F1 On This Day: 26th September

26th September is the day on which Formula 1 raced in China for the first time in 2004 and the day on which Alonso took a narrow victory in Singapore in 2010. The 2021 Russian Grand Prix will be the fifth F1 race held on 26th September.

26th September Races in Stats:

  • In 2021, Russia becomes the fifth different country to host a race on this date. Other countries to have hosted a race on 26th September are Portugal, Germany, China and Singapore.
  • In all four previous races on this date, the driver who won failed to win that season’s World Championship. All four polesitters also failed to win the title that year.
  • A Ferrari driver has won each of the last two races on this date from pole position.
  • At least four cars have retired from all four previous races on this day.
  • No team has recorded a 1-2 finish on this date. Williams (in 1993), Stewart (in 1999) and Red Bull (in 2010) are the teams to have had two cars finish on the podium in races held on this day.
  • The 2004 Chinese Grand Prix is the only previous race on this date in which all of the top three qualifiers went on to finish on the podium.

1993 Portuguese Grand Prix

Alain Prost secured his fourth and final title at the Portuguese Grand Prix on this day in 1993. The Frenchman became only the second driver, after Juan Manuel Fangio, to record four championship wins. Prost finished as runner-up in the Estoril race to Michael Schumacher, who took his only win of the 1993 season. Schumacher secured Benetton’s 50th podium finish with his win. Despite starting at the back due to his car not starting on the formation lap, Damon Hill – who was supposed to start from pole position – completed the podium.

The 1993 Portuguese Grand Prix also marked the 149th and final appearance for the Lola team. The Lola name would make one final entry at the 1997 Australian Grand Prix, but the cars failed to qualify and the project led to the financial ruin of the company. Italian driver Emanuele Naspetti made his sixth and final F1 start in this race with Jordan.

1999 European Grand Prix

There was a false start on this day in 1999 at the European Grand Prix. In one of the strangest starts in F1 history, the first start was aborted during the light sequence, with six drivers jumping the lights – something for which they would have been penalised, had the race actually got underway. There was carnage at the second start, as Pedro Diniz’s Sauber barrel-rolled into a gravel trap.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen started the race from pole position for the final time in his career, as well as being the last Jordan driver to start a race from the front of the grid and the only driver to take pole with a Mugen-Honda engine. A third of the way into the race, rain began to fall. Frentzen’s lead came to an end at the halfway point as he had forgotten to disable his Jordan’s anti-stall system and came to a halt on the side of the track. David Coulthard picked up the lead, but dropped out of the race a few laps later with the weather conditions worsening. Ralf Schumacher then assumed the lead but pitted, giving the lead to Giancarlo Fisichella – but Fisichella made a similar mistake to Coulthard and retired from the race. That meant that Ralf Schumacher was back at the front, only to pick up a puncture.

Johnny Herbert had a quiet afternoon, but his well-timed pit stops meant that he was in the perfect position to benefit from others’ misfortune. Herbert won the race, taking the last win and podium finish of his career. It would be the only win for Jackie Stewart’s eponymous team, and with Rubens Barrichello in third place, also the team’s only double podium result. In second place was Jarno Trulli, who took his first podium finish, as well as the last podium for Alain Prost’s Prost team, as well as the fourteenth and final podium for a Peugeot-powered car.

While Marc Gene picked up the first point of his career by finishing sixth for Minardi, there was heartbreak for his team-mate Luca Badoer, who was on course to score his first points before retiring with gearbox troubles thirteen laps from the end.

Ferrari’s domination of Formula 1 in the early 2000s is proved by the fact that this race was the last in which neither Ferrari driver scored until the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix, as well as the only race in which no Ferrari drivers appeared on the podium until the 2003 Australian Grand Prix – almost four years later!

2004 Chinese Grand Prix

Formula 1 raced in China for the first time on this day in 2004. Rubens Barrichello started from pole position at the Shanghai International Circuit and went on to win the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix, recording what would be his final win in Ferrari colours. Less than 1.5 seconds separated the top three finishers, with Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen joining Barrichello on the podium. It was a bad day for Michael Schumacher who suffered numerous incidents in the race, including a spin, a puncture and a collision. Schumacher had qualified at the back of the grid following a spin in the qualifying session. He finished only twelfth – his worst result of the 2004 season, aside from his retirement in Monaco. Schumacher did at least set the Fastest Lap of the afternoon, recording Ferrari’s 180th Fastest Lap.

2010 Singapore Grand Prix

Formula 1’s closest finish since 2002 was recorded on this day in 2010 at the Singapore Grand Prix. With the five-way championship battle hotting up, Fernando Alonso was victorious at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. He took victory by finishing just 0.293 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Alonso had started the race from pole position for the twentieth time. He set the Fastest Lap and led for the entire Grand Prix, recording the only Grand Slam of his F1 career. It was his sixtieth podium finish; making him only the eighth driver to reach the milestone. Meanwhile, Rubens Barrichello – who finished the race in sixth place – became the first driver to have started 300 Grands Prix.

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