• Formula 1,  History,  Racing drivers,  Single seaters,  The Pantheon

    The Pantheon: Juan Manuel Fangio – the greatest

    There’ll never be another driver like Juan Manuel Fangio. In the year that the Formula 1 World Championship is marking its 70th anniversary, when the sport’s current master driver stands on the cusp of breaking all of its proudest records, Fangio’s position remains unassailable. It is possible that Fangio is the greatest racing driver who has ever lived; at the very least he was as great as any who have a realistic competing claim. San José de Balcarce is a small town 260 miles to the south of Buenos Aires. It’s the kind of place that nothing much ever happens, nor is it ever expected to. It was here that…

  • Formula 1,  History,  Statistics

    The 2020 Austrian Grand Prix: a statistician and historian’s breakdown

    The 2020 Austrian Grand Prix saw this year’s Formula 1 World Championship finally burble into life last weekend, almost 4 months after its originally scheduled start. It is the first part of an Austrian double-header, with the Styrian Grand Prix scheduled to take place at the same location this weekend. This will be the first time that the same circuit has ever hosted two Formula 1 races within the same calendar year. Or, at least, on different weekends within the same calendar year: the 1959 German Grand Prix at AVUS was decided by the aggregation of the results from two 30-lap heats during a single race meeting.   The Finn…

  • Formula 1,  History,  Single seaters,  The Pantheon

    Lotus 72 at 50: Formula 1’s greatest car

    Lotus 72 first turned a wheel in anger 50 years ago today, in the 1970 Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama. It was not the first time that Colin Chapman’s Lotus team had arrived with a new car that proved to be the class of the field, nor would it be the last. But Lotus 72, even by their own high standards, stands apart as the most extraordinary, revolutionary machine ever produced by the Norfolk stable. Simply put, Lotus 72 changed the way racing cars were designed forever after. Fifty years later, every car on the Formula 1 grid still embraces many of its fundamental design principles. Over five and a…

  • Formula 1,  Racing drivers,  Statistics

    Formula 1 2020: the inevitable preview

    Formula 1 2020. Here we go again. Neither an infectious respiratory illness pandemic nor Greta Thunberg could stop it, the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is back for its seventieth year. 2020 features twenty cars and drivers, nineteen of whom are going to be mightily disappointed. But one will be number one, which is all that really matters. Top level sport and mid-range sporting entertainment is what we’re all here for, so let’s not waste any more time and take a look at the runners and riders. MERCEDES The Mercedes team enter the 2020 season on the cusp of all-time greatness, having already achieved enough that they need not worry…

  • Formula 1,  History,  Statistics,  The Pantheon

    Lewis Hamilton vs Michael Schumacher: the battle for statistical superiority in Formula 1

    It’s Lewis Hamilton vs Michael Schumacher: increasingly in Formula 1 circles the topic of conversation turns to the poignant and extraordinary question, can Lewis Hamilton surpass all of Michael Schumacher’s Grand Prix racing records? It’s a poignant question because Schumacher’s state of health and well-being is still understandably tightly guarded and shrouded in mystery following the terrible head injuries he sustained in his skiing accident at the end of 2013. It’s an extraordinary one because a lot of the people asking it also witnessed the Schumacher juggernaut accumulating these fearsomely high numbers and genuinely never thought it would come up in their lifetime, let alone within a decade and a…

  • Racing drivers,  Formula 1,  Single seaters

    They comin’… 20 young drivers on the way to F1?

    Whither the babies of yesteryear? Well, they’re all racing drivers now, daddio and believe me, they comin’. Admittedly this is something of an exaggeration: not all young people are now racing drivers. I mean, someone has to pick up the slack and do the drug dealing and knife crime, but there is nevertheless some basis to my argument. A new generation of racing drivers, born in this century, are on the cusp of breaking through into Formula 1. It won’t be before time. Formula 1 motor racing has become beset with a certain stasis recently. For all the talk last season about the up-and-coming challenge from the newcomers Max Verstappen…

  • Formula 1,  History,  Racing drivers,  The Pantheon

    Niki Lauda and the Formula 1 pantheon

    Niki Lauda, the Austrian three-time World Champion who continues to leave an indelible mark on the sport of Grand Prix motor racing, would have been 71 years old this week. An opportune time, then, to introduce the +1 Lap Pantheon: an ongoing collection of portraits and stories of the people whose impact on Formula 1 cannot be weighed. Over the course of a four-decade long dalliance with Formula 1, Lauda wore many hats, not least of which was the famous red cap he used to disguise the ferocious scarring acquired at the Nürburgring in 1976. During his career, he would occupy the roles of pay driver, gifted number two, inspirational…

  • Racing drivers,  Formula 1,  W Series,  Women racing

    Ten of the best: women racing drivers

    The last woman to start a Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix was Lella Lombardi of Italy, who drove the Surtees-Ford in the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix. As far as I’m concerned, that is a preposterously long time ago. Too long. I hadn’t been born yet, and I’m old. Too old. I was 12 the last time a woman driver even attempted to qualify for a Grand Prix: another Italian, Giovanna Amati, in the laughably uncompetitive Brabham in 1992. The time has come for a revolution on the Formula 1 grid. Today, here are my picks for the ten best women racing drivers competing in world motorsport today. Could one…

  • Formula 1,  History,  Racing drivers

    Brambilla & Maldonado: one’s enough

    Two high priests of destruction, Vittorio Brambilla and Pastor Maldonado’s names became shorthand for the kind of muscular approach to Grand Prix motor racing that both excites the imagination of the casual viewer and endears them endlessly to their fellow practicitioners. Both of them would stand on a Formula 1 podium one single time during their career: on each occasion it would be the top step. Vittorio Brambilla was born in the epicentre of Italian motor racing, Monza, on 11th November 1937. The Brambillas were a motor racing family: his elder brother Ernesto “Tino” Brambilla was a motorcycle racer who would also twice enter the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix…