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The F1 FAQ

by Mark Alan Jones, Australia

Have a question about Formula One statistics or history? Well you're not the only one, and it's about time someone came up with the answers to Formula One's most Frequently Asked Questions. Send us your questions, to - we may not know everything, but we will sure make the effort to find out

"Dear Mr. Jones, I was told that in the 1988 season, McLaren have set records that are unsurpassed until today. Can you enumerate these records for us avid readers? Thanks a million! Elbert C. Manila Philippines."

The 1988 season was a season of total dominance. Only once or twice all year was anyone even close to McLaren - but to be fair the opposition was thin. 1988 was the transitional year from 1.5 litre turbocharged cars to naturally aspirated 3.5 litre cars. The 3.5 litre cars were slower, naturally - at the height of their powers the turbo engines were developing over a 1000bhp. Even the limited 1988 version the was still awesomely powerful. In 1987 Williams-Honda was the best car but Honda left Williams for McLaren. Williams decided to make plans for 1989 and naturally aspirated engines but their new partner Renault wasn't ready yet so Williams persisted with Judd engines which March also used to better effect. Williams must have been impressed with March - and with their aerodynamicist Adrian Newey.

Benetton had also abandoned the Ford Cosworth turbo for the venerable but still effective Cosworth DFV. Lotus still had the Honda turbo but Lotus was a much less effective car than McLaren. Arrows still had turbo power in the Megatron (BMW) engine but were off McLaren's pace. With McLaren's opposition effectively reduced to the over thirsty Ferraris, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost had the season to themselves from an early stage.

Between them they won 15 out of 16 races in a season, McLaren scored 199 constructor points. McLaren recorded 15 pole positions (equalled but not beaten), and most spectacular intra team feud in the history of Formula One - all records that were never beaten.

"Can you please tell me anything you know about my relative Cliff Allison, who drove for Ferrari in the 50's? Pete"

Cliff Allison was in Formula One at the end of the '50s. He raced for Lotus at first, later for Ferrari. You can see a full breakdown of his statistics at FORIX. Atlas F1's Don Capps also mentions that, had the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix gone a lap longer, Allison probably would have won since the three cars in front of him were incapable of finishing another lap; and he holds the distinction of setting the fastest qualifying time, but not starting on the pole in the 1959 German Grand Prix at AVUS, because he was a reserve entry by Scuderia Ferrari (started 14th).

"A friend of mine insists that Renault didn't drop out late 97 because of financial difficulties. Any comments? I think they DID leave F1 because of financial difficulties."

In the mid 90's Renault as a car maker was haemorrhaging money. In the face of such losses the manufacturing side of Renault was facing - well motorsport is always the first thing cut. It's kind of hard to justify an $80 million a year engine devilment program for a car that will never be sold.

Benetton appear to be pinning their hopes of a Renault return, but after the recent acquisition of Nissan, and Nissan's debts, the budget for a racing program might still be a bit too much for the board of directors to swallow.

"Which were the last brothers to race in formula one before the Schumachers?"

This one depends a bit on definition. Two of the three Brabham brothers (Sir Jack's sons) made it to Formula One. The youngest son, David, spent two seasons in Formula One - 1991 at Brabham (which lead to some interesting results, like 11th Brabham Brabham) and 1994 at Simtek. Earlier in 1991, before David Brabham joined Brabham, middle son Gary Brabham drove for the Life Racing Engine team, who never qualified, or even looked like pre-qualifying for a Grand Prix. Gary Brabham left the team in disgust after two races. Oldest brother Geoff Brabham didn't make it to Formula One.

Before that were the Winkelhock's Manfred and Joachim but like Gary Brabham, Joachim Winkelhock never qualified for a race.

If you mean two brothers who actually raced, then we have to go to Italy's Fabi brothers. Theo Fabi was a regular in Formula One in the 80's, debuting with Toleman miserably in 1982. He returned with Brabham in 1984, before back with Toleman in 1985 where he scored a pole position at the Nurburgring. When the team became Benetton in 1986 he picked up two more poles and had a third place. In 1988 Fabi left for a career in CART, but in 1991 won the World Sports Car Championship with Jaguar before returning the CART a third time. Younger brother Corrado spent most of the season racing for Osella - largely failing to qualify for races, in 1983, and in 1984 he substituted for brother Theo in the Brabham team for three races.

Before the Fabis were the Villeneuves in the late 70's (Gilles and Jacques Snr), Schecker's (Jody and Ian) and the Fittipaldi's (Emmerson and Wilson).

"In the last two races (Monaco and Spain), I've noticed that on several occasions the Ferrari pit has set themselves up to service a car. A few laps later they pack up and go back to the shade. I thought there was a rule that forbade this. Did it change, or am I delusional? Javier"

What you describe is allowed (why shouldn't it be?) and very common actually. The drivers or team managers make the decision to go for the pits sometimes at a moment's notice - sometimes the team aren't ready. The reasons vary - Ferrari are fond of completely changing pitstop strategy after the race has started.

The car's position in traffic can often dictate whether a pitstop is made. For example, if a leading car get caught behind a back marker (say a front runner who's recovering after losing a lap or two), you may bring the car in to minimise time lost behind the other car. But suddenly the difficult driver may relent and the faster car gets through and suddenly the pitstop may not yet be needed. So the team that laid out their tyres pack them up and wait for the next stop.

"A grim question, this one. How many drivers have been killed in a Formula One Grand Prix car, both in racing and in testing?"

Between Don Capps, Roger Horton and myself the following was compiled:

The first driver to die in a Formula One car was Charles de Tornaco (Modena 1953). Then the emerging talent, Argentinean Onofre Marimon (Nurburgring 1954); twice Indy 500 winner Bill Vukovich (Indianapolis 1955) - going for his third Indy 500 win when his car rolled on the back straight; Lancia's works recruit Eugenio Castellotti (Modena 1957); Pat O'Connor (Indianapolis 1958); Italian sports car great Luigi Musso (Reims 1958) - who rolled his Ferrari at the French Grand Prix; long time Ferrari driver and other half of the Mike Hawthorn tragedy Peter Collins (Nurburgring 1958); Vanwall's charger Stewart Lewis-Evans (Casablanca 1958).

American veteran Harry Schell (Silverstone 1960); Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey - both on the same sad day in Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps 1960); Germany's first great post-war driver Wolfgang von Trips and 14 spectators while von Trips was racing to win the 1961 world title (Monza 1961); the younger of the famous Mexican brothers, Riccardo Rodriguez, at his home event in a Cooper rather than his usual Ferrari (Mexico City 1962); Porsche exponent, Carel Godin de Beaufort (Nurburgring 1964); John Taylor, badly burned at the Nordschliefe (Nurburgring 1966); Ferrari lead driver Lorenzo Bandini (Monaco 1967); Briton Bob Anderson (Silverstone 1967); father of world sports car champ Jean-Loius, Jo Schlesser (Rouen 1968); German veteran Gerhard Mitter (Nurburgring 1969); brewery heir and Frank Williams' first Formula One driver, Piers Courage (Zandvoort 1970); the great Austrian, 1970 World Champion, Jochen Rindt (Monza 1970).

Popular Swiss Josef Siffert, just as his career was taking off (Brands Hatch 1971); Roger Williamson, who tragically burned to death on live television while David Purley tried frantically to rescue his friend (Zandvoort 1973); Jackie Stewart's protege Francois Cevert (Watkins Glen 1973); Winner of the fastest Grand Prix ever, Peter Revson, after suspension failure (Kyalami 1974); Helmut Koinigg (Watkins Glen 1974); American Mark Donohue (Osterreichring 1975); Tom Pryce struck a wayward flag marshal (Kyalami 1977); Superswede Ronnie Peterson (Monza 1978).

Fun-loving Frenchman Patrick Depailler (Hockenheim 1980); The great Canadian Gilles Villeneuve (Zolder 1982); young Ricardo Paletti (Montreal 1982). Fast Italian Elio de Angelis (Paul Ricard 1986); Roland Ratzenberger and the great Brazilian Ayrton Senna (Imola 1994).

This doesn't include those who died during their Formula One career but not in a Formula One event - Levegh, Ascari, Behra, Clark, McLaren, Graham Hill, Brise, Nilsson, Bellof and Winkelhock.

Editorial Remark:

  • Some of the questions we receive lately, have already been replied to in previous F1 FAQ columns. Therefore, before sending in a question, we suggest you have a look at the back issues, by searching the FAQ database. Not that we mind getting so much mail, just that we feel bad for those who feel they are left unanswered...

  • We receive quite a few questions from you all, and it is absolutely impossible for us to research and respond to each of you, be it here or privately. Please, don't feel discouraged if your question was not replied to; it might come up in the next column. And don't forget - you can always look for answers at the Atlas F1 Bulletin Board.

Mark Alan Jones© 1999 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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