- February 18 down the years
Schumacher in a McLaren?What happened on February 18 in Formula One history
Ron Dennis admitted that McLaren had been close to signing Michael Schumacher in 2000, but couldn't make space for him at the team. "We had the opportunity but we did not take it," said Dennis. "Five years ago we met at Monte Carlo and there were discussions. The problem is that when you say to someone, 'we want you to drive for us', the team has to be in a position to deliver on that commitment. The team was not in the position to do that at the time. We both went away and thought about it and we decided collectively not to make Michael an offer. So it wasn't a money thing."
As the move to make F1 safer rumbled on and against a backdrop of a trial in Italy following the death of Ayrton Senna four years earlier, the FIA announced it was to fit black boxes to all cars with effect from the start of the season three weeks later. "The implications for safety are very encouraging," said Max Mosley, the FIA president, but not everyone was convinced. "There would certainly have been some additional data gathered," said Harvey Postlethwaite, technical director of the Tyrrell Formula One team, "but that does not necessarily mean you would be able to tell what caused the accident. Gathering the data is one thing, but interpreting it can be something of a minefield."
Lewis Hamilton won a prestigious Laureus Award for his breakthrough season with McLaren in 2007. Hamilton came within a point of winning the championship in his debut year and equalled the tally of his double world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso over the course of the season.
Residents of Monte Carlo would have been forgiven for thinking Ferrari had turned up for the Monaco Grand Prix three months early when a Formula One car took to the famous streets in February. In fact the team were recording footage for a Shell TV advert and had recruited Irish drivers Paddy Shovlin and Michael Cullen to drive a F2003 past some of the principality's most famous landmarks. The final video was cut together with classic Ferrari racing cars from all eras racing around the streets of New York, Sydney, Hong Kong and Rome.
NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt died aged 49 after a 150mph crash at the Daytona 500. Much like Ayrton Senna, Earnhardt was idolised and his death came as a severe wake-up call for the safety of the sport. NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr said: "NASCAR has lost its greatest ever driver."