- April 2 down the years
An Australian legend is bornWhat happened on April 2 in Formula One history?
The birth of three-time world champion Jack Brabham in Sydney. As uncompromising as they come, he combined dedication and determination with a shrewd nature and the mechanical know-how to forge a remarkable career. His Formula One debut came in 1955, and driving for Cooper he won the drivers' title in 1959 and 1960, including five straight wins in the second season. From 1962 he drove his own cars and, aged 40, he won his third title in 1966. Even in 1970, his final year, he was good enough to win at Kyalami and narrowly miss out twice more.
Born in Great Milton on this day in 1940, Mike Hailwood was undoubtedly one of the most accomplished motorbike racers of all time, winning nine world championships at 250cc, 350cc and 500cc in a seven-year period between 1961 and 1967, as well as 75 grand prix. His reputation was further enhanced by his success at the legendary Isle of Man TT, where he won 12 times, including three wins in 1961 alone. He had dabbled with F1 in the mid 1960s, driving for Lotus, but turned to F1 when sidelined by a retainer not to drive a bike for anyone other than Honda. He earned a drive with Surtees in 1971 and in his first race for six years finished fourth at Monza. In 1972 he won the Formula Two European title and scored a podium finish at the Le Mans 24 Hours. That season he suffered from reliability issues with his F1 car, but when things clicked he was up with the front runners and four of his five finishes were in the top six. In 1973 he made headlines when he pulled Clay Regazzoni from his burning car after the two collided on the second lap of the South African GP. Hailwood's driving suit caught fire, but after being extinguished by a marshal he returned to help rescue Regazzoni, an act for which he was awarded the George Medal. He retired after a serious crash in 1974 but returned to motorbike racing with success at the end of the decade. He was killed in 1981 when a lorry struck his car as he popped out for a takeaway supper. Thousands attended the funeral of a man of whom it was said: "He was a modest, shy person with a great sense of fun. He hated fuss and unwanted attention but was hero-worshipped by thousands of fans throughout the world."
The USA Grand Prix West at Long Beach (the East version was held later in the season at Watkins Glen) was won by Carlos Reutemann who took the lead at the halfway mark from Ferrari team-mate Gilles Villeneuve, when he crashed, and won by 11 seconds. Mario Andretti finished second to maintain a share of the Championship lead with Reutemann. It was Ferrari's weekend as they dominated practice, qualifying and one of their cars led every lap of the race.
The Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park was won by Fernando Alonso, with Kimi Räikkönen second, and Ralf Schumacher third. The race was not the traditional season opener, after being delayed because of the Commonwealth Games which were staged in Melbourne at the time of the opening round. Murray Walker made a return to the commentary box for a one-off with Australia's Network Ten.
Gino Munaron, who was born in Turin, was a well-known driver who completed across Europe, including in the Miglia Mille seven times in the 1950s. He took part in four championship grand prix in 1960 in an old Maserati and then a Cooper.
Monza-born Fabrizio Barbazza had already won the American Racing Series and been named CART's Rookie of the Year before he made his F1 debut in 1991. He struggled that year with AGS, failing to qualify in any of the 12 grands prix he entered, but in 1993 he got another chance with Minardi. It started promisingly with a brace of sixths early in the season but petered out. In 1995, while racing a Ferrari 333SP sports prototype at the Road Atlanta circuit, he was involved in an accident and suffered serious head and chest injuries which left him in critical condition in a coma and on artificial respiration. Although he fully recovered, he didn't return to racing.