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'Nine different winners in nine races' - Ask Steven

Steven Lynch May 25, 2012
Keke Rosberg was the ninth different winner in as many races in 1982 © Sutton Images

If you include the final two races of last season, the last seven GPs have had seven different winners - is this a record? asked Dan Roberts

Pastor Maldonado's win in Spain meant that the first five GPs of 2012 all had different winners, equalling the record mentioned in the last column. If you include the last two races of 2011 - won by Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber - then we have indeed had seven different winners in seven races. But the record is a scarcely believable nine different winners in a row, during 1982, when successive GPs in mid-season were won by Riccardo Patrese (driving a Brabham), John Watson (McLaren), Nelson Piquet (Brabham), Didier Pironi (Ferrari), Niki Lauda (McLaren), Rene Arnoux (Renault), Patrick Tambay (Ferrari), Elio de Angelis (Lotus) and Keke Rosberg (Williams). Arnoux then won again, in Italy, to end the sequence, but Rosberg's win - his only one of the season - was enough to give him the championship.

Pastor Maldonado was the first Venezuelan to win a Grand Prix. Which was the last country to make its "debut" in that way? asked Cameron Hurst

Maldonado's victory meant that drivers from 21 different countries have now stood on top of the podium at a world championship Grand Prix. Britain leads the way with 19 different winners (and a record 220 GP victories in all), ahead of Italy with 15. The last country before Venezuela to join the winners' club was Poland, courtesy of Robert Kubica's victory in Canada in 2008. The other countries to boast just one Grand Prix-winning driver are Colombia (Juan Pablo Montoya), Mexico (Pedro Rodriguez), South Africa (Jody Scheckter) and, rather surprisingly, Spain (Fernando Alonso).

Who was known as the "Monza Gorilla"? asked Ben Jamieson

The owner of this impressive-sounding title was the Italian Vittorio Brambilla, who was actually born in Monza, near the famous circuit. He acquired the nickname because of his driving style, which was famously aggressive. Brambilla took part in 79 GPs for various teams, collecting one victory, in Austria in 1975. It was a wet race - it was stopped early and he received only half points for his win - and was notable in that Brambilla lost control of his March as he took the chequered flag, and completed his victory lap in a seriously battered car. Brambilla continued in F1 until 1980; he died of a heart attack in 2001, aged 63.

The Lotus cars have been finishing consistently all season so far, but haven't won a race yet. Has a team ever won the constructors' championship without actually winning a race? asked Paul Kessler

No team has yet won the F1 constructors' championship, which started in 1958, without winning a race - and with so many GPs nowadays it seems unlikely that this could ever happen. The "worst" performance by the champion team was in 1964, when Ferrari won only three of that season's ten races yet still won the constructors' title. And Ferrari managed a worse season percentage-wise in 1977, when they lifted the constructors' championship despite winning only four of that year's 17 races.

Who won a Grand Prix in his team-mate's car? asked Neil Johnstone

There were a few instances in the early days of the world championship when a senior driver took over a team-mate's car mid-race if his own one developed problems - the 1951 French GP, for example, was won by an Alfa-Romeo shared by Luigi Fagioli and Juan-Manuel Fangio - but I don't think this is what you mean. I wonder if the race you are thinking of is the 1986 British GP at Brands Hatch. This was stopped after a multi-car pile-up on the first lap, and restarted. Nigel Mansell had had a mechanical problem soon after the original start, but as the race was stopped before a full lap had been completed he was allowed to restart in another car. He jumped into the team's spare car - this was allowed in those days - but faced the problem that it had been set up for Nelson Piquet, the Williams's No. 1 driver that year. Piquet, who started from pole, took the lead at the restart - but Mansell eventually overhauled him, and ended up winning by five seconds. Some reports suggest that Piquet decided to race the reserve car and Mansell jumped into his team-mate's original one, but this is not the case according to Nigel's autobiography: "I had a chance to get into the spare car," he wrote. "The only trouble was it was set up for Nelson. Not only was he a different size and shape from me but the car had not been running well all weekend."

Was Michael Schumacher the first German to be world champion? asked Christopher Howard

Michael Schumacher became the first German driver to win the world championship when he claimed the first of his record seven titles in 1994. But he wasn't actually the first man born in Germany to win it: Jochen Rindt was born in Mainz in 1942. However, Rindt moved to Austria after his parents were killed by a wartime bomb, and was brought up by his grandparents in Graz; when he started racing, he did so under the Austrian flag. Rindt won the world title in 1970 - sadly, this was a posthumous honour as he was killed while practising for the Italian GP late in the season.