• April 20 down the years

The first American champion

What happened on April 20 in Formula One history?
Phil Hill driving a Ferrari 156 Sharknose during his championship-winning year © Sutton Images

Phil Hill, one of two Americans to win the Formula One World Championship, was born in Miami, Florida. Hill began driving full-time for Ferrari in 1959, earning three podium finishes and fourth place in the drivers' championship. In 1960 he won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the first Grand Prix win for an American driver in nearly forty years since Jimmy Murphy won the 1921 French Grand Prix. The following season, Hill won the Belgian Grand Prix and, with two races, left trailed only his Ferrari teammate Wolfgang von Trips in the season standings. Tragically, a crash during the Italian Grand Prix killed von Trips and fifteen spectators. Hill won the race and clinched the championship but the triumph was bittersweet. Ferrari's decision not to travel to America for the season's final round deprived Hill of the opportunity to participate in his home race at Watkins Glen as the newly-crowned world champion. When he returned for the following season, his last with Ferrari, Hill said, "I no longer have as much need to race to win. I don't have as much hunger anymore. I am no longer willing to risk killing myself."

Mauricio Gugelmin was born in Joinville, Brazil. He participated in 80 grands prix, making his debut in 1988 for the March team. He was a longtime friend of Ayrton Senna and the two shared a house from 1982 to 1987. Senna, having previously been a Formula Ford driver with the Van Diemen team, used his influence within the organisation to secure Gugelmin a race seat with them for 1982. After his F1 career ended, he competed in the Champ Car series between 1993 and 2001, starting 147 races. He won one race, in 1997 in Vancouver, finishing fourth in the championship that year. For a period, he held the world speed record for a closed race track, set at California Speedway in 1997 at a speed of 240.942 mph (387.759 km/h). Gugelmin retired at the end of 2001 after a year that included the death of his son.

Italian driver Paolo Barilla was born in Milan, Italy. Barilla started racing in 1975 and won the Italian 100cc karting title in 1976. Barilla entered Formula 2 in 1982 with Minardi, but between 1983 and 1988 he concentrated in sports car racing, winning 24 Hours of Le Mans by a three lap margin in 1985 in the Joest Racing Porsche 956, co-driven with Klaus Ludwig, Paul Belmondo, Marc Duez, and Louis Krages. In 1987, Barilla returned to single-seaters in the Japanese Formula 3000 Championship before returning to Minardi for a test in 1989. This test gave him the chance to replace Pierluigi Martini at Suzuka that year and afterwards was signed to drive for the team in 1990. But Barilla wasn't quick enough to qualify regularly, and was replaced before the end of the year by Gianni Morbidelli.

Stuart Lewis-Evans was born in Luton, England. Lewis-Evans participated in 14 grands prix, from 1957, achieving two podiums, two pole positions and 16 championship points. In his first Formula One race, the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix, Lewis-Evans finished fourth in an inferior Connaught Type-B, beaten only by multiple winners Fangio and Brooks, and Masten Gregory in one of the dominant Maserati 250F cars. The performance led to a race drive for Vanwall the following year. After collecting three points finishes, he crashed heavily at the dusty Ain-Diab circuit during the season finale 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix. His Vanwall engine seized and sent him lurching into barriers at high speed, his car bursting into flames. He was airlifted back to the UK but died in hospital of his injuries six days after the accident. His death cast a pall over Vanwall's victory in the 1958 Constructors' Championship, an achievement to which Lewis-Evans had contributed significantly. Team owner Tony Vandervell never fully recovered from Lewis-Evans' death and withdrew from motorsport at the end of 1958.