What Happened On This Day May 8 In F1 History?

From Mario Andretti winning at the 1977 Spanish Grand Prix to Gilles Villeneuve's tragic death at Zolder in 1982.


By Ben Bush
Updated on May 29, 2024

Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari
In 1982 Gilles Villeneuve's Ferrari launched into the air, crashed down onto the track, and violently somersaulted, ending in catastrophic injuries that proved fatal.

What happened on this day, May 8 in Formula 1 history? Find out interesting facts and stories about Formula 1 on this day.


Tazio Nuvolari clinched another victory at the 1932 Targa Florio, a public road endurance race held in the mountains of Sicily. He drove the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza, under the management of Enzo Ferrari. Preferring a smaller riding mechanic for better aerodynamics, Nuvolari enlisted a novice, Paride Mambelli. He instructed Mambelli to stay low during sharp turns. Post-race, when Enzo asked him about his experience, Mambelli admitted he had spent the race ducked down, seeing nothing.


Mario Andretti kicked off the European leg of the 1977 F1 season with a win at the Spanish Grand Prix, driving a JPL Lotus and managing to lap all but four competitors. Complications beset Niki Lauda, who withdrew due to severe back pains requiring hospitalisation, and James Hunt, whose race ended early due to engine failure.


Professor Sid Watkins described Gilles Villeneuve’s tragic accident and death at the Zolder circuit as almost inevitable, given Villeneuve’s notorious risk-taking. He had a history of daring behaviours, such as piloting a helicopter despite an empty fuel gauge. Two weeks prior to his death, he had a dispute with Ferrari teammate Didier Peroni, who Villeneuve felt had unfairly won the San Marino Grand Prix against team orders. During the Zolder qualifying, in an intense effort to outpace Peroni, Villeneuve attempted to pass Jochen Mass’ slower car, misjudged a tight space, and collided. His car launched into the air, crashed down onto the track, and violently somersaulted, ending in catastrophic injuries that proved fatal.


Kimi Raikkonen led from start to finish at the 2005 Spanish Grand Prix, securing a win for McLaren with Fernando Alonso taking second place in front of his home fans and over 100,000 spectators. Alonso’s second-place finish bolstered his lead in the world championship. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher faced setbacks in his quest for a sixth consecutive title with two tyre failures during the race but remained determined, vowing to continue the fight.

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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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