• April 27 down the years

A Spanish tragedy

What happened on April 27 in Formula One history?
The remains of the Hill GH1 of Rolf Stommelen after the crash in Spain which killed five spectators © Getty Images

The Spanish Grand Prix at Montjuic Park came to a tragic end when Rolf Stommelen's rear wing failed on his Embassy Hill and he crashed over the barriers killing five people. In the chaos, the race organisers took four laps to bring the event to an end, in which time Jochen Mass overtook Jacky Ickx for the win. In the space of just 25 laps, 18 cars crashed out of the race, four of them from the lead. The circuit was one of the most exciting on the calendar but before the race the drivers had complained about the poor state of the crash barriers and had threatened to go on strike. Emerson Fittipaldi refused to race and went home, although the barriers were eventually fixed before the event. Half points were awarded to the top six finishers, including female racing driver Lella Lombardi who picked up a half point.

Five drivers ran out of petrol at the San Marino Grand Prix and even the master of fuel and tyre consumption, Alain Prost, got dangerously close to running out on his way to victory. Keke Rosberg, Riccardo Patrese, Thierry Boutsen, Marc Surer and Piercarlo Ghinzani all pulled up before the chequered flag. Three corners from the line Prost started weaving wildly to try and slosh the last bit of petrol out of the tank and towards the engine. The car spluttered its way to the win before juddering to a halt just metres beyond the line, giving Prost a crucial victory at the start of his championship-winning campaign.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen won his first grand prix at Imola, holding off Michael Schumacher for victory on the Ferrari's home turf. His Williams team-mate Jacques Villeneuve had led earlier in the race but a gear-selection problem eliminated him from the race and it came down to a tactical battle between the two Germans. Frentzen crossed the line 1.237 seconds ahead of Schumacher to take the first German one-two finish in the history of the sport.

The first of two remarkable days for John Parry-Thomas at Pendine Sands in Wales where he set a new land speed record in his 27-litre vehicle Babs despite poor conditions and soft sand and then broke it 24 hours later. Less than 11 months later on the same stretch of beach in the same car, he was killed attempting to regain his record.

Seven years earlier Tommy Milton had broken the land speed record in a radical twin-engined car, reaching 156.046 mph at Daytona Beach. Milton, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1921 and 1923, was blind in his right eye and partially-sighted in his left one.

Count Carlo Felice Trossi, known to his friends as Didi, was born in Biella, Italy. A designer and driver, he won the 1947 Italian Grand Prix and 1948 Swiss Grand Prix but died a year later as a result of a brain tumour.

Defending champion Kimi Raikkonen extended his lead at the top of the championship table by winning the Spanish Grand Prix ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa. However, it proved to be the last race Raikkonen won that year as he struggled to adapt his driving style to the new Bridgestone tyres and eventually finished 23 points off title winner Lewis Hamilton. The race was a fairly processional affair, punctuated by a very nasty accident in which Heikki Kovalainen buried his McLaren deep into the tyre wall. The rescue operation took several minutes but Kovalainen emerged unscathed.

Helmut Marko was born in Graz, Austria. A good friend of Jochen Rindt, he competed in nine grand prix for BRM between 1971 and 1972. He achieved greater success in sports cars and won the 1971 Le Mans 24 Hours alongside Gijs van Lennep in a Porsche 917. The pair set a new overall distance record at the race which is still unbeaten (3,315.210 miles, at an average speed of 138mph). He also holds the all-time lap record at the legendary Sicilian Targa Florio race, having set a time of 33:41s in an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 in 1972. He now works as a consultant to the Red Bull Formula One team and has close ties to its boss Dietrich Mateschitz.