• Ask Steven

Ferrari's first of many

Steven Lynch January 5, 2012
Jose Froilan Gonzalez wins at Silverstone in his Ferrari 375 © Getty Images

Who was the first man to win a grand prix in a Ferrari, and how many winning drivers have they had all told? asked Bill Armstrong

The first man to win a world championship grand prix in a Ferrari was Jose Froilan Gonzalez, at the British GP at Silverstone in 1951. The "Pampas Bull" finished nearly a minute in front of Juan Manuel Fangio's Alfa-Romeo, and the two Argentineans were more than two laps ahead of the rest of the field. By the end of 2011 Ferraris had won 216 GPs (McLaren are next with 175). Michael Schumacher won a record 72 of those; after him come Niki Lauda (15), Alberto Ascari (13), Felipe Massa (11), and Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen (both nine). In all, 37 different drivers have now won a world championship GP in a Ferrari.

I'm writing this on New Year's Day - has there ever been a grand prix on January 1? asked David Thompson

There have been two world championship GPs on New Year's Day - both in South Africa, and both won by Jim Clark in a Lotus. The first was in 1965, at East London, and Clark won by nearly half a minute from John Surtees's Ferrari. Jackie Stewart, making his GP debut, picked up a point for sixth place in a BRM. The 1968 season also opened in South Africa, and Clark won again, this time at Kyalami, with his new Lotus team-mate Graham Hill about half a minute behind. Sadly, though, this was Clark's last grand prix: he was killed in a Formula Two event in Germany three months later.

When Kimi Raikkonen lines up on the grid in Australia he will be taking part in his first GP since 2009. I'm sure this isn't a record gap - what is? asked Mark Brewster

As you suspect, it's some way from the record (of 2012 drivers, Michael Schumacher did not race between 2007 and 2009, and nor did Pedro de la Rosa). The overall record is more than ten years, by the Dutchman Jan Lammers: he seemed to have finished his F1 career in 1982, but reappeared for two GPs at the end of 1992, in a March. He expected to drive for them in 1993 as well, but they went out of business before the season started. Lammers's F1 career may have been undistinguished (he collected no points from 41 starts), but he had success in other formulae, winning at Le Mans in 1988.

Adrian Sutil made his Formula One debut for Spyker, and scored its only ever point © Sutton Images

I was sorry to see that Adrian Sutil might miss out on an F1 drive in 2011. Where did he start his career? asked Kerry Donaldson

Adrian Sutil, who has been linked with a Ferrari test drive, made his F1 debut for Spyker in 2007, and was kept on when the team became Force India in 2008. He has so far collected 95 world championship points, 42 of them in 2011 when he finished ninth in the table. His best placing so far was fourth in the Italian GP at Monza in 2009. Before going into F1 Sutil, who was born in Starnberg in Germany in 1983, was the Japanese F3 champion in 2006, and four years previously won the Swiss Formula Ford title, winning all 12 races in the series. Like you I have been impressed by Sutil's driving in F1 over the last couple of years, and hope he finds another regular seat soon now Nico Hulkenberg has been confirmed as Paul di Resta's partner at Force India in 2012.

Is it true that Lewis Hamilton has recorded a pop album? asked Jennifer Morton

It is true, if The Sun is to be believed. But don't nip round to your local record store just yet - the report also said it was a private project by Lewis, and not for public consumption. He wouldn't be the first F1 world champion to venture into vinyl, or whatever it's called these days: Jacques Villeneuve released an album called "Private Paradise" in 2007.

My father tells me that the Tony Brooks garage, near where we live in Surrey, is named after an F1 driver. is that right? asked Kyle Herbert

It is indeed: Tony Brooks took part in 39 GPs between 1955 and 1961, winning six of them. Four of those wins came in Vanwalls - helping them to lift the inaugural constructors' championship in 1958 - and two after moving to Ferrari in 1959, when he finished second in the world championship behind Jack Brabham. But after a disappointing season with BRM in 1961, Brooks retired, bemoaning the lack of safety on many circuits (that year's championship was decided when the leader, Wolfgang von Trips, was killed in the Italian GP). "I felt I had a moral responsibility to take reasonable care of my life," he said. Brooks then concentrated on his garage business, initially in Weybridge in Surrey. Stirling Moss once said that if he was running an F1 team and could choose any two drivers from history, he'd have Jim Clark and Tony Brooks.