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 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′: Gerhard Berger

Austrian driver Gerhard Berger came from a background of racing for ATS, Arrows, Benetton and most notably Ferrari before he joined McLaren. He was already a multiple race winner when he joined McLaren in 1990, replacing a departing Alain Prost and partnering Ayrton Senna.

Berger raced in F3 and touring cars before making his Formula One debut in 1984 at his home grand prix, driving for German team ATS. He finished sixth in Italy which should have been his first points in F1 but he did not receive it due to not being officially registered. The following year he moved to Arrows scoring points at the last two races of the season. In 1986 it was another team for Berger, this time piloting the Benetton to seventh in the championship. He picked up his first podium in San Marino, where he finished third. Later that year he won the Mexican Grand Prix, making good use of his Pirelli tyres meaning to beat Alain Prost by 25 seconds.

Berger was signed up by Ferrari in a three year deal starting in 1987. He partnered Michele Alboreto in 1987 and 1988 and was joined by Nigel Mansell in 1989. During his time with Ferrari, Berger took four wins and seven further podiums. In 1988 he was the only non-McLaren driver to win a race, a popular win at the Italian squad’s home race. Consistent scoring and podium finishes saw him finish third in the championship although with less than half the points of Prost in second. It was a disappointing season in 1989 with reliability problems and accidents led to him finishing only three races. All three were podium positions including a win in Portugal.

Following Prost’s departure, Berger was signed up to McLaren for 1990. His first race weekend started well after securing pole position for the US Grand Prix. It didn’t end successfully, however, after he crashed and then later retired with clutch problems. The next handful of races yielded four podiums from five races. He ended the year in fourth place in the championship, tied on points with Nelson Piquet. Berger’s team-mate Senna won the championship. He replicated the result in 1991 – fourth in the championship with 43 points. Again Senna won the championship. In 1992 he scored more points – 49 to be precise – but dropped to fifth in the championship. In total, over the course of three years, Berger accumulated 18 podiums and three wins. He announced before the end of the 1992 season that he would be leaving the team to return to Ferrari.

Berger is known for his friendship with Senna, which developed during their time as team-mates. The pair were known for playing practical jokes on each other. Following his retirement from Formula One in 1997, he still remained in the sport. He was the first driver to drive on the Shanghai International Circuit in 2003, behind the wheel of a Ferrari. He also owned a 50% stake of Toro Rosso between 2006 and 2008 before selling his share back to Dietrich Mateschitz. He is currently President of the FIA Single Seat Commission.