- July 7 down the years
Schlesser dies in experimental Honda at RouenWhat happened on this day in Formula One history?
Jo Schlesser became the fourth driver to die during the 1968 season after getting trapped upside down in his blazing car. John Surtees had pronounced Honda's experimental RA302 car unsafe, but undaunted and with help from the company's French division, it was entered in the French Grand Prix and local driver Schlesser was hired to drive it. On the second lap the car slid wide at a corner and crashed into a bank, with its full tank of fuel and magnesium body exploding on impact. Jacky Ickx went on to win the race with John Surtees in the Honda RA301 finishing second.
Nigel Mansell won the first - and probably most exciting - French Grand Prix to be held at Magny Cours. The race moved from Paul Ricard to the purpose-built circuit to be closer to Paris but still received widespread criticism for being in the middle of nowhere - criticism that eventually resulted in the race being ditched after 2008. However, the racing at the first event couldn't be faulted, with Mansell putting on a brilliant show in the Williams to beat home hero Alain Prost. Prost took an early lead after Riccardo Patrese made a mess of his start from pole. Mansell passed him on lap 22 but then had all his hard work undone by a slow pit stop midway through the race. On lap 54 he caught Prost again and this time went around the outside at the Adelaide hairpin to take the lead.
FIA president Max Mosley vehemently denied that an orgy with prostitutes had any Nazi role-play involved. The scandal was published in the News of the World and as the case came to court Max, son of the 1930s fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, made a public statement about the incident: "I can think of few things more unerotic than Nazi role play", Mosley was quoted by The Daily Telegraph. "It also has associations for me in other ways which would make it even less interesting. All my life, I have had hanging over me my antecedents, my parents, and the last thing I want to do in some sexual context is be reminded of it. I wouldn't consider my parents to be Nazi but there is obviously a link." Mosley went on to win his case proving that no Nazi theme had been involved and that the publication of the story was a breach of his privacy.
Michael Schumacher took the 60th win of his career and edged closer to his fifth world title with a brilliant performance at a wet British Grand Prix. Juan Pablo Montoya led the race early on after starting from pole position but as the field was forced onto intermediate tyres and the track became more treacherous, Schumacher pounced on a mistake by Montoya to take the lead. Meanwhile Rubens Barrichello in the second Ferrari had been fighting his way back through the field after stalling at the start. He rocketed past Montoya in lap 19 to make it a Ferrari one-two at the front of the field. However, it didn't last long as he spun on the wet track and fell back into Montoya's clutches. The two battled hard and, despite Montoya retaking second at one point, Barrichello came out on top. All the while Schumacher breezed serenely around the circuit to take his seventh victory of the season.
Juan Manuel Fangio won the French Grand Prix ahead of a trio of Ferraris driven by Luigi Musso, Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn. Fangio lost the lead from pole position but quickly picked off Jena Behra and Musso ahead of him to resume his place at the front of the pack. It was his third win in as many races in the F1 world championship and he went on to win his fifth and final drivers' title with ease.
Two time race winner Jo Siffert was born in Fribourg, Switzerland. He won the 1968 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch and driving a Cooper Lotus and was subsequently offered a drive with Ferrari. However, he turned it down in order to continue to race with Porsche, who paid him to drive for March in its debut season in 1970. It turned out to be a mistake and he only won one more race driving for BRM before he was killed in an accident at Brands Hatch.