- September 17 down the years
The champion who never wasWhat happened on September 17 in Formula One history?
Few drivers achieved the fame of Sir Stirling Moss, who was born on this day, while competing; none managed to maintain their profile so they remain a familiar name outside the world of motorsport almost 50 years after they last raced competitively. For just over a decade Moss was one of the leading drivers in various formats, a quite brilliant driver who was aware of his worth and of his profile. Somehow he never won a world title but that almost added to his standing - and had he not steadfastly stuck to British cars, he would certainly have done so. His racing career ended in a horrendous crash in a minor race at Goodwood in 1962. But as one door closes another opens, and he remained a high-profile figure into his 80s.
Damon Hill was born to race and before he was out of short trousers his father, Graham, had won his two world titles. He did not take up racing cars until the relatively advanced age of 23, initially dabbling with bikes. He broke into Formula One in 1992 and the following season switched to Williams. From 1993 he finished third, second and second in the drivers' championship before winning the title in 1996. His success was slightly marred by the fact he immediately left them to join an uncompetitive Arrows team, then moving for two moderate seasons to Jordan before he retired. He has remained close to the sport and is currently president of the British Racing Drivers' Club.
As Jaguar prepared to unveil massive job cuts at its Birmingham plant, it pre-empted the announcement by revealing it was scrapping its Formula One team which had been struggling ever since it emerged from the Stewart outfit in 1999. It also withdrawal its support for its Cosworth engine division which had provided subsidised engines for Jordan and Minardi. Ford, Jaguar's owners, said it "could not justify the spending".
Michael Schumacher was forced to back down on threats not to compete in the US Grand Prix at the end of the month after Bernie Ecclestone warned him he could be stripped of his almost-certain title if he did. Schumacher was one of several drivers raising concerns about their safety in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But he got backing from Jaguar boss and former champion Niki Lauda."Personally I don't think we should go, but it's not my decision," he said. "We have a contractual commitment to Indianapolis and the race could only be cancelled if the organisers there wanted it."