- June 28 down the years
Kubica plays down chances of Papal miracleWhat happened on this day in Formula One history?
Robert Kubica scoffed at reports his life had been miraculously saved by the late Pope John Paul II. Kubica had survived an almighty shunt at the Canadian Grand Prix earlier that year, prompting a Polish news agency to report that his survival was a result of a miracle in the Catholic Church's beatification process of John Paul II. Although Kubica comes from Krakow, the late pontiff's home city, and has long raced with John Paul II's name on his crash helmet, he seemed somewhat bemused by the story: "I know nothing about this. In Poland there are many things that are reported that are not true. I don't know by whom I was saved, I don't know if I was saved by someone. I'm here in one piece so I think that is very positive." The original story was based on a Church source who had been trying to gain enough evidence of miracles to make John Paul II a saint.
Dan Gurney took Brabham's first F1 victory at the French Grand Prix in Rouen. Team owner Jack Brabham was also taking part in the race but finished third behind the BRM of Graham Hill. The race saw a tight battle between Jim Clark and Gurney for the lead that eventually ended on lap 31 when Clark's engine failed, leaving Gurney with a relatively straightforward run to victory. Hill had looked quick in the opening laps but spun and spent the rest of the race fighting back through the field to second. Mike Hailwood finished a rather innocuous eighth but it was an achievement of sorts as he had won the Dutch TT motorbike race at Assen the day before and had to drive back to Rouen for Sunday after an airline strike.
The French Grand was something of a turning point in the season, which saw Ferrari and Michael Schumacher start to mount a serious challenge to McLaren and Mika Hakkinen. McLaren had won five of the first seven races but after a three-week break and two tests Ferrari arrived in Magny Cours with a vastly improved car. Hakkinen still took pole, but in the race he was jumped by Schumacher and Eddie Irvine at the start. Irvine did a good job of blocking Hakkinen so his Ferrari team-mate could build a lead but the McLaren eventually got past. However, Hakkinen's didn't hold second for long as he then spun and dropped back to fourth. Coulthard still posed a threat to Ferrari but a problem with a fuel hose during both his pit stops eventually ruled him out. Schumacher went on to win another three races that season, but Hakkinen took the title with further four wins of his own.
Italian banking giant Mediobank bought a 34% stake in Ferrari from FIAT, which was struggling financially at the time. It paid $768 million for its share that it then sold off over the next few years. By 2005 a large part of the 34% had been sold to other banks, with FIAT retaining 56% and Piero Ferrari, the only living son of Enzo, holding 10%. At the time of the deal many considered Mediobank to be paying over the odds, but as it gradually sold off the share the overall value of Ferrari remained constant at around $2.25 billion. In fact it probably gained value, as Ferrari sold off the Maserati brand to Alfa Romeo in the same time period.
A week after withdrawing its tyres on safety grounds at the US Grand Prix, Michelin volunteered to refund all the spectators at Indianapolis and offer up 20,000 tickets free of charge for the next year's event. The announcement came one day before the teams it supplied faced charges in Paris for bringing the sport into disrepute. "One week after the Indianapolis Grand Prix, Michelin wishes to make a sincere gesture of goodwill towards the people present at the GP, a group whose passion for F1 is encouraging in the development of this sport in the United States," said the tyre manufacturer.