• January 18 down the years

Tragedy in Buenos Aires, and F1's daredevil

What happened on January 18 in Formula One history?
Spectators crowd around Nina Farina's damaged car after he had swerved into the crowd during the 1953 Argentine Grand Prix © Unknown

The inaugural Argentine Grand Prix was marred by the death of at least seven people and injuries to dozens more when on the 40th lap Nino Farina ploughed into the crowd which had spilled onto the edge of the track as he tried to avoid a spectator who had tried to cross the circuit. Farina himself escaped with minor leg injuries. Before the start an estimated 200,000, swelled by the decision not to charge for admission, were packed inside the Buenos Aires Autodrome, and by the time the race started they had poured through security fences and onto the perimeter. Despite the tragedy the grand prix continued throughout and was won by Alberto Ascari - he took pole, led throughout, recorded the fastest lap and lapped the entire field.


Gilles Villeneuve: to some, the greatest driver never to win the world title © Sutton Images
One of the most captivating drivers of all time, Gilles Villeneuve, was born in St-Jean sur Richelieu, Canada. On his day he was untouchable, and his drive at Watkins Glen in the wet when he was 11 seconds a lap faster than his rivals has gone down in F1 folklore. In his "shitbox" of a Ferrari, he was the man who spectators flocked to see, but at times his temperament was his undoing and he never won a world title (although his son Jacques did in 1997). He loved danger to the extent of recklessness - he took helicopters up with the fuel gauge showing empty for the thrill of it - and that proved his undoing when he was killed trying to prove a point during qualifying for the Belgium Grand Prix at Zolder in 1982. At his funeral former team-mate Jody Scheckter said: "He was the fastest driver in the history of motor racing … and he was the most genuine man I have ever known."

Pedro Rodriguez , born on this day in Mexico City, was regarded as a fearless driver, took some time to break into Formula One full-time but given a drive with Cooper in 1967 he won the South African Grand Prix. A second win followed for BRM in 1970 and by then he was making a big impression in other areas such as sports cars and Nascar. He was one of those who was against drivers' campaigns to make racing safer, even though his brother Riccardo had been killed practising for the Mexican Grand Prix in 1962. It was ironic that he too was killed racing during a sports car race at Norisring in Germany. He always carried Tabasco sauce in his pocket to liven up his food, and could be easily spotted at a race circuit by the deerstalker hat he wore.

Christian Fittipaldi was born in Sao Paulo. He became the third member of the Fittipaldi family to drive in F1 when he raced for Minardi and Footwork between 1992 and 1994. He moved to champ cars in 1995 but could never emulate the success of his famous uncle Emerson.

Johnny Servoz-Gavin was born in Grenoble, France. He competed in 13 grand prix between 1967 and 1970 with a best result of second. He suffered an eye injury in an off-road event in early 1970 and his sight deteriorated throughout the season, so much so that he retired as he said he no longer felt safe in F1.