- February 15 down the years
Master of Monaco bornWhat happened on February 15 in Formula One history?
Graham Hill was born in Hampstead, London. One of the sport's biggest characters, he won two titles, one in 1962 for BRM and a second in 1968 driving a Lotus. From a humble background he came late to motor racing and hadn't even driver a road car until he was 24. He was given his break while working as an engineer at Lotus and made his F1 debut in 1958. He went on to win 14 races in total, a remarkable five of which were on the streets of Monte Carlo, before setting up and racing for his own team. He competed on and off up until his death in 1975 when his private plane crashed in heavy fog. His son Damon Hill went on to become the first second generation champion in 1996.
A motoring landmark was broken at Brookland when Percy Lambert covered 38 laps of the circuit at an average speed of 103mph in his 4.5-litre sidevalve 'Invincible' Talbot 25, the first man to average three figures for a run such as that. Eight months later he died at the same venue when a tyre burst as he tried to better his own record, and his ghost is said to haunt the Brooklands Museum.
Super Aguri announced Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide as its drivers, putting the final pieces into place for its debut season. Headed up by ex-F1 driver Aguri Suzuki, the team received financial backing from Honda to run Sato, who had been replaced by Rubens Barrichello at BAR. The car was based on a 2003 Arrows and was a long way off the pace of the rest of the field. Sato scored some respectable results but Ide, who had very little experience in a high-powered single seater, struggled and was eventually replaced after just four races by Franck Montagny. The team pulled out of the sport completely in 2008 when Honda withdrew its backing.
A massive crash during testing for Kimi Raikkonen meant the team had to cut short its running programme due to a lack of replacement suspension components. A brake failure caused Raikkonen's car to snap violently across the Circuit de Catalunya track and smash into the barriers. The accident completely demolished the left hand-side of the car, meaning the team couldn't continue testing that day. McLaren called for the doctor to see the dazed Raikkonen who had a badly bruised thumb. The car he was testing, the MP4-20, turned out to be incredibly competitive and went on to score ten victories that season, despite appalling reliability.
Max Mosley faced a critical reception after proposing a football-style promotion and relegation system in Formula One. "What ought to happen, and we are nowhere near sorting this out, is that we should have a feeder formula for Formula One, like a sort of F3000/GP2, but properly regulated for that purpose," said Mosley. "And then have some of system where the best from that had an opportunity to go up and the worst of the F1 teams had to consider going down." The main fault in the plan was the huge gap in budgets between GP2 and F1 teams. Mosley suggested that Bernie Ecclestone should distribute the prize money in F1 more evenly, but unsurprisingly the plan was met by deaf ears.
Formula One edged further away from the threat of a breakaway series as Renault announced it was leaving the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA). The organisation had been in meetings about the future of the sport with the FIA and Formula One Management but had backed down on a plan to create an alternative series. Renault followed Toyota out of the group, leaving just BMW, Daimler-Mercedes and Honda in the GPMA.
Alex Wurz was born in the small Austrian town of Waidhofen an der Thaya. He was tipped for big things when he joined Benetton in 1997, but a decline in the team's form meant he never fulfilled his potential. He was taken on as a McLaren reserve driver from 2001 to 2005 but only raced once at Imola in 2005, when he scored a podium. He made a full return with Williams in 2007 but by the last race of the season he had made way for the Toyota-backed Kazuki Nakajima. His greatest achievement came at the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours, which he won driving for Peugeot.