- September 26 down the years
Barrichello grabs his chance in ChinaWhat happened on this day in Formula One history
With Michael Schumacher's fifth consecutive title for Ferrari wrapped up before the end of August, it was team-mate Rubens Barrichello's chance to take his rewards for his yeoman-like support, and he followed victory a fortnight earlier at Monza with another win at the debut Chinese Grand Prix. The race as a spectacle was helped by Schumacher being forced to start from the back of the grid after a spin during qualifying, and without him dominating there was a real ding-dong battle, less than a second and a half covering Barrichello, Jenson Button and the McLaren- Mercedes of Kimi Raikkonen at the finish. Richard Williams in the Guardian said of the new venue that it was an "outstanding new track, which combines a rich architectural spectacle with a layout that encourages the drivers to attempt the overtaking manoeuvres that used to be the point of motor racing. The result is remarkable enough to make it seem a shame that it took the course designer, Hermann Tilke, three goes to get it right. But where the German architect's previous efforts in Malaysia and Bahrain produced circuits manifestly unconducive to proper racing."
Alain Prost became only the second man after the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio to win four world championships when a second-place finish at the Portuguese Grand Prix secured him the title. Ironically, the winner was Schumacher, the man who went on to take five and equal Fangio. "These records only mean anything when you are racing," Prost said. "Once you have stopped they are of no consequence." Prost drove a typically safe race, steering clear of several accidents, but the drive of the day was by Damon Hill. Starting the day on pole, he stalled on the grid before the parade lap, began the race at the back and then stormed through the field to take third. "My father once said to me you're a better class of person from the back of the grid," he said, adding: "But I'm not sure I would agree after that."
Patrick Friesacher, born on this day in Wolsberg, Austria, had half a season in Formula One in 2005 with the struggling Minardi team. The record books will show he finished sixth at the US Grand Prix, but that was the infamous race where only six cars started after a boycott over safety. He was ditched midway through the year after his sponsors failed to come up with the promised cash.
Tim Schenken, born on his day in Sydney, came into F1 in 1970 with an impressive pedigree in British Formula racing but in tragic circumstances as a replacement at de Tomaso for Piers Courage. In 1971 he drove for Brabham where he more than matched No. 1 driver Graham Hill and secured his only podium at the Australian Grand Prix. A switch to Surtees in 1972 proved a bad decision and his career ended in 1974 driving for the uncompetitive Trojan outfit. He subsequently drove in sports car events before retiring in 1977.