- February 28 down the years
Crashes galore in Kyalami qualifyingWhat happened on February 28 in Formula One history
Qualifying for the South African Grand Prix was marked by spectacular crashes involving Marc Surer and Alain Prost. Surer failed to negotiate a bend and smashed head-on into a trackside wall. He was trapped for half an hour before he could be freed and taken to hospital. Prost, meanwhile, had his second accident of the week - two days earlier he had damaged his McLaren during unofficial practice. He walked away without injury both times. Off track, a stormy meeting of the drivers was held in the light of a decision to ban skirts on cars in 1981, with Alan Jones and John Watson reportedly resigning in protest.
Under the ownership of Paul Stoddart, Minardi won its race against time to launch its new car just days ahead of the opening race of the season. The car was revealed with few sponsors on it and the team admitted it team was still in the hunt for a major backer. Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques were the team's drivers but Stoddart didn't have particularly high expectations heading into the first race. "Even if just one of the cars finishes the race on Sunday, then for us it will be like winning the World Championship," he said. As it happened Alonso finished the race 12th, albeit two laps down, after a race of high attrition.
World champion Mario Andretti was born in Montona, Italy. He went on to race under the USA's flag and became the most successful American F1 driver of all time. After cutting his teeth in single seater racing in the USA he was given his break in F1 by Lotus' Colin Chapman in 1968. He fulfilled his childhood dream of racing for Ferrari in 1971 and won his debut race with the team in South Africa. In 1973 he moved back to the US and for the next two years competed in his home country as well as F1. He returned to Lotus in 1976 with some success and two years later dominated F1 in the ground-effects Lotus 78. By 1981 he had left Lotus and was driving for Alfa Romeo but with little success. His final three F1 races came in 1982, two of which were for his beloved Ferrari at Italy and the US Grand Prix in Las Vegas. His career didn't end there, however, as he went on to win the Champ Car title in 1984 and continued to race in the series until 1994.
Rupert Keegan was born in Essex. He never quite lived up to the promise he showed when he won the British Formula Three series in 1976. That was partly due to a string of slow or unreliable cars. He did however, drive with some of the most 'colourful' sponsors on his car the sport has ever seen. For his debut year at Hesketh he had the gentleman's magazine Penthouse emblazoned across his car and in 1977 his Surtees proudly sported the Durex brand of condoms on its flanks.
Four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais was born in Le Mans. After winning the single seater series stateside, he had all the ingredients to make an impression in F1 but failed. He competed in one and a half seasons for Toro Rosso during which he failed to do enough to be kept on at the junior Red Bull team. His lowest point came at the Italian Grand Prix in 2008 when he had qualified 4th in the wet but then stalled the car on the grid. He immediately lost a lap and then trundled round to 18th, while his much younger team-mate Sebastian Vettel went on to take victory. He was finally ditched by the team in favour of 19-year-old Jaime Alguersuari after the 2009 German Grand Prix. The same year he came second at Le Mans with Peugeot, but it was little consolation as his single seater career appeared to hit a dead-end in the football-related Superleague formula.