• May 26 down the years

No second chance for Ascari

Alberto Ascari: 'I never want my children to become too fond of me because one day I might not come back' © Getty Images

Four days after surviving a plunge into the harbour during the Monaco Grand Prix, Alberto Ascari died while testing a Ferrari at Monza. The day after his escape in Monte Carlo, Ascari told a friend: "I never want my children to become too fond of me because one day I might not come back and they will suffer less if I don't come back." At Monza he tested in the morning before taking a Ferrari out for some extra laps at lunch. Onlookers recalled he did not bother with a helmet and his tie was fluttering in the wind. On his second lap he crashed. More than a million people lined the streets in Milan for his funeral. Juan Manual Fangio lamented: "I have lost my greatest opponent." So distraught was his friend Gianni Lancia that he decided he had had enough and handed his team, including spares, drivers and monocoques, to Ferrari.

Eerily, the only other man to have survived a dip into the water at a Monaco Grand Prix, Paul Hawkins, was also killed on this day when his Lola crashed and burned at Island Bend during the RAC Tourist Trophy at Oulton Park. Hawkins' Monaco swim came in 1965.

The inaugural Le Mans 24-Hour race was won by the French pair of André Lagache and René Léonard at an average speed of 57.21mph. Instigated as a test of durability rather than speed, it was originally intended top be run over three years with a cup awarded to the overall winner, but that was abandoned after 1925.

David Coulthard won a Monaco battle with Juan Pablo Montoya and then Michael Schumacher, his second victory there in three years. "It's not pleasant when you look in the mirrors and you have got those guys behind you but I'd rather have them behind me than in front," he said. "It was quite entertaining to watch Juan," said Schumacher. "He was clipping a few barriers, locking up and getting sideways. I was thinking he was about to lose control but in the end he didn't and kept his concentration well."

Ronnie Peterson in a John Player Special won the Monaco Grand Prix, with only nine of the 25 cars finishing after a first-lap pile-up which eliminated five cars and sent another three limping back to the pits.

Another Monaco Grand Prix with few finishers, only five of the 16 starters completing the course with Graham Hill in a Lotus recording his fourth victory at the circuit. By the 20th lap there were five cars remaining and at one stage only three were left out, the race being a one-on-one between Hill and the BRM of Richard Attwood.

Five years earlier and another win for Hill, this time in a BRM, at Monaco, ahead of team-mate Richie Ginther. Hill, who had been driving with the engine burning his left foot throughout, got his chance when long-time leader Jim Clark span on the 79th lap after twice breaking the lap record.

Stirling Moss in a Vanwall won the Netherlands Grand Prix with the top six cars either from or featuring drivers from Britain. Moss dominated, lapping everyone other than Harry Schell and Jean Behra.

Swiss driver Silvio Moser died after an accident the previous month driving his Lola-BMW in the 1000 km sports car race at Monza. He crashed and suffered serious head and internal injuries and never recovered consciousness. In 12 F1 starts between 1967 and 1971 he managed two top-six finishes. At the time of his crash he was a week away from a return to F1.