- December 5 down the years
Thousands attend Graham Hill's funeralWhat happened on December 5 in Formula One history?
The funeral of former world champion Graham Hill was held at St Albans Abbey, Hertfordshire. Over 2000 people attended - another 2000 listened outside - and Jackie Stewart was among the pall bearers. "In an age which is short of joy, he brought happiness for millions, and in drawing out that happiness, he drew admiration for excellence and for character," said the Bishop of St Albans. Hill died a week earlier at the controls of a plane when it crash landed, in heavy fog, on a Hertfordshire golf course. He and five other members of the Embassy Hill team were returning from a test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. There were no survivors. Sadly, at the time of his death Hill was uninsured - the families of the other victims sued his estate, the subsequent settlement all but wiping out Hill's legacy.
McLaren was forced into an embarrassing climb-down for falsifying information on the eve of an FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Monte Carlo, which was about to decide if Renault was guilty of using McLaren secrets. McLaren had claimed that former engineer Steve Mackereth took 780 technical drawings with him when he joined Renault the previous year, but admitted there were only 18 drawings and that nine employees, rather than the implied 18, had seen the sensitive data. Asked if what had become known as Spygate II had harmed damaged the sport, FIA president Max Mosley said: " "I don't think it's done any damage. In fact, it has raised the public awareness. That is the paradox. What is important is that people believe the spying has stopped and will continue to be stopped."
The winner of the closest blanket finish of all time - Peter Gethin - died after a long battle with illness. Gethin had enjoyed a successful Formula 5000 career before moving in to Formula One with McLaren. After moving to BRM during 1971 he won his second race with the team, triumphing at the Italian Grand Prix in a slipstreaming classic that saw him win by just 0.01s as the top five were covered by 0.6s. It turned out to be his only grand prix podium,.
Gloomy times in the F1 business. Days after Jaguar announced 76 redundancies, Arrows laid off 130 jobs at their Leafield base as a result of them being refused an F1 entry. The news came as another blow to the industry which was struggling to come to terms with falling sponsorship revenues and declining TV audiences across the globe.
Ken Downing, born on this day in Staffordshire, was a gentleman racer from a wealthy family, who started competing immediately after World War Two with reasonable success. He made his Formula One debut at Silverstone in 1952, finishing a creditable ninth, actually running fourth before spinning off avoiding a backmarker. His second, and last, F1 race was in the Netherlands in August, where he retired with oil-pressure problems. In 1953 he switched to Aston Martin, but before the year was out he had tired of racing and withdrew from the sport. He emigrated to South Africa in 1955. His daughter, Ann, married Patrick McNally, the former journalist who went on to head the Allsport Management company.
Jim Hurtubise, born on this day in North Tonawanda, New York, enjoyed a lengthy if not overly successful racing career in the USA. He entered 13 Indianapolis 500s, including the 1960 race which counted towards the FIA championship, with a best finish of 13th. He suffered serious burns to his hands in 1959 and when asked by surgeons how he wanted them shaped, replied: "Just make 'em so I can hold a steering wheel". At Indianapolis in 1972 he put his Miller Beer-sponsored car on the start line at qualification, before removing the engine cover to reveal the vehicle had no engine, but did contain five chilled cases of beer which he shared with the other pit crews and race officials. In 1978, he did not meet the required speed and was barred from the race. Hurtubise countered by sitting in another competitor's car and locking the brakes. He then ran on the track until he was apprehended by the police. He retired to run a hunting lodge in Texas, but died of a heart attack aged 56.
Despite only one grand prix win in the season, Damon Hill was revealed as Britain's highest-earning sportsman. His £6.9 million income from his Jordan deal and merchandising contracts saw him replace Lennox Lewis as the No. 1.