- May 24 down the years
Carnage changes racing foreverWhat happened on this day in Formula One history?
The carnage in the prestigious Paris-Madrid Trial was instrumental in the switch of motor racing from the open roads to specialist enclosed tracks and circuits. Three hundred and sixteen vehicles started the 1014km race and more than 100,000 spectators watched the start. But drivers found the roads almost blocked with onlookers and within hours there had been numerous accidents, the most notable that of Marcel Renault, the founder with his brother of the motor company. He ran off the road at 80mph and hit a tree, killing Renault and his mechanic. A small boy died along with another man trying to save him when run down. In all eight died on the first day and the race was abandoned overnight after the French and Spanish governments banned it, with Renault's brother, Louis, leading. Such was the strength of feeling against the racers that their cars were not even allowed to be driven back to Paris.
Jordan and Arrows caused a stir in the Monaco paddock when they turned up for Thursday practice with unsightly wings mounted high above the nose cones of their cars. They were designed to give an extra boost of front downforce but the FIA banned them immediately on safety grounds. However, there were suggestions that they had been outlawed because they looked so ridiculous.
Mika Hakkinen took his one and only Monaco Grand Prix victory in a dominant performance which saw him take pole position and fastest lap as well. Behind him a tight battle between Alex Wurz and Michael Schumacher for second place ended in tears. Schumacher, keen to get past the Benetton to chase Hakkinen, tried everything to put Wurz off before eventually ramming his way past with a clumsy move up the inside into the Loews hairpin. The result was damaged rear suspension that Schumacher had to pit to have fixed, losing him three laps to the leaders. Wurz had appeared to get away scot-free, but when he pitted for fresh tyres the extra grip they produced pushed his damaged suspension beyond the limit and it shattered as he came through the high speed tunnel. He emerged from the accident unscathed but was understandably upset as his team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella took all the glory in second, ahead of Eddie Irvine in third.
Jenson Button may have missed out on winning his home race at Silverstone in his championship-winning year, but he did take a victory at Monaco (his physical home for most of the season) on this day. Brawn dominated throughout with Rubens Barrichello finishing second to Button after a faultless drive by the pair. The only mistake Button did make was returning to the pits after the race, rather than parking his car on the start-finish straight as Monaco tradition dictates. But it wasn't a problem as Button enjoyed a solo run from the pits to the podium with all his team and fans cheering and shouting his name. "Wow! Winning the Monaco Grand Prix is something that you dream about as a child and as a racing driver and the reality of taking that victory just feels awesome," he said after the race.
Jim Clark took a comfortable victory ahead of John Surtees at the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort. Clark squeezed into an early lead ahead of Graham Hill and Dan Gurney at the first corner and never looked back as he pounded round at the front for 80 laps. John Surtees provided the entertainment, moving through the field after a bad start dropped him down the grid. By lap 22 he was second, where he remained for the rest of the race to end up being the only driver who finished on the same lap as Clark.
Giancarlo Fisichella was lucky to escape unharmed from a testing crash that underlined the dangers of open-wheel racing. In preparation for the Monaco Grand Prix, the teams were testing at Valencia when Fisichella's Benetton came up behind Jarno Trulli's Jordan. Unable to avoid him on the tight section of track Fisichella's car was launched into the air on impact with the Jordan's rear tyre and flew upside down above Trulli before landing on top of him. The Benetton was a complete write-off but both drivers emerged unharmed and able to continue testing later that day.