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Hesketh's rise and fall and Abba's F1 drummer

Steven Lynch March 11, 2011
James Hunt holds off Niki Lauda for victory at Zandvoort © Sutton Images
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Did anyone other than James Hunt have any success driving a Hesketh in F1? asked Donald Miller

James Hunt won the one and only Grand Prix for the Hesketh team when he held off Niki Lauda to take the Dutch GP at Zandvoort in 1975. Hunt left the team the following year to join McLaren - a pretty successful move, as he won the world title in his first year - but Hesketh were already beginning to have financial problems. The 1976 car wasn't terribly competitive, and they faded out of Grand Prix racing in 1978. Several drivers were tried after Hunt: the Austrian Harald Ertl drove for most of the 1976 season, and Britain's Rupert Keegan in 1977. Both of them managed one seventh place, but that didn't carry any points at the time, so James is the only driver ever to win - or even score world championship points - in a Hesketh car.

I assume, given his colossal amount of Grand Prix wins, that Michael Schumacher has finished on the podium more than any other F1 driver. But who's second? asked Mike Templeton

You're right, Michael Schumacher is well clear on this list: in addition to his 91 GP victories, he's finished second or third on 63 further occasions, making a grand total of 154 podium finishes. Second on this list, with 106, is Alain Prost, ahead of Ayrton Senna (80), Rubens Barrichello (68) and Fernando Alonso (63). Schumacher has finished on the podium in 57.25% of his Grands Prix so far, fourth on that particular list behind Giuseppe "Nino" Farina (20 out of 34, 58.82%), Juan-Manuel Fangio (35 out of 52, 67.31%), and Luigi Fagioli (six out of seven, 85.71%).

Once a popular circuit, Riverside International Raceway is no more © Getty Images
On a recent driving holiday in the USA we went through Riverside in California - but I couldn't find the racetrack I thought was there. Is it somewhere else? asked James McAusland

The Riverside track in California held the United States GP in 1960, being won by Stirling Moss in a Ferrari, and staged numerous domestic events (especially Indycar and NASCAR races) as well - until 1989, when it was closed down. The main reason you couldn't find it is that most of the Riverside circuit is now under a shopping mall! There's a road near the new development called Andretti Street, a tribute to the great American driver who was the F1 world champion in 1978.

Is it true that Abba's drummer was an F1 driver? asked Tom Kennedy

It's partially true: the Swedish driver Karl "Slim" Borgudd took part in 15 GPs, driving for ATS and Tyrrell, in 1981 and 1982. He collected one world championship point, for sixth place in the 1981 British GP (won by John Watson). Borgudd had some success in other formulae: I remember spotting him doing some truck racing a few years ago. As far as the music side goes, as far as I can establish he was never Abba's regular drummer, but he did take part in a few recording sessions with them.

Are there any survivors from the first F1 world championship race in 1950? asked Mark Thomas

The first F1 world championship race was the British Grand Prix, held at Silverstone on May 13, 1950. The winner was the Italian Nino Farina, who went on to win the inaugural drivers' championship that year. He was driving an Alf-Romeo, as were the next two finishers, 51-year-old Luigi Fagioli and Reg Parnell. One of the retirees in the race (on the 37th lap after qualifying eighth-fastest) was the Swiss count Emmanuel "Toulo" de Graffenreid - and he was the last survivor of this inaugural race, living to the grand old age of 93 before he died in 2007. He lasted three months longer than the Frenchman Eugène Martin, who died in October 2006 aged 91. Martin also drove at Silverstone in 1950: he retired after just eight laps, and took part in only one other GP.