• February 6 down the years

Ecclestone backs Formula One's civil war

What happened on February 6 in Formula One history?
Colin Chapman and his Lotus team study the data in a rain-soaked pit lane at Kyalami at the race that was not counted towards the world championship © Sutton Images
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1981
The political battle between the sport's governing body FISA and the Formula One Constructors' Association (FOCA) came to a head when FOCA held a non-championship race in Kyalami and threatened to create a breakaway series. The two sides were battling over regulations, the distribution of income and FISA's perceived bias towards the manufacturers Ferrari, Renault and Alfa Romeo. Members of FOCA, including Max Mosley, came up with the idea while eating lunch in the French Alps and immediately called the organisation's ring-leader Bernie Ecclestone. Ecclestone, at the time the boss of Brabham, loved it and FOCA just about scraped together enough money to stage the race, using old Avon tyres from Ecclestone's warehouse. With the exception of the three manufacturers, most of the major teams took part. In reality FOCA didn't have the means to hold a full championship, but the threat worked nonetheless and in the same year FISA president Jean Marie Balestre agreed to the first Concorde Agreement.

2011
Robert Kubica suffered life-threatening injuries in a rally crash in Italy. Kubica was driving a Skoda Fabia in the Super2000 category of the Rally Ronde di Andora when his car left the road at high speed and crashed into a guard-rail which pierced the chassis. He suffered multiple fractures to his right arm, leg and hand and was ruled out for the entire 2011 season.

2001
Niki Lauda was appointed CEO of Ford's premier performance division. Essentially this meant that he would act as a middleman between the Jaguar F1 team and the company's board in Detroit, streamlining and speeding up its decision making process. However, the restructuring didn't prove successful and the team continued to run in the middle of the pack. Lauda and Ford parted ways in 2003.

2003
Felipe Massa was named as a Ferrari's test driver after being replaced at Sauber by Heinz-Harald Frentzen. At the time Massa had an erratic driving style and retired from five races in 2002 through collisions and mistakes. While testing for Ferrari under Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello he refined his technique and emerged as a much more consistent driver in 2004, when he returned to Sauber. In 2006 he was given a race drive at Ferrari and came within a point of winning the championship in 2008.

2008
Tony Rolt, the last surviving driver from the very first F1 race in 1950, died in Warwickshire aged 89. He competed in two other British Grand Prix in 1953 and 1955 but failed to finish any of the F1 races he entered. He made his racing debut in 1936 and by 1937 he had won the Coronation Trophy races twice at Donington Park. He drove his ERA "Remus", which is still used in historic competition today, to victory at Donington in the prestigious 200-mile British Empire Trophy in 1939. His greatest achievement in motorsport was at Le Mans where he competed in the 24-hour race for seven consecutive years between 1949 and 1955, famously winning the 1953 event in a Jaguar C-Type shared with Duncan Hamilton. During World War II he spent several years as a prisoner of war, latterly at Colditz where he was involved in a legendary attempt to escape using a homemade glider.

1916
Cliff Griffith, born on this day in Indiana, raced in three FIA World Championship races, all at Indianapolis when the Indy 500 round counted towards the Formula One championship. He enjoyed more success in dirt oval racing, in which he won two titles in the Midwest Dirt Track Racing Association.

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