- June 29 down the years
Sacre bleuWhat happened on this day in Formula One history?
Alan Jones broke hearts at Paul Ricard by beating a field of seven Frenchmen at the French Grand Prix. The grid had looked promising for the home nation with the top three positions being held by Jacques Laffite in the Ligier, Rene Arnoux in the Renault and Didier Pironi in the second Ligier. A further four drivers in the top ten were French too, generating a huge amount of excitement ahead of the race. Lafitte took off at an alarming rate at the start, leaving Pironi, Arnoux and Jones to scrap it out for second. Jones picked off Arnoux first and a couple of laps later he was past Pironi, but by that time Laffite had a good eight-second lead. However, the Ligier's early pace had taken its toll on the tyres and it wasn't long before Jones started closing in on the home favourite. Then, on lap 35, Jones breezed past and immediately built up a lead over Laffite, who eventually conceded another position to Pironi to finish third.
Ralf Schumacher won in front of his home fans at the Nurburgring as his brother and championship-leader Michael had a disastrous weekend. Kimi Raikkonen had looked locked on for a win after taking pole but retired from the lead on lap 25 with an engine failure. That gave a comfortable lead to Ralf who had started well and beaten his brother off the line. The Bridgestone-shod Ferrari had been struggling all weekend to match the Michelin runners and Michael soon dropped into the clutches of Juan Pablo Montoya in the Williams. Montoya was in no mood to stare at the Ferrari's gearbox and attempted an audacious overtaking manoeuvre around the outside of Schumacher at the hairpin. He left the world champion enough space but the pair still clipped wheels, sending Schumacher into a spin. Controversially, the marshals pushed Schumacher's car out of the gravel on the basis that he had come to a halt in a dangerous position. He rejoined the race and went on to finish fifth and score four points; he later won the championship by two points ahead of Raikkonen.
Michael Schumacher won what was, for the most part, a thoroughly French Grand Prix. It was only livened up by a brief rain shower in the closing stages that dampened the track and forced Schumacher, who had built a dominant lead over Heinz Harald Frentzen, into a spin. But he managed to recover and went on to take the win ahead of the Williams with ease. Much more intense, was a battle between Jean Alesi, Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthrad for fifth. The trio were struggling for grip and were close together on the track until Ralf spun. In doing so, he fell a lap down behind his brother and looked set to finish outside the points, despite a decent drive. But instead of storming across the line, Michael allowed his brother to unlap himself and therefore gain another lap of racing, during which he was able to get up sixth and secure the final point on offer ahead of Coulthard.
American Formula One driver Harry Schell was born in Paris, France. Although he never won a championship race, he was a highly respected competitor and drove for Maserati, Ferrari, Cooper, Gordini, BRM and Vanwall during his ten-year career. He won a non-championship grand prix for Ferrari in 1957 but by the end of 1959 had to privately enter a Cooper to stay in the top flight. In 1960 he competed in just one championship race before his death during practice for the International Trophy at Silverstone. His car slid wide at 100 mph, dug into some mud and somersaulted into a brick wall, killing him instantly and demolishing the wall.