Legends of F1 have their day in the sun
16 March, 2010
Mar.16 (YF1) One of the highlights of the 2010 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix weekend was the Legends of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship who returned to the track to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the the sport. In total 18 former world champions were present and many of them took to the track in landmark cars from the F1 championship’s history.
A total of 18 of the 20 surviving world champions have traveled to Bahrain in order to mark this special anniversary in a never-to-be-repeated gathering of the stars and the cars that have defined the sport. From the oldest surviving champion Sir Jack Brabham – the 1959, 1960 and 1966 title-winner, who has traveled from his home in Australia – the greatest heroes in the sport are thrilling the crowds and enjoying the occasion as their sport salutes them.
For many of the drivers the biggest thrill was the opportunity to take to the track in the historic cars that have been assembled for the occasion. Driving one of the first bespoke Formula 1 machines ever built – the 1950 Ferrari 125 ‘Thinwall Special’ – was 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell, who was absolutely delighted with his experience of the vintage machine.
The 1.5-litre V12 supercharged car generates more than 370 horsepower with none of the technical advances that have defined the sport in the years that have followed. “I am astonished by this car, it’s amazing,” said Mansell.
“My respect for the guys who used to drive cars like this flat-out for three hours at circuits like the Nürburgring with 170 corners per lap has gone through the roof. It’s a seriously quick car even by modern standards but such a physical thing to drive.”
While Mansell savoured the experience of the formative years of Formula1™ other champions were reunited with the cars in which they achieved success.
Scotland’s three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart drove the Matra-Ford MS80 in which he won the 1969 world championship title, Brazilian double champion Emerson Fittipaldi rolled back the years at the wheel of the Lotus 72D in which he claimed the 1972 championship crown, South Africa’s Jody Scheckter returned to the cockpit of the Ferrari 312 T4 in which he won the 1979 world championship and American legend Mario Andretti reveled in driving his 1978 title-winning Lotus 79.
“It’s an amazing weekend, a lovely experience,” said 1980 world champion, Australia’s Alan Jones. “I flew here with Jack Brabham and we had plenty to catch up about, but it’s pretty extraordinary to get so many of us here at one time. You’ll probably never see so many of these people in one place again, it’s a real coup for Bahrain.”
Jones’s predecessor as champion, South Africa’s 1979 title-winner Jody Scheckter, was delighted to have been able to take the wheel of his old car and join in the proceedings. “I’ve only driven the car twice in the past ten years, once for a Nelson Mandela charity event and once for Ferrari’s 60th anniversary,” he said.
“It’s really good to see so many of these guys here at one time. I came to the race here in Bahrain two years ago, it’s really impressive and the facilities are state-of-the-art. I’m glad to come back and enjoy the occasion.”