- October 5 down the years
Dirty tricks at Watkins GlenWhat happened on this day in Formula One history?
Teamwork helped Niki Lauda to his fifth win of the season at the US Grand Prix, and the first ever at Watkins Glenn for Ferrari. Lauda, who was already champion, won by 4.9 seconds from Emerson Fittipaldi. But Fittipaldi was left fuming as for five laps he was baulked by Clay Regazzoni who, having been lapped by Lauda then refused to let Fittipaldi pass despite repeated and angry fist-shaking from the Brazilian. Eventually, Regazzoni was blacked flagged but Lauda's lead had increased from one to 12 seconds and the damage had been done. The Times slammed Regazzoni for a "blatant example of unsportsmanlike driving"
Jochen Rindt won the US Grand Prix with Piers Courage second. By the time the F1 circus returned to Watkins Glen a year later both were dead. Graham Hill suffered serious leg injuries when a tyre burst on his Lotus on the 92nd lap. He was fortunate to survive. Shortly before the crash he had spun and after climbing out of his car to push it and re-start the engine, he had failed to resecure his seat belts. When he veered off the track and hit a bank, he was thrown from the car. For some time it was not thought he would drive again, but he was back in the cockpit for the opening race of the 1970 season five months later. Both Hill and Rindt had survived major crashes at the Spanish Grand Prix in May. Another British legend, Stirling Moss, who had been working as a commentator, was stopped by police for doing 83mph in a 50mph zone as he drove away from the track.
Alan Jones' fifth win of the season - sixth if you count the controversially discounted Spanish GP - came at the US Grand Prix a week after he had clinched the drivers' title. "I had nothing to lose, so I was determined to enjoy myself," he said. It was to be the last grands prix held at the famous Watkins Glen circuit. The writing had been on the wall for some time, and attempts at resurfacing and increasing the run-off areas failed to be enough. There were also commercial reasons, as attendances had been slowly falling. It was also the final race for the previous year's champion Jody Scheckter who in an underperforming Ferrari had managed one points finish all season, and that a fifth. "Now I am no longer a racing driver," he said. "I am an ordinary citizen."
Michael Andretti, son of world champion Mario, was born on this day in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and while a force in US racing, his one season in Formula One was far from successful. Signed by McLaren to drive alongside Ayrton Senna in 1993, he struggled to adapt from IndyCars, and wasn't helped by his refusal to relocate to Europe. Three crashes in his first three races did not bode well, and although he finished third at Monza in September for his one and only podium, the decision had already been taken and he left the team by mutual consent immediately after. He returned to the USA and enjoyed considerable success.
José Froilán González, known as the Pampas Bull, was born on this day in Argentina. He won twice in 27 races, both for Ferrari including their first F1 success at the 1951 British Grand Prix, and his second was after a stint with Maserati when he again triumphed in Britain in 1954. His nickname was a reference to his bulk … his close friends tended to call him "El Cabezon", or "Fat Head".