- July 22 down the years
Winkelhock leads - in a SpykerWhat happened on this day in Formula One history?
Fernando Alonso won the European Grand Prix to close the gap in the championship standings to just two points between himself and McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton. A rainstorm hit the circuit after just one lap of action leading to the extraordinary sight of debutant Markus Winkelhock leading his first F1 race by half a minute - in a Spyker. Sadly for Winkelhock, conditions were so bad that the race had to be suspended and on the restart, Kimi Raikkonen led Felipe Massa and Alonso before further rainfall and more pitstops again shuffled the pack leaving Alonso to slither to victory from Massa and Mark Webber's Red Bull. Listeners to BBC radio were able to enjoy the commentary of Murray Walker for the first time since he retired in 2001.
McLaren team-mates were at it again at the British Grand Prix, this time it was Niki Lauda who came out victorious to narrow the gap in the championship standings to Alain Prost. The race also marked the closest Derek Warwick would ever come to a Formula One victory when he finished second in his Renault. The race was also notable because the Tyrrell team was banned for using lead balls in its water ballast. They appealed but to no avail and they were stripped of their points for the entire season.
BMW had to abandon testing of its Kinetic Energy Recovery System after one of its mechanics received an electric shock. The team had been testing for the following year when the revolutionary technology was introduced to the sport. The KERS unit was in its early stages of development and the first mechanic to touch the car after a test run fell to the ground after an electric shock. It was one of a number of scares about the new technology when it was first introduced, which eventually led to mechanics wearing rubber gloves when handling the cars.
Rubens Barrichello broke his winner's trophy for the British Grand Prix while checking in for his flight home at Heathrow airport. The gold replica of the original was accidently knocked to the ground and smashed leaving the Brazilian distraught after one of his greatest F1 victories. "Somebody bumped into the trophy and it fell and broke," he said.
Bernie Ecclestone rushed to the defence of Michael Schumacher's dominance of F1, as the German was on the verge of a record seventh world title. Many claimed Schumacher had made the sport boring but Ecclestone, the sport's commercial rights holder and potentially the one with the most to lose by viewers switching off, said: "Michael is a superstar. That is exactly what we wanted - every sport needs a superstar and he is ours. Everybody tries to beat him and that is great publicity for Formula One. He is lucky to drive for a team that supports him the way Ferrari does but it was Michael who motivated them after their initial problems."
Michael Schumacher had a corner named after him at the Nurburgring grand prix circuit. The high speed turns nine and ten were officially named at that year's European Grand Prix to commemorate the German's career, which started nearby at a local kart track. "I'm absolutely thrilled to be privileged to experience a situation like this," said Schumacher.