- March 7 down the years
Eddie Irvine grabs his chanceWhat happened on March 7 in Formula One history?
Eddie Irvine won the Australian Grand Prix, his first win for Ferrari, edging out the Jordan of Heinz-Harald Frentzen by a second. So often in the shadow of Ferrari No. 1 Michael Schumacher, Irvine was set loose when Schumacher had to start from the back of the grid, and then was almost gifted the race when the two McLarens ahead of him both had to retire. "Eddie drove a fantastic race," said Frentzen. "He was going really fast and he just kept going, so my tactic was simply to have my own race." Frentzen's team-mate, Damon Hill, started his 100th grand prix, but his day ended on the first lap when he was nudged into the gravel.
The birth of René Thomas, a leading French driver who won the 1914 Indianapolis 500 in a Delage. Ten years later at Arpajon he controversially broke the ten-year-old land speed record, clocking 143.31mph on a narrow, tree-lined public road. A 21-litre Fiat driven by Ernest Eldridge recorded 146.8mph was disqualified because it did not have a reverse gear. As it was, the record only lasted six days as Eldridge, this time with the required gear fitted, again passed 146mph.
Jack Brabham , a month shy of his 44th birthday, rolled back the years with victory at the season-opening South African Grand Prix. Much of the attention, however, was on Graham Hill who returned to action five months after his massive accident at Watkins Glen. He finished a creditable sixth and immediately announced he would compete all season. "I'm ready for another bashing," he said. "My hand a neck muscles want hardening up … I was in pain but I paced myself." The extent of his injuries were evident when he had to be lifted out of the cockpit at the finish.
Michael Schumacher swept to an ominous victory at Melbourne, heralding another season of Schumacher-Ferrari domination. During pre-season testing many teams were hoping to challenge the partnership, but a one-two finish, over 20 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor Fernando Alonso, hardly inspired confidence. Schumacher went on to win 10 of the next 11 races and by the 12th round in Belgium he had won his seventh championship.