F1 On This Day: 23rd May

23rd May is the day on which F1 celebrated its 200th World Championship race in 1971, the day that only five cars reached the chequered flag at the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix and the day on which Jarno Trulli took his only F1 win. 2021 will mark the fifth time the Monaco Grand Prix has been held on 23rd May.

23rd May Races in Stats:

  • All four previous races held on this date have been Monaco Grands Prix: in 1971, 1982, 1993 and 2004.
  • Four different teams have won on this day: Tyrrell, Brabham, McLaren and Renault.
  • Ferrari have finished with one car on the podium in all four previous races on this date – but have never won a race held on 23rd May.
  • Jackie Stewart and Jarno Trulli are the only drivers to win the Monaco Grand Prix from pole position on this date, doing so in 1971 and 2004.
  • Stewart is the only driver to win on this date who would go on to be crowned World Champion in the same year.
  • The 1993 Monaco Grand Prix – won by Ayrton Senna – is the only previous race on this date not to be won from the front row of the grid.
  • There is yet to be a race held on this date in which more than thirteen drivers reached the finish line. Fourteen drivers were classified in the 1993 Monaco Grand Prix.
  • Christian Klien is the only driver to record a first lap retirement on this date, doing so at the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix.

1971 Monaco Grand Prix

The 200th round of the World Championship took place on this day in Monte Carlo. The 1971 Monaco Grand Prix was to be the last time that the race was run on the original track layout. Stewart had taken pole for the race by over a second and would lead every lap on his way to victory. He did so despite inhaling fumes which made him increasingly ill as the race went on. Ronnie Peterson finished the race in second place, recording his first podium finish.

The race weekend was captured on film by Roman Polanski for his first documentary film “Weekend of a Champion”, which followed Jackie Stewart over the days of the Monaco Grand Prix. Originally shown in 1972 at the Berlin International Film Festival, the documentary was unscreened for 40 years before being restored by Polanski and shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. It was released on home media later in the year. Parts of the race also feature in the music video for The Who’s Baba O’Riley.

1982 Monaco Grand Prix

Often dubbed “the race that no one wanted to win”, the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix was held on this day and won by Riccardo Patrese. Rene Arnoux led the opening stages before spinning out and being overtaken by Alain Prost. Prost remained at the front of the pack until the closing laps of the race, when rain began to fall.

The Frenchman crashed out on the slippery surface, handing the lead to Patrese. Patrese then slid at the hairpin, allowing Didier Pironi into the lead. Pironi’s car came to a halt in the tunnel with his engine failing on the final lap, leaving Andrea de Cesaris to sweep into the lead. But de Cesaris didn’t quite get there, as he ran out of fuel before catching the Ferrari driver. The lead was inherited by Derek Daly – or at least it would have been, had he not crashed before reaching the start of the final lap. Finally, it was Patrese who came through to take the win. It was the first win of Patrese’s career and the first for an Italian driver in seven years.

Ultimately, Pironi was classified in second place and de Cesaris in third, recording the first podium finish of his career. Only five cars were running at the end of the race, making this the first time since the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix that fewer cars finished than were awarded points. Pironi, de Cesaris and Daly were all awarded points despite not reaching the chequered flag.

1993 Monaco Grand Prix

Ayrton Senna stormed to a sixth Monaco Grand Prix victory on this day in 1993, setting what was then a new record for most victories at a single circuit and overtaking Graham Hill’s record of five Monaco wins. Graham’s son Damon finished as runner-up to Senna, with Jean Alesi in third place. Alain Prost had started from pole position but jumped the start. He was subsequently handed a stop/go penalty. The Frenchman stalled when attempting to exit the pits, leaving him a lap down on the leaders and in 22nd place. He’d go on to finish fourth.

2004 Monaco Grand Prix

Jarno Trulli recorded the only victory of his Formula 1 career on this day in 2004. There was drama at the start of the race as Takuma Sato’s engine expired on the third lap. Smoke poured from his engine, blocking the view for the drivers behind him. In the mist, Giancarlo Fisichella collided with the rear of David Coulthard’s McLaren leading to the Jordan driver somersaulting into the barriers.

The two Renault drivers were at the front of the field for the first half of the race, but Fernando Alonso crashed in the tunnel when attempting to pass Ralf Schumacher, bringing an end to his race. Just laps later, Michael Schumacher crashed with the other Williams driver in the tunnel, eliminating the Ferrari driver from the race. The Monaco Grand Prix was the first race of the 2004 season which Schumacher failed to win. He became only the sixth driver to have started 200 Grands Prix, but the race was nothing to be celebrated.

After winning his first Grand Prix, Trulli was left literally speechless following his celebrations. Already losing his voice in the post-race press conference, the Italian cancelled his interviews at the European Grand Prix one week later, leaving team-mate Alonso to do the speaking instead!

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