On This Day In F1 - Slick Tyres Were Used In A Race For The First Time

On This Day In F1 - Slick Tyres Were Used In A Race For The First Time

A look back at what happened on 18 April in Formula 1 history

1971 Spanish Grand Prix
Although they had been in development for a while and the tech first started to be seen in 1950s drag racing, it wasn’t until the early 1970s that tyre manufacturers finally felt that fully slick tyres were good enough to usurp the lightly treaded tyres that had been the norm in F1. For the 1971 Spanish GP, Firestone brought its teams the new slick tyre while the Goodyear runners made do with the older treaded patterns.

Ferrari was one of the teams running the new slicks and Jacky Ickx gave a good account of them, finishing a close second to Jackie Stewart in the Goodyear-shod Tyrrell. Although the difference between the two was minimal at first, slicks were clearly the way to go (Goodyear’s tyres were only very lightly treaded at this point) and it wasn’t long before it became standard practice.

2010 Chinese Grand Prix
A sprinkling of rain gave Jenson Button the chance to shine as he led home a McLaren one-two ahead of Lewis Hamilton, with Nico Rosberg third for Mercedes. Fernando Alonso had made the unusual error of jumping the start, earning himself a penalty which dropped him right down the order, though he did well to battle back to fourth. The two Red Bull drivers of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber had a disappointing race. Vettel was sixth behind Robert Kubica’s Renault and Webber was eighth behind Vitaly Petrov - who became the first Russian driver to score points in F1 - as the Red Bulls seemed to struggle on their intermediate tyres.

(c) Ferrari
(c) Ferrari

Birthdays
Jochen Rindt (born 1942) came into F1 in 1964 and over the following years had some strong results for Cooper and Brabham, but was just unable to grab that first win, despite his obvious speed. He joined Lotus for 1969, took more poles than anyone else, and in the US GP at the end of the year finally achieved that first win.

The following year he was in sensational form. He won the Monaco GP despite driving an ancient Lotus 49, and when the team’s new 72 was working properly he dominated, winning four races in row in the middle of the season and looking set for the championship until tragically dying in a crash during practice for the Italian GP, the result of brake failure. However, he’d built up such a championship lead that main rival Jacky Ickx was unable to overhaul his points total and Rindt became the sport’s first - and hopefully only - posthumous world champion.

(c) Lothar Spurzem/Creative Commons
(c) Lothar Spurzem/Creative Commons

Aside from a couple of substitute drives for Minardi in 2002 and one for BAR in 2005, it looked like Anthony Davidson (born 1979) was destined to be one of the many mid-2000s test drivers who never really got a crack at a race seat. However, for 2007 he got a full-time drive with Super Aguri and was consistently impressive, despite not quite managing to score any points. He stayed with the team for 2008 but when the team folded he ended up back in a behind-the-scenes role. He was reserve driver for Brawn GP and then Mercedes until 2011, and he still works as a simulator driver for the multiple world champions. In 2014 he also won the World Endurance Championship for Toyota.