- April 6 down the years
Brazilian Grand Prix decided in courtWhat happened on April 6 in Formula One history?
The Brazilian Grand Prix was the 700th world championship race and one of the most controversial which was eventually decided in court. A dramatic grand prix had seen half the cars crash out, and when Fernando Alonso's Renault collided with pieces of debris left from Mark Webber's separate crash the race was red flagged. Confusion reigned over who had won as at the time fuel strategies were unwinding. Giancarlo Fisichella believed that he had won and with team boss Eddie Jordan celebrated victory before being informed that Kimi Räikkönen and McLaren were being awarded the win. To add to the confusion, Fisichella's car caught fire in the pit lane. Five days later the FIA ruled Fisichella was indeed the winner.
The Bahrain Grand Prix was overshadowed by tabloid allegations over the behaviour of Max Mosley which broke the week before. He cancelled a planned visit in the light of a media onslaught which had several teams demanding his head. He did not miss much and an uneventful race was won by Ferrari's Felipe Massa. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton had a poor day. First he stalled on the grid - "I hadn't hit the switch early enough and therefore we were not in the launch map and went straight into anti-stall, and when everyone else was in their launch mode, I wasn't - and then collided with Fernando Alonso. After a pit-stop for a new nose, he returned in 18th and finished 13th.
Hermann Lang, born on this day in Stuttgart, was one of the leading drivers in the years immediately before World War Two as part of the legendary Nazi-founded Silver Arrows. In 1937 he won the Tripoli Grand Prix, a feat he repeated in the next two years. In 1938 he won two more races but it was not until 1939 when he dominated the season with five wins in eight races that he was finally accepted by his peers who looked down on the working-class interloper. He was so out of his social depth that after his first victory he locked himself and his wife in their hotel room as they had nothing to wear at the post-race dinner. The season was cut short by the war ("My world disappeared" he lamented) and the German authorities controversially awarded him the European Championship even though Paul Müller was the points leader. He returned to racing in 1946 but the all-conquering Mercedes team had gone - despite that, he won his first race driving a six-year-old BMW. In 1949 he started sports car racing and moved into Formula Two before joining the re-formed Mercedes team at the 1951 Buenos Aires Grand Prix. The following year he won the Le Mans 24-Hours with Fritz Riess, and in 1953 he drove twice for Mercedes, finishing fifth at the Swiss Grand Prix, and he retained his place in 1954 but increasingly found himself replaced by much younger drivers. When he span out of the German Grand Prix after ten laps and then lost a race-off with a rival too see who should take the team's No. 3 seat, he acknowledged that at 45 his time had gone.
Jules Goux was one of the early racers and the first European to win the Indianapolis 500. His initial success came when he won the Catalan Cup on a road circuit in Spain in 1908, repeating the win a year later. As a result he was invited by Peugeot Automobile to race for their factory team, and while there he helped develop a new racer powered by a Straight-4 engine. Driving a Peugeot he won the Sarthe Cup at Le Mans in 1912, and in 1913 travelled with the team to the USA to compete in the Indianapolis 500. It was claimed he drank six pints of champagne to fight dehydration during the race, later remarking: "Without the fine wine, I would not have been able to finish." After World War One he resumed racing, finishing third in the 1921 French Grand Prix and then winning the inaugural Italian Grand Prix. It was five years before his next major win, taking the chequered flag at the French Grand Prix and the European Grand Prix in Spain driving a Bugatti T39A. He missed the chance of a hat-trick when he gave the inaugural British Grand Prix a miss.
Another day, another breakaway threat. Bernie Ecclestone had to head it off by pledging to keep F1 free to air after a power struggle over control of television rights and the commercial future of the sport led to Renault, BMW, Mercedes, Fiat and Ford threatening to set up their own competition. He also announced he would remain at the head of F1 for the next five years following a deal in which the German media company, Kirch, acquired a 75% stake in SLEC, the Formula One holding company.