What Happened On This Day May 19 In F1 History?

From the birth of the legedary Team Lotus boss Colin Chapman in 1928 to Olivier Panis's win in a rain-soaked 1996 Monaco Grand Prix.


By Ben Bush
Updated on May 23, 2024

Oliver Panis wins the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix
Oliver Panis wins the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, the only F1 win in his career.

What happened on this day, May 19 in Formula 1 history? Find out interesting facts and stories about Formula 1 on this day.


On May 19, 1928, Colin Chapman, the legendary Lotus boss, was born in Richmond, UK. He led his team to seven constructors’ championships and was instrumental in developing innovative technologies and successful drivers. Chapman pioneered the use of the monocoque chassis, wings, and ground effect aerodynamics, contributing significantly to Lotus’ success. His team was the first to introduce sponsorship on its cars with the Lotus 49 in Gold Leaf Tobacco colours during the 1968 season. Chapman died at age 54 on the same day Lotus was testing active suspension for the first time in 1982.


Juan Manuel Fangio won the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix on May 19 after a major accident on lap four eliminated nearly all his serious competitors. Fangio qualified on pole with Stirling Moss led initially. Moss crashed at the harbour chicane, and second-place Peter Collins collided while trying to avoid Moss. Fangio navigated the crash unscathed, but Tony Brooks, in fourth, was rear-ended by Mike Hawthorn as he braked. Brooks continued but was five seconds behind Fangio and never posed a threat. Only six cars finished behind Fangio, with Jack Brabham pushing his car across the line due to a fuel pump failure.


On May 19, the action-packed 1985 Monaco Grand Prix saw Alain Prost win for McLaren, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Michele Alboreto. Ayrton Senna started on pole in his Lotus and led initially. At the first corner, Gerhard Berger, Patrick Tambay, and Stefan Johansson crashed, while Prost navigated the chaos from fourth place. Alboreto executed a brilliant move on Nigel Mansell for second and took the lead when Senna retired with an engine failure. Prost closed in on Alboreto, who then slid on oil from a fiery accident involving Riccardo Patrese and Nelson Piquet, allowing Prost to take the lead. Alboreto regained the lead with an impressive outside pass at Saint Devote but later fell back to fourth due to a slow puncture and a subsequent pit stop. He fought back to second but couldn’t catch Prost again.


On May 19, Olivier Panis triumphed in a rain-soaked 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, securing the final victory for the Ligier team in Formula 1. Michael Schumacher had qualified on pole, but the wet conditions disrupted race strategies. The treacherous track led to the retirement of eight out of 21 drivers, including Schumacher, within the first five laps. Panis made his way through the field, overtaking Eddie Irvine for third after colliding and banging wheels with him at the Loews hairpin. In what he calls the greatest race of his life, Panis clocked laps comparable to leaders Damon Hill and Jean Alesi, both driving superior cars. When Hill and Alesi retired due to engine and suspension failures, respectively, Panis took the lead. By the race’s end at the two-hour limit, only four other cars were still running: David Coulthard, Johnny Herbert, and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. The win was Panis’ only F1 victory.

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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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