• May 4 down the years

Schumacher wins race, Alonso wins hearts

What happened on May 4 in Formula One history?
Fernando Alonso celebrates after taking second place in Spain © Getty Images

Michael Schumacher was gushing in his praise of the new Ferrari - "it's something special, so beautiful, so fine" - after his win in the Spanish Grand Prix. Championship leader Kimi Raikkonen never made it off the grid as he slammed into the back of the stalled Jaguar of Antonio Pizzonia, and thereafter Schumacher was in complete control. Headlines, however, and the plaudits of the 96,000 crowd, were stolen by 22-year-old local lad Fernando Alonso who finished second in his Renault. "That was the fifth consecutive race in which I have finished in the points, which is all I could have dreamt of," he said. "And I am still dreaming."

The birth of a man who would almost certainly have been the 1961 world champion had he not died at Monza when his car careered into the crowd, also killing 14 spectators. Until the emergence of Michael Schumacher, Wolfgang von Trips was Germany's most successful F1 driver. Always quick, he shrugged off the reputation as a crasher he had garnered in his early career when he rejoined Ferrari in 1960. A number of top-six placings that year were followed by a determined assault on the World Championship in 1961. Two wins and two second places from six races had him bang on target as he arrived for the Italian Grand Prix. However, after taking pole, he made a poor start and, trying to protect his position on the first lap, collided with Jim Clark.

Didier Pironi led the Belgian Grand Prix from start to finish to record his first win, lapping all bar two drivers in the process. Alan Jones, who went on to win the drivers' title, finished second after being overtaken by Pironi on the opening lap.

Graham Hill climbs from the wreckage of his Lotus after crashing in Spain © Sutton Images
For the first time the winner of a grand prix finished two laps ahead of the car in second - Jackie Stewart's Matra-Ford finishing way ahead of Bruce McLaren with Jean-Pierre Beltoise a further lap adrift in third. The Lotus' of Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill both crashed heavily after suffering failures of their rear wing supports at the same place, Rindt ploughing into the wreckage of his team-mate a few laps later.

Ulsterman John Watson enjoyed a long F1 career, winning his first grand prix in Australia in 1976 and going on to start 152 races in a decade-long career. In 1982 he won the British Grand Prix and finished six in the drivers' championship; the following year he came third, boosted by wins in Belgium and Detroit. After a moderate 1983 he was released by McLaren who signed up Alain Prost after his sacking by Renault. Watson's final win at Long Beach was nevertheless impressive as he came from 22nd on the grid - his victory in Detroit the previous year had been from 17th. Watson continued to race sports cars and when he quit the sport for good he moved into TV commentary as well as running a race school at Silverstone.