7 February in Race History – Formula 1 Was on the Brink

A war was raging on this day 30 years ago when Carlos Reutemann won Bernie Ecclestone’s rebel South African Grand Prix

Formula 1 was on a knife’s edge when Carlos Reutemann won the rebel FOCA breakaway 1981 South African Grand Prix for William. That ‘illegal’ race today 40 years ago did not count for points after FISA teams Ferrari, Renault and Alfa Romeo stayed home. Reutemann (above) led from start to finish in drying conditions after switching to dry tyres on his Williams FW07C Cosworth minutes before the start.

There was indeed one official Formula 1 race on this day in history — Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T51 Climax survived to take his grand prix victory at a blistering hot 1960 season-opener in Argentina from 13th on the grid. He beat Cliff Allison’s Ferrari and Maurice Trintignant in another Cooper, while Stirling Moss set the fastest lap en route to fourth after both Innes Ireland and Joe Bonnier hit trouble while leading. That’s Harry Schell taking liquid (below). That victory came precisely a year after McLaren raced a Cooper T45 Climax to victory in his native Tasman series at the 1959 New Zealand Teretonga International.

Eddie O’Donnell took his Duesenberg to 1915 AAA Champ Car Ascot 125 victory and Herb Thomas took a 1954 NASCAR Grand National win. Sticking with NASCAR, the build-up to the Daytona 500 saw Bobby Allison and Dale Earnhardt (below) twice won the Busch Clash in 1982, ’86 and ’93, before that race became known as the Bud Shootout, which Mark Martin won in ’99, Dale Jarrett in 2004 and Kevin Harvick in ’09.

And Alvaro Parente, Shane van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb steered their McLaren 650S GT3 to win the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour. Also on this day, David Evan drove the Cummins No.8 Special to an new 162 km/h diesel land speed record on Daytona Beach today in 1931

Off the track on the day that same team Toro Rosso and Alfa Tauri drivers Christian Klien and Pierre Gasly share a birthday, Mercedes-Benz conducted first bench tests on its new 3-litre V12 engine prior to installation into the W154 chassis in 1938. 21 years later, the Daytona International Speedway formally opened for business – and racing – on this day in 1959.

Perhaps the most significant bit of 7 February Formula 1 history was Ferrari launching its 2000 contender just weeks after the world dodged the Y2K scare. It would prove to be the team’s most successful season since Jody Scheckter’s championship winning 312T4 of 1979 as Michael Schumacher romped off to what his third and the first of five world titles for Ferrari. Maranello sure could do with a bit of that right now…

Seven years later, David Coulthard was fined $650 for injuring a woman in a road accident in Monaco, a year before Force India unveiled its first F1 car in Mumbai in 2008, 26 years to the day after new team boss Vijay Mallya steered his Ensign Cosworth to victory in the 1982 Madras grand Prix at Sholavaram. The new VJM01 bearing Mallya’s initials however failed to score a point that ’08 season.

Racing bade Targa Florio winner Umberto Maglioli farewell in 1999, while 1950s British driver Jack Fairman who scored five championship points in 13 Formula One Grands Prix passed in 2002

 

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