- December 13 down the years
Curtain finally falls on Spygate scandalWhat happened on December 13 in Formula One history?
The curtain finally fell on the Spygate scandal with McLaren's unreserved apology to the FIA and Ferrari. In a grovelling letter, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh expressed his team's "sincere regret" adding it "apologised wholeheartedly" to the FIA for the embarrassment caused. The letter satisfied FIA president Max Mosley, who asked WMSC members, "in light of McLaren's public apology and undertakings" and "in the interests of the sport, to consider this matter closed". McLaren had been fined £50 million and stripped of all constructors' 2007 points for being in unauthorised possession of confidential Ferrari information.
The FIA announced that the BBC had lost the rights to show F1 - the deal had been won by ITV. Shock waves hit the nation, but it was not the channel change people objected to but the potential loss of commentator Murray Walker. The Daily Mirror set up a hot line for people to call in order to "Save our Murray" - unbeknown to fans Walker had actually signed up to transfer to ITV but was sworn to secrecy. The BBC, meanwhile, learned they had lost the rights when it appeared in a newspaper. "It came completely out of the blue," said one insider. "We had no knowledge that the negotiations were even under way."
Nigel Mansell was named the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year on the back of winning the drivers' championship. While Mansell was receiving his award, Williams announced his place would be taken by Damon Hill , the relatively unknown son of former champion Graham . Hill finally convinced Williams he was the right man for the job after a brilliant testing session in Portugal where he outpaced Alain Prost . "I understand why people will see this as a controversial choice," Hill said. "It is a very brave decision from the Williams team. But I know motor racing, if not Formula One, and I know the car very well indeed. I've always been told how my father did this or that. I have always put him on a large pedestal. I am very proud to be in a competitive car in Formula One. I feel fulfilled to some degree."
Brian McGuire was born in Melbourne, Australia. He failed to qualify for the 1977 British Grand Prix in a modified Williams FW04 which he ran as a McGuire BM1. He was killed, in the same car, while practicing for the Shellsport G8 championship race at Brands Hatch in August of the same year.
American driver Bill Vukovich was born in Fresno, California. He competed in the Indianapolis Grand Prix five times between 1951 and 1955. He won the race in 1953 and 1954, but was killed in the pursuit of a third win in 1955. At the time of the fiery crash he was leading the race by 17 seconds.