- March 26 down the years
A woman in a male-dominated sportWhat happened on March 26 in Formula One history?
Lella Lombardi, the only woman to score points in F1, well half a point by finishing sixth in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, was born in Frugarolo Italy. Only half points were awarded after a serious accident, which killed four people, stopped the race at half distance. Earlier that year, in a March, she became the first woman to qualify for a grand prix when she made the grid in South Africa. This gained her sponsorship, and the headlines followed with her half point in Spain. It was no one-off as later in the season she took a seventh at the German Grand Prix. She died, at the age of 50, in Milan in 1992.
Brazil hosted the second round of the championship; five of the top six finishers were disqualified after the race because of problems with the wooden running board under their cars. After an appeal the cars were scrutineered again and everyone, except David Coulthard, was reinstated. The wing-end plates on Coulthard car were found to be 7mm lower than permitted. On the eve of the race Jean Alesi had a narrow escape when he hit an advertising hoarding that had collapsed onto the pit straight at 180mph. Sauber had to withdraw both its cars after the dreadfully uneven track had caused rear-wing failures, even though the whole circuit had been relaid. Bernie Ecclestone was slammed in the press for his failure to criticise the track - he had attacked Silverstone and Malaysia - which they claimed was simply because he owned the commercial rights to the event at Interlagos.
More controversy and no shortage of anger, again in Brazil, where the first round of the championship was won by Michael Schumacher with David Coulthard second. Five hours after the race it was announced both had been disqualified as the samples of fuel from their cars didn't match the pre-race samples, and Gerhard Berger was promoted to first position. At an appeal, on April 14, the disqualifications were overturned, but the teams did not score the respective constructors' points for the race. Later Berger blasted officials saying they had turned the sport into "a joke".
Elio de Angelis, who competed in 108 grand prix between 1979 and 1986, was born in Rome. He died during testing at Paul Ricard in France when the rear wing of his Brabham BT55 detached at high speed. De Angelis was also a concert standard pianist, who famously kept drivers entertained for an evening during the drivers' strike at the 1982 South African Grand Prix.
Martin Donnelly was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Donnelly suffered serious injuries during a crash in practice for the 1990 Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez when thrown out of his Lotus whilst still attached to the seat. He went on to manage several teams on lower formulas and to work in driver development.
Didier Pironi was born in Villecresnes in Paris; he competed in 70 grand prix between 1978 and 1982, scoring three wins. His circuit racing career was ended by a serious accident in practice for the German Grand Prix when he badly damaged his legs. He later took up powerboat racing, but was killed in a crash off the Isle of Wight in 1987.
The birth of Armand Peugeot, one of the leading pioneers of the motor industry. Originally a bicycle salesman, he moved into developing steam cars and then motor cars built with Daimler engines. When his brother, Eugene, declined to put further investment in the company he set up on his own in 1896. He built a factory atAudincourt, dedicated to the manufacture of cars with an internal combustion engine. In 1910 he merged with Eugene's company and at the time of his death in 1915, Peugeot were the largest car manufacturer in France, producing 10,000 cars per year.