- Ask Steven
Tired of waiting...Steven Lynch August 2, 2013
Lewis Hamilton had a long time (for him) between victories before winning in Hungary last week. What's the longest gap between Grand Prix victories by anyone? asked Neil Carter
This record belongs to the Italian Riccardo Patrese, who won the last race of the 1983 season, in South Africa in October, but had to wait until May 1990 before taking the chequered flag again, in the San Marino GP at Imola. Patrese's second and third GP wins were thus separated by more than six and a half years. Bruce McLaren (1962-68) and Jack Brabham (1960-66) also went more than six years between GP victories. Hamilton's previous race win was about eight months ago, in the United States GP at Austin last November in his penultimate race for McLaren.
I noticed there were two American drivers on the podium at the 1959 Portuguese GP. Has this ever happened since? asked Martin Crawley via Facebook
In Portugal in August 1959 the two Americans were Masten Gregory, who was second, and third-placed Dan Gurney. Actually the American double had happened at the previous race too, in Germany, when Gurney was second and Phil Hill third. Two American drivers on the Grand Prix podium was not a rarity for the next few years: it happened again in 1960 (Phil Hill and his chum Richie Ginther were first and second at the Italian GP in Ferraris), and four times in eight races in 1961, the year Hill won the title (Ginther - three times - and Gurney were the others on the podium). In 1962 Gurney won in France with Ginther third, and then in Mexico in 1965 Ginther won his only GP, in a Honda, with Gurney second. That was the last instance to date, although there have been a couple of near-misses: in South Africa in 1972 Peter Revson was third and Mario Andretti fourth, while in Spain the following year George Follmer was third, just ahead of Revson. But the supply of American drivers seems to have dried up in recent years: the last one to finish on the podium was all of 20 years ago - Michael Andretti in the 1993 Italian GP, in what turned out to be his final race for McLaren. There hasn't even been an American F1 driver since Scott Speed had a season and a half for Toro Rosso in 2006-07.
Does the Marussia team actually come from Russia? asked Bill Langley
Well, Marussia - which is a Russian car company - are now the majority shareholders in what used to be called the Virgin F1 team. Marussia bought into the company in 2010, and it was renamed in time for the 2012 season. The Marussia B1, which came out in 2010, has been described as "Russia's first sports car". Marussia's F1 future is in some doubt as they have not yet signed a commercial agreement with Bernie Ecclestone for 2014, but at the moment they lie ahead of their rival "new" team, Caterham, in the battle for 10th place in this year's constructors' championship - it's important as you don't get any prizemoney for finishing 11th - thanks to Jules Bianchi's 13th place in Malaysia (Caterham's best to date are Charles Pic's 14th place in Malaysia, and Giedo van der Garde's 14th in Hungary).
Which F1 record is held by Billy Garrett? asked Edgar Hewitt
It's something of a technicality really: Billy Garrett, who was born in Illinois in 1933, was only 17 when he took part in qualifying for the 1950 Indianapolis 500. He didn't get in to the race, but it does make him the youngest man to take part in an event that counted towards the F1 world championship, as the Indy 500 did between 1950 and 1960. The youngest man to actually take part in a world championship grand prix remains Jaime Alguersuari of Spain, who was 19 years 125 days old in his debut drive for Toro Rosso at the Hungarian GP in 2009. And the youngest man to drive on a Grand Prix weekend (excluding Indianapolis) is none other than Sebastian Vettel, who was only 54 days past his 19th birthday when he took part in Friday practice for Sauber in Turkey in 2006: he made a few people sit up when he recorded the fastest time in the day's second session.
Is Lella Lombardi the only driver to finish their career with half a world championship point? asked John Marshall
The Italian Lella Lombardi - the only woman ever to finish in the points in F1 - is indeed the only driver to finish with half a point overall. It came in the Spanish GP of 1975: Lombardi was lying sixth in a March when a big accident caused the race to be called off after 28 of the scheduled 75 laps. Only half the usual number of points were awarded, which meant her point for sixth pace shrunk to a half. Lombardi, who died of cancer in 1992 aged 50, never finished in the points again. Something similar happened to another Italian, Gianni Morbidelli, at the 1991 Australian GP, which was abandoned after only 14 laps: having replaced the sacked Alain Prost in a Ferrari, he was in sixth place when the race was stopped, so picked up his first championship point (or half of one). Morbidelli, though, did go on to win eight further points in his career. In the early days of the championship it was possible for drivers to share cars, and any resultant points - so there are several whose overall tally ends in a fraction. Half-points are awarded if a race lasts less than 75% of the originally scheduled distance. It was a vital factor in the 1984 world championship, won by Niki Lauda by half a point from Prost, who had received only 4.5 points (instead of nine) for winning the rain-shortened Monaco GP early in the season.
Was Kamui Kobayashi's recent crash in an exhibition in Moscow the most embarrassing for a F1 driver? asked Paul Howell
Kamui Kobayashi's accident while driving a Ferrari in an exhibition in Moscow a couple of weeks ago must have left him red-faced near Red Square - especially as he's trying to get back into F1 in 2014 - but in his defence it was a very wet day and he was driving on public roads. It was fairly spectacular, though! Pastor Maldonado did something similar in a Williams in an exhibition in Venezuela last year (and I don't think it was raining then). I imagine it's probably more embarrassing to crash on the formation lap of a Grand Prix, which a few people have done, notably David Coulthard after claiming pole position for Williams at Monza in 1995.