- February 3 down the years
Mercedes buys into McLarenWhat happened on February 3 in Formula One history?
Mercedes parent company Daimler bought 40% of McLaren, solidifying its engine supply deal that had been in place since 1995. The deal was also part of a plan for the two companies to build sports cars together. In 2003 the McLaren Mercedes SLR was launched but by 2009 McLaren announced its plans to build its own road cars and Mercedes set up its own F1 team. McLaren is now gradually buying back Mercedes' 40%.
Midland launched the first Russian Formula One car, the M16. Billionaire Alex Schnaider bought the team in 2005 but ran it under the Jordan name and a British license in his debut season. However, for 2006 the team ran under the Midland banner and, for the first time in F1 history, the Russian flag. Towards the end of the season, the team was sold to Spyker Cars and raced in its last three grands prix under the official name "Spyker MF1 Racing".
Art Arfons, born on this day in Akron, Ohio, broke the world land speed record three times in 1964 and 1965 in his home-built Green Monster jet-powered cars. After a bad crash in 1966 he turned to jet turbine powered tractor pulling competitions, but quit altogether after an accident in 1971 killed two spectators and a TV reporter who was travelling with him.
Tony Gaze was born in Melbourne, Australia. He became the first Australian to compete in a grand prix in 1952 but only managed to finish one race in his career, his debut at Spa Francorchamps. He was a highly decorated Spitfire pilot in World War II and escaped from occupied France after being shot down. Considered to be one of Australia's greatest aces he notched up 12.5 aerial victories and, among other accomplishments, he was the first Allied pilot to land in France after D-Day and the first Australian pilot to shoot down a jet. He helped to establish the Goodwood race circuit in 1948 and after retiring from racing he worked on initiatives to develop Australian motorsport.
John Claes died at the age of 39 in Brussels. He raced between 1950 and 1955 under the Belgian flag but was born in Fulham and educated at Lord Williams's School, Oxfordshire. He started by racing his own Talbot Lago under the team name Ecurie Belge and recorded some impressive results for a privateer. He later traded the Talbot for a Gordini and eventually a Connaught, but always raced in the Ecurie Belge colours. He occasionally drove for works teams, including Gordini and Maserati, but never improved on his best result of seventh. He died after a long battle with tuberculosis, but raced up until 1955.
Chico Serra was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. At the age of 23 he came to prominence racing in Formula 2 for Ron Dennis's Project Four Racing. In 1980 he made the step up to Formula One, racing for Emerson Fittipaldi's team, but failed to qualify more often than not. The next year he struggled again at Fittipaldi but scored a career best finish of sixth at the Belgian Grand Prix. A move to Arrows in 1983 made for more consistent results until he parted ways with the team after the fifth round of the season. He won the Brazilian V8 title in 2000 and 2001 and was still racing in the series in 2009. However, it was a fight with compatriot Raul Boesel in the Canadian pit lane in 1982 that he is often remembered for. The pair exchanged words and then punches, before being broken up by team members.