• February 24 down the years

The Professor is born

What happened on February 24 in Formula One history
Alain Prost won four world championships © Sutton Images
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1955
Four-time world champion Alain Prost was born in Lorette, France. He took 51 wins from 202 races, with the majority of his success coming with McLaren. Famously he had a fierce rivalry with his 1988 and 1989 team-mate Ayrton Senna and left the McLaren team to drive for Ferrari in 1990 as a result. After a chequered season with the team in 1991 he left the sport for a sabbatical before returning in 1993 for one last championship-winning season before he retired. In 1997 he launched his own F1 team, Prost GP. It had a successful debut year but soon dropped off the pace and in 2002 went bust after title sponsor Gauloises stopped paying sponsorship in 2000. Since then Prost has raced in the Rally Andros ice racing series and is still a regular attendee at grand prix.

1995
The official report into the accident which killed Ayrton Senna at Imola in 1994 was made public. The Italian magistrate Maurizio Passarini released a report 500 pages long and concluded that the crash was most likely the result of a steering failure on the car. The definitive reason for the crash is still debated today and the court case rumbled on through the mid-1990s until all Williams staff involved were acquitted.

2005
In a bizarre request by the Indian government, Narain Karthikeyan was told to change the colours of his helmet ahead of his debut season in F1. The government claimed his helmet, which was in the colours of the Indian flag, contravened the Flag Code of India that dictates that the Indian tricolour must not be used on costumes or embroidered on cushions, handkerchiefs or dress materials. Karthikeyan was baffled by the news: "If that is what the government wants, it is their loss. We as sportsmen are only doing the country proud by performing well. I have the tricolour on my helmet, but I can probably sell that space to sponsors and make a lot of money. I love India and I am proud to be an Indian and that's what I want to portray. But if I can't carry the tricolour on my helmet, it is the government's loss." In the end the government overlooked the Flag Code and allowed him to race with his helmet design.

1971
Pedro de la Rosa was born in Barcelona. Despite being highly respected up and down the paddock, de la Rosa has seldom had the chance to prove his talent in a top Formula One car. After cutting his teeth in Formula Nippon in Japan, he was recruited as a Jordan test driver in 1997 before making his grand prix debut with Arrows in 1998. In 2001 he turned down a drive at Prost to test, and eventually race, for Jaguar. However, the Ford-backed team never lived up to its promise and in 2003 he left the team and had to settle for a testing role at McLaren. His apolitical approach matched that of the team and he fitted in well. In 2005 he was given the opportunity to replace Juan Pablo Montoya at Bahrain and he set the fastest lap on his way to a fifth placed finish. In 2006 he got another opportunity, this time replacing Montoya for the rest of the season when the Colombian left the sport. He scored one podium at the wet Hungarian Grand Prix but was replaced by Lewis Hamilton for 2007. He secured a seat at Sauber to complete in his first full season in eight years in 2010, and after another year as McLaren test driver joined HRT for 2012.

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