On this day in motor sport: November 23-29by Peter Higham on 23rd November 2018
2014 Lewis Hamilton wins the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to clinch the world championship for the second time, his first for Mercedes-Benz and the first of the turbo hybrid era. With double points controversially on offer, team-mate Nico Rosberg qualified on pole position but was delayed by a technical issue and finished 14th. Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas completed the podium finishers as Williams claimed third in the constructors’ standings. Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel drove their last races for Ferrari and Red Bull respectively while Caterham started a GP for the last time.
1998 Tommi Mäkinen wins the World Rally Championship for the third year in a row in a dramatic finale to the Rally of Great Britain. The Finn’s hopes appeared over when he crashed on the opening day due to oil left by a competitor in the Coys Historic Rally. Carlos Sainz was heading to the title until his engine expired just 500 yards from the finish of the final stage to hand Mäkinen the WRC crown. Mäkinen’s Mitsubishi team-mate Richard Burns won the event for the first of three successive occasions.
1990 Michael Schumacher wins the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix when future Formula 1 rival Mika Häkkinen crashes on the last lap. Häkkinen had won the first heat and was heading for an aggregate victory when he attempted to pass Schumacher. He clipped the rear of the WTS Reynard and speared into the barrier. Schumacher continued onto victory with Mika Salo second overall and Eddie Irvine third.
2005 Four years to the day since clinching the 2001 World Rally Championship, Richard Burns succumbs to cancer. Still the only Englishman to win that title, Burns made his WRC debut in 1990 and scored 10 world rally victories for Mitsubishi and Subaru. His rivalry with 1995 champion Colin McRae heralded a golden era for British rallying but both friends were lost before their time.
2012 Sebastian Vettel is crowned world champion for the third time, at the Brazilian Grand Prix. That seemed a remote possibility when he hit Bruno Senna’s Williams and spun on the opening lap at Interlagos. But Vettel dragged his damaged Red Bull back into sixth by the finish, which meant that Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had to win to deny him the title. Nico Hülkenberg and Jenson Button both starred in the mixed conditions. Hülkenberg’s Force India led before he crashed into Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren-Mercedes as he tried to retake the lead. That gave Button an advantage he would not relinquish and Alonso eventually finished 2.754sec behind the McLaren, so he lost the title by three points.
1908 Frenchman Louis Wagner wins the inaugural American Grand Prize on Thanksgiving Day. The equivalent of France’s Grand Prix, the race was held on a 25-mile course in Savannah, Georgia with convict labour used to relay the surface. Fourteen European entries arrived to challenge six out-powered local cars. The Fiats of Felice Nazzaro, Louis Wagner and Ralph de Palma proved the class of the field and Wagner prevailed when Nazzaro punctured a tyre on the last of 16 laps with Victor Hémery’s Benz just a minute behind at the finish after six hours of racing. Wagner was a topline racing driver for 28 years and he shared victory in the 1926 British GP with Robert Sénéchal.
1953 Desiré Wilson is born in Brakpan, South Africa. The daughter of national motorcycle champion Charles Randall, Wilson (above, 1980 British Grand Prix) won South Africa’s ‘Driver to Europe’ scholarship in 1976 and raced in the British Aurora Formula 1 championship from 1978. She won the Easter Monday Brands Hatch round in 1980 (the first female driver to win an F1 race, albeit a national event) and shared sports car success at Monza and Silverstone that year with Alain de Cadenet. She failed to qualify a private Williams FW07 for the 1980 British Grand Prix and retired a Tyrrell 010 from the non-championship 1981 South African GP.
1995 Italian Grand Prix driver Giancarlo Baghetti (above) dies in Milan. He started just 21 GPs for the likes of Ferrari, ATS, Brabham and Lotus but had a unique introduction to Formula 1. With just three years’ experience racing in national sports cars and Formula Junior, Baghetti drove a privately entered Ferrari Dino 156 to victory in his first two non-championship F1 races at the start of 1961. He then beat Dan Gurney’s Porsche in that year’s French GP to become the only driver in the modern era to win on his GP debut. A works Ferrari driver in 1962, he scored points at Zandvoort and Monza but was overlooked for the following season and did not finish in the top six again. He won the 1000cc European Touring Car title in 1966 before working as a photo-journalist once his racing career had ended.
1990 John Watson tests the new Jordan 191 for the first time at Silverstone as Eddie Jordan’s new team prepared for its debut in the 1991 world championship. The former Grand Prix winner completed 20 laps in Gary Anderson’s plain black car, a stint that included spinning in front of a gathering of the British specialist press. Jordan Grand Prix competed in Formula 1 until Eddie sold to the Midland Group in 2005, winning four GPs during that time.
1975 The motor racing fraternity is rocked by the light plane accident near Elstree that cost the lives of Graham Hill, Tony Brise, Ray Brimble, Andy Smallman, Terry Richards and Tony Alcock in 1975. Hill’s Piper Aztec was returning from a Formula 1 test at Paul Ricard when it crashed in heavy fog on approach to Elstree airport. With the loss of its founder, young star driver and the nucleus of the engineering team, Embassy Graham Hill Racing did not race again.
1996 Motor Sport’s famed continental correspondent Denis Jenkinson (above, at Silverstone with Stirling Moss in 1967) dies near Ascot aged 75. He joined the magazine after meeting Bill Boddy while working for the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough during World War II. Having competed successfully as a passenger in the World Sidecar Championship, ‘Jenks’ was Stirling Moss’s navigator for their victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia. He left Motor Sport in 1993.