On This Day In F1 – Villeneuve And Arnoux Had THAT Battle – WTF1

On This Day In F1 – Villeneuve And Arnoux Had THAT Battle

1951 French Grand Prix
At the age of 53 years and 22 days, Luigi Fagioli became the oldest driver to ever win a grand prix, courtesy of a shared drive with Juan Manuel Fangio. Fangio’s own car had run into mechanical issues, and the Alfa Romeo team forced Fagioli to surrender his car to his teammate. As Fangio passed the Ferraris of Alberto Ascari (who finished second in a shared drive with Jose Froilan Gonzalez) and Luigi Villoresi to win, Fagioli took over Fangio’s repaired Alfa to finish 22 laps down in last. Despite being credited with a victory, Fagioli was so unhappy at having to give up his car that he quit grand prix racing there and then.

1956 French Grand Prix
Peter Collins led home Ferrari teammate Eugenio Castellotti by just a few tenths of a second, with Jean Behra’s Maserati pipping Fangio to prevent the race being a Ferrari clean sweep. This was also the only F1 race ever to be entered by a Bugatti. The French manufacturer had been a pre-war great but, although the mid-engined Type 251 was a radical design, it was wildly uncompetitive – driver Maurice Trintignant qualified a distant 18th and retired with mechanical problems early on.

1973 French Grand Prix
Ronnie Peterson claimed his first win in dramatic circumstances. Running second to a young Jody Scheckter in the early stages, he eventually allowed Lotus teammate Emerson Fittipaldi through to see if he could find a way past Scheckter. He eventually made an attempt, but the South African was having none of it and forcefully shut the door – the two drivers collided and retired, leaving Peterson to win the race ahead of Francois Cevert and Carlos Reutemann. Despite almost winning in just his third race, Scheckter’s driving prompted massive criticism from his more established rivals – Fittipaldi called him “a menace to himself and everybody else and does not belong in Formula 1.”

1979 French Grand Prix
Jean-Pierre Jabouille won both the first race for Renault and the first for a turbo engine in F1, but nobody cared, because the greatest battle in F1 history had taken place.

Gilles Villeneuve, who’d destroyed the tyres on his Ferrari trying to keep Jabouille behind early in the race, was running second in the closing stages when the other Renault of René Arnoux made a move for second. Gilles was having none of it, however, and lunged his way back past Arnoux, kickstarting two laps of wheel-banging attacks and counterattacks. Villeneuve eventually got the upper hand and held on to second, but there was no animosity between the two after the race, nor arbitrary steward investigations. Instead, the two of them congratulated each other on the cooldown lap and embraced after the race, both saying it was the highlight of their careers.

2001 French Grand Prix
Michael Schumacher took the win after early leader Ralf Schumacher lost ground with a slow pit stop and Juan Pablo Montoya had an engine failure. Ralf was still able to finish second ahead of Rubens Barrichello, who had to fend off David Coulthard in the closing laps as the McLaren driver recovered from a penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

2007 French Grand Prix
Kimi Raikkonen beat teammate Felipe Massa in a typical refuelling era race – Raikkonen sat behind Massa for much of the race and then, at the final round of stops, was able to run longer, pump in some fast laps and emerge in front of Massa. Lewis Hamilton was third ahead of Robert Kubica, who superbly beat his teammate in his first race back since his colossal accident in Canada. Fernando Alonso had a disappointing race, starting 10th due to a gearbox problem and only able to recover to seventh in the race.

2018 Austrian Grand Prix
Mercedes suffered an incredibly rare mechanical failure – not just on one car, but on both. Valtteri Bottas was the first to drop out, resulting in a Virtual Safety Car, Mercedes opted not to pit Lewis Hamilton at the time whereas both Ferraris and Max Verstappen did, costing him the lead when he finally made his stop. However, he struggled to make an impression before he too had to retire. Up at the front, Verstappen had managed his tyres beautifully as he claimed his first win of the season ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, both of whom had faster cars, but had been too cautious with their tyres and waited too long to mount their attack.

Kazuyoshi Hoshino (born 1947) made his debut in a Tyrrell for the Heros Racing team in the soaking wet 1976 Japanese GP, going from 21st on the grid to run third in just 10 laps. However, bizarrely, he was forced to retire when his tyres degraded and he came in for fresh ones, only to discover that the team had run out. He returned for the following year’s race, driving a Kojima, where he qualified and finished 11th. That would be his last F1 race, but he continued to race in Japan until well into his 50s, even winning the Formula Nippon title in 1993 against the likes of Eddie Irvine, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Mika Salo.

Daniel Ricciardo (born 1989) came up through the Red Bull junior programme, making his debut with HRT mid-way through 2011. The following year he joined Toro Rosso, where his performances were enough to see him promoted to Red Bull for 2014 to replace Mark Webber.

The smiling Aussie was a revelation in his first season with the team, winning three times (the only non-Mercedes driver to stand on the top step that year) and beating his quadruple champion teammate Sebastian Vettel in the championship. Over the years he developed a reputation for winning some of F1’s more action-packed races with his trademark divebombs. He joined Renault for 2019, and in 2021 will move on to McLaren.

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