- March 18 down the years
The long-lived Mercedes aceWhat happened on March 18 in Formula One history?
German racing driver Karl Kling died at the age of 92 and at the time he was the oldest surviving F1 driver. He began racing for the legendary Mercedes team before the war, serviced planes for the Luftwaffe during the war, and resumed racing after it. He was invited to join the Mercedes sports car and Formula One teams in the early 1950s with some success. He finished runner-up to Fangio in the 1954 French Grand Prix he won the 1952 Carrera Panamericana in 1 300SL with Hans Klenk. He retired in 1955 and was later competitions manager of Mercedes during their rally program in the early 1960s. He competed in 11 races in 1954 and 1955. In 1996 he visited the paddock of the German Grand Prix to compare his Mercedes to the McLaren Mercedes of the current day.
Carlos Pace was killed in a light aeroplane accident at Mairipora, near Sao Paulo, along with his friend and fellow racer Marivaldo Fernandes, on his way back to the city from Fernandes's farm. He was 32 and had driven in 71 grands prix for Williams, Surtees and Brabham. The circuit at Sao Paulo is named after him.
The first round of the championship, held in Australia, was won by Kimi Raikkonen to bring his F1 win tally to 10; the race saw Lewis Hamilton finish third in his first F1 outing. There was criticism for Bridgestone, as the markings on the softer of the two tyre options could not be easily seen when the car was on track, at the following race the small dot was replaced with a white line in the second groove of the tyre.
Mixed reactions to plans to reintroduce refuelling in F1 which had been banned since 1983. "We'll have to do it," said Patrick Head, of Williams "There's no doubt that to refuel, once or twice, is the quickest way to run a race. You change tyres at the same time, and you've got a car running at all times with a light fuel load and fresh tyres." Ron Dennis of McLaren was cautious. "I think it's optimistic to suggest that we won't have any fires. The refuelling equipment seems well designed, but the fact remains that you're handling a flammable liquid in a situation of stress, and it's inevitable that mistakes will be made. The real question is, when the accident happens, is it going to be controllable?"
German driver Timo Glock was born. He made his F1 debut with Jordan in 2004, replacing Giorgio Pantanowho had a contract dispute with the team. Glock joined a very small club of drivers who scored championship points on their F1 debut.
Italian driver Alex Caffi, who competed in 56 grand prix between 1986 and 1991, was born in Rouato. After his retirement from F1 he moved to Italian and Spanish touring cars and then later to GT racing.
German driver Volker Weidler was born in Heidelberg, he competed in F1 in 1989 with Rial racing, but despite 10 attempts he never qualified for a race.
Australian driver Larry Perkins was born in Murrayville, Victoria. He raced in 11 grand prix between 1974 and '77. He later competed in the Australian V8 championship between 2001 and 2003; after retirement he set up Perkins Engineering, to build cars for the Australian Touring Car Championship.
American driver Mark Donohue was born in Summit, New Jersey; he had a successful career racing in American series but announced his retirement at the end of the 1973 CanAm season. It was short lived, as he returned to racing the following year, when Penske entered F1. He died following an accident in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix in 1975; the crash also killed a marshal.
Jean Todt resigned as CEO of Scuderia Ferrari. The following year he successfully stood as FIA president, replacing Max Mosely.