On This Day In F1 - John Watson Won From 17th On The Grid

On This Day In F1 - John Watson Won From 17th On The Grid

A look back at what happened on 6 June in Formula 1 history

1960 Dutch Grand Prix
As Jack Brabham won his first race of the season, Innes Ireland finished second to give the Lotus team (not a chassis - Stirling Moss had won with a Rob Walker Lotus at Monaco) its first F1 podium. There was another F1 first in third, too, as Graham Hill scored the first of what would be 36 career podiums. Things were less happy for his BRM teammate, however, as Dan Gurney suffered a brake failure and crashed heavily at the first corner, resulting in the death of a spectator.

1982 Detroit Grand Prix
F1’s new American venue had something of a delayed start as the majority of practice sessions had to be cancelled because the track hadn’t finished being built, leaving drivers just a short one-hour session with which to learn the track before heading out for the two qualifying sessions.

The race then had to be red-flagged after seven laps after a collision involved Elio de Angelis, Roberto Guerrero and Riccardo Patrese caused Patrese’s Brabham to catch fire and flung the tyre walls across the circuit. This meant that the times of the restarted race would be added to the results from the first seven laps, meaning that the drivers weren’t just racing against each other, but also the clock.

On This Day In F1 - John Watson Won From 17th On The Grid - Formula 1

Alain Prost lead the early stages before his Renault developed electrical problems and he slipped back, leaving Keke Rosberg to build up a lead. However, John Watson - who’d started way down in 17th - was on an absolute flyer and had made his way up to second. Rosberg was struggling with gearbox issues as Watson caught and then passed him, but the race wasn’t quite over - to beat Rosberg on aggregate time, Watson would have to pull out a 15-second gap.

In the end he managed it quite easily - Rosberg fell way down the order and ended up fourth, as Eddie Cheever grabbed second for Ligier with Didier Pironi third. At the time, Watson’s drive from 17th to first was the lowest grid position a race had ever been won from. The record didn’t even last a year - in Long Beach the following season, Watson remarkably won from 22nd.

Birthdays
Ivor Bueb (born 1923) raced in F1 between 1957 and 1959 (two of which he drove in Formula 2 machinery). His best ‘finish’ was an eighth place in the 1957 British GP, but as he was 19 laps behind the leader, he was too far behind to be classified.

Noritake Takahara (born 1951) took advantage of F1’s first two visits to Japan to race at Fuji in 1976 and 1977. Driving for Surtees in 1976 he went from 24th on the grid to ninth at the finish - a solid result. 1977 wasn’t as promising, however, as he crashed his Kojima on the second lap.