On This Day In F1 - Brabham Covered Up Its Latest Innovation With A Dustbin Lid

On This Day In F1 - Brabham Covered Up Its Latest Innovation With A Dustbin Lid

A look back at what happened on 17 June in Formula 1 history

1951 Belgian Grand Prix
Although Juan Manuel Fangio had taken pole by three seconds, an excruciatingly long pit stop cost him a massive four laps to the rest of the field and he ended up just ninth - the worst finish of his F1 career. His Alfa Romeo teammate Giuseppe Farina won the race ahead of the Ferraris of Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi.

1962 Belgian Grand Prix
Jim Clark claimed the first win of his career, his Lotus beating the BRM of Graham Hill by 44 seconds despite having started 12th on the grid. Phil Hill finished third, the final podium of his career, while 20-year-old Ricardo Rodriguez finished fourth, becoming the youngest F1 points scorer until Jenson Button in 2000.

1973 Swedish Grand Prix
The Swedish GP appeared on the calendar for the first time in response to the success of home hero Ronnie Peterson - and he very nearly won it. He led the whole distance from pole but in the closing stages, he developed a slow puncture in one of his rear tyres. Teammate Emerson Fittipaldi couldn’t capitalise following a gearbox failure, while Jackie Stewart had to back off with brake issues. It looked as though Peterson might hang on, but with just over two laps to go Denny Hulme’s McLaren blitzed by and won the race - in the six years the race was on the calendar, Peterson would never win his home grand prix.

1961 champion Phil Hill scored his 16th and final podium in the 1962 Dutch GP. (c) Anefo/Creative Commons
1961 champion Phil Hill scored his 16th and final podium in the 1962 Dutch GP. (c) Anefo/Creative Commons

1978 Swedish Grand Prix
Although movable aerodynamic devices were banned, Brabham managed to get away with attaching a huge fan to the back of its BT46, creating the famous BT46b ‘fan car’. The car couldn’t make the most of ground effects as the big Alfa Romeo flat-12 engine restricted the area underneath the car which could be used to generate downforce, so to make up for it Brabham simply plonked a big fan on the back on the grounds of it being a cooling device - even though its real purpose was to draw more air underneath the car and help suck it to the ground. Chaparral had employed a similar method with its 2J sportscar in 1970.

It made the car phenomenally fast to the point where drivers Niki Lauda and John Watson were told to deliberately drive slowly in qualifying so as not to attract attention and risk an uproar from rival teams - though they still ended up second and third on the grid. Lauda adopted the same strategy in the race but still won by more than half a minute (Watson was an early retirement) ahead of Riccardo Patrese, who took his and the Arrows team’s first podium, and Ronnie Peterson.

After the race the car was deemed legal, but Brabham team boss Bernie Ecclestone decided that the car wouldn’t race again in order to keep the peace with other small, privately-owned teams that made up the Formula One Constructors’ Association (FOCA), which Ecclestone was the head of.

As a result, the fan car was mothballed after just one race and the rules were changed to prevent other teams from trying the concept in future.

(c) edvvc/Creative Commons
(c) edvvc/Creative Commons

1984 Canadian Grand Prix
Nelson Piquet put in a fine drive to win for Brabham, despite suffering a badly burned foot courtesy of the extreme heat coming from the oil cooler. Niki Lauda finished second ahead of Alain Prost, whose car was down on power with a misfire for most of the race.

2007 United States Grand Prix
F1’s final race on the Indianapolis road course was won by Lewis Hamilton following a tough battle with teammate Fernando Alonso. In the middle of the race Hamilton got slightly held up by a backmarker, allowing Alonso to draw alongside on the pit straight, but Hamilton was just about to hold his teammate off. As Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen finished a distant sixth, a young Sebastian Vettel - subbing for the injured Robert Kubica - scored a point for BMW-Sauber on his F1 debut.

(c) BMW AG
(c) BMW AG

Birthdays
Adrian Campos (born 1960) made his F1 debut with Minardi in 1987 but only made it to the finish of one race, finishing 14th in the Spanish GP. The following year he struggled and after three consecutive failures to qualify was replaced by Pierluigi Martini just five races into the season. Later, he started his own race team which had success in junior series and gained a place on the F1 grid for 2010. However, before the season had even started, the team hit financial trouble and was restructured and renamed as HRT.