2006 European GP
This is the final part 7 of the European Grand Prix mini history series – years 2006 – 2007.
The 2006 season was all about the title fight between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher and the European GP was not too different. This was by no means a classic and in line with the usual practice the race win was decided in the pitlane. Fernando Alonso claimed the pole position ahead of Ferrari duo Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa. Alonso had better start and kept the lead. Behind them a little Liuzzi (Toro Rosso), Ralf (Toyota) and Coulthard (Red Bull) get together resulted in Safety Car. After the restart Alonso and Schumacher pulled away and from then on it was all between these two. Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) lead the race too for a while during the pit stop times but that was about it. After the first round of pit stops Alonso still had the lead. Then Alonso made his second stop on lap 38, Schumacher stayed out until lap 41. Those few flat out laps made all the difference and Schumacher rejoined the race in the lead. He went on to win what was to be his last F1 race at Nurburgring. Alonso finished second, Massa third, Raikkonen 4th.
Alonso and Sato, 2004 European GP
This is part 6 of the European Grand Prix mini history series – years 2004 – 2005.
Season 2004 saw some changes in the order. Williams begun their decline, McLaren suffered from reliability issues (especially in the early stages of the season). Their places were taken by BAR Honda and Renault. And Ferraris were running away with the championship from the very beginning. European GP was the race number 7 of the season. Michael Schumacher won the first 5 and was ready to get back to winning ways after crashing out of Monaco race. Schumacher claimed the pole position after running light in qualifying, quick Takuma Sato lined up next to him in P2. Jarno Trulli (Renault, the winner in Monaco) and Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) occupied the second row. At the start Schumacher pulled away with the help of Kimi Raikkonen who jumped ahead of Sato (BAR Honda) and Trulli and held them back. Also at the start, Williams team mates Montoya and Ralf Schumacher touched their wheels and Ralf was out.
2003 European GP Podium
This is part 5 of the European Grand Prix mini history series – years 2001 – 2003.
The 2001 European GP is best remembered for Schumi vs Schumi at the race start. The big brother Michael grabbed the pole from his little brother Ralf , Juan Pablo Montoya was on P3. At the race start Michael felt aseep a tiny bit and to defend his lead Michael Schumacher pushed his brother way too close to the wall. Ralf had only 2 options – either to hit the wall or lift his foot off the throttle. He chose the throttle action and as a result Michael Schumacher kept his lead, Ralf stayed in second. Ferrari’s Bridgestones worked better early on and Michael pulled away. Soon however the advantage turned to Michelins. Ralf was pushing his brother hard and Montoya was closing on both of them.
Ralf Schumacher European GP 1999
This is part 4 of the European Grand Prix mini history series – years 1999 and 2000.
After one year break European GP returned to calendar in 1999. It was back to Nurburgring and the European GP would stay at this circuit for nine years, till 2007, more as a second German GP thanks to increased interest in F1 in Germany during Schumacher’s era. In 1999 the European GP was the last European race of the calendar. With three races to go Mika Hakkinen (McLaren), Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan) and David Coulthard (McLaren) still had a shot at the title. Michael Schumacher was missing, nursing his broken leg.
This is part 3 of the European Grand Prix mini history series – years 1996 and 1997.
In 1996 European Grand Prix returned to Nurburgring for the second year in a row. Yet again it turned out to be a significant race – the future champion won his first race here.
Williams were the team to beat those days and so it came as no suprise that Damon Hill and the new arrival from American racing Jacques Villeneuve booked themselves the front row on the grid. Behind them lined up Schumacher (Ferrari), Alesi (Benetton), Barrichello (Jordan) and Coulthard (McLaren). Confident Hill however made mess of his start and Villeneuve took the lead. Coulthard came out of nowhere in struggling McLaren and found himself 2nd challenging for the lead. Barrichello moved up to third ahead of Schumacher, Hill and Hakkinen.
After eight years break the European GP returned to Formula 1 calendar in 1993 for so far the one only F1 race at Donnington Park, the planned post 2009 British GP venue. And again same as back in 1983 the European GP happened because plans for another race, the Asian GP in Japan, failed. There were several memorable European GP races in the past and the 1993 Donnington race is one of them, remembered as perhaps the greatest Ayrton Senna’s victory. The race started in wet rainy conditions. After start Prost held on to his P1 ahead of Hill while Senna dropped one back behind to fifth behind Wendlinger and Schumacher. However by the end of lap one Senna was leading the race (video). He won this wet-dry-wet-dry race over a minute ahead of Damon Hill who was the only driver on the same lap Senna (after unlapping himself).
Formula 1 and F1Wolf will head to Valencia in 2 weeks for the inaugural Formula 1 race on Valencia Street Circuit. This may be the first European GP in Valencia but the history of European Grand Prix goes much further back. In fact it goes all the way back to 1923, long before Formula 1 championship was formed. There were however no standalone races between 1923 and 1997. One race a year received the honorary European GP title and that was it. Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Monaco, Netherelands, Austria, Switzerland and Great Britain all had the honours to run some of their Grands Prix as an European GP in those years. This mini series will however focus on the European GPs proper.
It all started almost by accident in 1983. When the New York Grand Prix was cancelled with only 3 months to go. Organizers from Brands Hatch were able to step in and host the race as European GP (British GP title was not available, that race was held at Silverstone that year). It was the penultimate race of the season with three drivers still in the hunt for championship – Prost, Piquet and Tambay. The race was won by Nelson Piquet (who then secured th title in South Africa) ahead of Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell.