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Donington, multiple winners and Portuguese drivers

Steven Lynch March 4, 2010

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I was sure I once watched the British Grand Prix live on TV from Donington Park, but I can't find it in any lists. Was I dreaming? Gordon Lees from Sussex
You're not dreaming - the race you're thinking about happened in 1993 - but where you're going wrong is that it was the European Grand Prix rather than the British one, which took place as usual at Silverstone. The winner of Donington's only world championship race was Ayrton Senna, in a McLaren, ahead of the Williams pair of Damon Hill and Alain Prost. The British GP was supposed to have moved to Donington for 2010, but was eventually switched back to Silverstone again when funding plans fell through.

The coming season looks like being one of the most even for some time. What is the record for the most successive grand prix with different winners? Charles Bromige from Bath
There was a remarkable sequence in 1982 of nine successive races which were won by different drivers. It all started when Riccardo Patrese won the Monaco GP in a Brabham, then John Watson (who had won the race before Patrese) won the Detroit GP in a McLaren despite starting from 17th on the grid. Then Nelson Piquet (Brabham) won in Canada, Didier Pironi (Ferrari) in Holland, Niki Lauda (McLaren) in Britain, Rene Arnoux (Renault) in France, Patrick Tambay (Ferrari) in Germany, Elio de Angelis (Lotus) in Austria, and Keke Rosberg (Williams) in Switzerland. Arnoux then won the Italian GP to end the sequence. Rosberg's victory - his only one of the season - helped him secure the drivers' championship, although Pironi had been leading the table until he broke both legs in a bad accident in Germany. Rosberg and Mike Hawthorn (1958) are the only drivers to take the world title after a season in which they won only one race.

Tiago Monteiro is Portugal's most successful F1 driver to date © Sutton Images
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Has there ever been a Portuguese driver in F1? Jose from Lisbon
Four Portuguese drivers have taken part in world championship races, although none of them has met with much success. The first was "Nicha" Cabral, who took part in five GPs between 1959 and 1964 without gaining a point. Next came Pedro Chaves, who turned up for 13 races for the underfunded Coloni team in 1991, but sadly failed to qualify for all of them. Another Pedro, Lamy, had more luck: he started 32 races between 1993 and 1996, and managed a solitary point - a rare one for Minardi - in Australia in 1995. Most recently, Tiago Monteiro had two full seasons in F1, driving a Jordan (renamed a Midland in 2006). In his first season he collected seven points, six of them coming when he finished third in the United States GP at Indianapolis. That remains the only time the Portuguese flag has flown for a driver after an F1 podium finish - but his celebrations were muted as only six cars had taken part in that farcical race after a dispute over tyres. Rather more meritorious was Monteiro's point for eighth place at the Belgian GP at Spa later that same season. He raced in the World Touring Car Championship in 2009.

I remember Michael Schumacher rather ruining the 2004 world championship by winning the first five races of the season. Has anyone ever won more races in a row? David Beeton from London
Michael Schumacher shares the distinction of winning the first five races of a season with Nigel Mansell (1992). The overall record for successive victories at any stage is seven, which Schumacher achieved, rather remarkably, in a different sequence in 2004 - he won 12 of the first 13 races that year. Schumacher equalled the previous record of seven successive wins by another legendary Ferrari driver, Alberto Ascari, in 1952-53. There's a case for saying that Ascari actually won nine consecutive grand prix, as his sequence was broken only by the 1953 Indianapolis 500 (which counted towards the F1 championship at the time). Few drivers from the "regular" F1 circuit entered the Indy 500, although it should be pointed out that Ascari himself did in 1952.

I remember someone winning the Australian GP at the end of one season then winning it again when it was shifted to the start of the following year, thus winning two GPs in a row in the same country. When was this, and had it happened before? Jamie Cooper from Bexhill
This happened nearly 15 years ago now. The last race of the 1995 season was held in Adelaide on November 12. But by then staging rights for the Australian Grand Prix had controversially been grabbed by Melbourne, and the first event of the following season was raced round Albert Park on March 10, 1996. Damon Hill obviously enjoyed life Down Under: he won both races in a Williams. Something similar happened 15 years before that, at a time when there were two races in the United States: Alan Jones won the last race of 1980 at Watkins Glen, and the first race of 1981 (the "United States Grand Prix West") at Long Beach. For the record, there were successive Grands Prix in Italy in 1957, when a one-off race at Pescara was followed by the traditional Italian GP at Monza (Stirling Moss won both); in America in 1984 (one in Detroit, won by Nelson Piquet, and another in Dallas, won by Keke Rosberg); and in Japan in 1995 (the Pacific GP at Okayama preceded the Japanese GP at Suzuka - Michael Schumacher won both).

You recently answered a question about Luca Badoer, and I noticed that he had not raced in a grand prix for almost ten years before his short-lived comeback for Ferrari in 2009. Has anyone had a longer break? Helen McAdam from Cheshire
The only longer break I can find is by the Dutch driver Jan Lammers, who dropped out of F1 in the middle of a disappointing season in 1982, but reappeared in two races for March at the end of the 1992 season, more than ten years later. Lammers had a distinguished career outside F1 in the interim, though - he won the Le Mans 24-Hour race in 1988.

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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