What Happened On This Day May 20 In F1 History?

From Graham Hill winning the 1962 European Grand Prix to Jackie Stewart claiming his 24th F1 win at the 1973 Belgian Grand Prix.


By Ben Bush
Updated on June 3, 2024

Jackie Stewart 1973 Belgian Grand Prix
Jackie Stewart on his way to win the 1973 Belgian Grand Prix.

What happened on this day, May 20 in Formula 1 history? Find out interesting facts and stories about Formula 1 on this day.


Bob Sweikert, born on this day in 1926 in Los Angeles, achieved a remarkable feat in 1955 by winning the Indianapolis 500 when it was a part of the F1 calendar, the National Championship, and the Midwest Sprint car championship, the only driver to do so in a single season. In 1956, he finished sixth at the Indy 500 but tragically died a few weeks later in a sprint car race at Salem Speedway.


Graham Hill won the 1962 European Grand Prix at Zandvoort in a BRM on May 20, leading 69 of the 80 laps, the first of his four wins on the way to securing the 1962 drivers’ title. Trevor Taylor’s Lotus finished second despite limited oil pressure, while Phil Hill‘s Ferrari took third.


Jackie Stewart claimed his 24th victory at the 1973 Belgian Grand Prix on May 20 in a race marked by chaos as the track deteriorated, causing eight cars to skid into crash barriers, fortunately without serious injury. Chris Amon, who placed sixth in a Tecno, suffered severe dehydration as his car’s cockpit overheated, leaving him unable to leave his car unaided. He remained in the paddock recovering for an hour post-race.


On May 20, 1975, F1 driver Ralph Firman was born. Raised in England but racing under Irish citizenship due to his mother’s nationality, Firman entered professional racing straight from school. In 1996, during his second year, he won the British Formula Three Championship and by 2003, Firman joined Jordan in F1 alongside Giancarlo Fisichella. However, his first season was disappointing, with his best result being eighth in Spain. Firman also missed two races after a crash during practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix. It was his only year in Formula 1.


On May 20, Niki Lauda triumphed in the 79-lap 1984 French Grand Prix, despite local hero Patrick Tambay leading for over half the race. Nigel Mansell, who had recently lost his mother to cancer, secured third place. Mansell had a close call during the race when he crested a hill to find a marshal crossing the track. Reflecting on the incident, Mansell said, “You could say I was unimpressed. In fact, it shook me rigid.”

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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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