Motorsport

The 1000th Formula One Grand Prix Special

Senna rams up Prost’s backside to decide the 1990 World Championship (Photo: Norio Koike)

On the 13th of May, 1950, the first ever FIA organised Grand Prix of the-then World Championship of Drivers was held at Silverstone in England, marking the start of what we now know as the Formula One World Championship.

On that day, Giuseppe Farina won the race from pole in an Alfa Romeo 1-2-3, while ironically, Juan Mangel Fangio, who later won 5 Drivers Championships, was the only Alfa not to finish.

Just under 69 years later, and 998 races later, the cars are slightly faster, much safer, and a tad more technologically advanced, yet Ferrari have somehow survived the whole time.

To come to think of it, Ferrari and Alfa will be on the grid for the 1st and the 1000th races!

So in honour of the 1000th official race this weekend in Shanghai, here’s my own collection of highlights and lowlights of F1 bringing up the BIG ‘M’!


1969 Italian GP- The Four Way Finish

In 999 races, excluding any Safety Car finishes, this is one of the closest finishes in F1 history, with just 0.19 of a second separating the winner Jackie Stewart from Bruce McLaren.

As the cars came out of the Parabolica for the last time, Jochen Rindt’s Lotus pulled alongside Stewart and briefly took the lead. With Jean-Pierre Beltoise (Stewart’s Matra teammate) and Bruce McLaren in his self-named car a bee’s dick away, any one of the four were capable of winning. As they hit the line, it was almost akin to a dead-heat in a horse race.

Murray Walker describes the finish:

Eventually, Stewart was declared the winner, with Rindt just eight hundredths of a second behind, Beltoise in for third just 0.17 seconds behind, and just two hundredths ahead of McLaren.

The win was Stewart’s 6th of the season (From 8 races), and the Scotsman and Matra secured both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships with 3 races to go.

Sad to think that in under a year after this race, McLaren would die in a Can-Am test at Goodwood, and Rindt would die at Monza during qualifying for the 1970 Italian Grand Prix, but held on to posthumously win the Driver’s Championship.


1976 German GP- The Lauda Crash

The 1976 season was the height the epic James Hunt vs Niki Lauda rivalry (It should be said they were very friendly off the track) which inspired Ron Howard’s 2013 film Rush.

Throughout the first half of the season, the Ferrari of Lauda (The reigning World Champion) dominated and won 5 races to Hunt’s 2, including gaining a win from the McLaren drivers’ disqualification at Silverstone due to changing his car.

Lauda wanted no part of racing in the German Grand Prix, especially with the forecast of rain for the dangerous and often deadly Nordschleife circuit of the Nurburgring, which at 14.19 miles (22.835 km) was by far the longest on the F1 Calendar.

Lauda attempted a driver’s boycott of the race, but his competitors (Including Hunt) voted to go ahead with the start by just one vote.

At the end of the opening lap, Lauda pitted with the rest of the field for dry tyres, and in a furious push to make back lost ground on Lap 2, his Ferrari snapped to the right just before the Bergwerk right hand curve and spun through the fencing into an earth bank, returning to the track enveloped in flames.

Guy Edwards in his Hesketh avoided Lauda, but the other Hesketh of Harald Ertl and Brett Lunger’s Surtees both hit the burning car, with Lauda trapped in the cockpit, although all three drivers (And Arturio Merzario) leaped out and dragged Lauda out of the wreck, almost certainly saving his life.

Lauda was close to death, having suffered serious burns and major smoke inhalation, leaving him with extensive scarring, losing most of his right ear and the hair on the right side of his head, as well as his eyebrows and eyelids.

Hunt would win the race from the six-wheeled Tyrrell of Jodie Scheckter and McLaren teammate Jochen Mass, but it was all a moot point as their thoughts went back to Lauda’s accident.

The Austrian would survive (Despite having had his last rites read), and he made a stunning comeback just two races later for the Italian Grand Prix (Six weeks after the accident) at Monza, finishing a remarkable 4th as Hunt retired.

In the end, Hunt won the next two races, and at the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix, Lauda withdrew due to the torrential rain, allowing Hunt to win the title by one point.

1976 was the end of the Nordschleife as a Grand Prix track, with Lauda’s accident proving the final straw, and the German Grand Prix was moved to Hockenheim from 1977.

The Nurburgring was redeveloped into a safer 4.5km track, and returned to the calendar in 1984 under the ‘European’ Grand Prix identity.


1982 German GP- The Piquet Punch-Up

The weekend was already soured by a serious crash in qualifying to the championship leading Ferrari of Didier Pironi (Who would’ve started on pole), when he slammed into the rear of Alain Prost’s Renault, vaulting over the top of the Frenchman’s car, landing tail-first and cartwheeling to a stop, severely breaking his legs and ending his season.

Combined with Gilles Villeneuve’s fatal crash at Spa in May, it was another cruel blow for the Prancing Horse.

Meanwhile, disputes over crashes were dealt with much more physically in the late 20th Century (I think of Senna clubbing Eddie Irvine in 1993), and it was shown when defending World Champion and race leader Nelson Piquet in his Brabham lapped the Chilean Eliseo Salazar in his ATS… only to be suddenly taken out at the brand-new Ostkurve chicane.

You can listen to James Hunt hang crap on Salazar (Commentary: BBC, Footage: FOM)

Ironically, Piquet had helped Salazar climb up the European racing ranks, when the Chilean arrived in the UK in 1979.

Piquet did apologise, and when the Brabham mechanics later inspected his car, they discovered the engine was on course to blow up before the end of the race anyway.

For the record, Patrick Tambay, who had replace the late Villeneuve at Ferrari, scored an emotional victory, and unfortunately, Pironi would never race in F1 again, and died in a boating accident in 1987.

1982- The year of the drivers’ strike, and a Driver’s Strike.


1989 Japanese GP- The Peak of Prost vs Senna

By being a racing driver you are under risks all the time… being a racing driver means you are racing with other people, and If you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver.

Ayrton Senna, 1990

Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost is probably the most well-known and the fiercest rivalry in the history of Grand Prix racing (I should also mentuon Hunt-Lauda, Schumacher-Hakkinen), and throughout the 1988-89 seasons their McLaren-Honda was one of the all-time dominant F1 cars, waltzing to easy wins in both Constructors’ Championships and both Drivers’ Championships.

But the incident that sealed the rivalry as something bordering on the stuff of legend was the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix.

To cut a long story short, Senna started from Pole, although Prost would beat him at the start and control a majority of the race, but Senna fought back, and on Lap 46, after getting a good exit out of 130R, made a huge lunge at the Casio Triangle, which ended with contact.

BBC coverage of the incident with Murray & James (FOM)

This is the opportunity that Senna’s looking for, AND HE’S GOING THROUGH, OUT! OH MY GOODNESS THIS IS FANTASTIC!

Murray Walker

Senna restarted the race, had his nose cone replaced and mowed down
Alessandro Nannini’s Benetton to win the race, only to be disqualified immediately afterwards by the FISA Stewards (FISA being the FIA’s former motorsport arm) for missing the chicane and gaining a push-start after the collision, and as a result with only Australia to come, handing Prost the ’89 Drivers’ Championship.

Senna believed that the decision was the result of FISA President Jean-Marie Balestre favouring his compatriot Prost to win him the world title, and McLaren appealed, which was thrown out, and Senna given an additional penalty of a $100,000 fine, a suspended six-month ban, and earned the FISA marking of a “dangerous driver”.

Prost turning into Senna, Senna being overambitious, or just a racing incident- we’ll never have full agreement on this topic!


1990 Japanese GP- Senna takes out Prost

After leaving McLaren over their supposed favouritism towards Senna, Prost joined Nigel Mansell at Ferrari, and once again took up the fight to Senna in 1990.

Having bullied the mustachioed Mansell, Prost would win 5 races throughout the season to Senna’s 6, and going into the penultimate race of the season at Suzuka, Prost trailed the Brazilian by 9 points.

Of course, these were the days of 9 points for a win, and only a driver’s best 11 results counted, meaning hypothetically, if both drivers didn’t finish the race, then Senna would be World Champion.

Before the race had started, Senna, who started on pole, and teammate Gerhard Berger asked the Japanese stewards to change the start of the polesitter to the racing line, instead of the inside where the track was dirtier and had less grip.

In his nefarious role as the cartoon villain that the film Senna (2010) portrayed him as, Jean-Marie Balestre rejected the move.

So, Senna decided that he would try and lead into Turn 1 at Prost’s expense, regardless of what happened… which predictably, ended with Senna’s brazen and utterly careless taking out of the Ferrari.

Due to Senna leading by 9 points, and Prost having to drop his 5th placing from Canada (2 points), the Brazilian secured the Drivers’ Championship.

What he did is disgusting… he is a man without value.

Prost on Senna’s role in the collision.

Amazingly, this is the last race in F1 history in which the podium was compromised entirely of non-European drivers: Nelson Piquet (Brazil), Roberto Moreno (Brazil), Aguri Suzuki (Japan).

It was the first instance of a driver taking out his competitor to win the title in the 1990s… and it wasn’t the last.


1994 San Marino GP- The worst weekend

We’re now just a few weeks away from the 25th anniversary of this event, the lowest point in the darkest season of Grand Prix racing.

The first serious crash of the weekend came in Friday’s first qualifying session, when Rubens Barrichello’s Jordan hit a kerb at 225 km/h, which sent him flying onto the top of a tyre barrier, knocking him unconscious in a visually shocking accident- Amazingly, he only suffered a broken nose.

Ayrton Senna visited his Brazilian compatriot in the medical centre, which he had done before for several drivers- Martin Donnelly at Jerez in 1990, Erik Comas in 1992 and Alex Zanardi at Spa 1993.

Drivers carried on and kept racing, as Senna topped the timesheets, but the following day, worse was to come than the Barrichello crash, when the Austrian Roland Ratzenberger, a popular driver from the Simtek team, had the unthinkable happen; he lost his life.

Ratzenberger was believed to have damaged his front wing on the previous lap, and instead of coming into the pits, he continued on another fast lap, leading to a failure at 306 km/h at the Villeneuve curva, losing control of the car and hitting a concrete wall head on at 314.9 km/h, causing fatal head and neck injuries that he had next to no chance of surviving.

Photo: The Cahier Archive

I don’t want to show the full video of the crash, so here is Murray Walker announcing the death from Imola.

Footage: BBC

Ratzenberger’s passing was the first death during a race weekend since Ricardo Patelli at Canada in 1982, and when the qualifying session was restarted, several teams (Williams and Benetton among them) didn’t take part.

F1’s doctor, Professor Sid Watkins, tried to convince a distraught Senna not to take part and instead go fishing with him, but Senna told him that he wanted to keep racing.

At the start of Sunday’s race, the disaster continued, when JJ Lehto’s Benetton stalled on the grid and was smashed by Pedro Lamy’s Lotus, sending debris flying into the crowd, injuring several spectators and a policeman.

As the race restarted, two laps later on Lap 5, as Senna led Michael Schumacher’s Benetton,the Williams left the track at Tamburello corner (Italian courts established the reason as being a steering column failure), and unable to turn, collided with the concrete wall at 211 km/h, showering carbon fibre debris onto the racetrack and incoming cars, and striking the wall at such a precise angle that Senna was struck in the head by part of the suspension, causing fatal skull fractures.

The images of Senna being treated on the world feed (Broadcast by RAI) were considered too distressing by the BBC, who instead cut to a camera in the pit lane.

I saw from his neurological signs that it was going to be a fatal head injury… And then, he sighed, and his body relaxed.

And that was the moment, and I’m not religious, that his spirit had departed.

Professor Sid Watkins, from Senna (2010)
Image: The Cahier Archive

Adding even more chaos to the weekend, the Larrousse team mistakenly allowed Erik Comas to leave the pits despite the red flag conditions.

After arriving on the scene of Senna’s crash and the attention, Comas, whose life had one been saved by Senna following a crash at Spa in 1992, was too distraught to take any further part in the race.

Adding more heartbreak to this story, when the medical crews arrived to treat Senna, they discovered an Austrian flag tucked in the cockpit of his car- He’d planned a tribute to Ratzenberger.

When news finally reached Imola of Senna’s death, it was a reality that few could scarcely believe, including Walker.

We were informed mid-flight that Senna had died from his injuries. His Williams team crew was on that same flight back to London, and they were in utter disbelief. Senna had only done three races for them, and they were looking forward to a winning relationship.

When the flight crew turned off the lights for landing, nobody switched on their reading light. It was a surreal feeling landing in silence and darkness.

F1 journo Andy Hallbery recalling the weekend

An estimated 3 million people lined the streets of Sao Paulo for Senna’s funeral on May 5, while Ratzenberger’s funeral was held on May 7, attended by FIA President Max Mosley, who didn’t join everyone else in Brazil, as he explained a decade later:

“I went to his (Ratzenberger’s) funeral because everyone went to Senna’s. I thought it was important that somebody went to his.”

For a man who later held a Nazi orgy with 5 prostitutes in his sex dungeon, it was a nice moment of humanity.

The long term impacts were numerous; More than a decade of legal action against Williams, out of which Patrick Head was found responsible by an Italian court, although he was never arrested, multiple safety changes to the design of F1 cars and driver protection in general, the implementation of the pit lane speed limit, as well the reformation of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (Which was to be led by Senna) after 12 years by Niki Lauda and Gerhard Berger, and still exists today and represents all F1 drivers as a trade union.


1998 British GP- Schumacher wins from the Pitlane

When you get Michael Schumacher, Jean Todt and Ross Brawn in the same team, you get three smart bastards who knew how to play the rules, even when they broke them.

Unlike the stewards who were entrusted to enforce them.

During an extremely wet race at Silverstone, Mika Hakkinen started on pole and led by as much as 49 seconds over Schumacher, before falling off the track and spinning in a 360, which cost him 10 seconds, and then had the gap to Schumacher wiped out when the safety car came out.

On the restart on Lap 50, Hakkinen went off again, and Schumacher flew past his rival and built up a race-winning lead. However, on Lap 58, just 3 laps from the end, the German was issued with a stop-go-penalty for passing Alexander Wurz’s Benetton under the Safety Car on Lap 43, meaning Schumi had to come in to the pits within 3 laps or be disqualified.

And this, is where the fun begins.

Footage: FOM

Pulling out as much of a gap as he could, Schumacher waited until the last lap to come in and serve his penalty, and because Ferrari’s pit box was located past the start/finish line, he would effectively win the race from the pit lane, and thus not actually serve his penalty DURING the race.

Todt and Ferrari argued that the penalty should have been issued within 25 minutes of the incident, but instead they were informed after 31 minutes.

Ferrari also argued that the hand-written notification received from the stewards was unclear as to which penalty was actually being issued: a stop-and-go, or a 10 second addition to Schumacher’s race time.

The stewards then decided to add the 10 second penalty to Schumacher’s race time, However, the time penalty could only be used to punish an infraction in the last 12 laps of a Grand Prix- Schumacher’s infraction occurred on Lap 43 of 60.

McLaren lodged a protest at the result (Which was dismissed by the FIA), and three weeks later, the governing body called an extraordinary meeting in Paris, and the three stewards handed in their licenses.


2000 German Grand Prix- Barrichello wins from 18th

Rubens Barrichello hadn’t had it easy in Formula One since he debuted in 1993- The frightening crash at San Marino in 1994 just days before the death of his mentor and compatriot Ayrton Senna, and then several more years fighting in the midpack with Jordan and Stewart, though after a very decent 1999, he was given one of life’s great Christmas presents- Being Michael Schumacher’s bride at Ferrari.

After a lackluster qualifying saw Barrichello start from 18th, Ferrari’s problems worsened when Michael Schumacher collided with Giancarlo Fisichella’s Benetton, sending them both crashing out of the race, while Barrichello made up 8 spots on the opening lap.

McLaren were dominating their de facto home Grand Prix, until unbelievably, a disgruntled former Mercedes-Benz employee walked onto the track on Lap 25 wearing anti-Mercedes messaging, bringing out a safety car and wiping out their half a minute advantage back to Barrichello in 3rd.

He was later identified as the 47-year-old Robert Sehli, who had worked for Mercedes-Benz for 22 years in France before he was dismissed on health grounds.

If there’s one way to pay back your bosses, it’s to wreck their chances of winning a Grand Prix, and Mr Sehli was wildly successful.

Hakkinen stopped on Lap 27, while Coulthard was caught behind the safety car on worn tyres and fell to 6th.

As the rain began to fall in the stadium section of the track with 10 laps to go, Barrichello elected to stay out on dry tyres while the McLarens pitted for wets from the lead, setting up a nerve-wracking finish as the Brazilian led by 10 seconds from Hakkinen, who couldn’t peg back the gap, and Barrichello scored his maiden win to a euphoric reception.

That winning moment (Still: Channel 9 & FOM)

It was the first win for a Brazilian driver in Formula One since Senna won the 1993 Australian Grand Prix, and after 124 races, one of the most likable drivers on the grid had finally reached the top step of the podium.

It was his decision to stay out on dry tyres and it was ultimately a perfect decision. In those weather conditions, it is always the driver’s decision as to what tyres to use as the team cannot judge the track… I didn’t try and argue with him because it was worth a chance, and it worked.

Ross Brawn on Barrichello’s drive

As for Mr Sehli, he ended up suing the Mercs in court for unfair dismissal, and to cap off this chapter, he ended up winning a settlement of 91,000 Francs- You know kids, that’s what they called money in France before the Euro existed.


2003 British Grand Prix- The Mad Monk invades the track

Keeping up the theme of track invaders trying to take as many people down as they could, the 2003 British Grand Prix had its own moment of lunacy.

On Lap 11, Irish priest Neil Horan (Later defrocked) went for a run down the Hangar Straight adorned with signs reading “READ THE BIBLE” and “THE BIBLE IS ALWAYS RIGHT” as Cars while you’ll notice in the video, Mark Webber in a Jaguar very nearly makes contact with the Mad Monk as he runs towards a bunch of screaming V10 powered cars.

The Channel 10 broadcast of the race (FOM)

Horan later went one better and ruined the 2004 Olympics, by pushing Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima into the crowd while he was leading the marathon, costing him the Gold medal.

He also did a two month stint in prison for running on the track.

For the record, Rubens Barrichello won the race, while Sauber boss Peter Sauber provided on of the all-time classic quotes on the security response to Horan’s track invasion.

When a man sets himself on fire in the street in Paris, no-one blames Paris.


2005 US Grand Prix- Indygate

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry right now.

Martin Brundle during his Gridwalk.

Without a shadow of a doubt, THE MOST controversial and farcical Grand Prix weekend of all-time, at a period in time when the FIA and the teams were engaged in a massive pissing contest.

The first signs of a problem for Michelin tyres at the fabled “Brickyard” came in 2004, when Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Ralf Schumacher (Williams) suffered rear tyre failures at the banked turn 13 (Unique in F1 in that is is a banked turn taken flat out, putting a severe load on rear tyres), leaving Ralf with spinal injuries.

The next year, the problems re-emerged when Schumacher (Now in a Toyota) had another major accident in an identical spot, knocking him out for the weekend, and leading to the revelation that Michelin’s tyres wouldn’t last 10 laps due to the extreme load placed on them by the final turn.

An easily simple fix today, however the problem was exasperated by the fact that mid-race tyre changes were banned in 2005, a move almost certainly intended to screw over Bridgestone and the utter dominance of Ferrari, who were built around making multiple tyre changes a race.

In an effort to compromise and get a race going, the Michelin teams were trying to have a chicane installed at Turn 13 to slow down the cars to a safe speed, but FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting refused, saying it was “grossly unfair” to the Bridgestone teams.

To change the course in order to help some of the teams with a performance problem caused by their failure to bring suitable equipment to the race would be a breach of the rules and grossly unfair to those teams which have come to Indianapolis with the correct tyres.

Charlie Whiting in a letter to Michelin on June 19th, 2005

In addition, Ferrari team principal Jean Todt (Now FIA President), who had every reason to get back at the Michelin-shod teams, refused to support the chicane proposal, since their tyres were perfectly safe, and they had no reason to take responsibility for the problem.

So with no compromise, at the end of the parade lap, all the Michelin-shod teams (14 cars in total) pulled into the pits and retired, leaving the hundreds of thousands of fans at the track, and the millions watching the around the world utterly dumbfounded as just 6 cars and three Bridgestone teams would start the race- Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi.

Minardi were originally on the side of the Michelin teams, but when Jordan reneged and decided to race, they followed suit, so Minardi team boss Paul Stoddart (Who scored points) gave his honest thoughts on the race with the beloved folks of Dutch TV (I think it was SBS6), who cleared the runway as Stoddy unloaded on the FIA.

The interviewer is Jack Plooij (Audio From: SBS6 broadcast)

The race also meant that every team in 2005 scored at least 1 point, and it also spared Ferrari from going through the season winless for the first time since 1993 (That streak would end in 2014).

It also had two other major effects: Killing off Michelin in F1 (They withdrew after 2006), and yet again destroying Formula One in the US market (Where it had always struggled), and the 2007 race at Indianapolis would be the last US Grand Prix until 2012, when it resumed in Austin, Texas.

A story where nobody was a hero, and what I attempted to tell there was probably under a quarter of what actually happened.


2009 German GP- When Mark Webber finally won

After seven years of suffering through the few highs and many, many, many lows of Mark Webber’s Formula One career, riddled with cruel retirements, crap cars, and broken legs on bike rides, after 130 races, heaven finally opened up.

Prior to that day at the Nurburgring, Webber had been threatening to break through for several races in 2009, having achieved more podiums through 8 races (4 in total) than he had in the previous 7 seasons (2- Monaco 2005, and Europe/Germany 2007).

After surviving the variable conditions on Saturday, Webber qualified on pole position, the first for an Australian in Formula One since Alan Jones at the 1980 German Grand Prix (At Hockenheim), and the only thing going through ‘our’ minds was ‘In which cruel way can Mark lose this?’.

At the start, Webber nearly pushed Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn into the pit wall, and then made contact with Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren, and punctured the World Champion’s rear tyre in the process- He would earn a drive through penalty for the Barrichello incident.

As Webber and Barrichello put a gap on the field, the Aussie served his penalty on Lap 14 when the Brazilian pitted, but with some super race pace, Webber recovered and only dropped to 8th by the time of hit first stop on Lap 19.

With Felipe Massa’s slow pace in front in the Ferrari, Webber was brought back into the race and caught Barrichello by the time the second round of stops came, and when Rubens had a fuel rig problem that meant he had to stop again, the moment was finally here- When Sebastian Vettel pitted on Lap 44, Webber retook the lead, and he rocketed away to score the win that Australia had waited decades for, ahead of Vettel (A Red Bull 1-2) and Massa.

Shangri-bloody-La, at last.

It was the first win for an Aussie since ‘AJ’ won the 1981 Caesar’s Palace Grand Prix, and in response, Webber delivered an all time great post-race radio message, in all its uncensored glory:

Audio: FOM

There are not many Australian drivers who have reached Formula 1 and few have been successful. It’s a real message to the Australian people. I’ve always tried to represent my country as best as I can. We’re a very proud sporting nation. There are a few people who doubted me , so hello to them!”

Mark Webber after the race

2014 Canadian GP: When Duncraig Dan won from nowhere

Awww yeah (Still: NBC Sports & FOM)

Another moment I won’t forget, as I woke up for the race at 1:30 on a Monday morning, not knowing why, but it was all worth it in the end.

After taking Mark Webber’s vacant seat at Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo soon cemented himself as the best driver in the ‘Non-Mercedes’ Formula One World Championship, scoring a pair of podiums in Spain and Monaco in the lead-up to the Canadian Grand Prix, while the Silver Arrows of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton won the opening 6 races of the season almost untouched.

It was a pretty predictable qualifying in Montreal- Rosberg on pole, Hamilton alongside him, with Vettel starting 3rd and Ricciardo in 6th.

As the race progressed and Lewis and Nico traded punches the spice came in halfway through the race on Lap 35, when the Mercedes drivers both reported losing power in their respective motor generator units, losing 20 mp/h (32 km/h) on the straights, leaving them vulnerable to the charging pack, led by Sergio Perez in the Force India, and the Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Vettel, as well as Felipe Massa’s Williams.

Hamilton eventually retired due to overheating brakes on Lap 47, and Rosberg retook the lead as he managed the loss of power, while Ricciardo jumped Vettel and pressured Perez for 2nd place for multiple laps, but couldn’t get past thanks to the Mexican’s Mercedes power, versus the crummy Renault that Ricciardo has now saddled himself with even to this day.

On Lap 66, the finale was taking shape when Ricciardo overtook Perez for 2nd on the home straight, while almost going off the track and undoing everything, but he held on and was soon out after the stricken Rosberg, while Massa and Vettel attacked Perez.

On Lap 68, Ricciardo attacked Rosberg down the Casino Straight, and with the DRS advantage, Duncraig Dan had miraculously gained the lead and had absolutely nothing in the way of victory.

While further back, Vettel passed Perez for 3rd, allowing Massa to have a crack at the Mexican, only to smash into his rear on the run to Turn 1, causing a major accident, and avoiding Vettel’s Red Bull by a stroke of good fortune.

The safety car came out and ended the competitive racing, meaning Daniel Ricciardo had won his first Grand Prix, at the same location where 34 years prior, Alan Jones had won to secure the 1980 Drivers’ Championship.

I’m pretty sure we had a week-long public holiday in WA to celebrate Dan’s win… not that I can accurately remember.

Dan would score 2 more wins in 2014 in Hungary and Belgium, and in the wash-up, he finished 3rd in the Championship, being the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race during the season.

If you’re into this sort of thing, here’s Nico’s perspective on the race:


And to quote Murray Walker, I’ve got to stop now, because I’ve got a lump in my throat.

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