What Happened On This Day July 7 In F1 History?

From the tragic death of Jo Schlesser in an experimental Honda at Rouen in 1968 to Michael Schumacher's 60th win at the 2002 British Grand Prix.

Mark Phelan

By Mark Phelan
Updated on July 19, 2024

Jo Schlesser Death 1968 French Grand Prix
The tragic death of Jo Schlesser in an experimental Honda at Rouen in 1968 // Image: The GPL Collection

What happened on this day, July 7 in Formula 1 history? Find out interesting facts and stories about Formula 1 on this day.

1936

Jo Siffert, a two-time race winner, was born on this day, 7 July 1936, in Fribourg, Switzerland. He claimed victory at the 1968 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch while driving a CooperLotus. Despite being offered a drive with Ferrari later on in his career, he chose to continue racing with Porsche, which also financed his drive with March during its debut season in 1970. Unfortunately, this decision proved to be a mistake, as he only secured one more win with BRM before tragically dying in an accident at Brands Hatch in 1971 in the non-championship World Championship Victory Race, the scene of his first victory in 1968.

1957

Juan Manuel Fangio triumphed at the 1957 French Grand Prix, finishing ahead of a trio of Ferraris driven by Luigi Musso, Peter Collins, and Mike Hawthorn. Although Fangio lost the lead from pole position, he quickly overtook Jean Behra and Musso to reclaim his spot at the front. The win marked his third consecutive victory in the 1957 F1 World Championship, paving the way for him to secure his fifth and final drivers’ title with ease.

1968

Jo Schlesser became the fourth driver to die during the 1968 season after being trapped upside down in his blazing car. Despite John Surtees‘ warnings about the safety of Honda‘s experimental RA302 car, the car was entered in the 1968 French Grand Prix with support from Honda’s French division, and local driver Schlesser was hired to drive it. On the second lap, the car slid wide at a corner and crashed into a bank, causing its full tank of fuel and magnesium body to explode on impact. Jacky Ickx won the race, with John Surtees finishing second in the Honda RA301.

1991

Nigel Mansell won the inaugural—and arguably most exciting—1991 French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. The race had moved from Paul Ricard to the newly built circuit closer to Paris, though it faced widespread criticism for its remote location, which eventually led to the race being discontinued after 2008. Despite this, the first event featured thrilling racing, with Mansell delivering a brilliant performance in his Williams to triumph over local hero Alain Prost. Prost initially led after Riccardo Patrese botched his start from pole position. Mansell overtook Prost on lap 22, only to lose his advantage due to a slow pit stop midway through the race. However, on lap 54, he caught up to Prost again and made a daring move around the outside at the Adelaide hairpin to reclaim the lead.

2002

Michael Schumacher achieved the 60th win of his career and moved closer to his fifth world title with a stellar performance at a wet 2002 British Grand Prix. Juan Pablo Montoya initially led the race from pole position, but as the field switched to intermediate tyres and the track conditions worsened, Schumacher capitalised on a mistake by Montoya to seize the lead. Rubens Barrichello, in the second Ferrari, had been making a remarkable comeback after stalling at the start. He surged past Montoya on lap 19, briefly securing a Ferrari one-two. However, Barrichello spun on the wet track, allowing Montoya to challenge him once again. Despite Montoya retaking second place at one point, Barrichello ultimately prevailed in their battle. Meanwhile, Schumacher navigated the treacherous conditions effortlessly, securing his seventh victory of the season.

2008

FIA president Max Mosley vehemently denied any Nazi role-play involvement in an orgy with prostitutes, a scandal published by the News of the World. During the court case, Max Mosley, son of the 1930s fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, made a public statement: “I can think of few things more unerotic than Nazi role-play,” he was quoted by The Daily Telegraph. “It also has associations for me in other ways which would make it even less interesting. All my life, I have had hanging over me my antecedents, my parents, and the last thing I want to do in some sexual context is be reminded of it. I wouldn’t consider my parents to be Nazis, but there is obviously a link.” Mosley won the case, proving that no Nazi theme had been involved and that the story’s publication was a breach of his privacy.

2024

Lewis Hamilton claimed a long-awaited and record-breaking ninth British Grand Prix victory in a thrilling race at the 2024 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, with the Mercedes driver fending off a challenge from Lando Norris to take the win. Initially, pole-sitter George Russell led the race, pulling ahead of Hamilton as the race began. However, amid changing weather conditions, an exciting battle soon unfolded between the two Mercedes cars and the McLaren duo of Norris and Oscar Piastri. The lead changed hands when the field switched to intermediate tyres after the opening phase of the race. Later, as the skies cleared, Hamilton capitalised on pitting for slick tyres one lap before Norris – who also faced a slow pit stop – to become the new race leader. While Russell retired due to a water system issue and Max Verstappen snatched P2 from Norris in the latter stages, Hamilton held his position to clinch an emotional victory. This marked a record ninth win in a single Grand Prix and his first P1 finish since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

F1 Driver Birthday’s 7 July

Birth DateF1 Driver
7 July 1936Joseph “Jo” Siffert
7 July 1959Alessandro “Sandro” Nannini

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About The Author

Senior Editor

Mark Phelan
Mark Phelan

Mark is a staff writer specialising in the history of Formula 1 races. Mark researches most of our historic content from teams to drivers and races. He has followed Formula 1 since 1988, and admits to having a soft spot for British drivers from James Hunt and Nigel Mansell to Lando Norris. He loves a great F1 podcast and has read pretty much every drivers biography.

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