- February 19 down the years
Jacques Villeneuve turns pop starWhat happened on February 19 in Formula One history
Jacques Villeneuve aimed to prove he had talents outside of motorsport, when he released his debut album, Private Paradise. He wrote six of the 13 songs himself, one of which was about his father Gilles. He launched the album in his Montreal café, in front of a crowd largely made up of news reporters. "I bought a guitar in 1996 when I started racing in Formula One and started writing some songs," he said. "I am stupidly passionate about music, it has become a bit of a drug."
Neel Jani became the first person to drive an F1 car in Bahrain when he took a Sauber for a spin on the streets of Manama. The inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix was held the same year and Jani's stunt was aimed at drumming-up support among the locals. He hit speeds of nearly 185mph and clearly enjoyed the experience. "I'm very proud that I was the very first to drive a Formula One car in the Middle East and to show to the enthusiastic citizens what Formula One is all about," said Jani. "It's also the first time that I have 'legally' jumped a red light!"
Bernie Ecclestone slammed the FIA and F1 teams' decision to replace 3.0 litre V10 engines with 2.4 litre V8s. The change was brought in to try to limit the speed of the cars, but Ecclestone said the decision was signed off without any thought about the cost of constructing brand new engines from scratch. "It was total nonsense; no one analyzed the problems in-depth. The constructors pledged to make the V8s, but only later they realized what costs they were about to face." Formula One cars still have the 2.4 litre V8 format and engine development is currently frozen until 2013 when greener alternatives are expected to be adopted.
British driver Stephen South was born in Harrow. As a British Formula 3 champion, he looked set to have a successful career in motorsport and drove for Ron Dennis' Project Four Racing in Formula 2 in 1979. He competed in just one grand prix for McLaren when he subbed for the injured Alain Prost at the 1980 US Grand Prix West at Long Beach. Despite having a reasonably competitive car, he failed to qualify and was over three seconds off the pace of his team-mate John Watson. Later that year his career was brought to an abrupt end when he had to have part of his leg amputated after a crash in a Can Am race.