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Curb crawling in Monaco

Steven Lynch September 24, 2010
Michael Schumacher crawls round the 30mph Loews Hairpin during the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix © Getty Images
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I was interested to see that Jacques Villeneuve is being linked with a return to F1. I have always wondered, did he ever win the Canadian Grand Prix on the circuit that bears his father's name? asked Jim Craig from Newcastle

No, Jacques Villeneuve has not (yet) won the Canadian Grand Prix. In his debut F1 season, in 1996, he finished second on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, behind his Williams team-mate Damon Hill, but apart from that his best finish there was a rather distant eighth in a Sauber in 2005. In 1997, the year he went on to win the world championship, Villeneuve crashed on the second lap in Montreal, overcooking the exit to the final corner and hitting the wall - which was to become known as the "Wall of Champions" after Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and Villeneuve (again) all hit it in 1999.

I was watching a documentary about F1 in the 1960s, and noticed that Jim Clark won the British GP five times, while Graham Hill won five times in Monaco. These were records at the time - are they still? asked Ryan Holliday from the United States

Jim Clark's record of five victories in the British GP - at three different circuits (Aintree, Silverstone and Brands Hatch) - has not been beaten, although Alain Prost equalled it with his own fifth victory in 1993. Graham Hill - who never won the British GP, mainly thanks to Clark's dominance of it - did triumph five times round the streets of Monte Carlo, but he lost his record in 1993 when Ayrton Senna won there for the sixth time. Michael Schumacher has also now won the Monaco GP five times. Schumacher holds the overall record for monopolising a country's Grand Prix: he has won the French GP eight times, and has seven wins in the Canadian and San Marino races.

Are there any makes of car that have won just one F1 race? asked Sally Ford from Kent

I was rather surprised to discover that there are as many as eight makes of car which have won just one world championship Grand Prix - nine, if you count the Kuzma-Offenhauser that 22-year-old Troy Ruttman drove to victory in the Indianapolis 500 in 1952 (the Indy 500 counted towards the world drivers' championship from 1950 to 1960). Two of the others are current teams: Sauber's only GP win to date came courtesy of Robert Kubica in Canada in 2008, while that year also saw Sebastian Vettel record Toro Rosso's only victory, at Monza. F1's other one-hit wonders are Porsche (the 1962 French GP, driven by Dan Gurney), Eagle (1967 Belgian GP; Gurney again), Hesketh (1975 Dutch GP; James Hunt), Penske (1976 Austrian GP; John Watson), Shadow (1977 Austrian GP; Alan Jones) and Stewart (1999 European GP at the Nurburgring; Johnny Herbert).

We hear a lot of talk about fast circuits and fast corners - but what's the slowest corner on the current F1 rota? asked Mike Charlesworth from Cheltenham

The slowest corner currently in F1 - and so, I suppose, probably the best place to spectate from - is the Loews hairpin at Monaco, which leads down to the Portier corner and then the famous tunnel. The cars usually negotiate the tight hairpin at about 30mph (50kph). Although Monaco is the slowest circuit currently used for F1, it also includes one of the fastest curves - the kink in the tunnel which most of the drivers take flat out.

Which driver was known as "the Wild Bull of the Pampas"? asked Henry Corbett from London

This was Jose Froilan Gonzalez, a solidly built Argentinian who won two GPs in the 1950s - both of them in England: he won the British GP in 1951 and again in 1954, both times in a Ferrari. The 1951 win at Silverstone was Ferrari's first victory in a world championship Grand Prix. Gonzalez, whose shape would probably give today's F1 designers nightmares, was usually nicknamed "The Pampas Bull", although apparently his close friends tended to call him "El Cabezon", or Fat Head". After 1954, when he was second in the championship, Gonzalez raced only occasionally in F1, following the death of his friend and compatriot Onofre Marimon not long after Gonzalez's second British GP victory. As I write he is still alive, and due to celebrate his 88th birthday on October 5.

What was the most spectacular crash in F1 from which the driver emerged unscathed? asked Jeremy Inglis from Oxford

I think you'd have to go a long way to beat Mark Webber's back-flip after tangling with Heikki Kovalainen at this year's European GP at Valencia. I suppose that one seemed even more spectacular because of the onboard camera capturing the moments as he lifted off upwards, and it was a great relief to see him get out of the car and survey the scene almost as if he'd had a minor collision on the A40. Going back a bit I remember closing my eyes when Robert Kubica had a massive crash at the Canadian GP in 2007, but he walked away from that too. It just goes to show how strong the cars are these days - there were plenty of drivers in the 1950s and '60s who weren't so lucky.