- February 17 down the years
Ecclestone's Vegas gambleWhat happened on February 17 in Formula One history
Bernie Ecclestone put forward the idea of having a US Grand Prix in Las Vegas in 2007, after concerns over tyre safety for Michelin runners meant the 2005 race at Indianapolis featured just six cars. The relationship between Ecclestone and Indianapolis circuit boss Tony George was on thin ice after the controversy and Ecclestone said he was looking into other options. The last race to be held in Las Vegas took part in the Caesar's Palace car park in 1982 but the drew small crowds. In the end Indianapolis returned to the calendar for one more season before the US Grand Prix fell off the calendar altogether in 2008.
Lewis Hamilton made clear his desire to race in Formula One aged just 15. Having seen Jenson Button get a race seat at Williams that year, Hamilton told the Daily Express: "If you are good enough, you are old enough. I want to just make sure that it's the right time when I move up. But I would like to beat Jenson and become the youngest-ever F1 driver." Hamilton eventually drove for McLaren in 2007 aged 22, but did become the youngest F1 champion in 2008.
The first race which was given the name grand prix was staged in Pau in France, although the title was not used again until 1906 after which time it slowly went into more common usage. It was won by Frenchman Maurice Farman, who soon after turned his attention to flying, in 4 hours 10 minutes 53 seconds, almost an hour ahead of older brother Henri.
Michael Schumacher was faced with potential legal action after deciding to switch helmet supplier from Bell to Schuberth. His contract with Bell was set to end at the end of 2001 but Schumacher wanted to switch to his new brand, which had made a bullet-proof construction. Schumacher claimed the new lid was safer, but when Bell proved that its helmet wasn't unsafe a Belgian court ordered the Ferrari driver to pay US$115,300 in damages every time he didn't wear it. Schumacher wasn't deterred, however, and wore the Schuberth make for the whole season.
BAR boss David Richards played down the significance of an ongoing war of words between his drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button. Villeneuve claimed that Button had to earn his respect and prove his mental resilience to compete in the top flight of F1. Button replied by saying he was not at his new team to earn Villeneuve's respect and a tit-for-tat battle began between the two ensued. However, Richards said the petty arguments could work to the team's advantage. "I think if it's managed properly it can be regarded as healthy competition," he said. "I was with Jenson the last couple of days in Spain where he was testing and we discussed it. It's mostly come from Jacques' side, and Jacques is renowned for his forthright views and speaks his mind about things. Certainly one will be easier than the other, but if there is to be a little bit of friction in the team then I will manage that process."