The Times? free digital archive captures 45 years of Formula 1 history

Gilles Villeneuve obituary, The Times, 1982

The Times newspaper has made two centuries of its archives freely available on the internet.

A vast amount of F1 history is contained in this excellent resource. Here are seven examples I found with a quick search but make sure you have a look at the archive too.

The death of Jim Clark, 1968

Formula 1 probably appeared on the front of The Times quite rarely in the 1960s. But this front cover reporting the shock death of Jim Clark in an F2 race shows how stunned the motor racing world was by the death of one of the sport?s greatest exponents.

Clark’s car skidded off the Hockenheim racing circuit in the pine forests of Heidelburg after comleting only two miles of the first of 20 laps around this treacherously fast, difficult circuit, which straddles the Frankfurt-Karlsruhe autobahn.

Jim Clark dies in German motor race crash – The Times, April 8th 1968

Alain Prost becomes France?s first F1 champion, 1985

France may have seen the first recognised Grand Prix in 1906 but in took until 1985 for a French driver to win the world championship. Alain Prost claimed the crown on the day Nigel Mansell scored his first Grand Prix victory:

Prost was given the news of Alboreto’s exit from the pits and then drove conservatively, happy to slip to seventh place before a mid-race tyre change cost him, a further position. Then he set about collecting those crucial two points by finishing no worse than fifth.

The world’s toast is Prost – The Times, October 7th 1985

South African Grand Prix row, 1985

The Times? archive runs up to 1985 at present and so this political row from late that year is one of the most recent F1 stories. Teams, drivers and sponsors voiced their concerns at racing in Apartheid South Africa and some of them even withdrew:

Keke Rosberg, Finland’s former world formula one champion, will, after all, be allowed to drive in the South African Grand Prix under his national competition licence (AFP reports). The go-ahead for Rosberg, who drives for the British Williams team, came from the Finnish Automobile Federation.

Ligier pull out of Kyalami race – The Times, September 20th, 1985

More on the 1985 South African Grand Prix here: F1 and racism ?ǣ the 1985 South African Grand Prix

Fangio?s greatest race, Nurburgring 1957

Juan Manuel Fangio?s final Formula 1 triumph, at the Nurburgring in 1957, was surely the greatest of the five-times champion?s exceptional career.

Amid the greatest excitement Fangio closed in on Collins as they returned behind the pits to the North Curve and, leaving his moment to the last possible moment, he slipped by the young Englishman as they entered the corner. All eyes now turned to the illuminated map and scoreboard to see when he would catch Hawthorn.

Fangio’s finest race – The Times, August 5th 1957

More on the 1957 German Grand Prix here: The Greatest Wins – Fangio

James Hunt vs Niki Lauda, 1976

Preview of the title decider in the epic 1976 season, which came down to a fight between Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Interesting to see that even three decades ago The Times thought its readers so unfamiliar with F1 it had to explain the rules to them:

The World Championship is a contest based on points scored in a series of qualifying Formula One Grands Prix of which this year there have been 16 – more than ever before. Points are awarded at the rate of 9, 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1 for the first six drivers who cross the line in each race.

Hunt or Lauda? An ideal champion would be a mixture of both – The Times, October 23, 1976

The death of Gilles Villeneuve, 1982

Even in the dangerous days of the early 1980s, fatalities were comparatively rare in Formula 1. But a terrible accident in qualifying at Zolder in Belgium claimed the life of Gilles Villeneuve, one of the sport?s most popular characters and astonishing talents.

It would have been fitting, indeed, if this great entertainer, so diminutive in stature but so lion-hearted, could have scored his final triumph in front of Italian enthusiasts, to so many of whom he had become such a hero.

Obituary: Gilles Villeneuve, courageous and skilful Grand Prix driver – The Times, May 10th 1982

The creation of a championship, 1950

Buried down in the small print of a February 1950 issue I found a small story noting the birth of the Formula 1 World Championship as we know it today:

The Federation International Automobile has decided to institute a championship of the world for racing drivers based on the results of the seven most important motor races organised by national motor clubs…The champion driver will win a cup and diploma.

Motor Racing – The Times, February 28th 1950

I have barely scratched the surface of this immense resource. But do give it a try (it requires registration, which is free) and post links to your favourite finds below…

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4 comments on The Times? free digital archive captures 45 years of Formula 1 history

  1. Steven Roy said on 13th June 2008, 21:49

    That is a fabulous find Keith and is no doubt going to result in me spending even more hours in front of a computer.

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th June 2008, 22:35

    Sadly it seems it’s not going to be free indefinitely so have a go while you can!

  3. Sassan said on 13th June 2008, 23:23

    Thanks keith! it is material like this that makes go on your fantastic website everyday.

    Just one suggestion can you do an article on why overtaking is difficult with diagrams and explanations that would be nice.

  4. Sush said on 14th June 2008, 11:19

    they will start charging for it?. that is awful.

    information WANTS to be free.

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