- April 7 down the years
Sport stunned by death of a legendWhat happened on April 7 in Formula One history?
In an era where deaths in Formula One were far from rare, that of double world champion Jim Clark, who was killed on this day, left the sport stunned. Clark died in a low-key Formula Two race at Hockenheim in a car he was unhappy with on a circuit he hated. But he had been contracted to take part by team boss Colin Chapman and that was that. In the pits before the start Clark told mechanics he wasn't happy and that he "wasn't going to push it" and soon after was seen to wave two other cars through. Lying in eighth on the fifth lap his car skidded off the track and ploughed through saplings and hit a tree side-on. The chassis broke in two and Clark died before reaching hospital. He was 32. In 72 grands prix he had been first 25 times, a record at the time. He had recorded 27 fastest laps and 34 poles, records that were to stand for the next 21 years.
Damon Hill recorded a convincing win at the Argentina Grand Prix, his fourth in a row and third of the season, on a circuit so bumpy most drivers complained of serious jarring. It was a rather less happy affair for Pedro Diniz, whose presence was down to his father's wealth. First his Ligier collided with Luca Badoer, whose Forti was flipped and landed upside down in the gravel; Diniz managed to pit but no sooner had he returned than his car burst into flames because a valve in the fuel tank had jammed open.
The morning of the South African Grand Prix was marred by a spectacular crash which ripped Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella in two, the monocoque cartwheeling down the track and bursting into flames. He escaped with burns to his hand. In the race itself Niki Lauda led from the 21st lap to win by more than a minute, while Ayrton Senna in a Toleman came sixth, recording his first world championship point.
Toleman made a wretched start to the season at the Brazilian Grand Prix when it was left on the sidelines after it failed to find anyone to supply it with tyres as Pirelli and Goodyear refused to supply more than eight teams. Alain Prost's McLaren took the chequered flag three seconds ahead of Michele Alboreto's Ferrari. René Arnoux finished fourth for Ferrari, he was sacked after the race following a reported argument with Enzo Ferrari, at the time 88 years old but as autocratic as ever.
McLaren were charged by the FIA with bringing the sport into disrepute after the Lie-gate disgrace at the Australian Grand Prix when Lewis Hamilton mislead stewards after the race. The team escaped with a suspended three-race ban after admitting five charges of being in breach of the International Sporting Code. Many believed the decision of Ron Dennis to stand down as chairman of McLaren and CEO of McLaren Racing a fortnight before the hearing resulted in more leniency than might have otherwise been the case.
Walt Hansgen, who appeared twice in F1 for Lotus, finishing fifth in the 1964 USA Grand Prix, died on this day when he crashed a seven-litre Ford Mk2 sports car at the Le Mans tests. Practising on a wet track he lost control and drove down an escape road, unaware a barrier had been placed across the route and he crashed heavily. He died three days later in a French hospital. He was 46.
Bearded Austrian journalist Harald Ertl died in a light-aircraft crash on this day. He had worked his way through the German Formula Vee, Super Vee and then Formula Three series before turning to touring cars, where he won the Tourist Trophy for BMW at Silverstone in 1973. His Formula One break took a long time to arrive. It wasn't until 1975 that he finally landed a ride in a privately entered Hesketh. But Harald continued to plug away for the next two seasons with the Hesketh team and also raced concurrently in Formula Two. Then, in 1978, he changed across to an Ensign, but had little success and elected to race in the radical Group 5 series in Germany.