• August 23 down the years

Pironi perishes in powerboat accident

What happened on this day in Formula One history?
Didier Pironi celebrates as an enraged Gilles Villeneuve watches on in San Marino © Sutton Images
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1987
Didier Pironi found himself at the centre of one of the biggest team disputes in Formula One history when he disobeyed team orders to steal a last-gasp victory from Gilles Villeneuve at the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix. An enraged Villeneuve vowed never to speak to Pironi again and was killed trying to take pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder two weeks later. Pironi himself was killed on this day when his powerboat flipped in the Solent. The Frenchman's approach had always been uncompromising and when he hit the wake of an oil tanker without easing off the throttle his boat flipped and Didier and his two crew members were killed instantly. Just two weeks later, Pironi's girlfriend gave birth to twins. She named them Gilles and Didier.

1953
Alberto Ascari also disobeyed team orders to lead home a Ferrari 1-2-3 and seal himself a second world championship. Having seen off the challenge of a gearbox-plagued Juan Manuel Fangio, Ascari suffered engine problems of his own and was forced to pit. He rejoined behind team-mates Giuseppi Farina and Mike Hawthorn and Ferrari signalled them to hold station. Ascari, however, was having none of it and passed them both to secure victory.

1959
Stirling Moss and Masten Gregory outlined the strength of the Cooper-Climax T51 by finishing first and second respectively at the Portuguese Grand Prix. Moss maintained his lead from pole with Jack Brabham, Gregory and Bruce McLaren in pursuit. Brabham then spun avoiding the lapped Mario Cabral and hit a telegraph pole. This launched the car back onto the track and Brabham was thrown out. He landed in the middle of the road and was narrowly missed by Gregory. The accident promoted McLaren to third but he suffered a transmission failure and so third place went to Dan Gurney.

1964
Italian Lorenzo Bandini won the inaugural Austrian Grand Prix for Ferrari. The race marked Bandini's only F1 win and the first grand prix for Austrian Jochen Rindt, the first Austrian to race in F1 and the sport's only posthumous world champion.

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