• May 22 down the years

Ascari ends up in the drink

Waht happened on this day in Formula One history?
Alberto Ascari plunges into the Monaco harbour © Unknown

Alberto Ascari crashed his Lancia into the harbour at Monaco on this day, just as he looked in with a chance of winning the grand prix. Early race leader Juan Manuel Fangio retired with a bent axle early on, leaving his Mercedes team-mate Stirling Moss to take the lead. But when Moss's engine blew on lap 81, Ascari, who was set to take the lead, was distracted and skidded at the chicane, bounced off a stone wall and plunged through sandbags into the Mediterranean. He emerged unharmed and swam to safety, leaving Maurice Trintignant's Ferrari to take the lead and the eventual win. Just four days later Ascari, who had emerged from the water with no more than a broken nose, died testing a Ferrari sports car on Monza's high speed banking. On the evening of the Monaco Grand Prix he wondered to Fangio if his star was setting.

An exciting Monaco Grand Prix proved that overtaking on the streets of the principality in modern F1 cars is not impossible. Kimi Raikkonen dominated from the start but behind him his title rival Fernando Alonso came under attack from the in-form Williams of Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber. Both drivers managed to pass Alonso at the harbour chicane as the Renault driver's Michelin tyres went off. Michael Schumacher then pulled off a similar move on his team-mate Rubens Barrichello on the final lap, before going on to challenge his brother Ralf as he crossed the line.

The first race to take place on the revised and shortened Spa Francorchamps circuit was won by Alain Prost. Controversy reigned at the start after an aborted getaway saw the drivers complete just a single lap before coming back to the grid to be topped up with fuel (not allowed under the regulations). When the mess was finally sorted out, Andrea de Cesaris led off the line from Prost and Patrick Tambay. De Cesaris lost position during the mid-race pit stops and then an engine blow up ruled him out of contention entirely. Prost assumed the lead and led Tambay home, winning by over 20 seconds.

A rather dull Dutch Grand Prix was won by Wolfgang von Trips and Ferrari. The race went down in history as the only F1 race ever where all the cars that started managed to finish the race without making a pit stop. However, it was a close call as on the last lap Richie Ginther narrowly avoided an accident when the throttle on his Ferrari stuck wide open.

Jackie Stewart took the second grand prix victory of his career, winning by 40 seconds on the streets of Monaco. John Surtees had led the race early on but retired with differential failure on lap 15, handing the lead to Stewart. Jim Clark provided the afternoon's entertainment, coming from the back of the field to fifth after a bad start. However, it was all in vain, as on lap 60 he retired with suspension failure.

Jody Scheckter won the Monaco Grand Prix for Wolf ahead of the two Ferraris of Niki Lauda and Carlos Reutemann. From second on the grid Scheckter beat the Brabham of John Watson into the first corner and never looked likely to relinquish his lead. It was the Canadian team's second grand prix victory that season and Scheckter went on to win one more and take second place in the championship. The Wolf team never won again after 1977.

Michael Schumacher finally gave in to environmentalists and decided not to build a huge ranch complex, complete with helicopter pad, in Wolfhalden Switzerland. Schumacher had hoped to move to the quite village in eastern Switzerland but his plans were scuppered when he struggled to get planning permission. "The whole environment absolutely matched our ideal," he said. "But the legal process would have taken too long. For that reason, we have decided to halt the project and we will stay where we are [in west Switzerland]."