On This Day In F1 - 13-Year-Old Hamilton Signed For McLaren

On This Day In F1 - 13-Year-Old Hamilton Signed For McLaren

A look back at what happened on 3 April in Formula 1 history

1977 United States Grand Prix West
A tense three-way battle for the lead between Jody Scheckter, Mario Andretti, and Niki Lauda lasted for almost the entire race, with the three of them running in that order for the first 76 of 80 laps. However, in the closing stages Scheckter had been nursing a slow puncture and with four laps to go, Andretti made his move and snatched the lead. Lauda sneaked his Ferrari past a lap later ended up a close second as Andretti claimed victory on home soil - A result he said was “even more satisfying than winning Indianapolis”.

1988 Brazilian Grand Prix
Alain Prost led the entire race to win after pole-sitter Ayrton Senna discovered his gearbox was broken on the parade lap. He switched to McLaren’s spare car, started from the pit lane and made his way up to second, only to be disqualified at mid-distance for changing cars. Gerhard Berger finished second with Nelson Piquet third in his first race for Lotus. This was the first race of the final year of turbo engines and although the rules had been changed to try and make the naturally-aspirated cars more competitive it was turbo cars that filled all the points positions, with the highest non-turbo car being Thierry Boutsen’s Benetton, who was a lap down in seventh.

2005 Bahrain Grand Prix
In the early stages of the race Michael Schumacher was harrying Fernando Alonso for the lead, only for his Ferrari to breakdown. In an era where car failures were still reasonably common, it was the first mechanical failure Schumacher has suffered since the German GP in 2001, almost four years earlier. Alonso carried on to win from Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen, although much of the entertainment was provided by Pedro de la Rosa. Subbing at McLaren for an injured Juan Pablo Montoya, de la Rosa showed incredible speed throughout the race, even setting the fastest lap, but made a number of errors which prevented him from finishing higher than fifth, which he nabbed from Mark Webber with just a few laps to go.

It was a very rare sight to see Schumacher sidelined with a car issue in the early 2000s...(c) Ferrari
It was a very rare sight to see Schumacher sidelined with a car issue in the early 2000s...(c) Ferrari

2016 Bahrain Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg took the lead at the start while Valtteri Bottas made contact with Lewis Hamilton, dropping the Brit to ninth. He recovered to third by the end as Rosberg won from Kimi Raikkonen, while Stoffel Vandoorne scored a point for McLaren on debut.

News
As a young karter, Lewis Hamilton took the opportunity to introduce himself to McLaren boss Ron Dennis and say that he wanted to drive for his team one day. Dennis kept an eye on Hamilton’s progress and a few years later, on this day in 1998, McLaren announced it had signed the 13-year-old to the team’s junior programme. With the help of McLaren’s backing, he went on to win a number of karting titles before switching to cars. A load more championships, an incredible debut F1 season and just over 10 years later, he was an F1 world champion with McLaren. Seems like Dennis’s decision turned out to be a good one…