- April 9 down the years
Another Villeneuve enters the worldWhat happened on April 9 in Formula One history?
1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve was born in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada. The son of the legendary Gilles, he made his mark in Indycar where he was named Rookie of the Year as well as winning the Indianapolis 500. He switched to F1 in 1996 and enjoyed an excellent season, recording four wins; the following year he won seven times and secured the drivers' championship in the final race. But after that he struggled with underperforming cars at Williams, BAR and others. His only 11 grand prix wins came in his first two seasons, after which he only managed four podiums from 130 races. After finishing in F1 in 1996 he continued racing in sports cars and briefly in NASCAR. He was briefly linked with Stefan GP as it sought to enter F1 in 2010 but the team failed to get a place on the grid.
Michael Schumacher made it three out of three with a battling win at the San Marino Grand Prix, keeping defending world champion Mika Hakkinen at bay after his team's pit-stop strategy allowed him to squeeze past his rival who had started from pole. Schumacher's chances almost evaporated at the start when the spinning rear tyres of his car were enveloped in smoke and he careered across the track. "I made a very bad start with massive wheelspin but I managed to keep my second position," he said.
Damon Hill won the Argentinian Grand Prix - the first in 14 years - after David Coulthard, who was on pole, spun out on lap 16. It was also a wretched day for defending champion Michael Schumacher, whose Benetton struggled throughout, and even though he later blamed his problems on inconsistent tyres, Hill was jubilant. "It was very pleasing to execute such a good manoeuvre on Michael," Hill said. "I got him cleanly. When anyone gets past you like that it is bound to be deflating and he didn't look too happy afterwards. I drove a very good race in difficult circumstances after a bad start."
Johnny Thomson, who was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, was a star of midget events, and also drove in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series, racing between 1953 and 1960 with 69 starts, including the Indianapolis 500 races in each season. He finished in the top ten 43 times, with seven victories. His best Indy finish was third in 1959. In 1958 he won the USAC Sprint Car Series, but was killed at a sprint-car event in 1960 when his car crashed through a fence.