What Happened On This Day May 12 In F1 History?

From Ayrton Senna's domination of the 1991 Monaco Grand Prix to BAR's two race ban after the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix.


By Ben Bush
Updated on May 9, 2024

Queen Elizebeth II Opens the McLaren Technology Centre in 2004
Queen Elizebeth II opens the McLaren Technology Centre in 2004 with David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen in attendance.

What happened on this day, May 12 in Formula 1 history? Find out interesting facts and stories about Formula 1 on this day.


F1 driver Roy Salvadori was born on May 12, 1922, in Essex to Italian parents. He began his racing career in 1947 and entered Formula 1 in 1952. Over his decade-long F1 career, Salvadori competed for teams like Cooper and Aston Martin, achieving a single podium finish, 3rd at the 1958 British Grand Prix. He also secured wins in other series including Le Mans in 1959. After retiring from racing in 1962, Salvadori briefly managed the Cooper-Maserati team and then moved into motor trading.


Raymond Sommer triumphed on May 12 at the 1946 Marseille Grand Prix, one of the first races post-World War II. The race included two heats and a final; Sommer won the second heat and went on to secure the win in the final by a significant margin after Robert Mazaud, the first heat winner, crashed early on. Notably, Tazio Nuvolari, despite setting the fastest lap in the second heat, did not finish due to mechanical issues.


Ayrton Senna dominated the 1991 Monaco Grand Prix on May 12, clinching an easy win and marking his fourth consecutive victory of the season. However, Stefano Modena also turned heads with his performance, starting from the front row and closely challenging Senna for the initial 25 laps. Unfortunately, Modena’s race was compromised by a slower car and a subsequent engine failure, which not only ended his race but also caused Riccardo Patrese to crash out. Senna continued unchallenged to the finish.


On May 12 at the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix, Ferrari faced significant backlash after Rubens Barrichello, who had outpaced his teammate Michael Schumacher, was instructed via team radio to let Schumacher win. Despite securing a one-two finish, the team’s actions were not well-received; Schumacher’s attempt to rectify the situation by offering Barrichello the winner’s trophy on the podium did little to mitigate the negative reaction. The incident resulted in a $500,000 fine for Ferrari and prompted the FIA to ban team orders. Barrichello later disclosed that he was coerced into complying, having been reminded to consider his contract, implying that his position with the team was at risk.


On May 12, 2003, Juan Pablo Montoya faced repercussions after being caught speeding at 130 mph in an 82 mph zone on a French motorway. Heading back to Monaco, Montoya did not immediately pull over when pursued by police, leading to the confiscation of his driving license. He settled the fine on the spot and handed driving responsibilities to his wife, Connie. Despite the incident, Montoya expressed a nonchalant attitude about his speeding, suggesting it was common to travel at those speeds.


In 2004, on May 12, Britain’s Queen officially opened the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, ushering in a new era for the McLaren Group. Ron Dennis, the team boss, emphasised the facility’s role in maintaining McLaren’s leadership in British engineering and technology, and in enhancing the McLaren brand globally: “The McLaren Group is honoured and privileged that Her Majesty The Queen has officially opened our new headquarters. The facility is a major functional tool to ensure that we remain at the forefront of British engineering and technology, whilst helping to strengthen and develop the McLaren brand.”


On May 12, 2005, BAR accepted a penalty from the FIA, which involved a two-race suspension for using a second fuel tank to get around the minimum weight requirements during the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix. Initially critical of the FIA’s decision, BAR later acknowledged their misunderstanding of the rules and publicly accepted the sanction.

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About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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