Formula 1’s 1000th Grand Prix

This weekend will see Formula 1 contest its one thousandth official Grand Prix. A lot has happened since the very first Grand Prix at Silverstone on 13 May 1950.

This article won’t attempt to trace the numerous changes that have taken place since 1950, but will focus on some of the Grand Prix that have taken place, no specific criteria, just some that have popped into my mind.

1950 British Grand Prix

As of writing, with the future of the British Grand Prix uncertain, the very first Formula 1 Grand Prix took place at Silverstone which itself has changed substantially since the inaugural race.

The Grand Prix would be won by Alfa Romeo and the 1950 season would belong to the Italian manufacturer as the then new series is initially dominated by manufacturers, especially from Italy with Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati all being driven to championship success from 1950 to 1958 with Mercedes also powering Juan Manuel Fangio to the 1954 and 1955 titles.

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1960 Indianapolis 500

Perhaps less talked about in Formula 1 is the period when the Indianapolis 500 actively counted towards the championship with it being an official round in Formula 1 from 1950 to 1960.

However due to the different regulations of the two series there was hardly any crossover of teams between the two with only Alberto Ascari and Juan Manuel Fangio making minimal efforts of participating in the Indianapolis 500.

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It does however mean that the likes of Bill Vukovich and Jim Rathmann (the winner of the 1960 edition of the 500) aren’t just Indianapolis 500 winners but also Formula 1 Grand Prix winners. It means that Bill Vukovich has the same number of Formula 1 Grand Prix victories as Elio de Angelis and more than Jean Alesi and Pastor Maldonado.


1957 German Grand Prix

This marks Juan Manuel Fangio’s final Grand Prix victory and also considered one of the greatest victories in the sport after Fangio’s disastrous pit stop meant he had to charge through the field, breaking the lap record nine times on his way to victory, around the feared Nordschleife. This is also the race in which Fangio would clinch his fifth world championship.

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Fangio would set the standard for anyone wishing to be considered a great within Formula 1 having achieved five world championships, twenty four Grand Prix victories and twenty nine pole positions.


1958 Argentine Grand Prix

This Grand Prix was won by Stirling Moss in a privately entered Cooper. What was significant was that this was the first Grand Prix victory for a rear engined car, a major shift in racing car design, with the series having been contested predominantly with front engined cars up to this Grand Prix.

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Cooper themselves would become a force over the next two seasons in the sport, helping Jack Brabham to two titles as smaller teams became more competitive in the sport, challenging established manufacturers for titles.


1966 Belgian Grand Prix

Won by John Surtees, driving for Ferrari, the inclusion of this race is due to Jackie Stewart’s accident during the Grand Prix. His ordeal and the subsequent time it took for him to be freed from the car and eventually admitted to hospital would, for better or for worse, make a shift from the danger element in Formula 1 being something that you either lived with or walked away from to a more concentrated effort to ensure that Grand Prix racing became safer.

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The focus primarily was on improving the safety of circuits and ensuring that drivers kept themselves safer by wearing fireproof overalls, full face racing helmets and wearing seatbelts. Attempting to slow cars down through technical regulations in order to make racing safer would not really be pursued until the 1990s.


1968 Spanish Grand Prix

Notable for numerous reasons, including being the first Formula 1 race since Jim Clark’s death in a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim.

It was also the first time that a major team, Team Lotus, appeared in the colours of their major sponsor, Gold Leaf. Although a privately entered Brabham in the previous round in South Africa had also appeared in sponsors colours. This race and Team Lotus showed a shift from racing in national colours to utilising cars as a way to sell sections of it to prospective sponsors to raise funds.

Lotus Racing Cars of the 1960s” by David Merrett is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Gold Leaf Team Lotus livery would kick off introducing some classic sponsor led liveries, including another Team Lotus livery with John Player Special.

The 1968 season saw Formula 1 teams also begin to experiment more with aerodynamics as a way to help improve the performance of the car.


1969 Monaco Grand Prix

Graham Hill wins his fifth Monaco Grand Prix driving for Gold Leaf Team Lotus. Hill’s success at Monaco earned him the nickname ‘Mr Monaco’.

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1976 Japanese Grand Prix

A race that in probability should never have gone ahead but due to the eventful 1976 season, live coverage of the then inaugural Japanese Grand Prix and with a title to be decided as well, it meant that the race went ahead.

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This is included partly because of the circumstances in which James Hunt won, having to work his way pass several cars in the closing laps after a late pit stop and of course the retirement of Niki Lauda who, understandably, parked the still healthy Ferrari in the pits due to the atrocious weather conditions.


1992 Monaco Grand Prix

An enthralling battle near the end of the Monaco Grand Prix between Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell eventually sees Senna claim his fifth Monaco Grand Prix victory, equalling the record set by Graham Hill.

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Senna’s victory broke the run of five consecutive Grand Prix victories that Mansell had taken in the opening five rounds of the 1992 season as Williams would dominate the campaign.

The 1992 Monaco Grand Prix was Senna’s first of three victories that the Brazilian would claim during the season.

Senna would go on and claim a sixth Monaco Grand Prix victory in 1993.


1994 San Marino Grand Prix

With Rubens Barrichello’s accident on Friday and Roland Ratzenberger’s fatal accident on the Saturday, this Grand Prix well and truly reignited the drive to make Formula 1 safer and led to the reforming of the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA).

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The Grand Prix and the need to make the sport safer was made relevant further after the fatal accident of Ayrton Senna during the race itself.

The whole weekend would lead to a drive to making changes to both circuits and cars to offer more protection and reduce the risk of serious injury or death in the event of an accident.


2006 Chinese Grand Prix 

The last of Michael Schumacher’s ninety one Grand Prix victories, he would reset the standards of the levels of dedication required and what could be achieved in Formula 1 after claiming seven world championships and sixty eight pole positions to go with the Grand Prix victories.

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His comeback from 2010 to 2012 may not have lived up to many people’s expectations, but that has not diminished his impact on the sport and the current generation of drivers within Formula 1 and other forms of motorsport.


2018 Mexican Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton joins both Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher in achieving at least five world championships after finishing fourth in the race.

It also meant that the Mercedes team that Hamilton has driven for since 2013 has remained undefeated in the V6 turbo hybrid era, which started in 2014, emulating what Ferrari achieved with Michael Schumacher in claiming five consecutive drivers and constructors title doubles.

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