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Formula One: a thousand and one poles

On Sunday 14th April, the Formula 1 World Championship reached a historic milestone. Lewis Hamilton and his silver Mercedes won the Grand Prix held in China, on the Shanghai circuit. This long series was officially inaugurated by the Grand Prix of Great Britain, on the fast track of Silverstone: it was won by Nino Farina, who would then win the Championship at the end of the year. Second place went to Luigi Fagioli, who scored an all-Italian one-two. It was 13th May 1950. From this date, up to the present day, Formula 1 has evolved, many rules have changed and many champions have taken turns to compete for the world trophy. Sixty-nine years of joys, triumphs and numbers, collected by men who have touched - and are touching - by profession, concrete walls at 300 km/h.

Records in Formula 1 in the history

The driver with the highest number of world titles is the German Michael Schumacher. The Kerpen champion won the title in 1994 and 1995 at the wheel of a Benetton and five consecutive world championships, from 2000 to 2004, at the wheel of the Prancing Horse single-seaters. In second place, Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio triumphed in five championships. The German ace is also the driver who has won the most times in his career, 91 times.
Sebastian Vettel, the youngest driver to ever win the title - with Redbull winning at the age of 23 years and 134 days - can boast of having won nine consecutive Grand Prix races. Fangio, for example, won the trophy at 46 years and 41 days: he is the oldest driver to have won the trophy at the end of the season.

Max Verstappen, on the other hand, became the youngest driver to win a Grand Prix in 2016, when in Spain, in a Red Bull, he won at just 18 years, 7 months and 15 days. Lewis Hamilton holds the record for the most pole position starts, overtaking two legends - Schumacher and Ayrton Senna. Hamilton in his career has already won 75 times, the record of victories obtained is not for him a mirage so far.

The Grand Chelem is a French term that underlines the "cannibalization" of a Grand Prix by a driver: it occurs when they get pole position, victory, fastest lap in the race and keeps the head of the race from the first to the last lap. The king of this singular statistical honour goes to the legendary Jim Clark, who has achieved it in his career eight times. Other masters of this practice of absolute domination were Michael Schumacher, Alberto Ascari, Jackie Stewart and Ayrton Senna. The highest number of Grand Prix disputed is a record that belongs to the Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, with 323 appearances.

Two memorable Formula One Grand Prix races

To end this homage to Formula 1 and above all not to bore you too much with numbers and dates, we have selected at this point two particularly memorable Grand Prix, that entered the hearts of fans and that seem to us particularly worthy of note. Both races are relatively recent: we wanted to avoid going to track episodes certainly suggestive but temporally very distant. It would be a Formula 1 that we would not "recognize" in the tracks, in the single-seaters, in the dynamics.
It's Sunday, April 11, 1993, on the English track of Donington we run the European Grand Prix. Ayrton Senna is leading the Drivers' Championship. Shortly before the start, a violent thunderstorm breaks out. When the traffic lights went out, Alain Prost - starter of the pole position - started first, behind him Damon Hill. Followed by Michael Schumacher and Senna, who started in fourth position. Ayrton got off to a good start, but in an attempt to overtake Schumacher at the first corner he found the road blocked by the German. In this confusion, Austrian Karl Wendlinger's Sauber took advantage of it, overtaking Senna and Schumacher and taking third place. Ayrton is now fifth, and the two Williams already seem to be flying towards a predictable victory.

Yet, despite the decidedly unfavourable situation, Senna rolled up his sleeves, and began one of the fastest and most spectacular comebacks ever seen in the history of Formula 1.

During the first lap, the Brazilian immediately became familiar with the rain, pushing his McLaren beyond the limits, where no one dared to go. Senna passed Schumacher, immediately recovering the initial fourth position. Then, with a magnificent manoeuvre on the outside, he overtook Wendlinger, taking him to third place. A few kilometres ahead it was Hill's turn, who had to surrender to the competitive fury of Senna. Finally, with a strong braking inside, he overtook Prost and placed himself in the lead.
Four positions recovered in just one lap, the first of the race. The rest of the Grand Prix ran smoothly for the Brazilian, who became practically unattainable for his rivals, who continued to curse the rain and the wet track. Senna thus won the European Grand Prix ahead of Damon Hill and Alain Prost, on the lowest step of the podium after the checkered flag and even lapped by the Brazilian driver, protagonist of what, according to many, was the most sensational comeback lap in the history of Formula 1.
Another Grand Prix that we want to remember, one of the most chaotic of all time, was the number 700, held in 2003 at the circuit of Interlagos in Brazil. It is the sixth round of the season and you run under a downpour that postpones the start by a quarter of an hour. The cars then start in Safety Car mode, with the home driver Rubens Barrichello leading the group. After eight laps the real race begins and David Coulthard's McLaren immediately overtakes the Brazilian of Ferrari, overtaken also by Kimi Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber during a couple of laps. Following a further accident, the Safety Car returned to the track.
At the restart there was Kimi Raikkonen in the lead, but the safety car returned to the field after the contact between Antonio Pizzonia and Montoya's car stopped in the escape routes, two laps could be late, following Schumacher's exit from the track. We start again with Coulthard in the lead, but there is no peace for the Safety Car: it is called in for the off-track of Jenson Button, after the retirement of Jos Verstappen.
The race resumed again and Barrichello climbed to the first position ahead of Coulthard and Raikkonen. Shortly afterwards the Brazilian was forced to retire, leaving the first position to the Scottish driver: behind him Raikkonen and Giancarlo Fisichella. And here comes the turning point of the race. The two leading drivers stopped at the pits on lap 52 and 54, leaving the lead to Fisichella. Webber's Jaguar, in the meantime, crashed violently into the barriers near the curves preceding the central straight. Fernando Alonso's Renault arrives and takes full advantage of one of the wheels of the Webber car that ended up on the track and in turn ends up against the barriers. The impact is so violent as to force the Spanish driver to medical checks in hospital.
The direction, given the weather conditions and the track, decides to expose the red flag and thus stop the race. Fisichella, in the lead, had just started the 56th lap. The regulations state that the order of arrival must be defined according to the order of the drivers two laps before the interruption of the race, i.e. at the end of the 54th lap. For a timing error, the times are taken at the end of the 53rd and Kimi Raikkonen, who celebrates on the podium, is proclaimed the winner. Second place for Fisichella and third for Alonso. In the following days, however, the FIA realizes the mistake and Fisichella is proclaimed the winner. At the next Grand Prix of San Marino Raikkonen then passes the trophy of the first classified to the Roman driver, who can thus celebrate his first and only victory in his career in F1.

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