History of Formula 1 – Greatest Formula 1 Races

The Best Grand Prix Races

1921 When America won the Grand Prix

A.C.F. Grand Prix by Peter de Paolo

The 1921 French Grand Prix (formally the XV Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France) was a Grand Prix motor race held at Le Mans on 25 July 1921. The race was held over 30 laps of the 17.26km circuit for a total distance of 517.8km and was won by Jimmy Murphy driving a Duesenberg. The race did not feature a massed start, with cars released in pairs at one-minute intervals instead. After the Pay-off Banquet at Indianapolis where the prize money and the various trophies were awarded with the usual ceremony, we packed up, and the next day left for France, where Uncle Ralph de Palma was scheduled to drive in the French Grand Prix, a road race that was being run that year at the Le Mans course…

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1929 A Great Irish Triumph

Tourist Trophy – Ards by Hon. H.R.S. Birkin

The Ards Peninsula in Northern Ireland was home to the 1929 Royal Auto Club Tourist Trophy, a course that took racers over 478 miles through the villages of Comber, Newtownards, and Dundonald, over 35 laps. The fastest cars and drivers from Europe were hitting record speeds, over 110 mph, as they raced through the city streets and country roads. Gentleman drivers in Bentleys, Mercedes, Alfas, Austins, Rileys, and Triumphs were paving the way for what would eventually become Formula 1. Sir Birkin’s Mechanic for the race was none other than W.O. Bentley who was delighted with how the car performed but understood it was no match for the 7-liter supercharged Mercedes.
Eventually, the faster Mercedes-Benz SS, driven by Rudolf Caracciola would win the race, Looking at these pictures it is hard to imagine racing through the rough roads, on 4-inch wide Dunlop Tires at over 100 miles-per-hour…

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1933 The Race that was Rigged

Tripoli Grand Prix by Alfred Neubauer

The Grand Prix was held in conjunction with the Libyan state lottery and, in the case of the inaugural Mellaha Lake event, there have long been accusations of result fixing. From October 1932 to 16 April 1933, the government sold 12 lire lottery tickets and, after taking their cut, they put up the rest as the prize for a special lottery based on the outcome of the race. Thirty attendance tickets were drawn at random eight days before the event and assigned to a corresponding race entry. The holder of the winner’s entry would receive three million lire, second place two million, and third one million. The story, first publicized in Alfred Neubauer’s 1958 book Speed Was My Life (Männer, Frauen und Motoren: Die Erinnerungen des Mercedes-Rennleiters), alleged that Tazio Nuvolari, Achille Varzi and Baconin Borzacchini, along with their respective ticket holders, conspired to decide the outcome of the race in order to split some seven and a half million lire together. Research suggests that the story is a popular myth…

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1933 The Wizard with the Magnette

Tourist Trophy – Ards by Richard Hough

“It seems perfectly apparent,” wrote Sammy Davis after the 1932 race, “that the prospects for next year are not particularly good.” They did, indeed, look bleak a week or two before the race, with no more to support the MGs than half a dozen or so Rileys, a pair of Invictas, and three straight-eight Alfas, manned this time by Rose-Richards and Brian Lewis, who had shifted their allegiance from Talbots, and by Earl Howe. Apart from this there was only a promised pair of tuned and supercharged Irish Morris Minors, but with a lap speed of little above 60 mph they were not likely to provide much excitement. Italian driver Tazio Nuvolari became the first driver in history to claim the trophy in 1933 to accompany it with an overall victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year…

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1934 Giants in the Ring

French Grand Prix by Barré Lyndon

The 1934 French Grand Prix (formally the XXVIII Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France) was a Grand Prix motor race held on 1 July 1934 at Montlhéry. The race comprised 40 laps of a 12.5 km circuit, for a total race distance of 500.0 km. This race was the first outside of Germany to see the Silver Arrows of Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz, which would go on to dominate Grand Prix racing until the start of World War II. The race was won by Louis Chiron driving an Alfa Romeo. Chiron lead from the start, jumping the start to lead the first lap, but was quickly challenged by the Germans. Stuck, who made a poor start, was able to take the lead on lap 3, while down the field the Mercedes’ and other Alfa Romeos and Auto Unions battled for the remaining places, while the Bugattis and Maseratis showed themselves to be totally outclassed. With Stuck’s Auto Union slowing, Chiron retook the lead on lap 9. This he held to the end, as although he was pressured by the Mercedes of Fagioli and Caracciola, this ultimately came to nothing, as by the end of the race not a single German car was still running…

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1935 The Maestro and the Pechvogel

German Grand Prix by Douglas S. Brown

The 1935 event was considered to be one of the greatest motorsports victories of all time. The 1935 German Grand Prix will always be remembered as Tazio Nuvolari’s greatest race. In a monumental drive, the Italian beat nine superior German Silver Arrows with an inferior red Alfa Romeo. The 1935 German Grand Prix at Nürbugring was held under chilling and dreadful conditions. An estimated 300,000 German fans including some of the most powerful and high ranking Third Reich officers showed up for the race that was run over the course of 22.8 km consisting of 174 turns. There were high expectations that one of the German drivers would win the race since they had the most powerful and advanced cars. Three Alfa-Romeos were presented by the Scuderia Ferrari team and were driven by Italian drivers Tazio Nuvolari and Antonio Brivio, along with Monegasque driver Louis Chiron. The rest of the competitors were from Maserati, ERA and Bugatti and were contested under private teams. Italian legend, Tazio Nuvolari’s Alfa Romeo P3 Tipo B was modified having his engine capacity increased from 3.2 to 3.8 litre, 330 bhp…

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1935 Triumph: A Victor’s Report

Tripoli Grand Prix by Rudolf Caracciola

We stood by the cars and waited. Music drifting across in snatches from the grandstands was interrupted by the occasional roar of an engine, and on the terrace of the timekeeper’s hut the lottery numbers were drawn. I listened for a moment; I would have liked to know who had drawn my number. But down here not a word could be heard; the commentator’s voice sounded like the barking of dogs. We were waiting for Marshal Balbo. I was in the third row next to Varzi. At last the Governor arrived, preceded by twelve men on motorcycles; he was riding in a large open touring car. The Giovinezza (the Italian national anthem) sounded, the people in the stands rose and the soldiers on the grass strip before the stands stood at attention…

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1936 Nuvolari Gets his Revenge

Hungarian Grand Prix by Dennis A. David

In 1936 other cars known as die Silberpfeile or Silver Arrows raced in Hungary, that time on a 3.1 mille course within the Budapest Public Gardens. In the previous year the cars from Mercedes-Benz dominated the Grand Prix scene and captured nine of the eleven major events they entered. These victories included the Monaco, French, Belgian and Swiss Grands Prix and resulted in the crowning of the original regenmeister (rainmaster), Rudolf Caracciola as European Champion. Of their losses last year, none was more painful than Tazio Nuvolari’s legendary victory in the German Grand Prix driving a Scuderia Ferrari entered Alfa Romeo. Nothing less than the same was expected for this year, only Auto Union stood in their way. Auto Union had an ace in their pocket by the name of Bernd Rosemeyer. His career likened to a shooting star had just scored a tremendous victory in the Eifel Grand Prix held on the Nurburgring. In dense fog he lapped that monstrous course an astounding 30 seconds faster than his closest pursuer Nuvolari…

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1937 When the Germans came to Donington

Donington Grand Prix by Rodney Walkerley

In the race, Hermann Lang led the first few laps but retired with a broken damper, and British driver Richard Seaman followed shortly after. The lead changed hands several times between Manfred von Brauchitsch, Bernd Rosemeyer and Rudolf Caracciola. Whilst in the lead for a second time, von Brauchitsch suffered a puncture, allowing Rosemeyer to pass him and lead the race while his Auto Union teammates could not keep up with the tricky mid-engined car. Rosemeyer stayed in the lead until the end and took the win after 80 laps, with four other German cars completing the full distance within the next minutes before the race was flagged off for good.

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1938 A Briton’s Finest Hour

German Grand Prix by Cyril Posthumus

1939 Was the first year of the new 3-litre supercharged / 4½-litre unsupercharged GP Formula. Strictly this was a sliding scale Formula designed to place cars of all engine sizes from 666 c.c. to 4,500 c.c. on a level footing, but only Germany’s blown 3-litre twelve-cylinder Mercedes and Auto Unions had the performance to win, albeit at the cost of heavy fuel and tyre consumption. By the time the 11th German GP came round the situation had settled down with Mercedes the dominant marque. Auto Union, demoralized by the grievous loss of Bernd Rosemeyer in a record attempt, tagged along behind, Maserati were an erratic threat with a fast new eight-cylinder 3-litre, and France’s V-12 Delahayes had proved slow but reliable and easy on tyres and fuel….

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1951 My Greatest Race

British Grand Prix at Silverstone by Froilan Gonzalez

More than twenty years have passed since that British Grand Prix and yet it seems to me as if it was yesterday. It needs only a casual word at a party, a friend or perhaps a journalist asking me, “How was it all in the beginning, Pepito?” for memories to flood into my mind; memories of a raw, inexperienced lad from Argentina. Since then I have received praise and congratulations from kings, princes, and statesmen in many countries. I have forgotten many races. But always fresh in my mind is 14 July 1951. It really began earlier when I was, for my local countrymen, still Cabezon (Big Head!) Gonzalez, a driver who was content to win on local dirt circuits, thinking of no more exalted arenas.

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1953 The New Boy Makes Good

French Grand Prix by Rodney Walkerley

The 1953 French Grand Prix was a Formula Two race held on 5 July 1953 at Reims. It was race 5 of 9 in the 1953 World Championship of Drivers, which was run to Formula Two rules in 1952 and 1953, rather than the Formula One regulations normally used. It is popularly known as The Race of the Century because of the sixty lap battle between Briton Mike Hawthorn and Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio. Hawthorn won the duel after they reportedly swapped the lead at virtually every corner on the Reims circuit. In addition, after 500 km of racing, the four lead cars were less than 5 seconds apart.

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1955 Sensation at Syracuse

Syracuse Grand Prix by Peter Lewis

In October 1955, with nearly ten years of motor racing completed since the war, enthusiasts in this country were beginning to wonder whether a British racing car would ever win a major event. For two seasons the World Championship had been dominated by Fangio and Mercedes-Benz; previously to that it had been the red cars of Italy. Admittedly, Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss, driving foreign cars, had, won races but when was a British G.P. car driven by a Briton going to achieve success. One Sunday afternoon on the island of Sicily – with only a handful of Britons amongst a crowd of 40,000 to see it happen twenty-three year old C.A.S. Brooks, and Connaught, gave us the answer.

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1965 My Greatest Race

Monaco Grand Prix by Graham Hill

The 1965 Monte Carlo was a race, which I have always considered to be one of the best races I have ever run or ever won. I did reasonably well in practice – I put up the fastest time and therefore, as I had won the race the two previous years, I was considered the favorite for the race that year. Now that is something I never really like to be – because everyone expects an awful lot of the favorite and it certainly raises the tension. Monte Carlo is always a tricky race, one of the trickiest circuits in the world, because it is so easy to be just a little bit untidy at any one particular corner, clobber a kerb with the wheel and break the suspension or break a wheel or cause yourself to spin off. And, of course, there is just nowhere to spin at Monte Carlo; you bounce off hotels, nightclubs, brick walls, telegraph poles, and street lamps. Everything around is absolutely solid, although we have managed to get a few Armco barriers set up at one or two spots which might prevent us from coming to a stop rather smartly.

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1968 My Greatest Race

German Grand Prix by Jackie Stewart

For Grand Prix drivers the German Grand Prix each year is a very special event because the Nurburgring is certainly the most difficult, the most treacherous, and the most demanding of the tracks that the circus travels to each year. Drivers are often asked what is their favorite circuit. In the majority of cases, they say that the Nurburgring is perhaps the most satisfying. This is said, in most cases, while sitting in armchairs in the comfort of their own homes with roaring fires in front of them! But really I don’t believe that too many people would honestly admit that they enjoy driving on the Nurburgring in a Formula 1 car. I know that whenever I drive there I get back to the pits and take a big, deep breath because, My God, I’m pleased to be home! In 1968, that statement was truer than ever as the Nurburgring was engulfed in a miserable fog and a steady drizzle soaked everyone.

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1970 The Stuff of Champions

Monaco Grand Prix by Dennis A. David

The unsuccessful attempt to produce a competitive four-wheel drive car for Formula 1 had finally run its course, Lotus reluctantly abandoned the effort and set about designing a car that would return them to the top. That car would be the famous Lotus 72 but after its disappointing debut at Jarama, Rindt was resigned to drive the old Lotus 49C with new front suspension at the next race, Monaco. Rindt had come to Lotus in 1969 and was very much a man in a hurry. He often spoke of making one major attempt at the World Championship before retiring and in his mind this would be the year. He was hesitant about joining Lotus as he felt that their cars were un-safe and after his accident at Jarama the year before, when his rear-wing failed he was even more certain of this being the case but he also knew that when Lotus got it right it could be unstoppable.

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1973 My Greatest Race

Argentine Grand Prix by Emerson Fittipaldi

Before the 1973 Argentine Grand Prix, I knew exactly how a world champion in any sport must feel. A lot of other people want to have a crack at the champion and I was very much in the firing line when I prepared for this important race in Buenos Aires. This was to be my first race since becoming World Champion and for me it was the most fiercely competitive contest I have ever entered. It was important to me because there were at least ten thousand of my Brazilian countrymen in Buenos Aires for the race and, anyway, the whole sub-continent wanted a South American victory in a field which included Europe’s finest drivers. I felt all these pressures on me under the extremely hot sun of Argentina. And how hot the sun was! We sweltered between practice laps at the autodrome on the outskirts of the city. Peter Lyon invented a slogan as he soaked up the sun. ‘The aires,’ he said, ‘are buenos.’ But most of us needed a cool breeze!

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1993 Racing returns to Donington

European Grand Prix by Robert W. Butsch

Easter Sunday, 1993, saw the first Grand Prix at Donington Park since the immortal Nuvolari’s win 55 years earlier. The crowd was not spectacular by F1 standards, the weather was dismal in a way that it seems only English weather can be, but the race was a classic. Traction control was still allowed, and it was never more prominently on display than at the sopping wet 29th European Grand Prix. Gagging engines could be heard often at the exits from slow corners. Traction control was soon to be condemned by the FIA as a computer aid that took the driver too much out of the equation. But this event that seemed made for it was, ironically, to produce one of the great drivers’ races.

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