• May 13 down the years

The beginning of a new era

What happened on this day in Formula One history?
Silverstone hosts the first ever F1 race © Getty Images

The first ever Formula One world championship race took place in Silverstone. Officially called the Grand Prix d'Europe and the fifth race of the summer, it was dominated throughout, as widely predicted, by Alfa Romeo. Nino Farina won ahead of team-mate Luigi Fagioli after Juan Manuel Fangio retired with an engine problem. Present at the race was King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and more than 120,000 spectators. Click here for a full report.

Nigel Mansell won the hearts of the tifosi and the nickname 'Il Leone' after a fighting performance for Ferrari at its home San Marino Grand Prix in Italy. Mansell qualified fifth but then came through the field to second place behind Gerhard Berger's McLaren. In attempting to pass Berger into the high-speed Tamburello corner, Mansell ran wide and sent his Ferrari into a wild 360 degree spin. A flick of the steering meant he managed to catch the car mid spin and continue in his pursuit of Berger. The crowd went wild before mechanical gremlins forced him to retire. Riccardo Patrese in the Williams eventually came through to win the race.

Stirling Moss took a lights to flag victory at Monaco to take full advantage of an odd off day for Juan Manuel Fangio. Moss took an early lead in his Maserati 250F with Fangio making up for a bad start by passing Eugenio Castellotti on the first lap. But on lap two Fangio ran wide at the first corner, forcing Harry Schell and Luigi Musso to take avoiding action, and resulting in both drivers' retirement. Fangio rejoined, his Lancia-Ferrari no worse for wear, and again began to close the gap to Moss, passing Jean Behra and team-mate Peter Collins on the way. In a once-in-a-blue-moon moment, Fangio made his second mistake of the afternoon, clouting the barrier on the exit of the harbour chicane. Apparently distraught, he parked his car and handed it over to team-mate Castellotti, who had retired from the race with clutch trouble. Fangio milled around the pits until half-way through the race when Ferrari called Collins in for no obvious reason. As the British driver pulled up he was ordered to get out of the car and Fangio commandeered the D50 to have another go at Moss. Rejuvenated, Fangio caught and passed Behra before closing a 45 second gap to Moss in just 30 laps. To be fair to the race leader, he was having problems of his own after contact with a back marker had caused his bonnet to come lose and start flapping open at high speed. He managed to keep it all together and finished six seconds clear of Fangio for the second win of his career.

David Coulthard won a closely fought Austrian Grand Prix from the Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. Juan Pablo Montoya had been the early pace setter but when he nearly collided with Schumacher for the lead the pair dropped down the field. A tactical battle ensued between Barrichello, Coulthard and a resurgent Schumacher. Coulthard got the jump on Barrichello in the pit stops while Schumacher made a few uncharacteristic mistakes on his way to beating his team-mate but losing to the McLaren. Crucially the win put Coulthard in a dominant position within his team, 34 points ahead of team-mate Mika Hakkinen and just four off Schumacher in the lead of the championship. But that was as close as Coulthard came to the German all year, as he failed to win another race while Schumacher took a further six.

Jody Scheckter won the first race in his championship-winning season at the Belgian Grand Prix in Zolder. Alan Jones in the Williams set the early pace but dropped out with electrical problems. The lead was then contested by Jacques Lafitte's Ligier and Scheckter's Ferrari, with the latter coming out on top. Scheckter went on to win another two races and take the championship by three points from team-mate Gilles Villeneuve.