This site will feature biographies of every driver that has attempted to start a
Formula 1 or Formula 2 Grand Prix under the World Championship of Drivers since 1950. This includes, of
course, drivers who have failed to qualify or even pre-qualify. It does exclude
Indy 500 participants, as the race was obviously included in the championship as
a political gesture. Enjoy and any comments and corrections are appreciated.
Some biographies will be short, others more comprehensive, for obvious reasons:
one cannot compare the achievements of Karl Oppitzhauser and Michael Schumacher,
SEE GRAND PRIX CURIOSITIES BELOW
THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE DRM
COMING SOON - FORMULA 2 AND FORMULA 3 STORIES
2007 FORMULA 1 SEASON PREVIEW
By Carlos de Paula
December 4, 2006
Anticipating how 2006 was going to play out was a very easy task. It was obvious that Fernando Alonso was going to be the likely champion again and that Michael Schumacher would be strong and retire at the end of the year. The only surprises came from McLaren: before the season it seemed unlikely that Raikkonen would not win at least a single race, that Montoya would drop out mid season, of all places NASCAR bound, and that Fernando Alonso would be hired away from Renault.
To me it was rather obvious that MS would retire not so much for what transpired in 2006, but rather, due to the 2005 season. Had it not been for the US Grand Prix that was handed on a platter to Michael, MS would have been winless that season, and he finally realized that even with the whole crew (Byrne, Brawn and Todt) in place Ferrari was beatable. He must have considered whether it was worth risking a limb with no true possibility of winning on speed. Yes, things did not turn around by 2006, but the damage was done: MS realized he was subject to weakness just like any other driver, so suddenly the magic was gone. He was better off retiring this year, when the going was good, rather than risking another 2005 as the swansong.
As for 2007 proper, I do believe we will have a first time champion. With Schumacher’s retirement, and Alonso’s team change, I believe a red car will win again. Ferrari was very strong in the second half of 2006, and I do believe Raikkonen will settle quickly. Massa has obviously matured, is fast, but I do believe he only stands a chance if Kimi does not at all adapt to Ferrari. All things considered, Raikkonen is still a better and more consistent driver than Massa, who is still prone to silly mistakes and the odd indifferent race. I would not rule a 1-2 Ferrari by the end of the year, though. Plus, Ferrari and Bridgestone have been successful partners in the last few years, and Ferrari is more likely to enjoy success with the Japanese tires, as the cars have been designed with that type of grip in mind.
Notwithstanding, I do believe Alonso is still the most complete driver of the current crop. If he stayed at Renault, I would rank him as the likely champion again, but not so as a McLaren driver. At the end of the day, Alonso’s move makes sense. I don’t believe Renault is in Formula 1 for the long term, and history backs me up on this, but McLaren/Mercedes is indeed on the category for the long run, whatever happens to it. However, McLaren was in an obvious state of disarray in 2006, with some lack of luck added to the brew, and the changes of both drivers will probably have some further detrimental effect on the team. Although I am a fan of Mika Hakkinen’s, I find that giving him tests on a McLaren has sent terrible, unsettling signs to both race drivers, especially to novice Lewis Hamilton. McLaren historically does not know how to deal well with racing rookies, and curiously, the same man that threatened Michael Andretti back in 1993 looms big in McLaren’s race seat shadows at a distant 2007: good ole’ Mika. Formula 1 is a funny business. Alonso will win races, but I do not believe he will challenge for the championship for long, although the team is most likely to finish second in the teams championship, at any rate.
Renault will definitely drop down to 3rd down the order. Fisichella is a good driver, but has shown, time and again, that he is not able to sustain championship challenges for any length of time and always cracks under pressure. Plus his luck sucks as well. At best, he might win 3 races during a season, no more than that, which is insufficient to win championships in the modern era. Being number 1 at Renault will not change his essence. As for Heikki Kovalainen, I do believe he will eventually be very good, but podiums are the most I expect from him in this first year. Although Nelson Piquet Senior seems to believe Fisi will be replaced by his son, if Giancarlo does not work out as number 1 driver, I do believe Renault will be forced to hire a topline driver to replace him from outside, rather than having two inexperienced drivers on race driving staff.
The wild card will be BMW. I rate Robert Kubica very highly, and Heidfeld can be expected to accumulate results, although he will obviously never be world champion. I do believe BMW will win at least one race next year, and it will likely finish fourth in the championship.
It is very difficult to analyze Honda. Every time you think it will do “x”, it does exactly the opposite. Nobody expected its turn of speed in 2004, then again, no one was ready for the performance to go down so much in 2005. Looking at the early 2006 races, it would be reasonable to expect Button would go winless another year, yet, Jenson sprung a nice surprise, winning a race and scoring consistently, no less than 50 points. I do believe, though, there is a pattern of alternating good and bad seasons, so I expect Honda to be behind BMW next year. I don’t expect Barrichelo’s performance to improve much as well, and I would not be surprised if a team like Renault attempts to snatch Button away from Honda. Given Button’s prior Williams contract soap opera, this is a good possibility.
Then there are the Toyota engined teams. Toyota has failed to succeed in Formula 1 for the same reason it failed at Le Mans. Toyota seems to be good as an engine supplier, like in CART and IRL, or as a semi-works team, like in IMSA, but as a full fledged factory team it always comes up short in circuit racing. The reason is corporate meddling and politics in racing issues, something that does not seem to affect the other factory supported teams, which racing departments enjoy a great degree of independence.
I will not be the first one to suggest this, in fact, even Eddie Jordan did it in F1 Magazine, but the wisest thing for Toyota to do is to drop its factory team, and shift support to Williams 100%. Williams knows how to do Formula 1, however, it will not succeed without a topline engine effort. So this answers two questions: I don’t expect either team to perform very well next year. Alex Wurz is a good driver, but no top Formula 1 material, while Nico Rosberg made an excellent impression in his first race, but that was about it. He is fast, but no miracle worker. As for the Toyota drivers, both Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher are very good, but they are definitely not future world champions, and no miracle workers either.
So, in an ideal world, Toyota should join forces with Williams, which, in turn, should hire a top driver to partner any of the four existing Williams or Toyota drivers, thus forming a sensible team. Will it happen? I don’t think so, at least not in the foreseeable future. The question is whether Williams will be able to exist as a topline team for much longer, or whether it will consolidate as a midfield runner and join the likes of Red Bull et al. The reality is that Williams is already behaving like a midfielder, more often than not.
Talking about midfield runners, there are great expectations about Red Bull, given the fact that the team’s 2007 challenger will be designed by Adrian Newey. I reckon Newey is the absolute best designer of this day, but this will not elevate Red Bull’s status by much, solely because the team lacks a works engine contract. Engines are still more important than chassis. No team with secondary engine supplies has ever been a factor in modern formula 1. Period. Sure, Benetton and Williams fought it out in 1995 using Renault engines, but there was no Renault works team at the time. The same happened to Ford engined Benetton and McLarens in 1993; there was no Ford works team either. Ferrari and Renault have no good reason to give Red Bull/Toro Rosso engines as good as their works cars, whether or not contracts may suggest the engines will be equal to the works cars. The stakes are too high for the top exotic car manufacturer of the world and a manufacturer that strives so hard to upgrade its image beyond that of a maker of econoboxes. Associating their brands to a manufacturer of energy drinks will not do the trick in either case. In the driver’s front, I believe David Coulthard is way past his prime: I don’t sense he is able to drive at the top anymore. Maybe that is why he is taken to speculate about young drivers’ careers. As for Mark Webber, I believe another heartache belies him: he will be able to score consistently, but I don’t see wins for either of the Red Bull teams. This will be Williams and Jaguar all over again for poor Webber. At the time of writing, the Toro Rosso drivers have not be confirmed, but at the end of the day, it will not matter much.
Spyker and Super Aguri Honda will remain backmarkers, totally out of the picture, although I wish Anthony Davidson all the best in his first proper crack at a Formula 1 season. Spyker might be a bit more structured than Midland, but it will remain towards the back just like Midland and the latter day Jordan team did.
-----------Tell me how I did in October of 2007.
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GRAND PRIX CURIOSITIES
By Carlos de Paula
Japanese Masahiro Hasemi goes down in history as the single GP driver with a 100% fastest lap performance. It is true that he raced a single time, in the Japanese Grand Prix of 1976, driving the Kojima, and some have disputed the accuracy of this fastest lap. Notwithstanding, Kojima has a 50% fastest lap performance, as the manufacturer only raced twice, in the Japanese Grand Prix of 1976 and 1977.
Few GP drivers end their careers with fourth place, most closing the book with retirements. However, three very prominent drivers did so. Juan Manuel Fangio drove to fourth place after a very strong drive at the French Grand Prix of 1958. Forty-eight years later, the man who shattered Fagio’s 5-championship record that at once seemed impossible to surpass, Michael Schumacher, also ended his F-1 career driving to a superb fourth place in the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix. Curiously, the man Schumacher replaced as Benetton’s number 1 driver for 1992, Brazil’s Nelson Piquet, also ended his F-1 career with a fourth place in the 1991 Australian Grand Prix.
Eery coincidence I- Americans Phil Hill and Mario Andretti won their single championships under similar circumstances, wrapping up the title in Monza. As an additional coincidence, both lost their teammates in their title winning race, Wolfgang Von Trips in Hill’s case, Ronnie Peterson in Andretti’s. Adding to the coincidence, neither Hill nor Andretti would ever win further Grand Prix after winning the title, and both Von Trips and Peterson ended up runners up to their champion teammates!
Hill and Andretti were not alone. Quite a few other drivers never won a race after their single championship years. Mike Hawthorn retired after 1958 and Jochen Rindt died before actually being crowned champion in 1970. Two other drivers did not have the benefit of such excuse: Jody Scheckter and Jacques Villeneuve would never win again after their successful campaigns in 1979 and 1997, respectively.
A few champions were born in different countries than their stated nationality: American Andretti was born in Italy, Austrian Rindt was born in Germany and Finn Keke Rosberg was born in Sweden.
The only two drivers who managed to win their official championship GP debuts were Giuseppe Farina, winner of the inaugural championship event in 1950 (Britain) and another Italian, Giancarlo Baghetti, who won in France in 1961. However, these were not both drivers’ Formula 1 debuts: Farina had been driving at the highest level since the late 30’s, while Baghetti had already driven in two non-official Grand prix (winning both). This was pretty much the end of Baghetti’s success in the Grand Prix circuit, in fact he turned out to be one of the most unsuccessful GP winners ever.
Eerie coincidence II: October 6 was a dark day for two years running at Watkins Glen. In 1973, Francois Cevert was killed in practice for the US Grand Prix, while Helmut Koinnig was killed during the race in 1974.
The race with the lowest number of starters was the ridiculous US Grand Prix of 2005: six. It was only one of two races with 100% of starters finishing the race, the other being the Dutch GP of 1961, where a more impressive 15 cars started and finished the Grande Epreuve.
There were two cars named ATS, with no relation whatsoever to each other: the unsuccessful Italian operation of 1963/64, among others funded by a Bolivian tin impresario(!!), and Gunther Schmidt’s operation, that lasted from 1978 through 1984. Schmidt also has the honor of taking another (unsuccessful) crack at GP racing, with Rial in 1988-1989! Both ATS and Rial are wheel brands owned by Schmidt.
Between Von Trips’ GP wins of 1961 and Schumacher’s initial GP win in 1992, German drivers had poor performances at the front. For a time they seemed to be getting closer, as three German drivers managed to lead races between 1975 and 1977, in two cases under very unusual circumstances. In the disaster prone Spanish GP of 1975, Rolf Stommelen had found himself leading the race on merit, when the wing support of his Lola collapsed, causing Rolf to crash, and kill five spectators. Rolf would never again lead a GP. His countryman Jochen Mass, who led a single lap of that race, the last one, ended up declared the winner of the half-race, winning half points for his trouble. In the German Grand Prix of 1976, though, Mass was poised to walk away with the race: he was the only driver to start on slicks, on a drying track, and by the end of the first lap he was 30 seconds in front of the second placed car. Unfortunately, Niki Lauda had his terrifying crash, the race was interrupted and Mass’ advantage evaporated in the second start. He would never get to prove that he was able to win a GP on merit. Finally, Hans Stuck led the US Grand Prix from the front row in 1977, only to crash with transmission trouble. Poor Stefan Bellof, who many considered future world champion material, died after a few starts for down on power (and luck) Tyrrel in 1984 and 1985.
Chris Amon was not only the unluckiest GP driver ever, but he also was the driver who drove the largest variety of makes, having raced or attempted to qualify a total of 13 marques: Lola, Lotus, Brabham, Cooper, Ferrari, March, Matra, Tecno, Tyrrel, Amon, BRM, Ensign and Williams. He experienced a large number of engines as well: Climax 1.5, BRM 1.5, BRM 2.0 (V8), BRM 3.0 (V12), Maserati 3.0, Ferrari 3.0, Cosworth 3.0, Matra 3.0, Tecno 3.0.
Another prolific driver in terms of variety was Stirling Moss. He drove HWM, ERA, Connaught, Cooper, Maserati, Mercedes Benz, Vanwall, BRM, Lotus. He also practiced a Porsche and a Scarab, and was disqualified when he took over the Ferguson four wheel drive car from Jack Fairman in the British GP of 1961. Moss was by far the driver with most engine experience: Alta 4 (2.0), Bristol 6 (2.0), Lea Francis (2.0), Maserati 2.5, Mercedes Benz 2.5, Vanwall 2.5, Climax 4 (2.5), BRM 2.5, Climax 1.5.
Moss was also the man who won races in the greatest number of makes: five. He won races driving for Maserati, Mercedes Benz, Vanwall, Cooper and Lotus. A few drivers won races in four different makes: Fangio (Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati), Prost (McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, Williams), Stewart (BRM, Matra, March, Tyrrel).
Eerie coincidence III: Lotus lost drivers in three of the six years in which it won the championship (Clark in 1968, Rindt in 1970 and Peterson in 1978). The last man to win in a Lotus, Ayrton Senna (Detroit GP, 1987), died in 1994, the same year in which the make itself disappeared from Grand Prix racing.
A large number of French drivers won their first (or only) race at Monaco: Maurice Trintignant, Jean Pierre Beltoise, Patrick Depailler, Olivier Panis. Curiously, the Frenchmen who won more often (Prost, Laffitte, Arnoux), won their first races elsewhere.
A few drivers scored pole position in their very first race: Farina (British GP 1950), Mario Andretti (US GP, 1968), Carlos Reutemann (Argentina , 1972), Jacques Villeneuve (Australia, 1997). But for one race, Andretti came close to scoring pole in his last race as well: he was on pole at Italy, 1982, but he also raced one final time at Las Vegas that same year.
Eerie coincidence IV: Shadow lost two top drivers at Kyalamy, South Africa: Peter Revson in practice for the 1974 race, Tom Pryce in the actual race, in 1977.
John Watson won five races, but he made a statement when he did. He was the only man to win from lower than a 20th starting place, when he won at Long Beach in 1983, having started a lowly 22nd. He also won another U.S. street race, the Detroit GP, starting 17th.
The longest run of single championship winners was 1978 through 1980. Mario Andretti, Jody Scheckter and Alan Jones won single championships. It is curious to note that the 1976 and 1982 title winners were also single timers (James Hunt and Keke Rosberg) so this era was definitely the opposite of what we have today!
Jim Clark was the only driver to win a GP in a 16 cylinder car in the modern era, driving the unloved BRM H16 engined Lotus to victory in the 1966 US Grand Prix.
A few GP drivers were born in rather exotic locations, although holding more common nationalities. Brit Mike Beuttler was born in Egypt, while Frenchman Jo Schlesser was born in Madagascar.
Many reputable Grand Prix resources report Brazilian Fritz D’Orey died in 1961. In fact, D’Orey had a severe crash at Le Mans the previous year, was reported dead by much of the specialized press, but he is alive and kicking to this day!
On the subject of Brazilian drivers, until the arrival of Emerson Fittipaldi in 1970, their appearances were far and few, but things seemed to be changing in the early 1956 season: Brazilian drivers scored points in two races back to back: Landi scored 1.5 points from fourth in Argentina, while Da Silva Ramos scored 2 points from 5th in Monaco. Then, there was a long drought until 1970!
Long spans: Jan Lammers took a whopping ten years to go back to GP racing. He dropped out of the GP circuit for the first time in 1982, and after enjoying a successful career in sports cars, he tried GP racing again in 1992, without success. It also took Mario Andretti ten years to win his single 1978 Formula 1 title, having debuted in 1968.
Eerie coincidence V: Roger Penske lost his great friend and long time collaborator Mark Donohue in the Austrian Grand Prix of 1975, through a very freaky accident. In 1976, the Penske team was not only back at the Osterreichring, but it also won the race with John Watson, only to quit GP racing at the end of the year!
Bernie Ecclestone actually tried to qualify a 2.5 Connaught in two Grand Prix in 1958. He failed both times, becoming much more successful as team owner and Formula 1 supremo. Lotus’ Colin Chapman almost started a single GP in 1956, but surprisingly, it was not in a Lotus: he was slated to drive a Vanwall. He did not start the race and was supposed to start 5th!
The last GP driver to wear an open faced helmet in a GP event was Finn Leo Kinnunen, in 1974.
Arrows, known as the make which run more GP races without scoring a single win, almost won its second Grand Prix! Riccardo Patrese qualified 7th and had worked his way up to the front in the debuting team’s FA1 design.
Jean Pierre Jabouille apparently knew how to win GPs better than just plainly scoring points. He won two Grand Prix, including the first ever by a turbo-engined GP car, and scored only one additional time, a 4th place, out of 49 starts!
The Rob Walker team was by far the most successful privateer team, having won seven races with Stirling Moss, one race with Maurice Trintignant and one race with Jo Siffert. One of Ferrari’s 1961 wins (Baghetti) were achieved by a FISA entered car, but it was really a works entry. Additionally, Jackie Stewart won the 1970 Spanish Grand Prix driving a non-factory March. Nominally at least, Emerson Fittipaldi did not win the 1972 World Championship in Monza driving a factory Lotus: the car was entered under the name World Wide Racing. The Italian judiciary was still looking into Rindt’s 1970 death, and Colin Chapman was advised to enter the team under a different name, just in case, lest the judiciary impound his equipment. But it was still the Lotus works!
In 2006, the national level championship that by far boasts the largest number of former formula 1 drivers is the Brazilian Stock Cars championship, six. The following ex GP drivers are racing in the championship: Chico Serra, Ingo Hoffmann, Christian Fittipaldi, Tarso Marques, Raul Boesel and Luciano Burti.
Lola, the top racing car manufacturer, was involved in Formula 1 as a chassis suppliers, several times from the early 60s until the 90’s. When it did decide to enter the championship as a works team, in 1998, with plans for a proprietary engine, no less, the company almost folded, the effort lasting a single race. The entry was to be funded by a novel, yet rather naïve, sponsorship scheme through Mastercard. Lola initially provided chassis to teams such as Bowmaker and Reg Parnell, in the first years of the 1.5 liter formula. Next, it was involved with Honda, in 1967/1968, and then the manufacturer quit F-1. In 1974 and 1975, Lola provided chassis for Graham Hill’s team. It would also provide chassis for the short lived Beatrice/Force team, in 1985/1986, settling the longest with the Larrousse team from 1987 to 1993. The marque won a single race, the 1967 Italian Grand Prix, mostly identified in the record books as a proprietary Honda chassis, and led in other occasions.
AHRENS, JR, KURT
BAYARDO, ASDREBAL FONTES
BECHEM, KARL GUNTHER
BORDEU, JUAN MANUEL
BOULLION, JEAN CHRISTOPHE
BUENO, LUIS PEREIRA
CABRAL, MARIO ARAUJO
DA MATTA, CRISTIANO
DA SILVA RAMOS, HERNANDO
DE ADAMICH, ANDRÉA
DE ANGELIS, ELIO
DE BEAUFORT, CAREL GODIN
DE CESARIS, ANDRÉA
DE CHANGY, ALAIN
DE DRYVER, BERNARD DE
DE FILIPIS, MARIA TEREZA
DE GRAFENRIED, EMMANUEL
DE KLERK, PETER
DE LA ROSA, PEDRO
DE PORTAGO, ALFONSO
DE TERRA, MAX
DE TOMASO, ALEJANDRO
DE TORNACO, CHARLES
DE VILLOTA, EMILIO
DELETRAZ, JEAN DENIS
DOCHAL, FRANK J
FANGIO, JUAN MANUEL
FRENTZEN, HEINZ HARALD
FROILAN GONZALEZ, JOSE
GODIA SALES, FRANCISCO
GOUNON, JEAN MARC
GRAHAM WHITEHEAD, GRAHAM
GUERRA, MIGUEL ANGEL
JABOUILLE, JEAN PIERRE
JARIER, JEAN PIERRE
LA CAZE, ROBERT
LETHO, JYRKI JARVI
MONTOYA, JUAN PABLO
PACE, JOSE CARLOS
RUDAZ, JEAN CLAUDE
RUSSO, GIACOMO GEKI
SALA, LUIS PEREZ
SCHLESSER, JEAN LOUIS
SCWELM CRUZ, ADOLFO
VAN DE POELE, ERIC
VAN ROOYEN, BASIL
VILLENEUVE, JACQUES (I)
VILLENEUVE, JACQUES (II)
VON LANTHEN, JO
VON OPEL, RIKKI
VON TRIPS, WOLFGANG
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