- Ask Steven
Mexico's main menSteven Lynch March 30, 2012
Sergio Perez was second in the Malaysian GP. Is this the best result by a Mexican driver - and a Sauber driver too? asked Paul Gilfillan
The answer to both parts of your question is ... not quite! Sergio Perez's second place was the best result by a Mexican driver since the late Pedro Rodriguez won the Belgian GP at Spa in 1970, a BRM. That was Rodriguez's second GP victory: he'd also won the South African GP for Cooper in 1967, but he was killed in a sports-car race in Germany in 1971. Meanwhile Sauber have won one previous race - Robert Kubica took the chequered flag in the 2008 Canadian GP, ahead of his team-mate Nick Heidfeld (at the time the car was called a "BMW-Sauber").
Was it James Hunt who said he'd retired from Grand Prix racing because he was tired of going round in circles? asked Matt Bradley
I think this quote actually came from Niki Lauda, who quit towards the end of a disappointing 1979 season with Brabham, and informed his team owner Bernie Ecclestone (whatever happened to him?) that he was tired of going round and round in circles. He retired to run the airline that still bears his name (although Lauda himself left the company, not entirely voluntarily, in 1999). But the business ran short of money, and in 1982 Lauda made an F1 comeback, with McLaren. He won his third race back, and took his third world title in 1984, by just half a point from his team-mate Alain Prost. Lauda retired again - for good this time - in 1985.
What became of Ralph Firman, the Irishman who drove for Jordan one year? asked Ken Bromige
Ralph Firman, who is usually considered Irish (his mother was from there) even though he was born in Norfolk, had one season in F1, with Jordan in 2003. He picked up one point, for eighth place in the Spanish GP, just holding off another promising English driver, Jenson Button, for the final points position. Firman, who had won the British F3 championship in 1996, later raced in sports cars and A1 GP, and is now piloting a Honda in the Super GT series in Japan.
I spotted that British drivers finished in the top three spots in the world championship in 1964 (Surtees, Hill, Clark) and again in 1965 (Clark, Hill, Stewart). Is this a record for one country? asked Bill Oliver
The record was set by a different set of British drivers back in 1958, when Mike Hawthorn won the title by a whisker from Stirling Moss, 42 points to 41. Tony Brooks (24) was third, just ahead of another Briton, Roy Salvadori (15), with Peter Collins a point behind in fifth place, a position he shared with the American driver Harry Schell. In addition to the Britrish hat-tricks you mentioned, Italy had a 1-2-3 in 1952, with Alberto Ascari, Nino Farina and Piero Taruffi.
Is Pastor Maldonaldo a clergyman or is that his real name? asked Maurice O'Connell
The full name of the Williams driver is Pastor Rafael Maldonado Motta. The "Pastor" part is just a name, and not a title. He's not a clergyman - but he is well-connected, apparently being friendly with the president of his native Venezuela (he was born there in 1985). Your question made me smile - and reminded me of a friend who was once the cricket correspondent of a Sunday newspaper. His press-box nickname was "The Vicar" ... because he only appeared on Sundays.
Where is the Circuit Bugatti, which apparently staged the French GP one year? asked Tony Cheyne
The Bugatti Circuit is at Le Mans, and uses part of the famous long (8.5 miles) track used for the annual 24-hour race. The Bugatti shares the start-finish line, but then doubles back round and behind the pits: it's about 2.6 miles long in all. The French GP was held there in 1967 (Jack Brabham led home Denny Hulme for a Brabham 1-2), but the twisty track was not terribly popular with the drivers: pole-sitter Graham Hill got into trouble for telling the organisers it was "a bit Mickey Mouse". The Bugatti circuit still stages sports-car and motorcycle races - and also an annual 24-hour roller-skating event!