On This Day: 2020 Austrian Grand Prix

The 2020 Austrian Grand Prix will be the eighth Grand Prix held on 5th July, making it the tenth date to have held eight or more Formula 1 races.

Six of the former races held on this date took place in France, in 1953, 1959, 1970, 1981, 1987 and 1992, while the most recent race held on 5th July was the 2015 British Grand Prix. In all of the last three races held on this date, a British polesitter has led home a team’s 1-2 finish. Nigel Mansell is the only driver to have won twice on this date – but Lewis Hamilton could change that at the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix.

The first race to be staged on 5th July was the 1953 French Grand Prix at the Reims circuit. While Alberto Ascari set a new record for most pole positions, recording his tenth, future champion Mike Hawthorn took the first victory of his career. The race is known as “The Race of the Century” due to the hard fought race-long battle for the lead between Hawthorn and Juan Manuel Fangio, who passed each other countless times.

The 1959 French Grand Prix was held on 5th July at the Reims circuit. Reims remains the only circuit to have held two races on this date. Tony Brooks dominated the race from pole for Ferrari, leading every lap and winning by 27 seconds. He recorded the team’s 30th pole position, and the Scuderia scored their 100th podium finish. But not all was rosy at the Italian squad. After retiring with a blown engine, Jean Behra was sacked from the team after the race having punched the team manager Romolo Tavoni! The race also marked the first appearance for Dan Gurney.

Charade played host to 5th July’s third race – the 1970 French Grand Prix. Notably, this was the last ever race to be held on public roads to feature no Armco barriers lining the circuit. Jochen Rindt claimed victory in this race, seven seconds ahead of Chris Amon in his 50th race. Jack Brabham finished third and recorded his 30th podium finish. Dan Gurney, who had made his debut exactly eleven years earlier, finished sixth for McLaren, scoring the last point of his Formula 1 career.

Alain Prost took the first victory of his Formula 1 career at home on this day in 1981.

There was a home victory to celebrate on 5th July 1981, as Alain Prost claimed the first win of his career. The race was stopped after 58 laps due to torrential rain, but was restarted and aggregate times determined the finishing positions. The other two podium finishers on this day – John Watson and Nelson Piquet – each celebrated their 10th podium results, while Prost had scored the 10th podium finish for the Renault team.

Circuit Paul Ricard hosted the fifth race held on 5th July, won by Nigel Mansell for Williams. The sixth race staged on 5th July was again the French Grand Prix, this time at Magny Cours in 1992. The 1992 race was won once again by that year’s eventual World Champion Nigel Mansell, with Williams team-mate Riccardo Patrese second. Martin Brundle finished third in this race, scoring his first actual podium finish. Though he had finished in the top three previously, that result had been rectified with Brundle disqualified.

The most recent Grand Prix held on 5th July was the 2015 British Grand Prix. This race was memorable for the Williams pair of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas taking the lead in the early stages. The thrilling race saw rain at the midpoint, allowing Mercedes to control the remaining stages. Lewis Hamilton won in front of his home crowd, leading home Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. Sebastian Vettel finished third for Ferrari in the 900th race to feature a Ferrari-powered car.

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