Here’s the second part of Journeyer’s video guide to the European Grand Prix. Read part one here.
One reason that the European Grand Prix became a regular round of the championship can be summed up in two words: Michael Schumacher.
His popularity was such that from 1995 Bernie Ecclestone decided to have 2 races in Germany to capitalise on it. While the new Nurburgring was at best only a shadow the classic Nordschleife, it produced some cracking races.
1984 – The new circuit held its first F1 race, the Grand Prix of Europe, this year. But this video makes for more interesting viewing, as this was the celebrity saloon car challenge created to celebrate the opening of the circuit.
Many former world champions joined in including Niki Lauda and Alan Jones. Emerson Fittipaldi was invited, but he had to pull out at the last minute. His replacement wasn’t a World Champion – not by this time, anyway. In his place Ayrton Senna was drafted in. As you might expect he was fully determined to win the race – and did!
I also found John Surtees’ testimony about Senna and Enzo Ferrari in this video quite intriguing. Worth listening to and thinking about.
1995 – The teams weren’t too fond of the new Nurburgring, and stayed away after it held the 1985 German Grand Prix. It was rediscovered after Michael Schumacher became a race winner and champion. The European Grand Prix thus returned to this circuit, and the German fans weren’t disappointed.
With this round so late in the championship, it saw lots of action. The German fans saw their hero Schumacher in the Benetton reel in Jean Alesi’s Ferrari in the closing staged. With only a few laps to go, Schumi took him at the Veedol-S chicane (a corner he had designed!) to win the race. With Hill spinning out of the race, Schumacher’s lead jumped to 23 points – and he took his second championship in the following round at Aida.
1999 – With Michael Schumacher injured and not in the car, the German contingent wouldn’t get to see their hero in action. Instead, they cheered on polesitter Heinz-Harald Frentzen to win and drag himself into title contention.
But then the German spun out of the race. David Coulthard was another man who could’ve won it, but threw it away as well. Ralf Schumacher dropped back with a puncture. Spare a thought, too, for Luca Badoer, who was only a few laps shy of scoring his first world championship points in the Minardi.
But in the end, it was the Stewart Grand Prix team of Sir Jackie who took their first win in style. Johnny Herbert won with team mate Rubens Barrichello third, following Jarno Trulli’s Prost.
2003 – By this time, both the Schumacher brothers (Michael and Ralf) were in championship contention. But it was Kimi Raikkonen who was running away with the race – until a sudden engine failure put him out.
Ralf then took the lead. Michael couldn’t do anything about the speed of the Williams cars – and resisting Juan Pablo Montoya’s attempts to take second put him in a spin. He got back into the race, but was too far back to stop the Williams one-two.
2005 – Just like 2003, Kimi was in championship contention. Just like 2003, Kimi was walking the race.
But just like 2003, he was in trouble. This time, a series of lockups created a flatspot in his front right tyre. The rules that year didn’t allow for tyres to be changed unless they were punctured or heavily damaged, thus the team tried keeping them on for as long as possible.
Towards the end of the race, the tire was a wreck. But Raikkonen tried to stay out and hang on ahead of the closing Fernando Alonso. But on the final lap the suspension – hammered by vibrations from the flat-spotted tyre – collapsed up in spectacular fashion.
So just like 2003, Raikkonen was out. Alonso took the race win – and went on to win the title.
2007 – After entering an agreement to alternate with Hockenheim, this was supposed to be the German Grand Prix. But with Hockenheim not allowing them to use the name that year, they had to make do with the European Grand Prix title.
The race, though, was a cracker. Rain had thrown everyone into a tizzy. From Raikkonen overshooting the pit entry to Marcus Winkelhock leading his one and only Grand Prix, it was nuts! Not to mention the Turn one ‘swimming pool’, which should’ve taken Lewis Hamilton out, but got a little help from a crane…
Just as crazy was the action towards the end of the race, when the rainshowers returned. Race leader Felipe Massa isn’t such a fan of inclement conditions, and couldn’t hold off the charging Alonso – who went on to take his third win of the year.
But as we all know, the Nurburgring isn’t on this year’s calendar. Who will be the king of Valencia? Let’s hope this weekend’s race is a thriller!
This is a guest article by Journeyer If you want to write a guest article for F1 Fanatic you can find all the information you need here.