- April 25 down the years
When team orders counted for nothingWhat happened on April 25 in Formula One history?
Mutiny in the ranks at Ferrari at Imola caused a huge row between its drivers Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi. The race had been boycotted by many of the independent teams, including Williams and Brabham as a result of the FISA/FOCA war over commercial and technical wrangling. As a result Ferrari was set for an easy win with Villeneuve comfortably having the upper-hand over Pironi and to avoid an unnecessary retirement the pair were told to back off and save fuel. Villeneuve assumed this meant they would hold position but on the last lap Pironi overtook the Canadian for victory. Villeneuve was incensed and vowed never to speak to Pironi again. He died two weeks later at Zolder during qualifying, apparently still irate about what he believed was a betrayal.
Ferrari driver and five-time race winner Michele Alboreto died testing an Audi R8 sportscar at the Lausitzring in Germany. He had a tyre blow-out during high speed testing on the oval circuit and hit a wall, killing him instantly. He drove for Ferrari for five years in the 1980s and stayed in F1 until the mid-1990s as his career fizzled out with smaller teams like Footwork and Minardi. In 1997 he won the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Joest TWR-Porsche. At the time of his death Audi chairman Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen said: "His great passion for motorsport never dimmed throughout his long and successful career. We are mourning the loss of a great driver and a great person."
Felipe Massa was born in Sao Paulo. The Ferrari driver started karting competitively at the age of eight and went on to win Formula Renault and Formula 3000, ahead of his F1 debut with Sauber in 2002. In 2003 he took on the role of Ferrari test driver where his rough and ready driving style gradually evolved into a more rounded and faster technique. After two more years at Sauber he was finally taken on as Michael Schumacher's team-mate in 2006 and won two races. By 2008 he mounted a full challenge on the championship but was beaten to the title by just one point by Lewis Hamilton. In 2009 he sustained life-threatening injuries at the Hungarian Grand Prix when he was hit by a spring from a rival's car at 160mph. He sat out of the rest of the season but secured a podium on his return to the sport at the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2010.
Alain Prost started to exert his dominance over the 1993 championship by taking a comfortable victory at the San Marino Grand Prix. Ayrton Senna had put up a spirited fight in the opening rounds in his McLaren but the technologically advanced Williams proved its pace over the course of the season. At Imola the Williams was over two seconds clear of the rest of the field in qualifying and Prost walked the race as Senna retired with a hydraulics failure.
Jenson Button found a chink in Ferrari's armour by qualifying on pole position for the San Marino Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher had dominated the season up to that point, taking three wins from three poles, but Button pipped him by 0.258 seconds around Imola in the BAR. However, he couldn't transfer his one lap pace into a race win and Schumacher beat him to victory by nine seconds after getting past him at the first pit stops.
Niki Lauda revealed he was keen to train to become an astronaut, piloting Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space craft. The project aimed to pioneer space tourism, but rather than settle for being a passenger on the flight, Lauda said he was keen to pilot the space shuttle. "I have been a professional pilot for many years," he said. "I fly Boeing and Airbuses and my only dream was to fly the Space Shuttle. I was always looking at that, but that was impossible because basically Americans do that. When I saw this project I was the first knocking on the door."