On This Day: 2020 Spanish Grand Prix

The 2020 Spanish Grand Prix will be the sixth Formula 1 race to have been staged on 16th August, and the first to be held on this date since the 1998 Hungarian Grand Prix.


Of the five previous races held on this date, all have been held in Europe – with three in Austria in 1970, 1981 and 1987 and two in Hungary in 1992 and 1998. No race previously held on 16th August has been won from pole, and only the 1987 Austrian Grand Prix was won from the front row of the grid, with Nigel Mansell winning from second. All of the other four races were won from the second row. With that being said, aside from Jacques Laffite’s win from fourth on the grid at the 1981 Austrian Grand Prix, every driver who has finished in the top two on this day has started from one of the first three grid slots. Every driver who has previously finished third on 16th August started from fifth on the grid or lower. No race held on 16th August has had more than fifteen finishers.

Jochen Rindt made the final start of his F1 career at the 1970 Austrian Grand Prix. (Image: Joost Evers, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 NL)

Ferrari are the only team to have won more than once on 16th August, with Jacky Ickx winning the first race held on this date – the 1970 Austrian Grand Prix – and Michael Schumacher winning the most recent race held on this date – the 1998 Hungarian Grand Prix.

While no driver has scored multiple victories on this day, Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell are the only drivers to have scored multiple podium finishes on this date. Piquet finished third at the 1981 Austrian Grand Prix, and finished as runner-up at the same track on the same day six years later. Meanwhile, Mansell won the 1987 Austrian Grand Prix and finished as runner-up at the 1992 Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Austrian Grand Prix took place for the first time at the Österreichring on this day in 1970, six years on from the first World Championship event in Austria which took place at Zeltweg Airfield. At his home Grand Prix, Jochen Rindt made the 60th and final Grand Prix start of his career. The home hero started from pole position, but retired with a blown engine after 21 laps. Jacky Ickx won the race for Ferrari, while the two drivers behind him each finished on the podium for the first time in their careers. Clay Reggazoni scored the first of an eventual 28 podium finishes by finishing as runner-up to his team-mate, while Rolf Stommelen recorded the only podium finish of his career in third.

Jacques Laffite won the next Austrian Grand Prix held on this date, eleven years later, while his polesitting compatriot Rene Arnoux finished as runner-up. After finishing fifth, Carlos Reutemann held a six point lead in the Drivers’ Championship. Reutemann is the only driver to have led the Drivers’ Championship after a race held on this date and not go on to win that year’s title.

Six years later, the 1987 Austrian Grand Prix was the final Austrian race to be held on 16th August. It would also be the final Grand Prix held in the country for ten years, as well as the final race run on the old layout of the Österreichring. The track was much shorter when F1 returned to the newly named A1-Ring in 1997. At this race, both Nigel Mansell and the Osella team celebrated their 100th race starts, while Teo Fabi scored the final pole position of his career. Polesitter – and eventual 1987 World Champion – Nelson Piquet finished as runner-up. This is the most recent time that a polesitter has finished on the podium on this date.

The 1992 Hungarian Grand Prix was won by Ayrton Senna, but it is best remembered for Nigel Mansell’s title victory; and it was a milestone day for many other reasons. Ricardo Patrese had started from pole for the final time in his career, but he became the second polesitter to retire on this day when his engine expired on Lap 55. Mansell scored Williams’ 150th podium finish, while engine supplier Honda also celebrated their 150th podium finish thanks to McLaren pair Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger making the top three an all-Honda affair. It was also Ferrari’s 500th race in Formula 1. The 1992 Hungarian Grand Prix would mark the final appearance for the Brabham team, who withdrew from Formula 1 after this event. Their withdrawal meant that pre-qualifying was no longer needed and it has not been re-introduced since.

 

The most recent race held on 16th August – the 1998 Hungarian Grand Prix – is the only race to be held on this date which has not featured a driver retiring on the first lap. On that day, it would not be until the fourteenth lap that Esteban Tuero became the first retirement from the race. While Mika Hakkinen started from pole and led the first half of this race, it was Michael Schumacher who won thanks to a masterful three-stop strategy. Hakkinen suffered shock absorber problems and dropped to sixth in the latter stages. Jacques Villeneuve’s third place finish for Williams was the final time that he finished in the top three with his World Championship-winning team. It was also the last time a Mecachrome-powered car finished on the podium.

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