With its first season in 1950, Formula 1 is not only one of the longest, consistently existing motorsport racing series in the world, but is also the most prominent, largest, most expensive and internationally largest representative of its kind “- and not just because sports reporters need a crisp term.
In view of this, it is not surprising that in this now over 70-year history there have been some curious, blatant, extraordinary things that not only fueled the sport itself, but above all also fueled the "F1 myth". For the following article, we immersed ourselves in the history and stories surrounding the FIA Formula One World Championship - as its full official name - and brought back four of the most exciting events.
1. When drivers once put down the steering wheel
Regardless of whether Guiseppe Farina (the world's first F1 world champion), Jacky Ickx, Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton or one of their thousands of colleagues from the past seven decades: what all F1 drivers have in common is that they are an elite. Both in terms of driving skills as well as star status, the image, the support from the teams and, last but not least, of course, the salaries.
A Formula One driver has just made it, is a made man, doesn't have to worry about anything, has no reason to be dissatisfied in any way - at least that's what a normal employee should think. That's also true, at least for the most part.
But as dazzling as this world may seem, it certainly has some things in common with the lives of normal consumers. Above all, that the drivers are subject to extensive regulations. That was precisely why a lot of pilots resorted to a typical employee tool in 1982: they stopped work and went on strike.
However, this was not due to a low salary or some other trivial trigger. The FISA (the forerunner of the FIA) wanted to forbid the drivers in their super contracts in the future from expressing themselves critically about the FISA, the teams and Formula 1 itself - you have to understand that the years 1980 to -82 peak were a very turbulent era that began in the 70s with disputes over driver safety and numerous accidents. There had been a corresponding number of conflicts between the drivers and the umbrella club to date.
But as if this “muzzle” hadn't been bad enough, drivers should also be prohibited in future from negotiating contracts with other teams themselves; this should only be a matter between the racing teams.
- Fear of being traded off at will between the teams in the future without having a say;
- Anger at not being able to venture into such interviews.
On the Wednesday before the first race of the season in South Africa, things were still not smoothed. Among other things, Niki Lauda was in charge of the protest. He and many other drivers did not want to sign the FISA documents at all; she was tough and wanted to exclude anyone who did not sign from the race - a mistake.
Because on Thursdays not a single driver took the shared bus to free practice. Instead, most of them went to a nearby hotel to negotiate, while others stayed on the line to talk to those responsible. Even a day later, the situation was unsolved. It wasn't until Saturday morning that FISA gave in - only to give in the chaotic race to ban all strikers for multiple races and to impose fines on them. Only an appeal by the FISA Court of Appeal overturned the sentences after the sharpest protests of the drivers.
2. Disappeared diamonds
Due to its large presence, the F1 is not only used for advertising on the cars and on the track, but is also used again and again to promote other things, such as films.
Also in 2004 before the race in Monaco they wanted to do something like that. The two jaguars by Mark Webber and Christian Klien were chosen. In order to promote the film “Ocean's 12”, they should each be provided with diamonds costing around 300.000 euros (although the film is actually about Fabergé eggs). The precious stones were attached to the top of the front spoiler of the cars - well attached for a normal race.
Accordingly, everything held during training, and Webber's stone also survived the main race. With Klien, on the other hand, an accident happened on the first lap of the race when he crashed into the lane in the Loews hairpin. The carbon fiber front of his car dissolved. Klien was rescued largely unharmed and the wreck was removed. Due to the regulations at the time, the Jaguar team was only allowed to enter the scene of the accident two hours after the end of the race - only then the lighter-sized (and uninsured) diamond had already disappeared and has remained so to this day.
3. A very, very happy fan
Of course, Formula 1 always has its favorites. And when it comes to such a large sporting event, the betting providers are of course not far away either. The serious among them go a long way to calculate realistic odds - depending on the route, the driver, the weather and countless other factors. If, for example, most bookmakers say that Lewis Hamilton will at least be on the podium, you can believe them.
But betting also lives from betting on the improbable - because the better the odds and the higher the profit if the improbable does occur. An unknown Finnish F2020 fan should have thought of the same in 1. Before the Italian Grand Prix, he bet a meager 20 cents that Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll would land on the podium - the (Finnish) bookmakers gave this combination a probability of 166.990: 1 at the time.
But the racing and betting phenomenon became a reality, Gasly, Sainz and Stroll made the running. And because of the quota, the 20 cents became 33.398 euros in one fell swoop.
4. Ayrton's toughest race
Formula 1 is not a sport for the untrained, that has been true for decades. In fact, the position in the cockpit is so strenuous and hot that as a rule of thumb one assumes that a typical driver will easily lose two kilograms of body weight per race, which is why the pilots an enormously ascetic, very sporty life .
But while all the effort is usually half forgotten when crossing the home straight at the latest, the legend Ayrton Senna once did not even have the strength to climb out of the cockpit.
It was March 24, 1991, the São Paulo Grand Prix and therefore a special burden for the Brazilian Senna - the fact that he had to win was for him, like his fans, a matter of national pride. In addition to this pressure, there was the fact that Senna was in the lead from pole position during the race, but Nigel Mansell was moving closer and closer to the rear lap after lap. On the 20th lap, the two drivers were only 0,7 seconds apart.
Even after the pit stops, Mansell came closer and closer. It was clear to everyone that sooner or later he would overtake Senna; he drove like the devil to prevent that. But then it got really exciting. First Mansell tore a tire and had to pit. While he was fighting his way back up, Senna was facing a major gearbox failure. The same thing happened to Mansell, however, so that the Brit skid on lap 61 and was eliminated.
A few laps before the end, Senna only had sixth gear left - and behind him a tight field of chasers made up of Riccardo Patrese, Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger and Alain Prost.
While Patrese in particular was getting closer and closer, Senna had to maneuver his wreck through the curves with the utmost caution, constantly faced with the risk of the engine stalling through the high gear. Only 2,9 seconds separated him and Patrese when the saving diamond flag waved. Senna was so exhausted that he had a fever, muscle cramps and was shaking like a leaf. His team had to lift him out of the car and transport him to the podium by ambulance - where the completely exhausted Brazilian hardly received the trophy despite the cheering fans.
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