• Ask Steven

Pole-less champions

Steven Lynch August 3, 2012
Denny Hulme did not start a single race from pole position in his championship-winning year © Sutton Images

Has anyone ever won the championship without getting on pole position all year? asked Tim Blackwell

I thought this was unlikely ... but actually it's happened twice! In 1967 the New Zealander Denny Hulme won the world championship in a Brabham despite never setting the fastest lap in any of the season's 11 races. Actually Hulme sat on pole only once in his long 112-race career, in the 1973 South African GP at Kyalami, driving a McLaren. And Hulme's feat was repeated in 1984, when Niki Lauda nicked the title by half a point from his McLaren team-mate Alain Prost despite never setting the fastest practice lap at any of that year's 16 races. Lauda ended up winning the title by half a point: Prost won seven races (including the rain-shortened Monaco GP, for which half points were awarded) to Lauda's five. But the star of practice that year was Nelson Piquet, who sat on pole position on no fewer than nine occasions - but his Brabham proved fragile in the actual races, and he ended up only fifth in the drivers' championship.

Was Jaime Alguersuari the only teenager to take part in a Grand Prix? And what's he doing now asked Mike Hill

Spain's Jaime Alguersuari was the youngest driver to take part in a F1 world championship Grand Prix, when he made his debut for Toro Rosso in Hungary in 2009, aged 19 years and 125 days. He broke the record of F1's previous-youngest participant, set by the New Zealander Mike Thackwell, who was 19 years and six months old when he drove in the 1980 Canadian GP. After being dropped by Toro Rosso for 2012, Alguersuari - who's still only 22 - now commentates on F1 for BBC Radio Five as well as working as a test driver for tyre supplier Pirelli. He is also prominent in musical circles in Spain, as a DJ and as the owner of a recording studio.

The 2010 season was arguably the closest ever, with Sebastian Vettel winning by a nose. Would he have won it under the old points system? asked Miles Templeton

Sebastian Vettel ended that 2010 season - the first using the new scoring system - with 256 points, four ahead of Fernando Alonso, with Mark Webber (242 points) fourth, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton on 240. Under the previous (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1) points system, Vettel would still have won, while in 1950 (when the points awarded were 8-6-4-3-2, with an extra one for the fastest lap) he would have squeaked home by a single point from Alonso. Lewis Hamilton would have been third (just ahead of Webber) under the old system. Hamilton himself won the title by a single point from Felipe Massa in 2008 - but Massa would have emerged victorious that year under the 9-6-4-3-2-1 scoring system that operated from 1961 until a win was increased to ten points in 1991.

Divina Galica at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Japan © Getty Images
I know motor racing has never been in the Olympics - but have any F1 drivers taken part in other sports at the Games? asked Fiona McDonnell

You're right in assuming there has never been an Olympic motor-racing event. There was a motor-boating one - in 1908, in London (or actually Southampton), when there were three events, two won by Britain and one by France. I only know of two F1 drivers who also took part in the Olympics. The first is the multi-talented Marquis de Portago, who piloted a bobsleigh in the 1956 Winter Games. As well as driving in several GPs, the Spanish duke also rode in the Aintree Grand National, among other accomplishments. Female racer Divina Galica also took part in the Winter Olympics and represented Great Britain in various skiing disciplines at four separate Games between 1964 and 1992! In the 1970s she worked her way through the motorsport ranks to Formula One but failed to qualify at the two world championship grands prix she entered in 1978. Sir Jackie Stewart was an accomplished shot, who came close to selection for British teams after his retirement from the cockpit. There may be some others I'm not aware of!

Did the great motorbiker Mike Hailwood ever win an F1 Grand Prix? asked Ian Cooper

Mike Hailwood had a reasonably successful F1 career, but never quite won a race - he was second in the 1972 Italian GP, behind that year's world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, and was third in South Africa in 1974, a year in which he had seven top-ten finishes from 11 starts. But he never matched his feats on two wheels - he won nine world titles in the 1960s. Hailwood's best F1 result, at Monza in 1972, came in a car entered by the only man to win world championships on two wheels and four, "Big John" Surtees. Hailwood was awarded the George Medal for bravery for saving the life of Clay Regazzoni after a crash in the 1973 South African GP, but was forced to retire himself after injuries received in a shunt at the following year's German GP. Sadly, Hailwood was killed in a car accident in the Midlands in 1981, shortly before his 41st birthday.

Who has won most GPs in a McLaren? asked Terry Beale

The McLaren F1 team was founded by the New Zealand driver Bruce McLaren in 1963, and entered Grand Prix racing three years later. Fittingly, McLaren himself achieved the first victory in the car, at the Belgian GP in 1968. Lewis Hamilton's victory in Hungary last Sunday means that McLaren cars have now won 178 GPs (only Ferrari have won more, with 219), with their leading driver being Ayrton Senna with 35 victories; Alain Prost comes next with 30. The others are: 20 Mika Hakkinen; 19 Lewis Hamilton; 12 David Coulthard; 9 James Hunt, Kimi Raikkonen; 8 Niki Lauda; 6 Jenson Button, Denny Hulme; 5 Emerson Fittipaldi; 4 Fernando Alonso, John Watson; 3 Gerhard Berger, Juan Pablo Montoya; 2 Peter Revson; 1 Bruce McLaren, Heikki Kovalainen, Jochen Mass. McLaren have won eight constructors' championships and 12 drivers' titles.