François Cevert

François Cevert


© Paul Chenard

October 6, 1973. A grim day at the Glen.

When Francois Cevert crossed the line to take the checkered flag for the 1971 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, it was a day he would never forget. He was scoring his first world championship Formula 1 victory with Ken Tyrrell. Moreover, it was the first Grand Prix victory by a French driver since 1958 when Maurice Tringtingnant took victory in the streets of Monte-Carlo.

Fast and tragically forward to October 6, 1973. It turned out to be a day racing fans around the world would never forget. The dashing French driver was set to take over the Tyrrell team leadership from his mentor, Jackie Stewart, who was planning to start his 100th and final Grand Prix in the season finale on Sunday in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

Tragedy struck on Saturday when Francois Cevert lost control of his machine at high speed and was killed instantly in a vicious accident. Jody Scheckter, first driver on the scene, today has no memory of what he saw.

Cevert was born in Paris on February 25, 1944. In 1966, he beat another future French Formula 1 star, Patrick Depailler, to win the Volant Shell competition. Cevert took the French F3 championship in his second full year of racing in 1968 with five victories.

The following season, 1969, saw him make his F2 debut, winning a non-championship race at Reims and also making his Grand Prix debut at the 14.2-mile long Nurburgring in his F2 Tecno.

Cevert became Stewart’s teammate from the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix when Ken Tyrrell replaced another French driver, talented but fun loving Johnny Servoz-Gavin.

At the fabled Monza circuit Cevert scored his first championship point by finishing sixth.

Highlight of the season came in the Paris 1,000km where Cevert and Jack Brabham drove their Matra to victory at Montlhery.

In 1971, Cevert had three podium finishes in France, Germany and Italy before sailing to victory in the Finger Lakes region of New York. His maiden win in 1971 at Watkins Glen would also be his last. He also triumphed in F2 races at Vallelunga in Italy and Nurburgring.

Le Mans provided the highpoint of the 1972 season where he finished second in a Matra which he shared with Howden Ganley of New Zealand. Cevert also took part in Can Am competition, winning at Donnybrooke and placing second at Elkhart Lake and third at Laguna Seca.

The 1973 season saw victories in the prestigious Formula 2 Pau Grand Prix and the Vallelunga 1,000km. On the Formula 1 front Cevert climbed the podium on seven occasions, dutifully staying behind team leader Stewart even when the opportunity was there to grab the win.

The promise of the first French world champion was cut short on a chilly day in October. Cevert was 29-years old. His sister Jacqueline is married to Jean-Pierre Beltoise, winner of the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix.

— Nasir Hameed

For more information on Paul Chenard and his work please visit:

F1weekly podcast # 381


Sebastian steams ahead at Suzuka. Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel dominated Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, winning from pole position and scoring his third win of the season, fourth overall. The young German from Heppenheim was in a class of his own. He keeps his championship hopes alive with only two races remaining, Brazil and the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.

Jarno Trulli driving a Toyota delighted the home crowd by taking second place from Lewis Hamilton after the second round of pit stops. The Italian has already been told by Cologne-based Toyota team that his services are no longer required for 2010.

Lewis Hamilton described Suzuka as “the best track I’ve ever driven” and finished third for McLaren in his 50th Grand Prix start.


Brawn Boys. While Jenson Button is still the championship favorite things are heating up behind him. At Suzuka he lost only one point to teammate Rubens Barrichello, the Brazilian finished seventh. But Vettel’s victory has put him only two points behind Barrichello.

The top five in championship standings after Japan are: Button 85 points,  Barrichello 71, Vettel 69, Webber 51.5 and Raikkonen 45.

In the constructors championship top five standings are: Brawn-Mercedes 156 points, Red Bull Renault 120.5, Ferrari 67, McLaren-Mercedes 65 and Toyota 54.5

Round 17 of 18 takes place in Sao Paulo on October 18, the Brazilian Grand Prix.

— Nasir Hameed


Vettel wins

Sebastian Vettel wins the Grand Prix of Japan.

Jarno Trulli brings home another podium for Toyota.

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton grabs the final step.

Pos  Driver        Team                      Time
 1.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1h28:20.443
 2.  Trulli        Toyota                (B)  +     4.877
 3.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  +     6.472
 4.  Raikkonen     Ferrari               (B)  +     7.940
 5.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota       (B)  +     8.793
 6.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber            (B)  +     9.509
 7.  Barrichello   Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  +    10.641
 8.  Button        Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  +    11.474
 9.  Kubica        BMW Sauber            (B)  +    11.777
10.  Alonso        Renault               (B)  +    13.065
11.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  +    13.735
12.  Fisichella    Ferrari               (B)  +    14.596
13.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  (B)  +    14.959
14.  Liuzzi        Force India-Mercedes  (B)  +    15.734
15.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota       (B)  +    17.973
16.  Grosjean      Renault               (B)  +     1 lap
17.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault      (B)  +    2 laps


Nummer einz, baby! Sebastian Vettel of Germany grabs pole position in a chaotic final qualifying session for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Fifth career and fourth of the season pole for the youngest Grand Prix and pole winner in Formula 1 history.

Delighting the local crowd was Toyota driver Italian Jarno Trulli who will share the front row with Vettel.

Reigning world champion from England Lewis Hamilton starts third in his McLaren. His compatriot and likely championship successor Jenson Button and Brawn teammate, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, both made it to Q3 but their final grid position will be determined by the stewards.

Barrichello out qualified Button but both may be penalized five grid positions for not slowing down after Sebastien Buemi’s crash in the final minute of qualifying.

Only three races, Japan, Brazil and Abu Dhabi remain in the 2009 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Title tussle is between Button, Barrichello and Vettel.

Suzuka track is owned by Honda and was designed by Dutchman John Hugenholtz who was also involved in the design of Zandvoort in his native country and Jarama in Spain.

he first Japanese Grand Prix was held in 1963 for sports cars and was won by Peter Warr, who later went on to become Colin Chapman’s right hand man and team manager at Lotus.


Webber. Marks a new career as team owner. The new for 2010 season GP3 series, from the minds of Bruno Michel, Briatore and Bernie, announced the ten teams that will prepare drivers for GP2 and the final frontier, F1.

Among the teams selected is MW Arden. Red Bull driver Mark Webber is joining forces with team manager Christian Horner to help other Aussies in their European campaign.

The spec series will feature cars from Dallara powered by a turbo-charged Renault engine on Pirelli tires.


Leaning Lorenzo: Man from Mallorca, Jorge Lorenzo, is making all the right moves to stay in the championship hunt with his Yamaha teammate, the determined Doctor, Valentino Rossi.

Lorenzo won the Portuguese Moto GP race last year and this year starts from pole position, his fifth of the season.

Rossi is second on the grid with Casey Stoner third. The Australian Ducati rider surprised many upon his return to competition after missing some races from a mysterious illness.

The race takes place at Estoril, home of Ayrton Senna’s first F1 victory in serious Portuguese downpour in 1985.

— Nasir Hameed

F1weekly podcast # 380

Rain and Tyres wash out Suzuka Friday practice running.

Pos  Driver       Team                       Time              Laps
 1.  Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:47.261            5
 2.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:47.923  + 0.662   6
 3.  Liuzzi       Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:47.931  + 0.670   4
 4.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:47.983  + 0.722   5
 5.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota       (B)  1:48.058  + 0.797   8
 6.  Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:48.691  + 1.430   9
 7.  Alonso       Renault               (B)  1:48.693  + 1.432   5
 8.  Trulli       Toyota                (B)  1:48.737  + 1.476   6
 9.  Alguersuari  Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:48.802  + 1.541  11
10.  Kubica       BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:48.861  + 1.600   6
11.  Raikkonen    Ferrari               (B)  1:48.886  + 1.625   4
12.  Kobayashi    Toyota                (B)  1:49.054  + 1.793   7
13.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:49.382  + 2.121   7
14.  Grosjean     Renault               (B)  1:49.405  + 2.144   6
15.  Fisichella   Ferrari               (B)  1:49.553  + 2.292   5
16.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota       (B)  1:49.872  + 2.611   7
17.  Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:50.179  + 2.918   9
18.  Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  No time
19.  Button       Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  No time
20.  Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  No time


Can you hear the drums, Fernando? Ferrari confirmed on Wednesday what everybody knew already, Fernando Alonso will be at Maranello for the next three seasons. Their $50m man, Kimi Raikkonen, is being moved to make room for the double world champion from Oviedo in northern Spain.

While they may be celebrating in the land of bull fighting, only time will tell how Alonso will handle the charge from new teammate Felipe Massa, who is well loved at Ferrari. That bond never matured between the team and the enigma from Espoo, despite the Finn winning on his debut with Ferrari and the world championship in 2007.

Scuderia Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali said upon confirming the Spanish driver, “We are very proud to welcome to our team another winning driver, who has demonstrated his amazing talent by winning two world championships in his career to date”.

Ironically, that’s how Alonso was welcomed by his new team the first time he left Renault for greener pastures after securing back to back championships with the French team. The grazing and bruising he endured at McLaren forced him back to Renault after completing his initial season with the British outfit, narrowly missing his third title in a row to the man he is now replacing.

Moment with Massa. The likeable Brazilian is a feisty competitor on the track as Lewis Hamilton found out last season till the very last lap. Man who won races against Michael Schumacher as teammate and totally dominated the high priced Raikkonen in ’08, Massa will be hungry for success after missing all the races since the Hungarian Grand Prix, where he suffered head injuries during qualifying.

Alonso will be in for a rude awakening, for the second time around when changing teams, if Massa turns out to be like the “rookie” who ruined his reign in Surrey.

Paddock pundits are predicting Alonso will dominate Massa. These are the same people who, like Alonso himself, did not see the threat from within Woking distance.


Back to the future? Most likely scenario is McLaren-Mercedes will get their star back. Kimi Raikkonen scored his first Formula 1 victory in a silver car at Sepang in 2003. Twice he lost the championship because his machinery let him down, only to find the championship glory in his first year at Ferrari.

Immensely talented with brute speed, Raikkonen is capable of giving Hamilton a taste of his own medicine, aka “cage rattling syrup”. With what Raikkonen regarded as “control freak” removed from the McLaren Formula 1 team, he may find a different atmosphere the second time around which will suit him to be his own man – the race car driver with very little to say.

Welcome, Kimi Raikkonen, what else is new?

— Nasir Hameed