On This Day: 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

The 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix will be the fifth Formula 1 race to be held on 25th October. Two of the four races previously held on this date have resulted in the crowning of World Champions.

The 1964 and 1970 Mexican Grands Prix, the 1992 Japanese Grand Prix and the 2015 United States Grand Prix have all previously been held on 25th October. None of these four races have been won from pole. Instead, the polesitter has finished as runner-up twice and has retired twice. Three of the four races were won from second on the grid, while the 1970 Mexican Grand Prix was won from third. Despite this, all of the last three races held on this date have been won by the polesitter’s team-mate.

Two British champions have been crowned on this date: John Surtees in 1964 and Lewis Hamilton in 2015. In both 1970 and 1992, the Drivers’ Championship had already been decided. Four different teams have won so far on 25th October. Every race held on this date has seen a finish rate of 60% or less. Meanwhile, a different engine manufacturer has powered each car to victory on this day. At the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix, Honda could make that five different engine manufacturer wins from five races held on this date.

Alexander Rossi demonstrates the wet conditions at the 2015 United States Grand Prix. (Image: Joe McGowan, Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

The 1964 Mexican Grand Prix saw three British drivers entering the final round of the championship with a shot at winning the title. While Graham Hill finished only eleventh and Jim Clark sixth, it was John Surtees who took the honours and became the first, and so far only, driver to have won a championship on both two and four wheels. Dan Gurney won the race, taking Brabham’s tenth podium finish. Meanwhile, 1961 World Champion Phil Hill made his final appearance at this event.

Another former champion bowed out of Formula 1 on 25th October 1970. Jack Brabham made his final appearance in the 1970 Mexican Grand Prix. This race is infamous for the huge turnout of 200,000 and the inability to keep the crowd under control. The situation was so bad that Jackie Stewart and local hero Pedro Rodriguez had to walk around the track before the race to plead with fans to stay behind the barriers. In the end, this was the last Mexican Grand Prix to be held until the mid-1980s. At the event, Clay Regazzoni took his first pole position, but Jacky Ickx took victory at the final race of the season. It left the Belgian five points short of beating the late Jochen Rindt to the Drivers’ Championship. This was also the last race in which Dunlop tyres were used.

Riccardo Patrese took the final victory of his career on 25th October 1992 at the Japanese Grand Prix. It would be the last win for an Italian driver until Giancarlo Fisichella won the Brazilian Grand Prix eleven years later. Team-mate Nigel Mansell had started from pole for the 30th time in his career and led for the opening half of the race. An engine failure caused him to retire from the race, after he scored the 30th and final fastest lap of his career. 30 seemed to be the magic number at Suzuka in 1992, as Gerhard Berger’s second place gave the Austrian his 30th podium finish. Also at this race, Jan Lammers made his first appearance since the 1982 Dutch Grand Prix. His gap of 10 years, 3 months and 22 days between races remains the record for the longest interval between two Grand Prix appearances!

On 25th October 2015, Nico Rosberg threw a cap. The German’s frustration came after Lewis Hamilton secured his third Drivers’ Championship in the United States Grand Prix. The weather had been so bad the day before that both qualifying and the race were run on the same day. The wet conditions caused plenty of thrills and spills throughout the Grand Prix. After securing Mercedes’ 50th pole position, Rosberg looked set for a win, until Hamilton found a way by him in the closing stages. This race also marked Fernando Alonso’s 250th start, as well as Red Bull’s 200th start.

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