What Happened On This Day May 13 In F1 History?

From the first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1950 to Nigel Mansell's affection from the Tifosi in 1990.


By Ben Bush
Updated on May 21, 2024

F1 First Race 1950 British Grand Grid
The 1950 British Grand Prix certainly holds a special place for iconic moments in motorsport history.

What happened on this day, May 13 in Formula 1 history? Find out interesting facts and stories about Formula 1 on this day.


May 13, 1950, marked the debut of the FIA Formula One World Championship with its first race held at Silverstone. Officially titled the Grand Prix d’Europe and recognised as the season’s fifth race, it was dominated by the Alfa Romeo cars. Nino Farina clinched the win, followed by his teammate Luigi Fagioli, after Juan Manuel Fangio retired due to an engine issue. Not only did Farina win the first official F1 Grand Prix he would also go on to win the first Formula 1 World Championship at the end of the 1950 season. Among those who attended the race were King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, and a crowd of more than 120,000 people.

Full Race Report


Stirling Moss won in dominant fashion, from start to finish, at the 1956 Monaco Grand Prix on May 13, capitalising on a rare off day for Juan Manuel Fangio. Moss pulled ahead in his Maserati 250F, while Fangio recovered from a poor start by overtaking Eugenio Castellotti during the opening lap. However, on the second lap, Fangio misjudged the first corner, causing Harry Schell and Luigi Musso to swerve to avoid him, leading to their retirement. Fangio, unscathed, continued the race and started narrowing the gap, passing Jean Behra and Ferrari teammate Peter Collins along the way. In a rare lapse, Fangio collided with the barrier at the harbour chicane’s exit and, visibly upset, handed over his car to teammate Castellotti, who had earlier retired due to clutch issues. Fangio lingered in the pits until Ferrari unexpectedly called Collins in mid-race. When Collins stopped, he was abruptly told to exit the car, and Fangio took over the D50 for another attempt at catching Moss. Reenergized, Fangio overtook Behra and closed a 45-second gap to Moss in just 30 laps. Meanwhile, Moss faced his own challenges; contact with a backmarker caused his bonnet to come loose and flap open at high speeds. Despite the difficulties, Moss held on to finish six seconds ahead of Fangio, securing the second win of his career.


On May 13, Jody Scheckter claimed victory at the 1979 Belgian Grand Prix in Zolder, marking the first win in his championship-winning season. Initially, Alan Jones in the Williams led the race but was forced to retire due to electrical issues. The battle for the lead then unfolded between Jacques Lafitte in the Ligier and Scheckter in his Ferrari, with Scheckter ultimately prevailing. He continued his successful season by winning two more races and securing the 1979 drivers’ championship by three points over his teammate, Gilles Villeneuve.


Nigel Mansell earned the affection of the Tifosi and the nickname ‘Il Leone’ after a spirited drive for Ferrari at the 1990 San Marino Grand Prix in Italy on May 13. Starting from fifth on the grid, Mansell fought his way up to second place behind Gerhard Berger’s McLaren. In a daring attempt to overtake Berger on the run up to Villeneuve, Mansell tried to go around the outside, but Berger closed the door, sending his Ferrari into a dramatic 360-degree spin. With a swift correction, he managed to regain control and resumed his chase. The crowd was ecstatic until mechanical issues ultimately forced Mansell to retire. The race was eventually won by Riccardo Patrese in the Williams.


David Coulthard won a tightly contested win at the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix on May 13, outpacing the Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. The race initially saw Juan Pablo Montoya setting the pace until a near-collision with Schumacher caused both drivers to fall back. This set the stage for a battle for the win involving Barrichello, Coulthard, and a recovering Schumacher. Coulthard managed to overtake Barrichello during the pit stops, while Schumacher committed several uncharacteristic errors, finishing ahead of his teammate but behind Coulthard’s McLaren. The win significantly boosted Coulthard’s standing within his team, putting him 34 points ahead of teammate Mika Hakkinen and just four points behind championship leader Schumacher. Despite the win, Coulthard did not claim another race that season, while Schumacher went on to secure six more victories and the 2001 championship.

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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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