• July 4 down the years

Mercedes claims first Formula One victory

What happened on this day in Formula One history
The Mercedes of Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling accelerate away from the field at the start of the French Grand Prix © Getty Images

Juan Manuel Fangio led home Karl Kling as Mercedes dominated the French Grand Prix at Reims to secure its first victory in Formula One. Mercedes arrived at Reims with their beautiful but unconventional silver W196 machines and they dominated practice to line up on front row alongside Alberto Ascari's Maserati. Ascari's race was cut short with transmission failure on the first lap which left Fangio and Kling to run away with the race, a lap clear of Robert Manzon's Ferrari.

Jackie Stewart won the French Grand Prix from pole position, leading home crowd favourite and team-mate Francois Cevert for a Tyrrell 1-2. Frenchman Cevert had started from seventh on the grid but a combination of tenacious driving and the retirements of Clay Regazzoni and Pedro Rodriguez meant that he was able to secure his first ever podium behind his good friend at his home race.

Alain Prost led home Damon Hill for a Williams 1-2 at the French Grand Prix as Ayrton Senna, competing in his 150th grand prix, had to settle for fourth behind Michael Schumacher's Benetton. Not long afterwards, Senna announced that he would be leaving McLaren to drive for Williams for the 1994 season.

Michael Schumacher won the French GP to secure his ninth victory in ten races of a dominant season. With Renault proving supremely quick in qualifying, Ferrari opted for an unconventional four-stop strategy that caught the French manufacturer and Fernando Alonso unawares. It proved to be decisive, as Schumacher put in enough blisteringly quick laps on lighter fuel loads and he eventually finished over eight seconds clear of his Spanish rival.

James Hunt won the French Grand Prix from Patrick Depailler and John Watson. Hunt had started on pole but was passed by Ferrari's Niki Lauda who led until lap nine when his engine blew. Hunt then withstood a spirited challenge from Clay Regazzoni until he too was forced to retire, leaving the Englishman with a clear run to the chequered flag. John Watson inherited a fortuitous third when first Jody Scheckter then Ronnie Peterson retired late on.