The European GP

With the looming threat of F1 losing the British GP, fans have looked toward Donington and Brands Hatch as possible takers should the worst happen and the longest running F1 race on the calendar disappears.

TJ13 looked at other alternatives yesterday and asked readers (the Jury) to give their thoughts on the options.

Silverstone finished, British GP returning to…?

Both Donington and Brands have hosted a race in the past alongside the British GP under the title ‘European GP’, here’s a little history of races under that moniker.

The title European Grand Prix was originally an honorary title given to an existing Grand Prix. It was given first to the Italian Grand Prix in Monza in 1923, which was won by Carlo Salamano in a FIAT. The first grand prix of the inaugural F1 World Championship, the 1950 British Grand Prix, was given the designation European Grand Prix (with the race being won by eventual champion Giuseppe Farina for Alfa Romeo). The practice of awarding the title to national Grand Prix continued up until the British Grand Prix of 1977, with James Hunt winning from Niki Lauda, a race which also saw Gilles Villeneuve make his F1 debut for McLaren.

The title was revived in 1983 but now as a standalone Grand Prix, when the race was staged at Brands Hatch and won by Nelson Piquet. That race was held to replace the cancelled United States Grand Prix, which had been due to take place in New York. As the British Grand Prix was being held in Silverstone that year, the name European Grand Prix was used, and the name has continued to be used to allow a country host a second grand prix since then, allowing F1 to cash in on the success of world champions Schumacher and Alonso with an extra race in Germany (Nurburgring 1999-2007 – although in 2007 there was no official German Grand Prix) and Spain (Valencia 2008-2012). 2012 saw Fernando Alonso won for Ferrari from 11th on the grid the last time it was held before Baku took up the title last year.


Memorable Moments

1985 –Brands Hatch – This race saw local favourite Nigel Mansell take his first ever Grand Prix victory, while Alain Prost sealed his first Drivers World Championship. Prost’s only challenger was Michele Alboreto, who had to retire when his Ferrari caught fire, dramatically driving back into the pits aflame, smoke engulfing the car as he hopped out, his championship hopes dashed by yet another failure for the fragile Ferrari. Prost now needed to finish only 5th or higher to seal his first title, and he delivered with a fourth place finish. Senna had led from pole in his Lotus, but when Keke Rosberg (Williams) tried to overtake on the 7th lap Senna squeezed him into a spin, collecting Nelson Piquet (Brabham). Rosberg had to pit but was able to continue, rejoining a lap down just in front of Senna and Mansell, with Mansell swooping past Senna as Senna was blocked by the lapped Rosberg, who continued to block Senna as Mansell made his escape. Rosberg recovered to finish 3rd.

1993 – Donnington – Ayrton Senna took a famous victory in changeable conditions, with a star performance also being put in by his young compatriot Rubens Barrichello. After dropping to 5th place after the start Senna emerged at the end of the first lap in 1st place. In the changing conditions, Senna made 3 stops less than rival Prost in the all-conquering Williams, and Senna’s touch in the awful conditions led him to romp home, lapping everyone bar Damon Hill, and Senna even set fastest lap going through the pits!! It was an agonizing race for the young rookie Barrichello who came oh so close to giving the young Jordan team a podium before his car came to a halt 6 laps from the end.

1997 – Jerez – Mika Häkkinen took his first Grand Prix victory (after team orders required David Coulthard to move aside), but a race that will be remembered for a crash between Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve that settled the championship in Villeneuve’s favour. Schumacher led the championship by one point from Villeneuve coming into the race. In a tense qualifying session, the top three drivers all recorded the exact same time, with first Schumacher and then Frentzen equalling Villeneuve’s time! Jacques started from pole but Michael got past him into the first corner, and retained the lead until lap 48, when Villeneuve attempted to overtake Schumacher. The pair collided, Schumacher was out, and Villeneuve continued on to come home in 3rd and take his only World Drivers Championship. Schumacher would be stripped of his second place in the championship, which was officially awarded to Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

1999 – Nurburgring – Johnny Herbert wins for Stewart GPs only victory. A crazy race run in dry-wet conditions, this seemed to be a race that now driver wanted to win! Surprise championship contender Frentzen retired from the lead due to an electrical failure in his Jordan. Next up to retire from the lead was Coulthard in a McLaren, who slid off the damp track having elected to stay on slicks as the rain fell. The same would happen Fisichella, spinning his Benetton out of the race from the lead. Next to take over the leas was Ralf Schumacher in a Williams, but he lost out when he suffered a puncture. Herbert took over having managed the conditions, and continued on to take a memorable victory, with teammate Barrichello making it a double podium for Stewart in their first year in formula one.

2012 – Valencia – A great performance saw Fernando Alonso win on home soil from 11th on the grid, taking 2ndplace from Romain Grosjean around the outside of Turn 1 on the restart from a safety car period and inheriting the lead after Sebastien Vettel retired. The closing stages of the race also saw Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado come to blows fighting for the last podium spot, with Lewis forcing Pastor wide as he tried to overtake around the outside only for Maldonado to come straight back onto the track spear Hamilton into the wall. The crash promoted Michael Schumacher to 3rd position, for what was to be the great German’s last podium finish in F1.


4 responses to “The European GP

  1. Schumacher stripped of 2nd place: couldn’t remember that. He really wasn’t the nice guy we all remember. He was a hardcore racer.

    • Yes! They awarded 2nd place to Heinz-Harald Frentzen … it’s okay though … Schuey got his revenge as usual, he married Heinz’s ex-girlfriend Corinna!

    • He was ruthless together with Brawn
      For example
      – after crashing his car in Australia, putting it in the middle of the road to enforce a safety car (back when t-cars were allowed)
      – taking a penalty in the pit lane in the last lap
      – Rascasse
      Always having the mental capacity to think about the rule book and how to extract the maximum out of a situation

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