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One-time winners

Steven Lynch June 7, 2013
Olivier Panis on his way to his one and only victory © Sutton Images
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Olivier Panis and Jarno Trulli both pulled off surprise wins in the Monaco GP, their only F1 victories. Has anyone else won his only race at Monaco? asked Paul Browne

Olivier Panis won a rain-affected race in 1996 in a Ligier (their last GP victory), while Jarno Trulli took the chequered flag in 2004 in a Renault, less than half a second ahead of Jenson Button's BAR. Trulli was helped by crashes which eliminated Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, but his win was no fluke as he started from pole position. Apart from those two, there's only one man whose only GP victory came on the streets of Monte Carlo: Jean-Pierre Beltoise, who won another wet race in 1972 in a BRM (it was their last GP victory too). There's an honourable mention for another Frenchman, Maurice Trintignant, who won two GPs - both at Monaco, in 1955 and 1958.

I was looking at the roll of honour for the Monaco GP, and saw that Ayrton Senna won it a record six times. Is this the record for any GP? asked Keith Marshall

Ayrton Senna's six victories is indeed the Monaco record - he eclipsed Graham Hill's previous mark of five - but overall Senna has to give best, almost inevitably, to Michael Schumacher. He won the French GP on no fewer than eight occasions between 1994 and 2006, and the Canadian and San Marino GPs seven times each. Schumacher also won the Belgian, European, Japanese and Spanish GPs on six occasions: the only man other than Senna to win the same race six times is Alain Prost, with six successes in the Brazilian and French GPs.

Has anyone taken pole position in his very first GP? asked Daniel Clayton

I think this has only happened twice so far. The first to do it was the great American Mario Andretti, who put his Lotus on pole at the United States GP at the end of 1968. He had driven the car at the Italian GP at Monza not long before, but wasn't able to take part in the race: "In the end Andretti was not allowed to start," wrote Graham Hill, "because he had been to a meeting in America less than 24 hours before the race - it was a shame because he went very well in practice on the first day before rushing to America for a race on the Saturday." At Watkins Glen, though, Andretti stunned the F1 regulars by qualifying 0.7 seconds faster than second-placed Jackie Stewart. "I don't quite know what word to use to describe the feeling of our group. I guess you can say it was a surprise," said Stewart. "Not that I, personally, was surprised, because I knew bloody well he can drive any kind of race car and do it quite splendidly." Andretti's feat was mirrored by another north American, Canada's Jacques Villeneuve, in Australia in 1996. He put his Williams on pole in the first race of the season - the first one ever run at Melbourne - and narrowly failed to win: he relinquished the lead to his team-mate, Damon Hill, after suffering an oil leak. Villeneuve still managed to finish second. (This excludes Nino Farina, who took pole in the very first world championship GP, at Silverstone in 1950, and the pole-sitters in the Indianapolis 500 in the years that counted towards the world championship.)

I remember a French racing driver called Johnny Servoz-Gavin. What happened to him? asked Lesley Campbell
George-Francis "Johnny" Servoz-Gavin was a good-looking driver who took part in 13 GPs between 1967 and 1970. In his third race - the first one he'd finished - he finished second, at Monza in 1968, admittedly nearly a lap behind Denny Hulme's winning McLaren. In that race Servoz-Gavin was driving a Matra: his team leader, Jackie Stewart, withdrew after 42 of the 68 laps. In his previous race he briefly led the Monaco GP. The following year (1969) Servoz-Gavin won the European Formula Two championship, but it didn't lead to a regular F1 seat, mainly because he picked up an eye injury that winter which he was worried had affected his driving ability, and he retired during 1970. Servoz-Gavin later lived in a houseboat for a while, and died in his native Grenoble in 2006.

Jean-Eric Vergne equalled his best result in Monaco © Getty Images
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Jean-Eric Vergne drove an impressive race at Monaco. Was that eighth position his best placing so far? asked Richard Leighton

Jean-Eric Vergne's eighth place for Toro Rosso at Monaco was his best of the year so far - his only previous point came after finishing tenth in Malaysia. It equalled his best position, which he managed no fewer than four times in 2012, his debut season: last year Vergne was eighth in Malaysia, Belgium, Korea and Brazil, bringing him a total of 16 points. Now 23, Vergne won the British Formula Three championship in 2010.

I know John Surtees won several GPs as a driver, but did his cars ever win one? asked Kenneth McDonald

Team Surtees cars took part in the Formula One world championship between 1970 and 1978. In all their cars made 119 starts - and never quite won a race. Their best position was Mike Hailwood's second place in the 1972 Italian GP, not far behind Emerson Fittipaldi's winning Lotus: the previous year Hailwood had been fourth in a blanket finish at Monza, just 0.18 second behind the winner Peter Gethin. Surtees's only other podium finish came in 1973, when Carlos Pace was third at the Austrian GP. John Surtees himself won six GPs - one each for Cooper and Honda, and four for Ferrari, with whom he won the world drivers' championship in 1964.

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If you want to ask Steven a question, use our feedback form. The most interesting questions will be answered here every other Friday. His long-running Ask Steven column on Cricinfo remains one of that site's most popular features Ask Steven features a number of experts, headed by Steven Lynch, who answer your questions across Formula One as well as a variety of other sports