What Happened On This Day May 21 In F1 History?

From Juan Manuel Fangio winning the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix to Michael Schumacher's first win for Ferrari in Germany at the 2000 European Grand Prix.


By Ben Bush
Updated on June 13, 2024

Michael Schumacher Ferrari 2000 European Grand Prix
Michael Schumacher wins for Ferrari at the 2000 European Grand Prix

What happened on this day, May 21 in Formula 1 history? Find out interesting facts and stories about Formula 1 on this day.


The second Formula One World Championship race took place in Monaco on May 21, 1950, and was won by Juan Manuel Fangio. Due to windy conditions, waves and spray from the harbor made the Tabac corner exceptionally slippery, causing a nine-car pileup on the first lap. Fangio, driving an Alfa Romeo, avoided the chaos and secured victory in the 100-lap race, finishing over a lap ahead of Alberto Ascari in the Ferrari. Luigi Villoresi added excitement by stalling at the start but fought back to second place before retiring with a mechanical issue.


Mario Andretti led a dominant Lotus one-two victory at the 1978 Belgian Grand Prix on May 21, a common sight during the 1978 season. Andretti started strong, with Gilles Villeneuve in second place. However, several cars collided trying to avoid the slow-starting Carlos Reutemann. Villeneuve maintained second place ahead of Ronnie Peterson’s Lotus until a front-left puncture forced him to pit, dropping him down the order. From that point, Lotus controlled the race, with Ferraris of Reutemann and Villeneuve finishing third and fourth.


On May 21, Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari won a wet 2000 European Grand Prix ahead of Mika Hakkinen in the McLaren, following a race-long battle between the two title contenders. Although Hakkinen took the lead into the first corner after the pair banged wheels at the start, the arrival of rain saw Hakkinen struggling to control his car. Schumacher, on the other hand, remained composed and overtook Hakkinen at the final chicane. Making better use of slick tyres on a slippery surface, Schumacher built a lead. When the entire field eventually pitted for wet tyres, Schumacher maintained his first place and extended his gap over Hakkinen. Despite Hakkinen getting within five seconds at one point, Schumacher held on to secure his first Ferrari victory in Germany.


On May 21, Jacques Villeneuve criticised Juan Pablo Montoya after a three-car pileup during Saturday’s free practice session of the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix, saying Montoya’s actions could have been fatal. Montoya brake-tested Ralf Schumacher, feeling the Toyota driver had held him up on the previous lap. The sudden deceleration on the hill out of Saint Devote caused an unsighted Villeneuve to crash into the back of David Coulthard and Schumacher. Villeneuve described Montoya’s behavior as “out of order,” expressing how serious the incident could have been: “How serious could it have been? It could have been me and a few people in the hotel dead. I’m just lucky I hit David’s gearbox instead of hitting his rear wheel. If not I would have taken off like in Australia a few years ago [when an accident Villeneuve was involved in killed a marshal] … it was extremely, extremely dangerous.”

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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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