Sixty years ago, the world was still recovering from the ravages of a world war. But it’s always remarkable how quickly people return to normal life after such devastation. By 1950, Grand Prix racing was already very well re-established, even if the cars (and most of the drivers) dated back to the immediate pre-war era. As a new decade began, the time was right to launch the first World Championship.
At the Bahrain Grand Prix last month Formula 1 acknowledged its heritage by celebrating the diamond anniversary of the World Championship in fitting style. All the living World Champions bar two (Kimi Räikkönen and Nelson Piquet) congregated at the desert circuit, along with a collection of fabulous cars from the past 60 years. Such a gathering is unlikely to ever happen again.
As F1 marks the anniversary, we at Motor Sport have decided to do the same. We’ve chosen this, the May issue, because it was on May 13 1950 that Silverstone hosted that landmark Grand Prix, the first to carry the weight of World Championship status.
To celebrate, we pooled some of the best motor racing writers to tell the story of 60 glorious years of GP action.
Doug Nye kicks things off with an overview of the 1950s. Now, as he says in his article, Doug was only a young child when the World Championship was born, but he was always a “good listener”. There is no better authority alive to look back at the decade of Fangio, Hawthorn, Moss, Mercedes and so on.
Into the 1960s, and Eoin Young takes up the story. The Kiwi was smack in the middle of it all back then, working with his mate Bruce McLaren and as a respected journalist, among other things.
We chose Alan Henry to tell the story of the 1970s. AH built his formidable reputation in the decade of flares and fuel shortages, enjoying friendships with the likes of Ronnie Peterson and Niki Lauda.
Our own editor-in-chief Nigel Roebuck covers the 1980s, an era as volatile as any he has known in the sport. It was the decade of the ‘superpowers’ – Villeneuve, Prost, Senna, Mansell and those magnificent turbos. For Nigel, the memories are recalled with a clarity as if they were yesterday.
Seasoned newspaper journalist Maurice Hamilton steps up for the 1990s and regular Motor Sport man Adam Cooper brings the story right up to date with the most recent decade. The ‘magnificent six’ put 60 years of F1 history into context just perfectly.
To complement the story of the decades, Simon Taylor lunched with the man who has started more Grands Prix than any other (except Rubens Barrichello, who took the lead in the longevity stakes two years ago). Yes, it’s Riccardo Patrese. He’s a true Italian gent, who tells us of his racing life, from enfant terrible to respected veteran. Former editor Simon Arron also makes his first appearance in our pages since 1996 to bring us the story of those Bahrain 60th anniversary celebrations.
It’s been a pleasure and a treat putting this issue together. There was a palpable sense of excitement in the office as each of the decade features landed and we began to build the pages. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed making it.