Tag: 2000

Jenson Button: 250 GP and the magic formula

Jenson Button is the most experienced driver on the current Formula One grid, and the fifth most experienced driver of all time. This weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix he will celebrate his 250 Grand Prix start. Over the years he has enjoyed a number of wins, podiums, and a championship – just some of the numbers that make up his career. But what contributes to his magic formula?

7 teams

2014 is Jenson Button’s 15th season in Formula One and over that time he has raced for seven teams. He started his F1 career with Williams in 2000 and since then has spent time with Benetton, Renault, BAR, Honda, Brawn GP, and currently races for McLaren. While the records show that he has raced for seven teams, some are linked. Benetton was rebranded as Renault between 2001 and 2002 and Button remained with the outfit. BAR was bought by Honda at the end of 2005 and Button drove for Honda Racing until the team’s withdrawal from F1 at the end of 2008. The team was then bought out by Ross Brawn and so Brawn GP was born. Button then moved to McLaren for the 2010 season and is currently taking part in his fifth season for the team.

10 team-mates

During his time at those seven teams, Button has had ten different team-mates. His team-mate in his rookie year was Ralf Schumacher. In 2001 when he moved to Benetton he was partnered by Giancarlo Fisichella, who was replaced by Jarno Trulli in 2002. Button’s 2003 team-mate was 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve. Takuma Sato partnered Button at BAR for 2004 and 2005, being replaced at one race for Button’s fellow Brit Anthony Davidson. Rubens Barrichello joined Honda in 2006, following his departure from Ferrari, and was Button’s team-mate for four seasons, including the world championship year in 2009. Button partnered Lewis Hamilton at McLaren for three seasons before lining up alongside Sergio Perez in 2013. Button currently races with Kevin Magnussen at McLaren.

5 times

This is the number of times Button has been beaten by his team-mate in the drivers championship. In his rookie year he was beaten by team-mate R Schumacher by 12 points. Button was also beaten by Fisichella in 2001 this time by a smaller margin of six points. From 2002 to 2007 inclusive Button had the upper hand over his team-mates, beating Trulli, Villeneuve, Sato, and Barrichello. His advantage over Trulli was five points, it was 11 over Villeneuve and 51 over Sato in 2004. In 2005 his advantage was 36 points over Sato, and in his first year up against Barrichello Button out-scored him by 26 points. Barrichello got the better result in 2008, by eight points, but Button was obviously ahead in 2009 when he won the world championship. Button’s advantage then was 18 points over his team-mate. Hamilton outscored Button by 26 points in their first year as team-mates, but Button had the upper hand in 2011 by 43 points. Hamilton scored two more points than Button in 2012 while Button had the advantage over Perez in 2013 by 24 points. So, during his 14 years in F1, Button has finished ahead of his team-mate nine times.

15 victories

Since that memorable first victory in 2006, Button has won a further 14 times, bringing his win tally to 15. He had to wait six seasons before his first win and his second followed after two seasons of disappointment. After Honda withdrew from F1, Brawn GP rose from the ashes and dominated the first half of the season. Button won six of the first seven races, missing out on the top step of the podium in China but still finishing in third. He won again in Australia in 2010 and won in China that same year. He won a dramatic 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, where he dropped to the back of the field on more than one occasion and had contact with his team-mate. He fought up to second on the last lap and when Sebastian Vettel made an uncharacteristic mistake he took the advantage and won. He also won in Hungary again, and his adopted home race in Japan. In 2012 victories came in Australia, Belgium and Brazil. The 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix was his last victory to date. As well as 15 victories, Button has started on pole position eight times but only five of his wins came from pole.

8 races on current calendar not won

Button’s 15 victories have come at 12 different circuits. This means that he has won eleven of the races on the 2014 F1 calendar. He has not won in Austria (which makes its F1 return this year), his home race at Silverstone, in Germany, or Italy despite standing on the podium four times there. He is also yet to win in Singapore, Russia, Abu Dhabi and the USA.

50 podiums

Button’s 50th podium came at this year’s Australian Grand Prix although he didn’t actually stand on it as the result came after the disqualification of Daniel Ricciardo. His 50 podiums include his 15 aforementioned victories. Button has stood on the podium at 18 different races – from Australia to Brazil and many other races in between. Not including his victories, he has been on the podium the most times at the Italian Grand Prix – a total of four. Other multiple podium appearances have come at the Malaysian, German, Chinese, and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (three times); and the Monaco, European, Canadian, Belgium, Brazilian, and Singapore Grand Prix (two times). He has been on the podium in Bahrain, San Marino, Japan, Turkey, Spain, India and Australia as well.

140 points finishes

Of the races that Button has finished, he has finished 140 times in the points (not including his two points finishes in 2014). This is from 199 finishes. Since 2000, Button has had an average of 5.6 DNFs per season.

6.8 average finishing position

Following on from Button’s 140 points finishes, his average finishing position is 6.8. This is taken from races he finished and not including the two in 2014.

 8th – average championship position

Over his 14 full seasons in F1 Button has finished an average eighth in the championship. His highest championship position was when he won it in 2009, his lowest was 18th in 2008 when Honda had a particularly dismal season. He finished third in 2004 and second in 2011.

1 world championship

Last but by no means least Button has won the world championship. This was in 2009 when he dominated the first half of the season, winning six of the first seven races. It was a long time coming for the British driver, but he eventually got there and made sure his name was in the history books.

So, there we have it. 7 teams + 10 team-mates + 5 times + 15 victories + 8 races on current calendar not won + 50 podiums + 140 points finishes + 6(.8) average finishing position + 8th average championship position + 1 world championship = 250 GP.

Button is regarded as a smooth driver who is particularly good in wet/dry conditions. He revealed on the McLaren website that the nicest thing someone ever said to him was something his late father John Button said: “You might not be the quickest driver in the world… but you’re the best.”

For more magic formula posts follow this link.

Advertisements

Analysis: how would double points have changed the last 20 years? Part One

It’s the morning after the night before. The news that from 2014 onwards, the last race of the season will have double points is still being met with largely negative views. Some have said Formula One is turning into wacky races – what will happen next?

The idea behind the double points is that championship battles will be maximised and go on for as long as possible, i.e. the last race of the season. This post is the first of two which will look back at the last 20 years and see the changes, if any, double points for the last race would have made to any of the championships.

Points were awarded to the top six in the following format: 10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 meaning double points in the last race would have been worth: 20, 12, 8, 6, 4, 2.

1993 – Alain Prost

In 1993 Alain Prost won the world championship ahead of Ayrton Senna and Damon Hill. Prost had 99 points and had a 26 point advantage over Senna and 30 points over Hill at the end of the season. He had already wrapped up the championship before going into the last race and so double points would have resulted in no change:

  1. Alain Prost (99) – 111 points
  2. Ayrton Senna (73) – 83 points
  3. Damon Hill (69) – 77 points

Instead, Prost would have marginally increased his deficit over both drivers, despite Senna winning the last race of the season in Australia. There would have been minor changes elsewhere, however, with  double points allowing Jean Alesi to move ahead of Riccardo Patrese, and Gerhard Berger to leapfrog Martin Brundle. The Constructors championship would have remained as it was.

1993

1994 – Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher won his first of seven world championships in 1994, finishing one point ahead of Damon Hill and 51 points ahead of third placed man Gerhard Berger. Neither Schumacher nor Hill scored in the last race so double points would not have effected the order:

  1. Michael Schumacher 92
  2. Damon Hill 91
  3. Gerhard Berger (41) – 47

Double points would have seen Nigel Mansell elevated from ninth to sixth and Martin Brundle dropping from seventh to eighth, despite gaining points. Again the Constructors championship standings would have been unaltered.

1994

1995 – Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher won his second world championship in 1995, this time with a more dominant point deficit. He finished the year 33 points ahead of Damon Hill who in turn was 20 ahead of David Coulthard. Once again Schumacher failed to score points in the final race but he already had a significant points advantage so double points would have made little difference:

  1. Michael Schumacher 102
  2. Damon Hill (69) 79
  3. David Coulthard 49

The only other changes in the top ten would have been Olivier Panis swapping places with Mika Hakkinen due to scoring six more points, and Mark Blundell moving ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

1995

1996 – Damon Hill

After finishing second in 1994 and 1995, Damon Hill became world champion in 1996. He finished 19 points ahead of Jacques Villeneuve with Michael Schumacher in third place. Villeneuve failed to score points in the last race so Hill’s win, with or without double points was enough to secure him the championship although he would have still won without winning:

  1. Damon Hill (97) 107
  2. Jacques Villeneuve 78
  3. Michael Schumacher (59) 65

Once again the Constructors championship would have remained unchanged with Williams winning by a significant margin over Ferrari.

1996

1997 – Jacques Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve was crowned champion in 1997 when he finished 39 points ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen. David Coulthard took third place a further six points back. Michael Schumacher had ended the year in second, just three points down on Villeneuve, but was disqualified for a collision he had with the Williams driver. Schumacher was just ahead in terms of points going into the final race but his disqualification means that double points would have made no difference:

  1. Jacques Villeneuve (81) 88
  2. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (42) 43
  3. David Coulthard (36) 42

Double points would have benefitted Mika Hakkinen in the championship, as he would have finished in fourth place instead of sixth. In the Constructors championship, McLaren would also have gained from double points in the last race. They would have moved up to third place, ahead of Benetton who actually finished in third.

1997

1998 – Mika Hakkinen

Mika Hakkinen won the first of his two world championships in 1998, beating Michael Schumacher by 14 points and team-mate Coulthard by 44 points. Going into the last race Hakkinen had a four point advantage over Schumacher, but the Ferrari driver failed to score. Double points would therefore have done little to the standings:

  1. Mika Hakkinen (100) 110
  2. Michael Schumacher 86
  3. David Coulthard (56) 60

Damon Hill would have benefited from double points as they would have enabled him to finish ahead of Jacques Villeneuve.

1998

1999 – Mika Hakkinen

Mika Hakkinen became a double world champion in 1999, beating off competition from Eddie Irvine and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. The Finn won by just two points, and was trailing Irvine by four points as they went into the last race of the season. Frentzen finished the year a further 20 points behind Irvine. If double points at the last race had been in play, the order would not have been altered, but Hakkinen would have enjoyed a larger deficit:

  1. Mika Hakkinen (76) 86
  2. Eddie Irvine (74) 78
  3. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (54) 57

Michael Schumacher, who broke his leg at the British Grand Prix and subsequently missed six races, would have benefited from double points at the last round and would have moved from fifth to fourth. In the Constructors championship, Williams would have gained enough points to see them finish in fourth place in the standings.

1999

2000 – Michael Schumacher

After a disappointing 1999, with a number of races spent on the sidelines, Michael Schumacher was back to winning ways in 2000. He clinched his third world championship, ending the year 19 points ahead of Mika Hakkinen, and 35 points ahead of Hakkinen’s McLaren team-mate David Coulthard. Going into the last race, Schumacher had a 12 point lead over Hakkinen so, with ten points available for a win, the championship fight was over before the last race:

  1. Michael Schumacher (108) 118
  2. Mika Hakkinen (89) 92
  3. David Coulthard (73) 79

Jacques Villeneuve would have gained a position thanks to double points but the rest of the top ten would have remained as they were. BAR-Honda would have gained a place in the Constructors championship, progressing to fourth and dropping Benetton to fifth.

2000

2001 – Michael Schumacher

Championship number four was not far away for Michael Schumacher. A dominating year saw him finish well clear of second place man David Coulthard and team-mate Rubens Barrichello. With the championship well and truly wrapped up before the final race of the year, double points would not have made the blindest bit of difference, even if Coulthard had taken 20 and Schumacher none:

  1. Michael Schumacher (123) 133
  2. David Coulthard 65
  3. Rubens Barrichello (56) 58

Elsewhere, the rest of the top ten would have stayed exactly where they finished if double points had been available. There would have been no movement in the Constructors table either.

2001

2002 – Michael Schumacher

Another Michael Schumacher championship in 2002 saw him beat competition from team-mate Rubens Barrichello. As had been the case in 2001, the championship came long before the final race of the season, so Barrichello could not have closed the 63 point gap with double, triple or even quadruple points available:

  1. Michael Schumacher (144) 154
  2. Rubens Barrichello (77) 83
  3. Juan Pablo Montoya (50) 53

As was also the case in 2001, double points would not have altered the top ten at all and the Constructors championship would also have remained static.

2002

So far, looking back at ten seasons (1993 – 2002), the double points rule would not have made a difference to any of the championships, had they finished as they did. Part two of this analysis will look at 2003 – 2013 and see what part, if any, double points would have played.

McLaren ’50 in 50′: Jenson Button

Jenson Button is McLaren’s most recent race winner in two ways. He won last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, making him the last McLaren driver to stand on the top step of the podium. He is also the 19th driver to win a race for McLaren and, unless Sergio Perez wins one of the last few races, he will remain the most recent race winner for them until next year at least.

Button joined McLaren in 2010, fresh off the back of his first world championship, which he won driving for Brawn GP. Button joined 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton at the team making it an all British, back-to-back champions line-up. Victor of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year award in 1998, Button got his first taste of Formula One testing a McLaren in 1999. He became a race driver for Williams in 2000, giving him over a decade of experience in the sport.

Button’s route to Formula One is a standard one – started karting when he was young, and progressed through single seater championships. In 1991 he won all 34 races in the British Cadet Kart Championship, impressing from the get go. British Formula Fords was his first port of call in single seaters, and he won that in his debut year by 15 points. British Formula 3 followed and he finished the year in third place. He tested for McLaren and Prost and was involved in a shoot-out with Bruno Junqueira for a vacant seat at Williams.

Button finished eighth in his first year with Williams, finishing in the points on six occaions. Despite impressing, he was dropped by Williams in favour of Juan Pablo Montoya, so he joined Benetton. He had a lacklustre season in 2001 before finishing seventh in 2002. Button’s long relationship with Honda started when he joined BAR for 2003. He had his best season to date in 2004, finishing on the podium on ten occasions and scoring points in all but three races. He finished the year in third place – the closest challenger to the Ferrari duo of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. 2005 was so-so and at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix, Button was awarded for all his perserverence over the years. He won in tricky conditions, ending his long spell without a win. He had to wait until 2009 to win again, however, but by that stage it was worth the wait.

After Honda pulled out of the sport, the team was bought and rebranded Brawn GP, with former Ferrari man Ross Brawn at the helm. With a major technical and regulation shake-up mixing the order up, Brawn GP and Red Bull Racing moved to the fore. Button won six of the first seven races in 2009, demonstrating the domination of Brawn GP. That proved to be all his victories for 2009 after the latter half of the season was spent consistently scoring points but not podiums. The early domination, however, was enough for Button to win the championship and Brawn GP, with Barrichello’s added success, became the constructors champions.

Button joined McLaren in 2010, replacing Heikki Kovalainen. He ranks joint eighth in terms of all time wins list, winning eight races (joint with Nika Lauda). In 2013 he became the de facto number one after Hamilton’s departure. He is regarded a consistent pair of hands, after his vast amount of experience. He finished seventh in his first race for McLaren but won in Australia, the second race of the year. He was in contention for the championship but ultimately fell at the last hurdle and finished fifth. In 2011 he came second to a dominant Sebastian Vettel and finished fifth in 2012. He has started 72 races for McLaren and has eight wins, 17 additional podiums, and 58 points finishes in total. 2013 has been a difficult year for the team and as yet the podium has alluded them. McLaren have not officially confirmed their 2014 drivers, but it is widely considered Button will remain. He is the most experienced current driver on the grid and, with another regulation shake-up and new engines coming into play, the McLaren team will hopefully progress to challenging at the front once again.

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′: Mika Hakkinen

MikaThere’s an exception to every rule. In this case, the rule is that Finnish Formula 1 drivers are uniquely stone-cold racing machines. Yes, you might occasionally catch a hint of irritation in Kimi Raikkonen’s radio communications, but the Finns don’t do emotional, they don’t do flamboyant. The exception then, and it was only one exception, was Mika Hakkinen’s breakdown in the bushes at Monza in 1999. He had put his McLaren off the track at the chicane from a comfortable lead on lap 30. It was a topsy turvy year already, with Hakkinen the defending Drivers Champion duelling both with arch-rival Michael Schumacher and team-mate David Coulthard. Hakkinen’s reaction to his unforced error (he engaged first gear instead of changing up), was uncharacteristically un-Finnish. He threw his gloves and steering wheel to the ground and went off into the bushes, but not out of sight of the cameras, for a good cry. The history books record the facts: Schumacher missed a great big chunk of the season after a big crash at Silverstone, Mika held off the Ferraris of Eddie Irvine and the returning Schumacher to clinch his second title. But in that moment, that short interlude in the bushes at Monza when the weight of a thrown away race crushed him, Mika Hakkinen found a special place in the hearts of Formula 1 fans of all kinds.

Not that he wasn’t already loved. Hakkinen and Schumacher were the two gladiators of the second half of the 1990s. As rivals, they complemented each other well. Schumacher was the ultimate tactician, an ever-evolving racing computer who rarely miscalculated an opportunity. Hakkinen had that raw speed, the extra vision for an opportunity, a balls-out racer’s racer. He also made mistakes. Where Schumacher earned a grudging respect for his relentless racecraft, Hakkinen had you on the edge of your seat. He was brilliant. Sometimes he was rubbish. Often he was plain unlucky.

If you saw Mika’s Top Gear segment where he took James May round the forest in a rally-prepared Mercedes-Benz 190E, you’ll remember he explained the Finnish notion of ‘sisu’. This is a uniquely Scandinavian attribute, a quality combining determination with courage in adversity. We’d call it ‘grit’. As a driver, Hakkinen had sisu in abundance. If you need an example, recall his double overtake on Schumacher and backmarker Ricardo Zonta at Spa in 2000 – arguably one of the bravest and most memorable overtaking manouvers of the modern era. Sisu and then some.

But for a man who has much to brag about, Hakkinen remains a taciturn and laconic man. Not that he’s without humour. A notoriously difficult interviewee there is, nonetheless, the hint of something mischievous about his media performances. You can’t help but feel that a night out with Mika would be fun in a way that a night out with Kimi might not be.

But what about that bad luck? There’s a horrible irony in the fact that the fire that destroyed his house was caused by a faulty light in his trophy cabinet. What does everyone remember about that fire? That Mika’s pet tortoise was cremated. Oh yes, and he lost all his trophies.

You can read on wikipedia that Mika can ride a unicycle. I bet he’s bloody good at it. I can’t imagine him not being good at anything. Happy birthday Mika, and thanks for the racing years.

(Another guest post by @carlpeter)