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Schumacher's disqualification, and pole position

Steven Lynch April 30, 2010

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Michael Schumacher chats to Heinz-Harald Frentzen at the 1997 Japanese Grand Prix © Press Association

Why do some publications refer to Heinz-Harald Frentzen finishing as runner-up in the 1997 world championship, when he seems to have been a long way behind Michael Schumacher in third? asked Derek Barnwell from Taunton
Heinz-Harald Frentzen, driving a Williams (he had controversially replaced the 1996 world champion Damon Hill there), finished 1997 with 42 points compared to his team-mate Jacques Villeneuve's 81 and Michael Schumacher's 78. But the FIA stripped Schumacher of the official runners-up spot following a dangerous manoeuvre in the final race, the European GP at Jerez when - with the title still in the balance - he pulled across on Villeneuve at the "Dry Sac" corner. But the move backfired: it was Schumacher who ended up in the gravel trap, while Villeneuve continued, with a slightly damaged car, to claim the title.

Where does the expression "pole position" come from? Why isn't it just called "first position"? asked Niels Jaspers from Belgium
Like one or two other terms, "pole position" is an expression which motor racing borrowed from horse racing. In the horse world, there used to be (and sometimes still is, especially if starting stalls are not used), quite literally a pole to indicate the starting line of the race. "Pole position" was given to the horse drawn on the inside (usually No. 1), which was expected to line up next to the pole.

How many people have started 200 grands prix, and have any of them not won any? asked Sally Vincent from Harpenden
There are now ten drivers who have taken part in more than 200 GPs: the overall leader is Rubens Barrichello, who should pass 300 later this year (he's currently on 288). Riccardo Patrese is second at the moment with 256, but he's only just ahead of Michael Schumacher (253). The only one of the 200 club who never won a race is the Italian Andrea de Cesaris, who started 208 GPs. His best season was 1983, when he finished second in both Germany and South Africa in an Alfa-Romeo. His long F1 career also included stints with McLaren, Ligier, Minardi, Brabham, Rial, Dallara, Jordan, Tyrrell and (finally, in 1994) Sauber.

Was Jack Brabham the first man to win a race in his own car? asked Daniel Salter from Chelsea
The three-time world champion Jack Brabham was the first man to win an F1 Grand Prix in a car bearing his own name. He won four in a row in 1966, and went on to win the title - he's also the only man to win the drivers' championship in his own car. Brabham's earlier titles (in 1959 and 1960) came in a Cooper. Funnily enough, though, Brabham wasn't the first man to win a grand prix in a Brabham - that honour was claimed by the American Dan Gurney, who finished first in the 1964 French GP at Rouen (Brabham himself was third that day). Gurney was also the first driver to win a grand prix in a Porsche (again in France, in 1962) and in an Eagle (in Belgium in 1967).

I read that Ayrton Senna had won the Monaco GP six times. Is it a record to win on the same track six times? asked Imre Minjo from Estonia
The great Ayrton Senna did indeed win six Monaco GPs between 1987 and 1993 - he missed out only in 1988, when he crashed while leading and Alain Prost won instead - breaking the previous record of Graham Hill, who won five in the 1960s. Michael Schumacher has since won five times at Monaco as well. But Schumacher holds the record for winning the same race the most times - he has won the French GP at Magny-Cours on eight occasions. He has also won the Canadian GP seven times.

What happened to the Frenchman Romain Grosjean who was driving for Renault last year? asked Imogen Clarke from London
Romain Grosjean, who was actually born in Geneva in Switzerland, made a subdued start to his F1 career last year after replacing Nelson Piquet junior in the not terribly competitive 2009 Renault. Grosjean had hoped to secure the second Renault seat again this year, but that went instead to Vitaly Petrov - F1's first Russian - who has looked impressive in this season's early races. Grosjean, who hopes to return to F1 soon (he's still only 24), instead secured a drive with Ford in the GT1 world championship - and recently co-drove the winner of the first race, at Abu Dhabi.