• Ask Steven

Williams' wobbliest season

Steven Lynch September 9, 2011
Patrick Neve in the March entered by the Williams Grand Prix Engineering team in 1977 © Sutton Images

Williams have only managed five points so far this year - and with the new expanded points system too. When was the last time they did so badly? asked Mick Armstrong

So far this season the struggling Williams team has indeed picked up only five points - four by Rubens Barrichello, for a pair of ninth places, and Pastor Maldonado's point for tenth spot at the Belgian GP last week. Williams has never had such a barren season since their first year under that name, in 1977, when Patrick Neve went pointless from 11 races (under the current system, though, he would have earned seven points). Alan Jones collected 11 points for Williams in 1978 - and won the world title two years later - and since then their worst year has been 2006, when Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber collected only 11 points between them during the season. With seven races to go in 2011, though, there's still time for Williams to get past that modest tally.

Rubens Barrichello finished second in the United States GP in 2005, and didn't stand on the podium again for more than three years, until the British GP of 2008. Is this a record? asked Adrian Slade

It was indeed more than three years between Rubens Barrichello's second place at the controversial United States GP of 2005 - only six cars started the race at Indianapolis after a dispute over tyres - and his third place in the 2008 British GP, by which time he had left Ferrari for Honda. But this turns out to be well short of the record gap between appearances on the podium, which is held by the Austrian driver Alexander Wurz. He finished third, in a Benetton, in the British GP at Silverstone in 1997 - it was only his third race - but had to wait almost eight years to get a taste of the champagne again, when he finished third in the 2005 San Marino GP at Imola, driving a McLaren as a replacement for the injured Juan-Pablo Montoya. Wurz did finish fourth on no fewer than five occasions in 1998, though!

What relation exactly is Bruno Senna to the great Ayrton? asked Chris Campkin

Bruno Senna is the son of Ayrton's sister Viviane, which makes them uncle and nephew. Bruno was born in 1983, 11 years before Ayrton's sad death, and used to race him on the go-kart circuit which Ayrton had built on the family's property in Brazil. Ayrton is famously reported to have once said "If you think I'm fast, wait till you see my nephew." Hopefully we'll see some of that raw speed now that Bruno has got a reasonably competitive drive in the Renault - I was impressed with his performance in practice for the Belgian GP, although his start was a little less inspiring!

Has the Macau Grand Prix ever been part of the world championship? asked David Lucas

The annual race on the twisting street circuit in Macau has long been considered one of the most challenging motor races around - but it hasn't ever been part of the official world championship, for various reasons (the latest of which, I suppose, is finance). The first Macau Grand Prix was a sports-car race in 1954, but it has been a Formula Three event since 1983, when Ayrton Senna won it. Other winners since then who have gone on to enjoy successful F1 careers are Michael Schumacher (1990), David Coulthard (1991) and Ralf Schumacher (1995). Takuma Sato won it in 2001, and Lucas di Grassi in 2005. The Italian Edoardo Motara won in both 2009 and 2010, the first back-to-back winner since Riccardo Patrese (1977-78) and Geoff Lees (1979-80) in pre-F3 days. The 2011 race will be held at the end of November.

The Bandini Trophy is given every year in memory of Lorenzo Bandini who perished in a accident in 1967 © Getty Images
I saw that Lewis Hamilton received the Lorenzo Bandini Trophy in 2010. What is it and who is it named for? asked Carl Hutchinson

The Trofeo Lorenzo Bandini is an annual trophy founded in 1992 by citizens of Brisighella, near Bologna in Italy, the home town of the Ferrari driver who won one Grand Prix (in Austria in 1964) before he perished in a terrible fiery accident in 1967. Bandini crashed late in that year's Monaco GP, and was trapped under his car as it caught fire, a situation made worse by the fact that the track was surrounded by hay bales, which went up in flames too (hay bales were thereafter banned from Grand Prix racing). There is no particular qualification for winners of the Bandini Trophy: it is presented to a notable figure in motor racing - usually, but not invariably, a promising young driver. Lewis Hamilton did indeed win it in 2010, for his efforts in 2009, and other recent winners have been Robert Kubica (2008), Sebastian Vettel (2009) and Nico Rosberg (2011).

Jenson Button's victory at the Hungarian GP in 2006 was apparently the first win for Honda for almost 40 years. Who was their previous winner? asked Lance Kehoe

That victory for Jenson Button at the Hungaroring in 2006 was Button's first, and enlivened a career which had looked to be flagging - it was his 113th race since his much-hyped start in F1, for Williams in 2000 at the age of 20. It was the first Grand Prix victory for Honda since John Surtees won the Italian GP at Monza in 1967; their only other victory had been by the American Richie Ginther in Mexico in 1965. Honda only competed as a manufacturer between 1964 and 1968, and 2006 and 2008, although cars using their engines have won 69 further GPs, including several to help Williams to the constructors' championship in 1986 and 1987.