On This Day: New F1 cars and other notable milestones

Things start picking up in the world of motorsport on 13th February over the years as Europe awakens from the winter hibernation and the early business of Formula 1 car launches, shakedowns and testing has traditionally begun around this time of the year.

In 1961, on this day 58 years ago, Ferrari revealed the mid-engined Dino 156 F1 car (pictured above), to comply with then-new regulations that reduced engine displacement from 2.5 to 1.5 litres, similar to the pre-1961 Formula Two class for which Ferrari had developed a mid-engined car also designated the 156.

The Dino 156 contested 29 Grands Prix during its time in the top flight, seven times it won, seven times it started from pole and seven times it set the fastest lap of the race. Notable drivers who drove for the team during that period included Phil Hill, Wolfgang von Trips, Richie Ginther, Willy Mairesse, Giancarlo Baghetti, Ricardo Rodríguez, Lorenzo Bandini, John Surtees and Ludovico Scarfiotti.

The beautiful shark-nosed masterpiece also brought two F1 drivers’ titles to Maranello during the four seasons it was used, one for Hill in 1961 and Surtees in 1964.

In 1997, four-time F1 World Champion Alain Prost bought out the legendary Ligier outfit to set up the Prost F1 team. The once-formidable French team had been in the top flight since 1976 but petered out as a force. The Prost team enjoyed some success, scoring two podiums and finishing sixth in the constructors’ championship in its debut season but thereafter things went south.

Money ran out at the start of the 2002 season and soon Prost was out of business, reportedly leaving debts of $30-million. The Frenchman, known as The Professor is an advisor to the Renault F1 Team.

Born on this day in 1948 was Jim Crawford, a former Team Lotus who made a name for himself in the Formula Atlantic series of the time which earned him the nod to be Lotus test driver from Colin Chapman in 1973.

Maurice Trintignant (87) passed away in 2005. He was a respected and all-rounder style driver who raced in the fifties> In 1954 he won the Le Mans 24-Hours with Froilan Gonzalez in a Ferrari. A year later he won the Monaco Grand Prix also for the Scuderia, repeating the feat in 1957 driving a Cooper-Climax.

Last year on 13 February we reported:

Racing Point 2019 launch

Launch season was in full swing with Sportpesa Racing Point breaking cover. The Pinks saved by the Lawrence Stroll billions was finally a ‘thing’ after he and a consortium of well-heeled mates saved and took over beleaguered Force India in the eleventh from disgraced and financially strained Vijay Mallya.

Much was expected in 2019 from the Silverstone based team that was once Jordan, but apparently the Force India hangover was more intense than the buckets of dollars that was being poured into the project. Remember they built an almost-new car after the summer, but still the headaches continued.

Simply put, the car was a shitbox that did Sergio Perez no favours and simply increased the scowl on young Lance Stroll’s perpetually miserable face.

So when the going gets tough, the tough get going and next year they will morph into Aston Martin which Stroll senior and pals have also thrown some money at. But it all began on this day a year ago when packed with optimism the RP19 was born. Little did anyone know how it would turn out…

Also breaking cover on the day was the Red Bull’s RB15 in a matt blue and red test livery which looked smarter than the old tin-can vibe they have going with their regular paintjob.

hamilton mercedes 2019 launch

Mercedes got down to business with a film day at Silverstone to shakedown the W10 with Lewis Hamilton doing the honours. Out the box the thing was so quick that the World Champ could not contain himself when he wrote on Twitter after his time in the car: “Getting comfortable. The talent and sheer skill put into this unbelievable car never ceases to amaze me.”

It went on to amaze him further as in it he won eight of the first twelve races of the season and by then it was all done and dusted with Hammertime on furlough for the rest of the season. And one get’s the feeling the Briton might have suspected it on this day a year ago when he drove the W10 for the first time.

williams f1 car coovered

On the other side of the coin, chaos reigned at Grove as Paddy Lowe blundered a second car in a row, departed the Williams into oblivion after missing all the deadlines for the delivery of the new car -this in the wake of the season in which he produced arguably the worst car in F1 history – and left the team the pathetic shambles it was in 2019

Last year on this day we got a whiff of the impending doom as the team announced they would miss their ‘filming day’ as the car was behind schedule. It was worse than that as their drivers rookie George Russell and comeback hero Robert Kubica – were left watching most of the first test from the pitwall; and when they got the car it was a brick in which they toiled around at the arse-end of the field all year long, totally out of contention. You know the rest of the story.