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Figures-of-eight

Steven Lynch September 27, 2012
The drivers pass underneath the track after the Degner Two at Suzuka © Sutton Images
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There are back-to-back 90-degree corners on the Singapore circuit - is there any track that has an actual crossover on it? asked David Marks

The Marina Bay circuit in Singapore does indeed have back-to-back corners - Turns 8 and 14 - which could perhaps be turned into a crossover with a bit of effort. But the only current F1 track that does have one is Suzuka - the venue for this year's Japanese GP on October 7 - where the track loops under itself just after the second Degner Curve (Turn 9). Fortunately, there's a flyover ... There have been a few tracks with crossovers in the past, notably on the full circuit at Monza. There was talk a few years ago about a new track in Mexico, with a figure-of-eight layout including a crossover, but as far as I know it has never been completed.

I saw that Alex Zanardi won two gold medals in the recent Paralympics. How did he fare in F1? asked Peter Carroll

Alex Zanardi did indeed win two individual golds - and a team silver - in the hand-biking events at the recent Paralympics in London. Zanardi, 45, lost both legs in a horrific accident in an Indycar race at the Lausitzring in Germany in 2001, but has participated in sports-car racing since with some success - and is now being linked with a return to single-seater racing in America. Zanardi's F1 career was rather uninspiring: he had a few races for Jordan, Minardi and Lotus between 1991 and 1994, his best position being sixth in Brazil in 1993 (in a Lotus). After success in America (he won the CART championship in 1997 and 1998) he returned to F1 in 1999 with Williams - but it was not a good time for the team, and he failed to score a point in a disappointing season.

It looks on the cards that Red Bull will win this season's constructors' championship but their drivers won't win the individual title. How often has this happened before? asked Alan Robinson

This is such a volatile season that it's really too early to start making predictions like that. But if it does happen it will be the 11th time that the champion individual driver did not come from the champion constructor. Nelson Piquet was responsible for two of those, winning the drivers' championship in 1981 and 1983 in a Brabham, while the constructors' crowns went to Williams (1981) and Ferrari. It also happened in the first year of the constructors' title, 1958, when Mike Hawthorn (Ferrari) won the individual crown but the team title went to Vanwall. Since then the following drivers won the title in a year their team didn't: Jackie Stewart (1973 in a Tyrrell; Lotus won the constructors' championship), James Hunt (1976, McLaren; Ferrari), Keke Rosberg (1982, Williams; Ferrari), Alain Prost (1986, McLaren; Williams), Michael Schumacher (1994, Benetton; Williams), Mika Hakkinen (1999, McLaren; Ferrari) and Lewis Hamilton (2008, McLaren; Ferrari).

Chris Amon is widely regarded as the best Formula One driver never to win a grand prix © Getty Images
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Sergio Perez has led a couple of races this year but hasn't won one (yet).Which driver has led the most GPs without ever winning one? asked Julia Canning

Top of this nearly-men list is Chris Amon, who led 183 laps in various Grands Prix, but never actually won one. Amon, a New Zealander who made his debut before his 20th birthday and raced for several teams including Ferrari, is widely considered to be the best driver never to have won a GP. The only other man to have led more than 100 laps without ever winning a GP was the 1950s French driver Jean Behra, with 107.

Did anyone - including perhaps the man himself - ever win a Grand Prix in a Surtees? asked Frank Morris

The team founded by John Surtees, the 1964 world champion, never quite won a Grand Prix - their best position was Mike Hailwood's second place behind Emerson Fittipaldi in Italy in 1972. The team started in F1 in 1970, with Surtees driving, and continued until 1978. Finance was a continual problem, and the team never really recovered after all three of its cars were damaged in a huge first-lap pile-up at Silverstone in 1973. Surtees had won the 1964 world title in a Ferrari, winning two GPs in his title year and a further two races for them, and he took the chequered flag twice more - for Cooper in Mexico in 1966 and Honda at Monza in 1967 - after falling out with Ferrari. Surtees remains the only man to collect world titles on two wheels as well as four, winning three at 350cc and four on 500cc motorbikes between 1956 and 1960, before turning to cars fulltime. By coincidence I was looking at Surtees's biking stats recently, and was amazed by them - in 1958 and 1959 there were 27 official 350 and 500cc motorcycling GPs, and "Big John" won 25 of them.

I noticed that Mike Hawthorn won only three races in his entire GP career. Is this the record for a world champion? asked Leslie Johnstone

It's true that Mike Hawthorn won only three GPs in his 47-race career. Famously he only won one - in France - during his title-winning year of 1958 (a feat equalled by Keke Rosberg in 1982). Hawthorn had also won the French GP at Reims in 1953 (the first win by any British driver in a world championship Grand Prix) and the 1954 Spanish GP. I had thought this would be a record low, but then discovered that Phil Hill, the first American to win the title, also won only three GPs in all - two (in Belgium and Italy) in 1961, the year he won the title, and the Italian GP the previous season.

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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