- May 9 down the years
Relentless Schumacher equals Mansell's record
in his 200th GP start Michael Schumacher won the Spanish Grand Prix, equalling Nigel Mansell's record start to a Formula One season when he won the first five races in 1992. So sure were bookmakers after the end that Schumacher would take his fifth successive title - he did - that some started paying out on bets. What made Schumacher's win all the more remarkable was that for much of the race his Ferrari had a cracked exhaust. Jenson Button finished eighth despite having eye problems caused by a tiny piece of carbon from another car becoming lodged in it.
The German Mercedes and Auto Union teams dominated the Tripoli Grand Prix, the first major race of the season, taking the first eight places between them. Herman Lang in a Mercedes recorded his first win, but the drama came after the finish. There had been a fierce battle down the field between the Auto Union of Luigi Fagioli and the Mercedes of Rudolf Caracciola, and while Fagioli finally got past he was livid. At the end he rushed to the Mercedes garage and hurled a hammer at Caracciola before being dragged away.
Alain Prost cruised to a 16.8 second victory in the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, an uneventful race which was notable only for the tussle between Prost and Williams team-mate Damon Hill which lasted until Hill's engine blew two-thirds of the way through. "That was a proper race and we were not playing about," said Hill. Ayrton Senna finished second despite completing the race with a helmet visor thickly coated in oil deposited by cars that had suffered engine failure. "I could hardly see where the circuit went in the closing stages," he said. "I think it is very bad when any driver blows an engine and keeps on running."
John Watson in a McLaren Ford won a Belgium Grand Prix overshadowed by the death of Gilles Villeneuve 24 hours earlier. Ferrari withdrew following the tragedy, and it was Keke Rosberg in the Williams-Ford who led the field and by the halfway point was ahead by 20 seconds, but on soft tyres and without any rear breaks he was slowly hauled in by Watson. On the penultimate lap Rosberg slid wide on a turn and was passed.
An Italian aristocrat, Count Carlo Felice Trossi was a driver and designer who competed for Alfa Romeo and Mercedes before the war. In 1931 he took over the racing team of Ferrari, becoming its president, coming second in the Mille Miglia in 1932 and taking the European Hillclimb championship in 1933. His best successes immediately afterwards, winning the 1947 Italian Grand Prix and the 1948 Swiss Grand Prix, but he died on this day the following year from a brain tumour.