- April 16 down the years
Ron Dennis calls it a dayWhat happened on April 16 in Formula One history?
Ron Dennis stood down as McLaren chief executive and chairman after 28 years with the team. "I admit I'm not always easy to get on with. I admit I've always fought hard for McLaren in Formula One," he said. "I doubt if Max Mosley or Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision. But no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision." He was "a victim of his own hubris and the FIA president Max Mosley's desire to rid the sport of his most turbulent critic, yes. But ultimately, he is out of office because his friends as much as his enemies turned on him," wrote Jonathan McEvoy in the Daily Mail. "Include in their number world champion Lewis Hamilton and, more directly, his father and manager Anthony. Now Dennis has gone, Hamilton will be content to stay with the team."
1910At Daytona Beach, Barney Oldfield drove his Blitzen Benz, a 21,500cc monster, at 131.275 mph to break the land speed record, although it was not recognised by the European authorities who had the ultimate say in such matters. Oldfield, a leading US driver, also used the car to break the existing mile, two mile, and kilometre records.
Christijan Albers, born on this day in Eindhoven, took years to travel from Formula Three to Formula One, and second and third in the DTM championship led to work as a test driver for Minardi in 2004. While there he impressed enough to be given a drive in 2005 when he showed consistency, finishing 14 of his 19 starts and earning points for fifth place in the farcical US Grand Prix when only six cars started. In 2006 he drove for Midland, the re-named Jordanteam, but made little impression. Despite that he agreed a deal to remain with the team when it was sold to Spyker, but found himself outperformed by rookie Adrian Sutil. At Magny-Cours he ignored a lollipop telling him not to leave the pits during a pit stop, driving off with part of the fuel rig attached. Albers received a €5,000 penalty for dangerous driving while Niki Lauda described the incident as the most stupid thing he had ever seen in F1. He was released in July of that year due to a lack of sponsorship money, returning to DTM and then racing in the USA.
Toyota signed 30-year-old Scot Allan McNish as a test driver as it prepared for its F1 debut in 2002. "This is a great day for me," he said. "It's a wonderful opportunity and I'm really looking forward to playing a major part in the F1 programme." He went on to drive for Toyota throughout their first season but did not score any points during the season's 17 races, and he and team-mate Mika Salo were replaced.
Dick Gibson, born this day, was a Barnstaple garage proprietor who took part in two grand prix, both in Germany, in 1957 and 1958, driving a Cooper Climax on both occasions. He failed to finish either because of mechanical failure. He was a regular entrant in non-Championship F1, initially in an A-type Connaught but often encountered reliability issues there was well.