On This Day In F1 - Ralf Schumacher Had A Flying Lesson

On This Day In F1 - Ralf Schumacher Had A Flying Lesson

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

1973 South African Grand Prix
Jackie Stewart pulled off a remarkable victory - after starting 16th, it took him just seven laps to fight his way through into the lead as he went onto beat Peter Revson and Emerson Fittipaldi by a comfortable margin. His victory wasn’t well-received by everyone, though. After the race, McLaren filed a complaint that Stewart had made so many of his positions as a result of ignoring yellow flags, though the stewards disagreed and took no action.

A young Jody Scheckter impressed in just his second grand prix - he started third, led early on, and was on course to score points when his engine failed with just a few laps to go. Mike Hailwood earned a George Medal for bravery early on following a collision with Clay Regazzoni which saw both cars burst into flames. Hailwood’s suit caught fire and after having it put out, he rushed over to help Regazzoni out of his BRM, badly burning his hands in the process.

1979 South African Grand Prix
Gilles Villeneuve beat Ferrari teammate Jody Scheckter in drying conditions after a storm at the start of the race brought out the red flags. At the restart, Scheckter stuck with slick tyres, which allowed him to assume the lead when Villeneuve eventually pitted to change tyres. Gilles steadily reeled in the gap as Scheckter’s tyres cried enough and he eventually had to pit for fresh rubber.

2002 Australian Grand Prix
The 2002 season kicked off with several bangs when a first corner collision, triggered by Ralf Schumacher braking way too late into the first corner, knocked out eight cars on the spot. Michael Schumacher won from Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen, who took the first podium of his career.

(c) Ferrari
(c) Ferrari

The real feel-good story of the race belonged to Mark Webber and Minardi. On debut, he nursed a broken car home to finish a stunning fifth, fending off the Toyota of Mika Salo in the process. It was such a popular result that Webber and Minardi boss Paul Stoddart were allowed their own podium ceremony after the race.

Birthdays
Otto Stuppacher (born 1947) had an odd career, entering four races in 1976 but not managing to start any of them. He was supposed to make his debut at his home race in Austria, but was refused entry by the organisers due to an apparent lack of experience. He tried to get the support of other teams to get the officials to change their mind but since no one really knew who he was, it didn’t work. Next up was the Italian GP, where he initially failed to qualify but when other drivers had to withdraw from the race, he was promoted to a starting slot. The problem was that Stuppacher had already gone home and couldn’t make it back to the circuit in time for the race. After two more failures to qualify (where he was 12 and 27 seconds off the pole times) he essentially disappeared from motor racing altogether.

Perry McCarthy (born 1961) had a single incredibly eventful season with the hapless Andrea Moda team in 1992. He failed to qualify for any races - not just because the car was awful, but because the team didn’t seem to care about him at all. After a lengthy battle to even get a superlicence, McCarthy had to suffer such things as being sent out to qualify with wet tyres on a dry track, not being allowed out of the garage in time to even set a lap and, worst of all, narrowly avoiding a crash at Eau Rouge when the team knowingly fitted his car with a defective steering rack. He later went on to star in Top Gear as the original Stig.

Nicolas Kiesa (born 1978) had a short five-race career driving for Minardi at the tail end of 2003. He was solid but unspectacular, finishing all of his races and managing a best finish of 11th.