What Happened On This Day May 18 In F1 History?

From Piero Taruffi's only F1 win at the season-opening 1952 Swiss Grand Prix to Graham Hill's fifth and final Monaco Grand Prix victory in 1969.


By Ben Bush
Updated on May 24, 2024

Graham Hill 1969 Monaco Grand Prix
Graham Hill wins the 1969 Monaco Grand Prix, his fifth and final win at the principality.

What happened on this day, May 18 in Formula 1 history? Find out interesting facts and stories about Formula 1 on this day.


On May 18, 1914, Baron Toulo de Graffenried was born. He became a leading driver post-World War II, winning the 1949 British Grand Prix in a Maserati. Competing in the World Championship from 1950, he struggled against newer cars but finished second at the non-championship 1951 Geneva Grand Prix. Driving a Maserati in 1952 and 1953, he achieved his best result of fourth in the 1953 Belgian Grand Prix and also won the non-championship 1953 Syracuse Grand Prix.


On May 18, 1933, Otto Merz tragically lost his life during a practice session for the AVUS race in Berlin. Driving a Mercedes SSK on a wet track, he lost control, crashed into a cement milestone, and somersaulted multiple times, ending up upside down. Merz was thrown clear but succumbed to his injuries later in the hospital. Formerly a mechanic turned chauffeur, Merz was part of the motorcade when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914. He later transitioned into racing, winning the 1924 German Grand Prix.


Piero Taruffi claimed his only Formula One victory at the season-opening 1952 Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten on May 18. After his Ferrari teammate Nino Farina‘s car broke down, Farina took over Andre Simon’s car and regained second place, only for its engine to fail as well. Stirling Moss put in a strong performance in his second F1 race but had to withdraw his HWM early.


Maurice Trintignant took his second and final F1 win in a race of attrition at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix on May 18. Roy Salvadori led initially but pitted with a bent suspension arm after a mistake. Tony Brooks led for 22 laps before conceding to Jean Behra due to spark plug issues. Brake trouble ended Behra’s race, giving the lead to Mike Hawthorn. Stirling Moss then took the lead but retired with engine failure. Hawthorn also retired, handing the lead to Trintignant’s Cooper, who won by 20 seconds over Luigi Musso and Peter Collins’ Ferraris.


On May 18, 1967, Heinz-Harald Frentzen was born in Mönchengladbach, Germany. His most successful F1 season came in 1999 with Jordan, finishing third in the championship and securing two race victories. His final F1 race was in 2003 for Sauber, after which he raced in DTM, Speed Car, and at Le Mans.


Graham Hill secured his fifth and final Monaco Grand Prix victory in 1969 on May 18, driving his Lotus to victory after Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon retired. Nicknamed “Mr. Monaco,” Hill won five of the seven races held at the principality between 1963 and 1969, a record only matched by Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. The 1969 win was Hill’s last in Formula 1, as his career was disrupted by a severe accident at that year’s 1969 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.


Carlos Reutemann won a chaotic 1980 Monaco Grand Prix for Williams on May 18 of that year. A massive pile-up at the start took out five cars. Didier Pironi led until a gearbox issue caused him to crash at Casino Square on lap 55. Reutemann then took the lead, finishing over a minute ahead of Jacques Laffite.


On May 18, Michael Schumacher overcame two aborted starts, a rain shower, and a pit lane fire to win the 2003 Austrian Grand Prix. Issues with Christiano da Matta’s launch-control system led to two aborted starts. Once underway, Schumacher initially led but faced a brief rain shower. During his pit stop, his fuel hose caught fire, but he calmly waited until given the all-clear and rejoined in third. Passing Kimi Raikkonen‘s McLaren and taking the lead after Juan Pablo Montoya’s Williams failed, Schumacher held on to win the race.

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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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