James Hunt

February 9, 2009 by  
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A self-confident and competitive person both in and out of the driver’s seat, James Simon Wallis Hunt enjoyed a relatively short and tumultuous racing career. Hunt was born in 1947 to a London stockbroker and from an early age his parents found him unruly and rebellious. He seemed prone to temper tantrums and was terribly hyperactive. Despite his wild and rebellious ways he grew up to become a tall and handsome youngster who enjoyed considerable success with the ladies. His journey to World Champion began on his eighteenth birthday when Hunt saw his first race at Silverstone. On that day he decided that he would one day become World Champion – a goal which took several challenging years to realise.

Though his family was wealthy, they did not support Hunt’s dreams of becoming a racing champion and Hunt started out by working odd jobs and purchasing a wrecked Mini, which he spent two years preparing for racing. Once he eventually did get started on the racetrack, he never looked back – though many of his early races ended in bad accidents. Eventually he managed to stay on the racetrack long enough to win a few races. It is interesting to note that his bogus behavior on the track did not reflect his fear of racing. Often he would vomit in the garage and shake so violently on the starting grid that his car would vibrate. However, James Hunt was a determined, testosterone-driven racer which made him a formidable opponent.

James Hunt’s career took a huge turn when Lord Alexander Hesketh entered his life. Known by the racers he sponsored as ‘The Good Lord’, Hesketh was an eccentric British aristocrat who chose to squander his sizable inheritance on personal entertainment. To this end, he formed his own racing team and hired Hunt as his driver. Though the Hesketh Racing team was mediocre at best, they were well known for consuming copious amounts of champagne and sporting beautiful women. Before long, Hesketh decided to graduate from Formula Three and Formula Two to Formula One. Their arrival on the scene was welcomed with laughter but Hunt soon wiped the smiles away with his 1975 win over Niki Lauda’s Ferrari at the Dutch Grand Prix. Unfortunately Hesketh decided to leave the game that same year and Hunt was left without a job.

The following year he was called in to fill an unexpected vacancy with McLaren and James’ Formula One career began in earnest. He quickly became known for his bad temper and excessive speed. He became close friends with Niki Lauda with whom he competed for the 1976 driving title. Hunt managed to take the World Champion title later that year – the pinnacle of his success as a driver. After his win, his enthusiasm for racing waned and before long, he decided to retire. He married twice, had two children to whom he was wholly devoted and had just gotten engaged for the third time when he died unexpectedly from a heart attack at the age of 45. However, the charismatic James Hunt has certainly not been forgotten and his memory continues to live on in the sport of Formula One racing.

Keke Rosberg

February 9, 2009 by  
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Also known as the Flying Finn, Keijo Erik Rosberg was considered to be one of the most exciting and daring racing drivers of all time. His fast and furious style of driving livened up races, entertained fans and earned him his place in the Hall of Fame. Though not a terribly successful Formula One driver, Rosberg enjoyed a long and prosperous career in the driver’s seat of many different vehicles. In fact, his winnings eventually allowed him to purchase his own Lear jet as well as property in Munich, England, Austria and Ibiza. More than this, though, his unique style of driving made him into a sort of racing legend – a hero who never gave up but instead was determined to try harder.

Rosberg was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1948, to Finnish parents who were studying in Sweden at the time. Though both parents held down secular jobs on returning to their home country, both competed in rallies regularly. Thus racing was a passion which entered Rosberg’s life from a very young age. Whilst still a toddler he managed to crash the family car into the garage door. Shortly afterwards the undeterred Rosberg took to karting. By the time he was a teenager he was an accomplished kart racer looking forward to pursuing new goals.

Originally he intended to follow the footsteps of his parents – holding down a secular career whilst pursuing his passion part time. But his career path was on a collision course with motorsports and by 1973 he was Finnish kart champion five times over as well as a Scandinavian and European champion. In 1975 he decided to change his game somewhat and he moved up to Formula Vee and Super Vee at which he was also highly successful. Before long he began racing Formula Two and travelling the world in order to compete. He nicknamed himself ‘Keke’ so that the media could remember his name. Keke Rosberg was so successful at racing that it became his profession – one which supported him well. When the money ran low, Rosberg would endorse products or throw in a sale’s pitch which would see him through to his next big winning.

His Formula One career took off with a bumpy start since he was unable to drive for any top-rated teams. Thus management and equipment always brought him down though he handled each car so aggressively that it competed with the best. In 1980 he got a lucky break when Alan Jones unexpectedly retired and Keke Rosberg was the only available replacement. Now at the wheel of a more reliable vehicle, Rosberg was whizzing around the track and keeping fans gasping. Two years later he only had one Grand Prix win under his belt but he also had enough points to become the 1982 World Champion. Unfortunately, Keke Rosberg’s hard-hitting style of driving started to wear him out. He had pushed every car he’d driven to its absolute maximum and he’d earned respect from fellow competitors and admiration from fans. He eventually retired from Formula One racing but stayed in the industry, caring for the future careers of Mika Hakkinen and Nico Rosberg amongst others.

Nelson Piquet

February 9, 2009 by  
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Nelson Piquet Souto Maior or as most people know him, Nelson Piquet, was born on August 17, 1952 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nelson’s father was a Brazilian government minister and did not approve of his son’s racing career, and so forced his son to use his mother’s maiden name Piquet instead.

Nelson Piquet is a Brazillian racing driver who was a successful Formula One world champion in 1981, 1983 and 1987. There are very few other racing drivers who have been able to win at least three world championships in all of Formula One’s history. Other then Nelson there was Juan Manuel Fangio (5), Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Alain Prost (4), Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher (7).

Nelson was Brazilian go-karting national champion in 1971 and 1972 as well as local super-V 1976 champion. After succeeding there he took British Formula 3 on and was considered a prodigy during the 1978 season when he broke Jackie Stewart‘s record of wins in one season. From there he was promoted to Formula One. Piquet was indeed talented.

In 1986 Piquet saw himself in direct and intense competition with his rival, Nigel Mansell. Both had similar characters, highly-strung and delicate temperaments. As top drivers in the same team there was indeed intense competition for the title to the point that they would deprive each other of points rather than working together. This led to Alain Prost winning the most ferociously disputed championships Formula One had ever had.

Since 2000 Nelson Piquet has helped and supported his son Nelson Piquet Jr. in his racing career. The racing star was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in the year 2000.

Phil Hill

February 9, 2009 by  
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Phil Hill is credited with becoming the first American to become World Champion – yet he was not the flashy, colorful sort of person you would expect such a title to belong to. In fact, Hill wasn’t entirely sure that he really enjoyed racing. An intelligent and sensitive introvert, he openly admitted to having inner demons which plagued him throughout his racing career. Still, despite his mental obstacles, Phil Hill was truly a champion of the sport.

Born in 1927 to a prominent family in California, Philip Toll Hill Junior became an introvert at a very young age. He feared failure and often felt inadequate. He turned to music as an outlet for his problems before becoming absorbed in the world of cars. He received his first car at the tender age of twelve. The Model T Ford was a gift from his aunt and he dismantled it several times before learning to drive it. After dropping out from the University of California, Phil Hill went to work for garage owner who was also an amateur racer. Before long he started racing and in 1951 he was able to purchase a 2.6 litre Ferrari with money he inherited after the death of his parents. Despite his regular wins, Hill was plagued by the dangers of racing – to the extent that he had to stop racing for ten months in order for his stomach to recover from multiple stomach ulcers. When he returned to the track, he was making use of heavy doses of tranquillisers. He always attributed his success to the car.

In 1955 Phil Hill was invited to join Ferrari as an endurance racer. It was a slow start towards his Formula One racing career since Enzo Ferrari hesitated to put him in single-seaters. However he soon started racing Formula One and he won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza after just two years in the driver’s seat. During his entire career, Hill was strikingly candid about his personal demons and emotional troubles. His introspection resulted in some unflattering comments on his personality but for the first time in his life, he was able to leave his inferiority complex behind. Before a race, Hill was nervous and edgy – but as soon as he was behind the wheel he seemed calm and tranquil. He often drove the best on the worst tracks in the worst weather conditions.

Despite his worries about the dangers of the sport, it was something which he was just too passionate about to stop. Thus, after a short period of inactivity, he simply found he had to race again. Things started well but after the tragic accident at Monza wherein his old team mate Count Wolfgang von Trips was killed in a collision with Jim Clark, his career started on a slow downward spiral. He raced for a number of companies before eventually retiring from Formula One and then from racing altogether. In 1971 he married his girlfriend and settled down to start a family. He thereafter led a quieter and happier life, restoring old cars as part of a rather lucrative business. — Phil Hill died on 28 August 2008.

Hamilton Wins Chinese Grand Prix

October 22, 2008 by  
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After an exciting race at the Shanghai International Circuit on the weekend, Lewis Hamilton goes on to the next leg of the Formula One Grand Prix Championship with a few more notches on his belt. Hopes are high that he’ll be able to clench the championship this year – a feat which is made even more special by the fact that it is exactly 50 years since the first British driver ever won the Formula One world title.

Lewis Hamilton is often considered to be the first ‘black’ driver in Formula One. Hence his winning this year’s world title would be yet another great accomplishment for British Formula One. Nevertheless a lot can happen between now and the end of the race and while the 23-year-old driver is currently in the lead, a similar lead in last years world title slipped between his fingers in the final races. While no one can predict what will happen in the last few championship races of the season, what is clear is that Hamilton absolutely dominated the Chinese Grand Prix from start to finish.

After world champion Kimi Raikkonen has slipped a bit too far down the standings, he has pledged to help Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in his bid to win the world title rather than waste time trying to recover. And that is exactly what he did by easing his pace and letting Massa gain a place during the last few laps of the race. However Hamilton was clearly in top form and it seemed nothing would give Massa the boost needed to overtake him and claim the winner’s trophy. Massa finished second but that doesn’t mean that McLaren driver Hamilton can rest on his laurels. He still needs a further four points to be sure that the world title will not slip through his fingers a second time.

While it may seem that Hamilton just had the better skill that day, it would seem instead that a lot was determined by the tires used by the Ferrari and McLaren teams and this probably affected the handling of the vehicles quite a lot during the race. McLaren chose to use hard tires, while Ferrari opted for softer tires. That seemed to give Hamilton the boost he needed – he launched off the starting grid, led cleanly into the first corner and was 1.1 seconds ahead of competitor cars by the end of the first lap. It took ten laps just for the Ferrari team to gain on him. It was a mistake that Ferrari is unlikely to make again. It is now just a matter of time before the 2008 World Champion is crowned and all eyes are on Hamilton and Massa as they compete for top honors.