to house government offices but while the eastern building would house the naval headquarters, the western one was not built and the land behind Gabriel's façade was divided into four lots and sold, with the owners free to build what they wanted, on the understanding that the façade was left unchanged. These were numbered 4,6, 8 and 10 and were bought by people with a lot of money to spend, who wanted to build townhouses, where they could stay when they were not living in their chateaux in the country. Such residences were known as hôtels particuliers (singular hôtel particulier) and were usually named after the family that owned them. They were not hotels in the sense we know today. They were often very grand affairs, usually built around courtyards, hidden from the outside world and away from the hustle and bustle outside.

Number 4, on the corner of the Rue Royale was bought by the Marquis de Coislin. Number 6 was designed by the architect Pierre-Louis Moreau for the Treasurer-General David Rouillé de L'Étang. It was passed down through his family to his great-niece, who was married to the Marquis of Plessis-Bellière, but when her daughter died without an heir and she decided to leave it to the Catholic church, with the intention of it becoming a convent. This led to a series of lengthy legal actions from other family members who challenged the Will. This was not settled until 1901 when Pope Leo XIII agreed to sell the building to the Automobile Club de France. This organization had also acquired number 8 next door. This was known as the Hotel Moreau or the Hotel Cartier. It was built by Pierre-Louis Moreau for his own use but was then passed on in his family, his daughter having married politician René Lambot de Fougères. By 1830 it was been passed on to another politician Louis-Denis Péan de Saint-Gilles. At one point part of it was transformed into a café owned by the celebrated Corrazza company, famed for its lemonade.

Number 10, incidentally, was called the Hotel Aumont until it was acquired by François de Crillon, after which it became known as the Hotel de Crillon. This became a hotel in 1907 when it was acquired by the Société du Louvre, a hotel group, which transformed it into one of the most famous hotels in the world.

Between 1898 and 1912 the ACF transformed numbers 6 and 8 into one integrated building, which covers an impressive 113,000 square feet and include a swimming pool, a rooftop terrace, a squash court and a spectacular library.

The FIA, which was established by the ACF, leases part of the building and uses the number 8 entrance.

After the German invasion in 1940 the buildings were requisitioned by the dramatically-named General Bogislav von Studnitz, one of Hitler's Panzer generals, who (in passing) would die a bizarre death in 1943 when he was inspecting some railway lines in Greece, using a draisine which was hit by a speeding locomotive. The Hotel Crillon served as one of the German headquarters during the Occupation and in 1944 there was violent fighting as the  Second French Armoured Division arrived in Paris. The 12e Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique fought its way up the Rue de Rivoli in their Sherman tanks, supported by infantry and resistance fighters. The lead tank arrived in the Place de la Concorde to find a German Panther tank there and the two then exchanged fire. The French tank was faster and the Panther was destroyed, but almost immediately the commander of the Sherman was killed by a sniper.

Legend has it that the resistance fighters shouted to the tanks about "the fifth column", meaning that the snipers might be Frenchmen working with the Germans, but one of the tank commanders misunderstood and took aim at the fifth column from the left of Gabriel's façade. It was destroyed. Although this was repaired after the war, the stone used was not as good quality and so one can see the difference.

Sat, 19 Jan 2019 08:00:01 +0000
Fascinating F1 Facts: 51

Fascinating F1 Facts: 51

FIA Presidents may have long had the reputation for being blazer-wearing aristocrats who took on the job of running the federation - without any financial reward - because it was the sort of thing that nobles with plenty of money used to do. They were not necessarily very good at it, but they were not all stuffed shirts. But, without someone being in charge one can only where the sport would have been. The first President was Dutch aristocrat Baron Etienne de Zuylen de Nyevelt, who had married Helene de Rothschild, the daughter of Salomon de Rothschild, one of the French branch of the famous banking family. This might have sounded like a good career move, but she would be disinherited for marrying a Catholic… Still, they were not exactly struggling,as they had sufficient money to fund the restoration of the Kasteel de Haar, near Utrecht, which had been in the family since 1449, but had been in ruins for almost two centuries…

The baron remained in charge from 1904 until 1931.

Viscount Marie Joseph Thibaud de Rohan-Chabot, know to his friends as "Jehan", was the third President and he too came from a background of privilege, growing up in the dramatic Chateau de Josselin in Brittany, where the family had been running things since time immemorial. He was the second son of the Duke de Rohan, which meant that he needed to find other things to do and so after, qualifying as a doctor and spending the first world war as a fighter pilot, he went into business, in various board level roles, including being Vice President of the Suez company. His three sisters all married either Princes or Dukes, and he would marry the daughter of a Marquis, but the family was not without tregedies as his elder brother Josselin, the Duke de Rohan, died of injuries sustained as an infantry officer on the Western Front, while his son was a heroic fighter pilot, who was shot down and killed in 1940. So Rohan-Chabot was  fairly tough character. His links to the automobile world included being the President of BP France and later the Kléber-Colombes tyre company.

This led to him being chosen as President of the Automobile Club de France (ACF) in 1928 and eight years later, when he was 52, he was elected to head the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus (AIACR), the forerunner of the FIA. In 1946 he oversaw the rebranding of the AIACR to become the FIA and became President of the new organisation. Under his leadership, Formula 1 was created.

He was still FIA President a decade later when the sport went through its darkest hours after the Le Mans disaster in June that year when Pierre Levegh's Mercedes ran into Lance Macklin's Austin-Healey and the disintegrating silver machine flew through the crowd opposite the pits at head height, killing at least 80 spectators. Probably more.

That year, the World Championship was to have included 11 races, although the Indy 500 was never run to F1 rules and so was part of the series in name only. The Le Mans accident came on June, a week after the Belgian GP, the fourth Grande Épreuve on the season, after Argentina in January and Monaco and Indianapolis in May.

A few days after the disaster, F1 went through the motions again, at the Dutch GP at Zandvoort, held at a time when the full implications of the French crash had yet to be felt. There were bans on motor racing in several countries (although only the Swiss one remained in the longer term).

The French GP (scheduled for July 3) was cancelled, but the British felt no need to worry about foreign problems and so the Grand Prix went ahead as planned on July 16 at Aintree. But the German, Swiss and Spanish GPs, scheduled for July 31, August 21 and October 23 respectively were all called off.

This meant that Juan Manuel Fangio was already World Champion by the time the Italian GP took place at Monza on September 11. He had left Aintree with 33 points, with his Mercedes team-mate Stirling Moss having 22, but with the three races then being cancelled he arrived at Monza in September with an unbeatable lead in the World Championship, although he would win that race. It would be the last Grand Prix contested by a Mercedes factory team until 2010.

A month later, in the run up to the Targa Florio sports car race in Sicily, the Daimler-Benz board of directors, under Dr Fritz Könecke, voted to stop all motorsport activities. They say that Mercedes had already decided to stop its F1 programme before the Le Mans crash, but that seems an odd thing to have been planning given that the firm had only enjoyed one season of F1 success at that point.

A week after the Targa, also in Sicily, there was a non-championship Formula 1 race at Syracuse, won by a youngster called Tony Brooks in a Connaught – the first Grand Prix victory for a British car on the Continent since the days of Sunbeam in the 1920s. It was a sign that the British were gearing up to became the dominant force in Grand Prix racing.

The Viscount de Rohan-Chabot guided the sport through these troubled times, retiring in 1958 at the age of 73.

Fri, 18 Jan 2019 08:00:01 +0000
Fascinating F1 Facts: 50

Fascinating F1 Facts: 50

The Sixties was a time of dramatic change, when the children born during and after World War II broke down the social order that existed with new ideas about sex, drugs and rock and roll. It was an era when the formal structures that had previously existed were swept away and civil rights became an issue. Revolution was in the air. Things came to a head in 1968. That year Alexander Dubcek tried to liberalize Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia, in what has become known as the Prague Spring. In Vietnam, the Tet Offensive made Amnerica realize that it was not going win against the Viet Cong.

In the US there was hope that new leaders would help speed up the changes but in the space of a month both Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were gunned down. In Britain Enoch Powell made a famous speech about the dangers of immigration, frightening people with the suggestion that were would be "rivers of blood". It was the summer when Johnny Cash performed at Folsom State Prison, when the Rolling Stones released "Jumpin Jack Flash"; when Louis Armstrong sang "What a wonderful world"; Jimi Hendrix performed Bob Dylan's "All along the watchtower" and Dusty Springfield "The son of a preacher man". It was the year of "Hey Jude" and Tom Jones's "Delilah"; of Mary Hopkin's "Those were the days" and Otis Redding's "Sitting on the dock of the bay". And Dionne Warwick asked the way to San Jose. The musical Hair caused outrage with its overt nudity and millions queued at movie theatres to see "2001: A Space Odyssey".

Formula 1 in those days was a much smaller affair but was still at the forefront of motorsport. Two days after King's assassination in April, the great Jim Clark was killed in the Deutschland Trophäe Formula 2 race at Hockenheim. There was a whole month before the Spanish Grand Prix, but it was a busy time for the Formula 2 entrants with a race at Thruxton a week after Clark's death and then a weekend with big F2 races at both Pau and at the Nürburgring. And then they all headed to Jarama for the Grand Prix of Madrid before dashing back to Zolder in Belgium for the Grote Prijs van Limborg and then the F1 drivers went back to Jarama. Team Lotus appeared that weekend in full Gold Leaf livery, beginning the sponsorship revolution in Formula 1.

In the days before the Spanish race, France ignited with students battling on the streets of Paris with the CRS. On the Monday after that race, a million people took to the streets in the French capital and a general strike was called. As things escalated, the Formula 1 teams made their way to Monaco, despite the fact that petrol was no longer available, there was no public transport and all the banks were closed. By the end of the week about two thirds of the French workforce was on strike. Political upheaval rarely stopped the F1 world and everyone made it to Monaco, where practice began on the Thursday. The F1 folk were not interested in France's troubles and the focus was firmly on Team Lotus, as Colin Chapman had fitted the very first wings to appear in F1 on the two Lotus 49s.

Graham Hill went on to win his fourth victory on the streets of the Principality, chased to the chequered flag by the BRM of Richard Attwood. The race had a high rate of attrition and by the end only five cars were still running, with the third place on the podium going to Lucien Bianchi, who was running four laps behind the winner. Afterwards, with many flights cancelled, the F1 folk headed to the airports in Italy, to try to get home. Autosport magazine was lucky to get a race report with photographer David Phipps managing to get out of Nice on Sunday night thanks to a favour from Page Tours, which found him a seat on one of its chartered planes, so he flew home with his films and with a hastily-written report by Patrick McNally, later to become famous (and rich) as the head of the Paddock Club. There were fears that week that the French GP (scheduled for July 7) at Rouen would be called off. On the Tuesday after Monaco the Automobile Club de l'Ouest wobbled and announced that the Le Mans 24 Hours, scheduled for June 15-16, would be postponed. The Reims 12 Hours, due to take place on June 30, was also called off.

As the F1 teams set off for the next race at Spa the problems in Paris reached their peak. On the Wednesday after the race French President Charles de Gaulle called off a cabinet meeting and disappeared. He flew by helicopter not to his home in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises but rather to Baden-Baden in Germany, where he met General Jacques Massu, the commander-in-chief of French forces in Germany. Massu assured the President that he had the support of the military and De Gaulle, calmed by the news, went back to his country home. The following day, back in Paris, he agreed to dissolve the Assemblée Nationale (the French parliament) and called an election. He ordered the country to return to work, threatening to declare a state of emergency if the people did not obey. There were rumours that the army was ready to march into Paris.

This ended the crisis and the election which took place in saw De Gaulle's supporters win the biggest victory in the history of the French parliament, although the old General eventually stood down as President in April 1969.

Le Mans did finally take place at the end of September, when things has quietened down. It was won by the JW Automotive Gulf Ford GT40 driven by Pedro Rodriguez and that man Bianchi…

Thu, 17 Jan 2019 08:00:01 +0000
Fascinating F1 Facts: 49

Fascinating F1 Facts: 49

A lot of old Formula 1 cars end up in museums, if they are not destroyed during their racing careers. What else can you do with them? Some end up in car museums, others are hoarded by the teams for posterity, or to be used in their own collections/conference centres. Some serve as show cars, others are sold to collectors, who stash them away hoping that they will increase in value. Some continue to be raced (and modified) by historic racers.

There are many different stories. A Ferrari 641, for example, is deemed to be a piece of art and hangs on the wall in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Weirdly, there is also an F1 car in the Tinguely Museum in Basel, Switzerland.

Jean Tinguely was certainly an original thinker. In the 1950s he began to create a series of sculptures which he christened métamatic. These took so-called kinetic art to a new level by having the statues actually moving, rather than portraying movement. Initially Tinguely's machines created drawings of their own in a random fashion, but later as he developed his ideas, he created machinery which self-destructed.

In addition to being a visionary artist, he was also mad about motor racing. In the 1950s he and fellow artist Paolo Vallorz actually designed the bodywork for a sports car that raced at Le Mans in 1959, although the Vernet Pairard (named after the company founders Jean Pairard and Just-Emile Vernet) did not achieve a great deal. It was a converted version of the Renault 4CV, as were the Alpines of the era.

The Tinguely Museum was created to honour the artist and in 1999 Sauber decided to use the facility as the venue to launch its C18, which proved to be the least successful Sauber F1 car up to that point… something that perhaps Tinguely would have appreciated given his fixation with self-destructive things.

The Tinguely Museum also houses an artwork called Die fünf Witwen (The Five Widows), which was created by the artist Eva Aeppli and features a group of five grieving women, all draped in black. It is in the museum because Tinguely adapted it to his own tastes by adding a Lotus F1 car. He liked the result so much that it stood in his bedroom for many years before his death in 1991.

It's strange, but true.

Perhaps the strangest thing is that the car is not a mock-up but the real thing and one of only three surviving Lotus 25s, which was the first F1 car to feature a monocoque construction. Jim Clark won the World Championship in 1963 at the wheel of a Lotus 25 and won a total of 14 races in the design. He drove of the five of the seven 25s that were built and first used R6 in the non-championship Austrian GP in 1963. R6 was raced in Grands Prix eight times by Clark, winning four of them: the Dutch, Belgian and British Grands Prix in 1964 and the French GP of 1965. The Scotsman used it in practice on several other occasions and it was also raced by a number of other Team Lotus drivers and some of the team's customers.

The car ended up being sold to Jo Siffert, although he never raced it himself, using it as a customer car for his own Siffert Racing Team. Once the car was no longer competitive Siffert gave it to Tinguely, knowing of his passion for racing machines and it is said that he then decided to add it to the Die fünf Witwen after Siffert was killed while racing in the non-championship World Championship Victory Race at Brands Hatch at the end of 1971. 

Wed, 16 Jan 2019 08:00:01 +0000
Fascinating F1 Facts: 48

Fascinating F1 Facts: 48

Czechoslovakia is a country that no longer exists. Today it has been carved up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but for a long time it was a sovereign state, after declaring independence in 1918 when the Kingdom of Bohemia and the  Margraviate of Moravia broke away from the collapsing Austro-Hungarian Empire. It remained an independent state until 1938 when Nazi Germany invaded and broke it up, although the President Edvard Beneš set up a government-in-exile in London during the war and put the country back together again in 1945, although he would be overthrown after just three years by a Communist uprising which led to the country becoming part of the Soviet-dominated Eastern Bloc, cut off from the West, by the Iron Curtain.

In the 1930s, Czechosloakia began hosting Grands Prix on a road circuit outside the town of Brno, in Moravia, which would become an important event on the international calendar. The track was named the Masarykring, after the Czechoslovakian President Tomáš Masaryk.

It was a stunning circuit, 19 miles in length, and always drew big crowds, the first event in September 1930 attracting a crowd of 80,000 people. In the early years it was won by Bugatti Grand Prix cars, driven by Louis Chiron and others but in the late 1930s the great itans of the era raced there with victories for Hans Stuck and Bernd Rosemeyer in Auto Unions in 1934 and 1935 and Rudi Caracciola in a Mercedes in 1937.

After the war the Czechs wanted to revive the race but there was no money and then the political situation became complicated. There were motorcycle races but it was not until 1962 that a race was organized for Formula Junior, with Formula 3 taking over from 1964 to 1970. Getting there was not easy but it was a regular stopover for some of Europe's Formula 3 racers, who would race on the same weekend as a series called The Friendship of Socialist Countries Cup. The event was called the Mezinarodni Závod Automobils F3 and took place on the first weekend in September. The number of westerners racing was pretty limited but there was still a vast crowd, numbering 200,000 to watch the action.

That was not unusual, but what was out of the ordinary was that the organizers somehow managed to get BRM, a major F1 team at the time, to agree to send one of its H16-engined BRM P83s to the east, quite an achievement given the political situation at the time and the fact that the race weekend fell between the Canadian GP on August 27 and the Italian GP was on September 10.

It was the first appearance of the modern F1 car behind the Iron Curtain and Mike Spence was sent over and drove around the 8.7-mile track in a time of 4m44.8s, an average speed of 109.5 mph. This was impressive given that the circuit went thrown the middle of several villages, notably the fast sweepers through Bosonohy and the tight right-hander between two houses at Veselka. The BRM was such a sensation that it rather overshadowed the main event, which was won by the German driver Manfred Mohr in a de Sanctis. Formula 3 would continue to visit Brno until 1970 but the track was then deemed to be too dangerous and it was reduced to 6.8 miles in 1973. This resulted in visits by the European Touring Car Championship from 1976 until 1985 when it was decided that a completely new circuit was required, inside the boundaries of the original 1930 track but not including any of that circuit.

The collapse of the Eastern Bloc came in 1989 opened the way for changes and in 1993 the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which had been acting as different entities under a Czechoslovakian federation during the Soviet years, decided to split up - a remarkable non-violent revolution. Brno is today the second largest city in the Czech Republic and today it's a lot easier to access. The current outright lap record is held by Jerome d'Ambrosio, who did a demonstration run in a year-old Renault R29 in 2010…

Tue, 15 Jan 2019 08:00:01 +0000
Fascinating F1 Facts: 47

Fascinating F1 Facts: 47

At this time of year, when the weather is bad and there is no real racing to keep us amused, I like to cook and over the years I have collected a very diverse range of cookbooks. The other day, while looking for Manifold Destiny, the guide to cooking on a car engine, I stumbled on a number of them, which I thought I might mention, if only in passing. I have always found "Eating in Japan" to be a useful book as it takes you beyond sushi, sashimi, tempura, yakitori and shabu-shabu to such delights as okonomiyaki and yakizakana. There was also a wonderful book called "The Jungle Hiker", designed for Royal Air Force pilots so that they would know what to do if they ended up "debunking" in the Ceylon Jungle. This includes a chapter called The Jungle Beeton, featuring a delightful recipe for Fricassee of Lizard. However, there was also the racey little book called Racey Recipes, a collection of motor sport's favourite recipes, which was put together by a group of ladies involved in the sport, with the profits going to UNICEF, which featured "Forwards" by John Surtees and Jackie Stewart and contributions from a wide selection of racing people. Now you would think that most racers were either health conscious (and half-starved), and would simply mutter about nibbling on sponsorship-friendly pasta and vegetables. It was published 20 years ago and even then drivers said apple juice instead of Red Bull and Vodka, when asked about their favourite drinks…

Still, much success was achieved with pasta and veg as JY Stewart kept his slim lines thanks to the help of fettuccini and vegetables, fairly similar to Alex Zanardi's favourite pasta with broccoli.

Fish featured strongly, as one might imagine, and Dan Gurney admitted that to get to his heart a good route was to provide him with trout with asparagus and new potatoes. John Watson was a pushover for lobster, while Jarno Trulli would be over the moon to eat squid with peas in a tomato sauce. A man of rather more exotic tastes, FIA President Max Mosley was titillated by grilled langoustines with fennel and chilli sauce.

Mosley's successor Jean Todt was keen on escalope Milanese, which is much the same as Gerhard Berger's favourite Wiener schnitzel, (please don't write in if you know the difference) while Allan McNish declared himself as being particularly fond of haggis, a wonderful thing that Scottish people do to sheep (for the people, rather than the sheep). David Coulthard followed the national food approach and declared himself to love mince and tatties, a rather basic dish that one does not see much in Monte Carlo, unless you stick the name Parmentier on to it. Johnny Herbert looked a lot slimmer in those days, which is possibly because he has eaten a lot of roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding since those days… Nigel Mansell was partial to a bit of pork fillet, cooked with port. The Italians tend to like the cooking that mama and nonna (grandma) used to feed them when they were young, which probably explains former Ferrari driver Ivan Capelli being mad about Italian meatballs in a tomato sauce, Mario Andretti's favourite dish also hints of his Italian forebears, although Idaho potato gnocchi with brown sauce may not be served on a regular basis in Trieste.

Nonetheless, it was good to see some more adventurous dishes as well, notably Eddie Jordan's warm Irish potato and black pudding salad (not a thing for vegetarians), while Michael Schumacher's favourite lunch is the rather Germanic veal knuckle with dumplings and red cabbage, while his brother Ralf is a little more cosmopolitan, liking spicy penne. Ron Dennis confessed a weakness for basil with his chicken parmesan (and why not?), while Alain Prost is not a Michelin 3 star kind of guy and prefers chicken cooked in the Basquaise style, rather than truffles and cepes. Celebrated TV commentator Murray Walker, like many Englishman has turned to India for his epicurean thrills, and loves a good chicken vindaloo while the late Professor Sid Watkins found nothing better on this earth than Nigerian Curry, a throwback, perhaps, to his National Service, which he spent with the Royal West African Frontier Force. The Prof, of course, loved to round things off with a wee dram of something from Scotland.

Rather less mindful of nutrition Damon Hill confessed that sticky toffee pudding was his big thing, while Jacques Villeneuve was very excited about something called Sugar Pie, which seems to involve putting a lot of sugar and some cream in a pastry pie…

And Martin Brundle admitted to a weakness for apple crumble with cinnamon.

I could go on, but I'm hungry now… off to the kitchen.

Mon, 14 Jan 2019 14:00:01 +0000
Fascinating F1 Facts: 46

Fascinating F1 Facts: 46

If anyone ever asks you who won the 1960 South African Grand Prix, you have to tell them that they may not know the correct answer.

Either that or the question is a trick one.

To be fair, there are probably not many people who would know the answer without having to look it up. Trying to remember the details of the 997 Grands Prix to date is hard enough, not taking into account all the non-championship races in the days when there were such things. Some years there were 15 or more such races, some less important than others. And then there were other races for which the rules were extended to become Formula Libre (literally "free formula") which meant that F1 cars would race against whatever local or imported machinery there was in the region.

It's a complicated business and the South African Grand Prix of 1960 is a particularly troublesome example. Why?

Because there were two of them. I kid you not. The sixth and seventh South African Grands Prix both took place in the same calendar year.

One might argue that this was because the South Africans had not had a Grand Prix since 1939 and so were wildly enthusiastic and needed have two in the same year, but that is not really the reason. The truth is that  in order to attract international racers to South Africa in the winter months (the southern summer, of course) there had to be more than one race to make it cost-effective and so it was a question of fitting in the races on the available dates. By 1961 there was a four-race series in South Africa , with the Rand, Natal, South African and Cape Grands Prix, taking place at Kyalami (Johannesburg), Westmead (Durban), East London and Killarney (Cape Town).

The first 1960 South African Grand Prix took place on New Year's Day, Friday, January 1 at the East London circuit in the Eastern Cape province, on the Indian ocean coast. The city is about 620 miles to the east of Cape Town, and 400 miles to the south-west of Durban. It was run to Formula Libre rules and the field was, how shall we say, eclectic, ranging from Cooper-Climax T51, which had been built for the 1959 season, to Jaguar D-Types, Porsche Spyders, Tojeiros and even a Maserati-Corvette (whatever that might have been). The race was won by Belgian Paul Frere in a 2.5-litre Cooper-Climax, who beat Stirling Moss driving a 1.5-litre Cooper-Borgward Formula 2 car, who was chased by Syd Van der Vyver in a F2 Cooper-Alfa Romeo. The race drew a crowd of 50,000 raced-starved South Africans…

The second 1960 South African GP took place almost a year later, on Tuesday, December 27, two days after Christmas. It followed on from a similar Cape Grand Prix, which had been held at the Killarney on Saturday, December 17.

The leading entries were all using Formula 1 cars and some of the sport's biggest names were present. Double World Champion Jack Brabham was there in a Cooper-Climax T53, Wolfgang Von Trips was there in an up-to-date Lotus 18, run by Scuderia Colonia. This may sound like some exotic Italian operation but in reality was based in Cologne and was a team in which he played a significant role, as a part-owner. The team existed to promote young German drivers. There were also the two factory Porsche 718s driven by Stirling Moss and Jo Bonnier. It had been a tough year for Moss, who suffered serious injuries in a crash at Spa in June. He was back racing in October, doing several races in the United States and won the last round of the World Championship having ended at Watkins Glen on November 20. The big F1 names then went off to the Bahamas for the Nassau TT sports car race on the 27th, followed by the Governor's Trophy and Nassau Trophy on consecutive days on the first weekend in December. They then found their way to South Africa for the Christmas races.  Moss won from Bonnier in Cape Town, with Von Trips third and then at East London Moss and Bonnier scored another 1-2 with Brabham third in a Cooper-Climax. Once again it was Van der Vyver who was the best of the locals with a Lotus-Alfa Romeo…

Sun, 13 Jan 2019 08:00:01 +0000