McLaren ’50 in 50′: History in Hungary

Of the 19 races in 2013, McLaren have won 16 of them at one stage or another. Wins in Bahrain, Korea and India have as yet alluded them. In terms of number of wins, Hungary ranks in the top five, behind the big guns of Monaco, Belgium, Great Britain, and the US. First held in 1986, McLaren are the most successful team at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with 11 victories to their name. The first of these came in 1988 and the most recent was in 2012 when Lewis Hamilton won for the third time.

In the early days of the race it was a happy hunting ground for Williams, with the team securing a number of front row lock-outs in qualifying, getting numerous podiums and winning seven races in 12 years. From the late 90s, however, McLaren started to edge ahead in the statistics and are now the most successful constructor there, in terms of wins and podiums. They have 22 podium finishes in Budapest, including their 11 wins, as well as eight pole positions and five fastest laps. Ferrari and Williams are not far behind, however, with seven and six podiums respectively, with Williams leading the fastest laps tally with nine in total.

Ayrton Senna and Lewis Hamilton are the most successful drivers for McLaren around the Hungaroring. Senna won the race in 1988, 1991 and 1992 while Hamilton was successful in 2007, 2009 and 2012. Hamilton’s 2007 victory came under a shadow, however, after he refused to let team-mate Fernando Alonso through in qualifying. The Spaniard retaliated by staying in the pit-box longer than he should and subsequently ruining any chance Hamilton had of completing another lap. Alonso was demoted on the grid and Hamilton started from pole and went on to win. Another McLaren driver with more than one Hungarian Grand Prix victory is Mika Hakkinen (1998 & 1999), as he won the race on the way to his two world championships. Kimi Raikkonen won it in 2005 while fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen took his one and only Formula One victory there in 2008. Last, but by no means least, is Jenson Button who won in 2011.

Both Button and Hamilton are also race winners at the Hungaroring for other teams. Button’s maiden Grand Prix victory came in 2006, driving for Honda while Hamilton took his first win with his new team – Mercedes – at this year’s race. The Hungarian Grand Prix could well be on the calendar through to 2020, so who knows how much more success McLaren and its drivers can enjoy there!

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McLaren ’50 in 50′: History in Japan

McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez will line up tenth and eleventh for the Japanese Grand Prix. The race first made its Formula One World Championship debut in 1976 but was not held between 1978 and 1986 (inclusive). It rejoined the calendar in 1987, meaning this year will be its 29th running. McLaren are the most successful constructor at the race, with nine wins – two more than Ferrari. They also have more podiums than any other constructors – 25 in total.

James Hunt (1977 – Fuji)

The James Hunt/Niki Lauda 1976 rivalry came to a head in Fuji, with the Japanese Grand Prix staging the last race of the season – the title decider. The weather condiitons were treacherous and Lauda made the decision to retire to the pits during the race due to safety concerns. Hunt was in the lead of the race but, as the track started to dry, he started losing positions and slipped to third place. It was enough to win him the championship and in 1977 he went two places better, winning the race ahead of Carlos Reutemann and Patrick Depallier. He built up a dominating lead of over a minute and was not challenged after taking the lead from pole sitter Mario Andretti.

Ayrton Senna (1988 & 1993 – Suzuka)

After a nine year hiatus, the Japanese Grand Prix returned in 1987 at Suzuka. Ayrton Senna was the first McLaren driver to win there when he did so in 1988. He won it for a second time five years later. It played host to another title showdown in 1988 this time between team-mates Senna and Alain Prost. Senna out-qualified Prost and the pair both lined up on the front-row. It was a race where Senna was forced to prove himself by driving through the field. He stalled on the grid but, due to the hilly nature of the starting grid, he got the car going but had dropped right down the order. In order to win the race he needed a win and with his team-mate in the lead it looked like Prost could be becoming champion. Prost battled with Ivan Capelli before eventually succombing to Senna’s attack, as he nurseda gearbox problem. Senna headed a McLaren 1-2, with Theirry Boutsen in third, subsequently becoming champion. The 1993 race was a different story – it was not the title decider, with Prost already having it wrapped up. It was also common knowledge that Senna would be leaving McLaren to join Williams at the end of the year. Senna started second on the grid, behind Prost, and briefly took the race lead. When the rain fell and drivers had to take on wet tyres, Senna had the better pit-stop and emerged in the lead. He spent the rest of the race battling with Prost but kept the lead and went on to win ahead of the Frenchman. Future McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen finished in third.

Gerhard Berger (1991 – Suzuka) 

Gerhard Berger is a two-time Japanese Grand Prix winner, although only one – his second – was for McLaren. He started the race from third place, with team-mate Ayrton Senna on pole and Nigel Mansell second. Berger took the lead at the start and pulled out a gap. With Mansell needing a race victory to stay in championship contention, Berger being in the lead was doing his team-mate a favour. Senna re-took the race lead on lap 18 and he and Berger continued trading fastest laps as they established themselves at the front. Towards the end of the race Berger started to develop an engine misfire and dropped back from Senna. However, due to a gentleman’s agreement between the pair, Senna let Berger through to take his first McLaren victory. Senna still won the world championship.

Mika Hakkinen (1998 & 1999 – Suzuka)

By the late 90s, when Mika Hakkinen was on the way to his two world championships, the Japanese Grand Prix was still hosting the last race of the season. It was once again host to a decider in 1998 when it came down to Michael Schumacher V Hakkinen. Schumacher took first blood in qualifying when he secured pole by a tenth of a second. Jarno Trulli stalled on the grid causing the first start to be aborted. On the second attempt Schumacher stalled and suddenly Hakkinen saw his title challenger drop to the back of the grid. Hakkinen led the field away on the third attempt and built up a solid lead while Schumacher charged through the field. Unfortunately for the German, one of his tyres exploded after contact with debris, causing him to retire. Hakkinen went on to win the race (and championship) finishing ahead of Eddie Irvine and David Coulthard. Another showdown faced Hakkinen in 1999 – this time with Eddie Irvine, who had a four point advantage over the Finn going to Japan. Hakkinen qualified second, behind Schumacher, with Coulthard and Heinz-Harald Frentzen slotting between the Finn and his rival in fifth. Hakkinen took the lead at the start and pulled away, driving a faultless race to beat Schumacher and Irvine to the lead. Ferrari took the constructors’ championship but Hakkinen retained his drivers’ title by two points.

Kimi Raikkonen (2005 – Suzuka)

After a string of Ferrari wins in Japan, Kimi Raikkonen took a dramatic last lap lead in the 2005 race to put McLaren back on the Japanese Grand Prix winners list. Rain mixed up qualifying with Ralf Schumacher starting from pole position while the likes of Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, and Raikkonen started right down the order – 17th in Raikkonen’s case. It was warm and sunny on race day. Raikkonen lost out after making a mistake and running wide early on but an early safety car, thanks to his team-mate’s escapades, closed the order up and Raikkonen had the restart to regain positions. He stormed through the field and with just a handful of laps remaining he was right up with race leader Fisichella. He had a couple of laps following the Renault, with backmarkers getting into the mix. The McLaren driver enjoyed a tow from the Renault and closed right up at the final chicane. He eventually passed him on the final lap and went on to win the race with a one and a half second advantage. Alonso finished a distant third.

Lewis Hamilton (2007 – Fuji)

When Formula One returned to Fuji in 2007, it was Lewis Hamilton who conquered the wet conditions to win the race. Hamilton went into the race weekend with a slim two point advantage over his team-mate, which was extended due to Fernando Alonso crashing out. Hamilton qualified on pole and led the field behind the safety car, which the race was started behind due to the weather. It stayed out until lap 19 and they finally got racing. While a number of drivers crashed out, Hamilton kept it on track to take another race win, by eight seconds. Heikki Kovalainen got his first podium position in Formula One when he finished second for Renault, with eventual world champion Kimi Raikkonen in third place.

Jenson Button (2011 – Suzuka)

The Japanese Grand Prix remained in Fuji for 2008 but returned to Suzuka for 2009. Sebastian Vettel took another pole position but it was McLaren’s Jenson Button who took victory. Button made a quick start and tried to pass Vettel, but was squeezed off the track and subsequently lost a position to his team-mate. Button looked after his tyres and closed in on Vettel at the end of the first stint and when Vettel pitted, Button stayed out longer. His quick in-lap coupled with a fast stop from McLaren saw Button emerge in the lead. After a safety car period, Button stayed out longer again when Vettel pitted and increased his advantage. In the closing stages of the race Fernando Alonso started to gain on the McLaren but Button won with a one second advantage. Vettel eventually finished third.

McLaren ’50 in 50′: History in Canada

McLaren have won the Canadian Grand Prix 13 times, the most of any team in the Formula One World Championship. They are tied overall on wins with Ferrari, but two of Ferrari’s victories were before the race was part of the official championship. McLaren have won the race at Mont-Tremblant, Mosport Park and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (where the race currently takes place). McLaren have also been successful at Mosport in the Can-Am series.

Denny Hulme (1968 – Mont-Tremblant)

This was the McLaren team’s third ever victory in Formula One, following Bruce McLaren’s win in Belgium and Denny Hulme’s Italian Grand Prix win. He took back-to-back victories when he won the next race as well – the Canadian Grand Prix. Hulme started in sixth place for the race with Dan Gurney, who was running in a third McLaren, the best placed for the team in fourth. Bruce himself qualified tenth. There were a number of retirements in the race including pole-sitter Jochen Rindt, championship leader Graham Hill, and Ferrari’s Chris Amon. Hulme went on to win ahead of Bruce McLaren. The result meant that Hulme moved level on points with Hill with just two races left in the championship. He ultimately finished in third place after two retirements, finishing 15 points behind Hill.

Peter Revson (1973 – Mosport Park)

McLaren’s next win in Canada came at Mosport Park with American Peter Revson at the wheel. The drivers’ championship had already been wrapped up by Jackie Stewart in Italy. Pole position was secured by Ronnie Peterson with Revson alongside him on the front row. Race day was wet and Revson lost out at the start, dropping behidn Peterson, Jody Scheckter, Niki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi, Stewart, and Carlos Reutemann. Peterson crashed out on lap 17 after fighting with Scheckter for second, after Lauda had taken the lead. A collision between Francois Cevert and Scheckter proved to be a lucky moment for Revson as the safety car was deployed and confusion reigned. It failed to pick up the leaders and resulted in Jackie Oliver taking the lead with Revson second and Jean-Pierre Beltoise third. In the end Revson made use of his more competitive car to take the lead and eventual victory, leading home Fittipaldi and Oliver.

Emerson Fittipaldi (1974 – Mosport Park)

It was another win at Mosport Park for McLaren in 1974, although under more normal conditions than the confusion of 1973. Emerson Fittipaldi took pole position but lost the lead at the start to Niki Lauda. Jody Scheckter, who ran third in the first half of the race, crashed just over halfway through after brake failure. Lauda also retired from the race after running over debris and this resulted in a win for Fittipaldi who had been in second. This proved crucial as, after finishing fourth at Watkins Glen two weeks later, he was crowned world champion by just three points – his Canadian victory giving him a point advantage going into the last race.

James Hunt (1976 – Mosport Park)

The race was not held in 1975 but when it returned to the calendar in 1976, James Hunt completed a hat-trick of victories for McLaren at Mosport Park. Hunt secured pole position by three tenths from Ronnie Peterson. Main championship rival Niki Lauda started in sixth place. Peterson took the lead early on but Hunt soon retook it and he continued to lead until the end, winning the race six seconds clear of Patrick Depallier and Mario Andretti. Lauda finished outside the points and Hunt closed the gap. He went on to win the championship by just one point.

Ayrton Senna (1988 & 1990 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)

McLaren did not win again in Canada until over ten years after James Hunt’s victory. By this stage the race now had a new location – Montreal and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – and Ayrton Senna took the win in 1988 and 1990. The race was fifth on the calendar and Senna went into it off the back of two podium finishes, a DNF and a disqualification. Senna out-qualified team-mate Alain Prost by a tenth of a second. Prost took the lead at the start of the race and Senna sat behind him until lap 19 when he took the lead back. He was never challenged and went on to win ahead of Prost and Thierry Boutsen. Senna repeated the victory in 1990 again taking pole position ahead of his team-mate, who this time was Gerhard Berger who jumped the start and picked up a time penalty. Senna retained his lead this time and won ahead of fellow Brazilian Nelson Piquet and Ferrari’s Nigel Mansell.

Gerhard Berger (1992 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)

After a disappointing result in 1990, where he was penalised for a jump start, Berger got the better of his team-mate in 1992 when he won the race. Ayrton Senna started the race from pole position with Berger lining up in fourth. Senna retained the lead and Berger got caught up in a train of cars behind Riccardo Patrese. When Berger got free he wasted no time in chasing Senna. The Brazilian, however, would soon retire from the race with a gearbox problem giving the lead and win to Berger. Michael Schumacher finished in second place and Jean Alesi in third.

Mika Hakkinen (1999 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)

Mika Hakkinen won the Canadian Grand Prix en route to his second world championship. Michael Schumacher took pole position by just 2 hundreths of a second from Hakkinen. There were two safety cars during the race and following the second Hakkinen put pressure on his Ferrari rival. Schumacher made an uncharacteristic mistake and hit the wall on the exit of the final chicane. Ricardo Zonta and Damon Hill had already hit it earlier in the race and this contributed to it picking up its name – the Wall of Champions. Hakkinen kept his car on track and went on to win ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella and Eddie Irvine. Hakkinen’s McLaren team-mate David Coulthard finished just outside the points in seventh.

Kimi Raikkonen (2005 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)

After a five year Schumacher domination in Canada (one win for Ralf and four for Michael), Kimi Raikkonen got McLaren back to winning ways at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Jenson Button took a shock pole for BAR-Honda, with Michael Schumacher lining up alongside. Kimi Raikkonen qualified down in seventh place with his team-mate, Juan Pablo Montoya, taking fifth. The front row made a poor start which allowed both Renault drivers – championship contender Fernando Alonso and his team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella – to take advantage and move into first and second. On lap 33, Fisichella retired with hydraulics problems and Alonso also retired, although his was after an accident which broke his suspension. Another crash, this time by Button, resulted in a safety car and Raikkonen took the lead. His team-mate was eventually disqualified for ignoring red lights at the end of the pit-lane. Schumacher finished second with Rubens Barrichello in third.

Lewis Hamilton (2007, 2010 & 2012 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)

Lewis Hamilton is McLaren’s most successful driver at the Canadian Grand Prix. It was the scene of his first ever Grand Prix victory back in his rookie year of 2007. He started the weekend leading team-mate Fernando Alonso in a McLaren front-row lock-out (also his first pole position). It was a race of two halves for McLaren – Hamilton dominated out front, successfully navigating four safety cars, while on the other side Alonso had a race strewn with mistakes, topped off by being overtaken by a Super Aguri. Nick Heidfeld and Alexander Wurz completed the podium positions. Hamilton retired from the race in 2008 and it was not held in 2009, but he returned to winning ways in 2010. He once again started from pole and led home a McLaren 1-2, with new team-mate Jenson Button finishing second. Alonso completed the podium. Hamilton retired again in 2011, after contact with his team-mate, but won the 2012 edition of the race. He qualified second to Sebastian Vettel, who finished fourth. Hamilton became the seventh different winner in as many races when he won the 2012 Canadian Grand Prix, finishing ahead of Romain Grosjean and future McLaren driver Sergio Perez.

Jenson Button (2011 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)

Jenson Button went through the ringer on his way to victory at the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. To start with he started in seventh place and with heavy rain on race day he faced a difficult fight through if he wanted a podium. Early on he made contact with team-mate Lewis Hamilton as the latter tried to pull off an overtake. Both were investigated for their speed behind the safety car and, after Hamilton retired, Button was given a drive through penalty, dropping him right down the order. The race was suspended due to the weather and Button found himself in tenth – worse than his starting spot. After the restart Button made contact with Fernando Alonso which led to front wing damage and another pit-stop, dropping him down to last. After six pit-stops (!), a drive through penalty, and dropping to last at least twice, Button overcame it all to charge Sebastian Vettel down in the closing stages. An uncharacteristic mistake from an under pressure Vettel gave Button his opportunity and he took the lead on the last lap, going on to take a well deserved victory!

McLaren ’50 in 50′: Ayrton Senna

McLaren’s fifth world champion is considered by many, the greatest Formula One driver of all time. McLaren’s resident blogger Alan Henry ranked Ayrton Senna #1 when he counted down McLaren’s top 50 drivers on their website last year. He was with the team from 1988 until 1993 before moving onto Williams, winning three world championships.

Brazilian driver Senna took a traditional route to Formula One, starting in karting before progressing into single seaters. He quickly impressed – winning five titles in just three years – and was soon testing for Williams, McLaren, Brabham and Toleman. It was Toleman with whom he made his Formula One debut, taking up a race seat for 1984. During that year he finished an impressive second to Alain Prost’s first at a wet Monaco Grand Prix. He displayed speed and a talent in the wet for which he would be remembered for years to come. Two further podiums in Britain and Portugal cemented him ninth in the championship. He bought himself out of his Toleman contract and a new one was drawn up, this time with Lotus.

Senna stayed at Lotus for three seasons and he really came alive. His first Formula One victory was not far away when he won the second race of the year in 1985 – the Portuguese Grand Prix – going on to win in Belgium as well. Over the course of his time with Lotus he would take 16 pole positions, six wins, and 16 further podiums. He built up a relationship with Honda through the year and, when they struck up a partnership with McLaren he moved to join Alain Prost which led to one of the most iconic rivalries of all time.

Senna continued to go from strength to strength following his move to McLaren. Eight wins in 1988 was enough for him to clinch the title, despite having less points than team-mate Prost. Due to the “11 best results rule” Prost lost more points meaning Senna became champion. Prost got his revenge in 1989 when he won the championship surrounded by controversy. At the penultimate race of the season in Suzuka, Senna needed a win to take the fight to the last round. He lined up second on the grid with Prost on pole position and, during the race as he lined up a move, the pair touched. Both went off the track and Prost’s race was over. Senna went on to win the race but was disqualified meaning Prost won the championship. The Frenchman had already made the decision to leave McLaren midway through the year and so Senna had a new partner for 1990 – Gerhard Berger, with whom he built up a friendship.

1990 and 1991 saw Senna soar to new heights of domination. From 32 races he took 18 pole positions, 13 victories, ten further podiums and 25 finishes in the points. He beat rival Prost by seven points in 1990. In 1991 it was far more commanding as he finished 24 points clear of second placed Nigel Mansell. Senna dropped to fourth in the 1992 standings with a car not quite up to scratch. His last season with McLaren was 1993 when he won five more races and took two further podiums. It was not enough, however, to beat Prost who won his final championship before retiring.

Senna moved to Williams in 1994 but was tragically killed during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. His legacy lives on, however, and he was the last driver fatality in Formula One. His good friend, Dr Sid Watkins, was amongst many people who campaigned tirelessly for safety improvements in the sport. His life was immortalised in the 2010 docu-film Senna, which won a number of awards including a BAFTA for best documentary. His iconic yellow helmet has had variations raced through the years, by Rubens Barrichello, Lewis Hamilton and nephew Bruno Senna to name but a few. When he died he left behind an incredible Formula One record.

41 wins, 80 podiums, and 65 pole positions. He won a record 19 lights to flag races and is the Monaco master – six wins, with five in a row between 1989 and 1993 (inclusive). He also holds the record of most wins for McLaren, of which he has 35 out of 95 races for them. He finished on the podium more times (55) than he was off it/not finishing races. In Brazil he was a national hero and the Instituto Ayrton Senna was set up following his death to continue his work with poverty and children. He also campaigned for improved safety in Formula One.

Senna once said: “If you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver”. He lived by this philosophy himself, and that it part of what made him such an incredible driver.

Honda released this video in honour of Senna earlier this year:

McLaren ’50 in 50′: History in America

The McLaren team have a long and successful history in the United States of America, not just in Formula One but also Can-Am and the Indianapolis 500.

Can-Am 1967-1972

The Canadian-American Challenge Cup (Can-Am) was a sports car series that ran from 1966 to 1986. McLaren contested it from 1967 until 1972 and proved to be highly successful. Bruce McLaren himself drove in the championship until his untimely death in 1970. McLaren Formula One drivers Denny Hulme, Peter Revson, Dan Gurney and Peter Gethin also contributed to the success. Races were held at a number of circuits in the USA and Canada including Mosport, Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen and Elkhart Lake. In 1967 the M6A, piloted by McLaren and Hulme, won the championship with five out of six victories. McLaren was the champion with Hulme in second. In one race, at Laguna Seca, McLaren managed to lap the entire field on his way to victory. In 1968 the positions were reversed as Hulme took the championship with McLaren in second. In 1969 the M8B won the McLaren team a third championship in a row with McLaren champion ahead of Hulme again. The championship was often referred to as the Bruce and Denny show due to their domination over the years. After Bruce’s tragic death while testing the M8D, the team chose to persevere to get the car prepared for the Can-Am championship, knowing it would have been what he had wanted. Hulme once again drove for the team, at first being partnered by Gurney and then by Gethin. It was a dominating season for the team as they took another championship and seven out of eight victories – the perfect tribute to Bruce. A fifth and final title was waiting for the team in 1971. Seven out of nine victories and Revson finishing first in the championship with Hulme in second. 1972 was a disappointing season in comparison with the team finishing behind Team Penske. Following 1972, McLaren pulled out of the Can-Am championship.

Indianapolis 500

The Indianapolis 500 has been running for well over 100 years. It is an annual event held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and is seen as being highly prestigious. McLaren have won the race as constructors on three occasions – 1972, 1974 and 1976. Mark Donohue won it for Roger Penske Enterprises (with a McLaren chassis and an Offenhauser engine), in 1972. He had finished second in 1971 but went one better the following year. He only led the final 13 laps out of 200. Next up was Johnny Rutherford at the wheel of a Bruce McLaren Motor Racing car. He started 25th and led 123 of 200 laps. He had tried, but failed, to win the Indy 500 on ten previous occasions. He won it again for the team in 1976, this time starting on pole position. The race was halted due to rain and after it was restarted the decision was made to stop it completely and Rutherford was classified the winner after 102 racing laps.

Formula One

After Monaco, Belgium and the British Grand Prix, McLaren’s next most successful race is the US Grand Prix (in its many guises). Under the title of the US Grand Prix, McLaren have won on eight occasions and are the joint second most successful constructor there – behind Ferrari and tied with Lotus. McLaren’s most recent win in America was at the inaugural Austin Grand Prix in 2012 when Lewis Hamilton took his final race win for the team. They also won the 1976 and 1977 races at Watkins Glen (with James Hunt taking victory); all three races in Phoenix (Alain Prost 1989 & Ayrton Senna 1990 and 1991); as well as twice at Indianapolis (Mika Hakkinen in 2001 & Hamilton 2007). Other victories in America, at races that did not take the title of ‘US GP’ include two in 1982 – Niki Lauda in Long Beach (aka the USA West Grand Prix) and John Watson in Detroit (aka the USA East Grand Prix). Watson also won the 1983 race at Long Beach. In 1988 Senna won in Detroit. This brings their total of Formula One victories in the USA to 12. Coincidentally, it is 39 years to the day that Emerson Fittipaldi won McLaren’s first ever championship at Watkins Glen.

McLaren ’50 in 50′: History in Britain

The British Grand Prix, McLaren’s home race, is another one that they have been hugely successful at in the past. Winning at both Brands Hatch and Silverstone, McLaren’s 14 British Grand Prix victories place them behind Ferrari, who have won it 15 times. McLaren’s British Grand Prix wins range from Peter Revson’s 1973 win through to 2008, when Lewis Hamilton took to the top step of the podium.

Peter Revson (1973 – Silverstone)

Peter Revson came through the incident-packed 1973 British Grand Prix to take McLaren’s first win there. The team had brought a third car to the race to give Jody Scheckter his Formula One debut. Regular McLaren drivers Revson and Denny Hulme qualified well but were out-done for pole position by Ronnie Peterson. Jackie Stewart took the lead on the first lap, but further back all hell broke loose. Scheckter tried to pass team-mate Hulme, but ran wide onto the grass, before coming back across the track and hitting the wall on the other side. No less than eight other cars got caught up and miraculously there was only one serious accident – a broken leg for Andrea de Adamich. It took the marshalls and medical team half an hour to cut him free from his car, and after an hour and a half the race was restarted, with Peterson taking back the lead. A rain shower allowed Revson to take advantage and he went on to win nearly three seconds clear of Peterson.  Hulme was also on the podium for McLaren.

Emerson Fittipaldi (1975 – Silverstone)

McLaren won the British Grand Prix again, this time at a modified Silverstone, two years later. This time world champion Emerson Fittipaldi was at the wheel. He had already won the British Grand Prix, albeit at Brands Hatch, in 1972. Tom Pryce started on pole position with Fittipaldi down in seventh while team-mate Jochen Mass lined up tenth. At the start Carlos Pace took the lead followed through by Clay Regazzoni and Niki Lauda. As can be expected at the British Grand Prix, rain made an appearance and mixed up the order. A number of drivers pitted for wet tyres, but Fittipaldi was amongst a number of drivers who chose to stay on slicks. This proved to be the right call as the rain eased off and the track started to come back to the dry tyres. James Hunt initially took the lead but, after an engine problem, it went to Fittipaldi. The rain soon returned, however, and a number of drivers slid off the track including Pace, Jody Scheckter, Hunt and Emerson’s brother Wilson Fittipaldi. The race was red flagged and Emerson Fittipaldi was declared the winner. The rest of the order was determined by positions on the previous lap, meaning Pace was classified second with Scheckter third.

James Hunt (1977 – Silverstone)

Another two year wait resulted in McLaren’s third British Grand Prix victory, and this time with a Brit behind the wheel of their car. Hunt lined up on the front row alongside fellow British driver (and future McLaren driver) John Watson who was driving for Brabham. Hunt did not make the best of starts and dropped behind Watson, Niki Lauda and Jody Scheckter. By the seventh lap, however, he was up into third place. After out-braking Lauda for second, it was just Watson standing between Hunt and his first British Grand Prix victory.  A fuel problem for Watson undid all his good work as he was forced to pit for more fuel, giving Hunt the lead as a result. The McLaren driver went on to win the race ahead of Lauda in second and Gunnar Nilsson who finished third for Lotus.

John Watson (1981 – Silverstone)

Following his disappointment in 1977, John Watson won the British Grand Prix in 1981 while driving for McLaren. The Northern Irishman was the only Brit in the field, making his win even more special. Nigel Mansell, Brian Henton and Derek Warwick had failed to qualify. Watson and team-mate Andrea de Cesaris qualified in fifth and sixth for the race. It was a story of failures for a number of drivers. Alan Jones got taken out by a spinning Gilles Villeneuve, de Cesaris had a heavy crash with the barriers, and Nelson Piquet’s tyre exploded. Later on the engine in Didier Pironi’s Ferrari gave up as did Alain Prost’s a few laps later. By this stage Watson was now second with just Rene Arnoux ahead of him. His engine started to give up on him in the closing stages of the race, allowing Watson to close up and overtake to take the lead. He finished 40 seconds clear of second placed man Carlos Reutemann, and Jacques Laffite was a lap down in third.

Niki Lauda (1982 – Brands Hatch)

McLaren’s only British Grand Prix victory away from Silverstone was provided by Niki Lauda, when the won the race when it was held at Brands Hatch. It was also the first time that the team had won the race two years in a row. Keke Rosberg had taken pole position for Williams but stalled on the grid before the parade lap. Riccardo Patrese became the pole man but he too had problems getting away and was collected by Rene Arnoux off the line. Lauda, who had started fifth for McLaren, was already up to second therefore in the early stages of the race. Lauda took the lead of the race on lap ten when Nelson Piquet was forced to retire with a fuel injection problem. He led the race from there and finished a comfortable 25 seconds clear of Didier Pironi and 38 ahead of Patrick Tambay.

Alain Prost (1985, 1989 – Silverstone)

The first driver to win the British Grand Prix more than once for McLaren was the highly successful Alain Prost. He won the race five times in total – twice for McLaren, and once for Renault, Ferrari and Williams. Keke Rosberg was once again on pole, becoming the first man to complete a 160mph lap of Silverstone. Prost started the race from third place alongside Ayrton Senna, who made a lightning start to take the lead at the start. Later on in the race Senna and Prost were locked in a tight battle for the race win. With just 12 laps to go, Senna’s engine started playing up, and with eight laps remaining Prost took the lead. Senna soon had the place back but again Prost overtook him. Senna then, unfortunately for him, retired from the race due to running out of fuel. Prost finished a lap up on Michele Alboreto in second and Jacques Laffite in third. Prost won the race again in 1989, having started the race just behind his team-mate Senna who took pole. Senna spun out of the lead and Prost went onto win after a close battle.

Ayrton Senna (1988 – Silverstone)

Ayrton Senna won the British Grand Prix in 1988 in adverse weather conditions. Gerhard Berger qualified his Ferrari on pole position, with team-mate Michele Alboreto alongside him. Senna started the race from third, just ahead of his McLaren team-mate Alain Prost in fourth. Senna got himself into second at the start, just behind Berger and by lap 13 he was in the lead. He put in a wet masterclass which included lapping his team-mate by as early as lap 25. While others faltered because of accidents or mechanical failures, Senna put in a dominant performance to win the race and be over 20 seconds clear of second placed Nigel Mansell at the flag. Third was Alessandro Nannini in his Benetton, who was over 50 seconds back on the race winner.

David Coulthard (1999, 2000 – Silverstone)

Following Alain Prost’s win in 1989, McLaren had to wait ten years for their next home victory. This time it was David Coulthard who won it. Coulthard qualified third for the race, behind team-mate Mika Hakkinen and his main championship rival Michael Schumacher. Schumacher’s poor start allowed Coulthard to pass him along with Eddie Irvine, Schumacher’s Ferrari team-mate. It was while trying to regain positions that Schumacher had his infamous crash in which he broke his leg, and this led to the race being red flagged. At the restart, Coulthard lost out to Irvine while his team-mate continued to lead. During pit-stops Irvine was held up and Hakkinen’s wheel became loose. The Finn later retired due to safety issues. Coulthard went on to win the race, his first victory of the year and at home, ahead of Irvine and Ralf Schumacher. He would repeat the feat just a year later. Rubens Barrichello secured pole position in a wet/dry qualifying with Coulthard starting the race in fourth. He passed his team-mate early on and fought with Barrichello, who was fighting a hydraulics problem, for the lead. In the end it was a McLaren 1-2, with Coulthard ahead of Hakkinen. Schumacher ended up finishing in third place with Barrichello’s car succumbing to its problems and retiring just over half way through.

Mika Hakkinen (2001 – Silverstone)

After retiring from the race in 1999, and being beaten by his team-mate in 2000, it was Mika Hakkinen’s turn to win in 2001. It was also McLaren’s third victory on the trot at Silverstone. Michael Schumacher took pole but was only under a tenth of a second faster than Hakkinen. Due to differing strategies – Schumacher trying a one-stop, with Hakkinen on a two – the Finn was able to catch and overtake the Ferrari early on in the race, and build up an advantage as well. He lost the lead after his first stop to Juan Pablo Montoya, but soon passed him again and by the end of the race he had a dominating half a minute advantage over Schumacher, and even more over Rubens Barrichello.

Juan Pablo Montoya (2005 – Silverstone)

Champion elect Fernando Alonso started the 2005 British Grand Prix from pole position, but it was McLaren’s Juan Pablo Montoya who won. Montoya’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen had qualified just 0.027s down on the Renault driver but received a 10 place grid drop for an engine change. This promoted Montoya to third on the grid, behind Honda’s Jenson Button and the pole-sitter. Montoya passed Button at the start and set about chasing Alonso. He took the lead on the opening lap but a safety car was quickly deployed as Takuma Sato had stalled on the grid and his car was being moved away. At the restart Montoya maintained his lead and started to pull away. Montoya was the first to stop of the two of them, but Alonso pitted just a lap later. Alonso got caught up in traffic as Montoya pitted for the second time, and after they were both out on track, it was advantage Montoya. Alonso put up a fight but in the end the McLaren driver won by nearly three seconds, with Raikkonen completing a double podium for McLaren in third.

Lewis Hamilton (2008 – Silverstone)

McLaren’s last win at Silverstone came back in 2008, when Lewis Hamilton won en route to his world championship. McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen qualified on pole position by over half a second with Hamilton lining up in fourth. It was a wet race day and Hamilton had a storming start to get into second and challenging his team-mate by the end of the first lap. Kovalainen held him off until lap five when he eventually got through. While other drivers had problems keeping their cars on the track, Hamilton had a dominating drive up at the front. When he crossed the line to win the race he was over a second clear of Nick Heidfeld in second and nearly a minute and a half ahead of Rubens Barrichello. Last year fans voted Hamilton’s race win as their favourite McLaren British Grand Prix moment!

McLaren ’50 in 50′: History in Belgium

Like Monaco, McLaren have a very successful history at another iconic Formula One race that has been on the calendar since the first world championship season. It has missed a few years on the calendar, but of the 69 Belgian Grand Prix held since 1950, McLaren has won 20% of them. Ferrari have won the most times – 16 to McLaren’s 14.

Belgium will also have an important part in McLaren’s history. It was there, back in 1968, that team founder and driver Bruce McLaren took the team’s first ever victory. Ferrari’s Chris Amon started on pole position, but it was New Zealander McLaren who won the race. He finished 12 seconds clear of Pedro Rodriguez and 39 seconds ahead of Jacky Ickx. Since then the team have won on the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit, at Nivelles-Baulers and at Zolder.

Emerson Fittipaldi (1974 – Nivelles-Baulers)

Fittipaldi had won the 1972 race for Lotus and he repeated the feat for McLaren in 1974, six years after McLaren’s first win there. He was also the only driver to have won the Belgian Grand Prix at Nivelles, as the race was only held there twice.  Clay Regazzoni qualified on pole position for the event. Regazzoni’s qualifying time was a full second faster than anyone else. Fittipaldi started from fourth place, alongside Nika Lauda. Regazzoni maintained his lead and Fittpaldi passed Jody Scheckter, who had also started on the front row, to take second place by the end of the first lap. Regazzoni found himself pushed onto the grass by a backmarker during the race, allowing Fittipaldi to pass him for the lead and he went on to win the race. It was not a comfortable victory, however, with Lauda finishing just three tenths of a second behind. Scheckter completed the podium, with Regazzoni finishing 50s off the leaders and in fourth place.

John Watson (1982 – Zolder)

The Belgian Grand Prix weekend in 1982 was marred by the death of Gilles Villeneuve in qualifying for the event. Alain Prost and Rene Arnoux lined up on the front row for the race, with Keke Rosberg and Niki Lauda completing the second row. Eventual winner Watson started from tenth place. Arnoux took the lead from Prost at the start and also lost out to Rsoberg. Arnoux retired from the race early on with a turbo problem and Andrea de Cesaris, who also started ahead of Watson, retired with a gearbox problem. Watson made good use of his harder compound tyres to catch and pass team-mate Lauda. He then set off in pursuit of race leader Rosberg who was struggling with worn tyres. Watson eventually took advantage and took the lead of the race, going on to win – seven seconds clear of Rosberg. Lauda did finish third in the race, giving McLaren a double podium, but his car was found to be underweight meaning Eddie Cheever got third instead.

Alain Prost (1987 – Spa Francorchamps)

Alain Prost was another Belgian Grand Prix race winner for McLaren. He won at Spa-Francorchamps and sparked the start of McLaren’s six year domination at the circuit. The race was stopped after a collision between Phillipe Streiff, who crashed into a barrier, and his team-mate Jonathan Palmer. Both drivers were alright but the broken cars and debris on the track required it to be stopped and it was eventually restarted. Prost progressed to fifth at the restart with the race being led by Nigel Mansell. Mansell and Senna made contact, with Senna trying to pull off an overtake which wrecked both of their races. Mansell was able to continue but later retired. By the end of the first lap Prost was third as he benefitted from the misfortune of the previous race leaders. At the end of the race it was a McLaren 1-2 with Prost winning by 24 seconds over his team-mate Stefan Johansson. They were the only two drivers on the lead lap, with Andrew de Cesaris a distant third.

Ayrton Senna (1988, 1989, 1990 & 1991 – Spa Francorchamps)

Ayrton Senna is the second most successful driver at the Belgian Grand Prix with five victories. He sits behind only Michael Schumacher who won the race six times. Four of Senna’s Belgian Grand Prix wins came when he was driving for McLaren (his first was for Lotus). McLaren dominated qualifying for the 1988 edition of the race, taking their seventh front row lockout in 11 races. Senna had a slow getaway, allowing his team-mate Alain Prost to take the lead. Senna patiently waited and out-braked him going into Les Combes. From there on in Senna led the race and McLaren secured a 1-2 finish, with Ivan Capelli third for March. The Benetton drivers had been third and fourth but were disqualified from the results due to fuel irregularities. 1989 started off with another front row lock-out for McLaren, again with Senna ahead of Prost. After a delayed start due to the weather, Senna this time maintained the lead at the start. It was a lights to flag victory for Senna, winning in difficult conditions and finishing a second clear of his team-mate. Nigel Mansell completed the podium, finishing in third place. With Prost off to Ferrari, Senna had a new team-mate to contend with 1990 in the form of former Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger. Once again McLaren domianted qualifying, with yet another front row lock-out. The race took three starts to get going. At the start Lola Larrousse slid into Nelson Piquet, who in turn hit Mansell’s Ferrari. The Ferrari hit the barrier nose-first and blocked the track. The two Lotus drivers then collided after trying to find space on the track. Further around the lap Satoro Nakajima came to a halt, as did Emanuele Pirro and Nicola Larini. The race was unsurprisingly red flagged. At the re-start, Senna once again maintained his lead but it did not last long as the race was stopped again, this time because of a heavy crash at Eau Rouge involving Paolo Barilla. The third re-start proved to be the final one and Senna continued at the front until the chequered flag. He finished three and a half seconds clear of his former team-mate Prost, and 28 seconds ahead of Berger. Senna’s final Belgian Grand Prix victory came in 1991. This race is also famous for featuring the debut of a certain young Michael Schumacher. McLaren did not enjoy their usual dominating qualifying they had gotten used to at Spa, but Senna still landed himself on pole with Berger in fourth. Senna led the race until the first round of pit-stops, when he lost out to Mansell, who later retired from the race. It also looked like Senna may be out when his engine cut out but he found a gear and managed to continue racing. He took advantage of another engine failure – namely race-leader Prost’s – and retook the lead of the race. He headed a McLaren 1-2 with Berger finishing about two seconds down on his team-mate. Piquet took third.

David Coulthard (1999 – Spa Francorchamps)

After a dominating few years, McLaren had to wait eight years for their next Belgian Grand Prix victory. It was David Coulthard’s team-mate, 1998 world champion Mika Hakkinen, who took pole position for the race. McLaren returned to their Belgian Grand Prix form with a bang – another front row lock-out for the team. The pair made contact at the start, with Coulthard forcing his way into the lead. He continued on to win the race with Hakkinen finishing in second place. He ended up ten seconds behind Coulthard, who was half a minute ahead of third placed man Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

Mika Hakkinen (2000 – Spa Francorchamps)

It was Mika Hakkinen’s turn for victory in 2000, having had to finish second to his team-mate in 1999. He qualified on pole position (“we got it right,” he said after qualifying) with seven tenths over Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button. Michael Schumacher qualified in fourth place and Hakkinen’s team-mate was in fifth. The race was started behind the safety car due to the wetness of the track after rain in the morning. When the race finally started properly (sans-Safety Car) Hakkinen pulled out a lead. Schumacher put pressure on the Finn and the McLaren driver had a spin, causing him to take to the grass and for his lead to be erradicated – Schumacher took the lead. On the run up to Les Combes, Hakkinen got a good run at the Ferrari driver, but Schumacher pulled across to cover him. A lap later, however, it was a different story. Backmarker Ricardo Zonta was in the middle of the track and, as Schumacher took to the left to overtake him, Hakkinen stormed past on the right and retook the lead of the race. His winning margin was just over a second, with Schumacher’s brother Ralf finishing half a minute down in third.

(If you have never seen the classic overtake before, please follow this link…)

Kimi Raikkonen (2004 & 2005 – Spa Francorchamps)

Kimi Raikkonen has won the Belgian Grand Prix – twice for McLaren and twice for Ferrari. His first victory at Spa for the McLaren team was in 2004. He qualified tenth on the grid, 3.4s down on pole sitter Jarno Trulli. In the opening stages of the race he made contact with Felipe Massa as he looked to progress. After an early safety car, Raikkonen was already into fifth position. By the sixth lap Raikkonen had passed his team-mate, David Coulthard, for third place – now running behind Trulli and Fernando Alonso. By lap 18 he had the race lead. After a pit-stop he rejoined the race in second place but soon was leading once again. He finished the race in first place, taking McLaren’s first and only victory of 2004. He was three seconds clear of Michael Schumacher and a further second ahead of Rubens Barrichello. His 2005 race win there was much more straightforward. He was second to Juan Pablo Montoya in qualifying, giving McLaren another front-row lock-out in Belgium and won the race a huge 28 seconds clear of Alonso with Jenson Button in third.

Lewis Hamilton (2010)

Lewis Hamilton started the 2010 Belgian Grand Prix in second place, behind Mark Webber. He instantly took the lead as Webber dropped down the pack. In the early stages he led a McLaren 1-2 after Jenson Button fought past Robert Kubica and defended from Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton successfully navigated an early safety car and, while there was drama behind, Hamilton was largely untroubled at the front. The rain started falling with less than ten laps remaining and Hamilton slipped into the gravel. He kept the car going and made it to the pits for intermediate tyres. Kubica finished third. Hamilton did win the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix on the track but a post-race 25 second penalty for gaining an advantage for cutting a chicane gave Felipe Massa the recorded victory.

Jenson Button (2012)

Jenson Button took a commanding victory in the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix, after qualifying on pole rescued him from a first corner melee that claimed his team-mate Lewis Hamilton. The accident, triggered by Romain Grosjean (he received a race ban for it), took out Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez as well, with Pastor Maldonado and Kamui Kobayashi also involved. The Sauber driver had to continue the race with a hole in the side of his car. Button finished the race a convincing 13 seconds clear of Sebastian Vettel and a returning Kimi Raikkonen.