On This Day In F1 - Gilles Villeneuve Was Impossible To Overtake

On This Day In F1 - Gilles Villeneuve Was Impossible To Overtake

A look back at what happened on 21 June in Formula 1 history

1953 Belgian Grand Prix
If you discount the Indy 500 (which you probably should - aside from being a round of the world championship it had absolutely nothing to do with Formula 1), Alberto Ascari’s win in this race was, incredibly, his ninth in a row - a record which has only been equalled once, by Sebastian Vettel in 2013.

Unlike most of his other wins in the streak, though, this time Ascari’s win involved a healthy dose of luck. Jose Froilan Gonzalez had been leading by over a minute when his Maserati broke down and then two laps later, Juan Manuel Fangio’s engine blew. That left Ascari to win ahead of teammate Luigi Villoresi, with Onofre Marimon third.

1969 Dutch Grand Prix
Although Jochen Rindt led the early stages, when his Lotus broke down after 16 laps it was left to Jackie Stewart to win comfortably ahead of Jo Siffert. Having run third for most of the race, Denny Hulme lost the final podium spot to Chris Amon in the closing laps and only just held off Jacky Ickx for third.

1970 Dutch Grand Prix
Jochen Rindt won for Lotus after passing Jacky Ickx for the lead on lap three and disappearing into the distance. Ickx was then delayed by a slow puncture which left him a lap down in third while Jackie Stewart finished second.

This was the first win for the Lotus 72 - a car which basically set the mould for the way in which almost all future Formula 1 cars would be designed. Unfortunately, the result was mired in tragedy as Frank Williams’s driver Piers Courage lost his life in an accident.

(c) Anefo/Creative Commons
(c) Anefo/Creative Commons

1981 Spanish Grand Prix
Gilles Villeneuve’s sixth and final win was also his best - and indeed, one of the most impressive victories in the history of F1. He went from seventh to third at the start, passed Carlos Reutemann for second on the next lap, and then took the lead on lap 14 when Alan Jones spun off. His Ferrari was hopeless around the many corners of the Jarama circuit, leaving Villeneuve relying on horsepower alone to hold off not one contender, but four. For 67 laps.

Reutemann was all over the back of Villeneuve for most of that time until Jacques Laffite made his way up to second. Despite his best efforts, he just couldn’t find a way past the unflappable Canadian - even though his V12-powered Ligier had plenty of poke, it was no match for the turbocharged Ferrari. Villeneuve eventually crossed the line to win, with the snake of the top five finishers - Villeneuve, Laffite, John Watson, Reutemann and Elio de Angelis - separated by just 1.24 seconds.

1987 Detroit Grand Prix
Team Lotus scored its 74th and final win as Ayrton Senna managed his car perfectly on a no-stop strategy. Nigel Mansell had led the first half, but a stop for tyres and a cramping leg saw him finish a lap down in fifth. Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost completed the podium, which Gerhard Berger fourth.

On This Day In F1 - Gilles Villeneuve Was Impossible To Overtake - Formula 1

2009 British Grand Prix
Jenson Button’s run of victories came to an end at his home race as he qualified and finished a distant sixth. Red Bull dominated the weekend with Sebastian Vettel leading home Mark Webber for a one-two, while Rubens Barrichello was able to at least put one Brawn on the podium.

2015 Austrian Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg made a better start than teammate and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton and went on to win in Austria for the second year in a row. Hamilton also hurt his chances when he was given a five-second penalty for crossing the white line at the pit exit, effectively relegating him to second place. Felipe Massa completed the podium for Williams but the highlight was a superb battle for seventh place between Max Verstappen and Pastor Maldonado.

The two ran closely in the closing stages and although Verstappen defended well for a while, the force of Maldonado cannot be stopped. With a couple of laps to go, Pastor jinked to the left of Verstappen on the pit straight, somehow getting sideways and almost losing it on the pit straight. Distracted by Maldonado’s magnificent manoeuvre, Max went wide at the first corner and Pastor went ahead to claim the position.

Only Maldonado could make a pass while drifting down the straight
Only Maldonado could make a pass while drifting down the straight

Birthdays
John Cannon (born 1933) drove a fifth - yes, fifth BRM in the 1971 Canadian GP. He qualified 26th and stayed out of trouble to finish 14th in his only grand prix.