• Ask Steven

Loyalty to the brand

Steven Lynch August 26, 2011

Who has taken part in the most GPs for the same team? asked Paul Collard

This is another F1 table in which that man Michael Schumacher has a big lead. He drove in 181 GPs in 11 seasons for Ferrari between 1996 and 2006, well clear of David Coulthard, who had exactly 150 races in a McLaren between 1996 and 2004. Before the Belgian GP Lewis Hamilton had taken part in 82 GPs, all of them for McLaren - the record for a one-team driver.

Who is "the next big thing" in F1? Who's leading the GP2 series this year? asked Dave Wright

The second part of your question is easier than the first! The current leader of the 2011 GP2 series - with four races to go including two this weekend in Belgium - is Romain Grosjean, who took part in seven GPs for Renault in 2009. Grosjean, who's 25, was born in Switzerland, although he races under the French flag. He currently has a comfortable 25-point lead (the points system in GP2 is the old F1 one, with ten awarded for a win) over the Dutchman Giedo van der Garde.

Which season has seen the most different GP winners? asked John Beresford

The most open F1 season of all was 1982, when the 16 races had 11 different winners, including a record run of nine different winners in as many GPs. Didier Pironi, John Watson, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda and Rene Arnoux all won two races that year, yet finished second to sixth respectively in the drivers' championship behind Keke Rosberg, one of six men to win a solitary GP in 1982. Rosberg's only success came in the Swiss GP, but he collected enough points in the other races to secure the championship, although he probably wouldn't have had enough if Pironi had not suffered a career-ending accident in practice for the German GP at Hockenheim. At the time, Pironi was leading the standings with 39 points with five races remaining, but Rosberg overhauled him. The other race winners in 1982 were Michele Alboreto, Elio de Angelis, Riccardo Patrese, Nelson Piquet and Patrick Tambay.

A friend told me that the Spyker car, which usually inhabited the back of the grid, once led a Grand Prix. Is he right, or hallucinating? asked Nick Morrison

It is true: the race in question was the European GP at the Nurburgring in 2007, and the driver concerned was Markus Winkelhock, who was taking part in his first - and as it turned out, only - Grand Prix. There were special circumstances which contributed to the Spyker taking the lead: as so often at the Nurburgring, it rained. The deluge came just after the start, and most of the drivers had to come in and change tyres. Winkelhock, however, had started on wets, and extended his lead to around half a minute as the others slithered around. But it couldn't last - eventually the race was red-flagged after a number of incidents, and although Winkelhock was still in front at the restart he was overhauled into the first corner. He was forced to retire after 13 laps with an electrical problem, and never took part in another F1 race. It was a highlight of an otherwise miserable season for the uncompetitive Spyker team, whose only point came when Adrian Sutil finished eighth in Japan, in another rain-affected race.

The gorgeous Ferrari 250LM took Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory to victory at Le Mans in 1965 © Sutton Images
How many F1 world champions have also triumphed at Le Mans? asked Edward Rowe

There are four - two of them Britons and two of them Hills! Mike Hawthorn won the tragic 1955 Le Mans 24-hour race (in which more than 80 spectators were killed after a car flew into one of the stands); three years later Hawthorn, who had unwittingly triggered the fatal crash when he slowed his Jaguar for a pit-stop, became the first British driver to win the F1 world championship, in a Ferrari. The American Phil Hill won at Le Mans in a Ferrari in 1958, 1961 and 1962, and in the middle one of those years he was the F1 world champion too. Jochen Rindt, later to become F1's only posthumous world champion after being killed while leading the standings in 1970, won at Le Mans in a Ferrari in 1965. And finally Graham Hill, the F1 champion of 1962 and 1968, won at Le Mans in 1972, driving a Matra with Henri Pescarolo. Graham also won the Indianapolis 500 (in 1966), a unique treble.

Which driver is "The Secret Canadian"? asked Chris Stupples

The owner of this intriguing nickname is Bruno Spengler, a driver tipped for F1 success after doing well in the German touring-car championship (DTM) - he finished third in 2010, behind Paul di Resta, and is leading the 2011 series. Spengler was born near Strasbourg, in France, but his family moved to Canada when he was three. However, he continued to spend some time in France, and later began his motor-racing career there, so is generally (but incorrectly) thought to be French. Spengler was linked with F1 drives in 2008, including the McLaren seat which eventually went to Heiki Kovalainen, but hasn't quite got there yet - so he remains a bit of a secret.

And there's an update about the question in the last column about brothers, from Scott Capponi in the United States:

"Someone recently asked you about brothers in the same team in F1. You forgot to mention Teo and Corrado Fabi, who are brothers, and shared a ride at Brabham in 1984." That's right: Teo, the older of the Milanese brothers, took part in 12 of that season's races, as Brabham's second driver behind Nelson Piquet, while Corrado drove in three of the others, when Teo had prior commitments in the Indycar series in America. Manfred Winkelhock (another member of a famous racing family - his brother Joachim and son Markus both had brief F1 careers) piloted the second Brabham in the final race of 1984. Teo Fabi had some success during his five-year F1 career, finishing with 23 points from 71 races. He had two third places - at Detroit in the Brabham in 1984, and in Austria in 1987 driving a Benetton. Corrado Fabi, who had been the European Formula Two champion in 1982, had fewer F1 opportunities.