What Happened On This Day May 2 In F1 History?

From James Hunt's win, to disqualification, to winning again at the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix to David Coulthard's near death plane crash in 1999.

Ben

By Ben Bush
Updated on May 29, 2024

1999 David Coulthard Airplane Crash
In 1999 David Coulthard, his girlfriend and trainer survived an airplane crash. Both pilots were killed.

What happened on this day, May 2 in Formula 1 history? Find out interesting facts and stories about Formula 1 on this day.

1976

James Hunt initially won the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix but was later disqualified due to his McLaren being 5/8ths of an inch too wide, a detail considered an infringement by the race stewards. This decision handed the victory to Niki Lauda, marking his fourth consecutive win for Ferrari. McLaren’s manager, Teddy Mayer, criticised the ruling, citing it as enforcement of an unnecessary and obscure regulation. However, nearly two months after the incident, the FIA overturned the disqualification, a pivotal moment in Hunt’s season, as he ultimately edged out Lauda for the 1976 drivers’ championship at the final race of the season in Japan.

1998

David Coulthard expressed his frustration after he blamed slow traffic for his loss at the 1998 San Marino Grand Prix. He believed Ferrari’s strategic pit stop timing allowed Michael Schumacher to secure a win by four seconds. Coulthard felt hindered by other drivers, particularly behind Oliver Panis’s Prost and Giancarlo Fisichella’s Benetton. McLaren’s Ron Dennis was so upset that he confronted Alain Prost, who then ordered Panis to let Coulthard pass. Although Panis initially complied, a subsequent mistake by Coulthard allowed Panis to regain his position, ending Coulthard’s chances to win.

1999

David Coulthard miraculously survived when his private jet crashed while approaching Lyon-Satolas airport from Farnborough in Hampshire to Nice. The aircraft, reported to be on fire, attempted an emergency landing when it clipped the ground with a wingtip, somersaulted, and burst into flames. Coulthard helped his girlfriend, Heidi Winchelski, and his personal trainer to safety, but tragically, the pilot and co-pilot perished. Reflecting on the incident years later, Coulthard expressed a newfound appreciation for life and the realisation of his mortality.

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About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush
Ben

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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