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Maurice Trintignant is one of many Grand Prix race winners fans have not heard of (Feature Image Credit: @RetroRacingCo on Twitter)
Maurice Trintignant is one of many Grand Prix race winners fans have not heard of (Feature Image Credit: @RetroRacingCo on Twitter)

8 Grand Prix winners you may not know: Part 1

Not every Grand Prix winner becomes enshrined in F1 history. Some can fade into obscurity, for many reasons

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Grand Prix wins in F1 are normally the start of many in a driver’s career. Sadly this is not always the case, as history reveals. 

Wolfgang Von Trips is one of many Grand Prix winners that faded into obscurity (Image Credit: @JanJoostFolmer on Twitter)
Wolfgang Von Trips is one of many Grand Prix winners that faded into obscurity (Image Credit: @JanJoostFolmer on Twitter)

Over the 73 years that Formula One has existed, there have been 113 Grand Prix winners, although it is 103 if you discount the 11 years in which the Indy 500 was run as part of the F1 world championship.

Out of these 113, 77 have been multiple race winners, 34 have become world champions and 17 have been multiple world champions. This list includes the incomparable Jim Clark and Niki Lauda.  In this new four-part series, I’m going to tell you about eight of these winners that you (probably) haven’t heard of.

Maurice Trintignant
One- time Grand Prix Maurice Trintignant in one of his F1 race cars (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)
One- time Grand Prix Maurice Trintignant in one of his F1 race cars (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)

Maurice Trintignant made his debut in F1 in 1950, during the maiden season of the championship. From 1950-1953, Trintignant raced for fellow French brand Gordini, finishing fifth place on three occasions.

This impressed Enzo Ferrari, who signed him to compete for Ferrari in 1954. He made his debut in Belgium and instantly impressed by finishing second on his debut. Following up with third in Germany, he finished fourth in the World Driver’s Championship behind teammates Mike Hawthorn and Jose Frollian Gonzalez and World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio. As seen in Motorsport Magazine, he also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year for Ferrari alongside Gonzalez.

Trintignant remained with Ferrari the following year and started the season well with second in Argentina.  A third and a retirement followed due to the former shared drives.

He took his first F1 race win in Monaco by 20.2 seconds, becoming the first Ferrari driver to win in Monaco, as the only previous winner was Fangio. The next 12 races were poor by contrast. He didn’t finish a race in 1956, driving for Vanwall and only had a best of fourth in 1957, returning to Ferrari.

In 1958, he decided to be a driver for hire, driving for three different teams including Cooper. The following season, however, he drove full-time for Cooper and finished fifth in the World Championship.

After a few unsuccessful seasons, Trintignant retired in 1964. He took part in 81 races, a high number for the time. He scored 10 podiums, two of which were wins. Trintignant became a Vintner post-retirement and passed away aged 87 in 2005. Trintignant was the first French Grand Prix winner, with drivers such as Jacques Laffite, Didier Pironi, Rene Arnoux, Alain Prost and current drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon following the path he created.

Wolfgang von Trips
Wolfgang Von Trips became the first German to win a Grand Prix (Image Credit: @Carhack89 on Twitter
Wolfgang Von Trips became the first German to win a Grand Prix (Image Credit: @Carhack89 on Twitter)

The second driver on this list was not only a race winner, but almost a world champion, with tragedy stopping him from becoming the first German F1 champion.

Von Trips debuted in F1 in 1957 in Argentina for Ferrari, finishing sixth. The German only partook in three races that year but took the first of his six podiums in F1 at Ferrari’s home track in Monza. He followed this up with another podium in Reims the following year.

The following season of 1959 was not too impressive, but what followed was. In 1960, he scored points in every race he finished for Ferrari, finishing an impressive 7th in the championship in what can be compared to the Ferrari just two years ago. His best finish was fourth in Portugal.

Von Trips’ consistency was put on show in 1961, when Ferrari’s designers Vittorio Jano and Carlo Chiti created the innovative “sharknose.” The car was a massive success, with a 72% (5/7) win percentage of races they took part in. Von Trips won the Dutch and British Grand Prix. Heading into the Italian Grand Prix, he was leading the title by four points from teammate and title rival Phil Hill. Unfortunately, tragedy stopped him from becoming Germany’s first World Champion.

He started on pole for the race with Hill in fourth. Von Trips had a poor start, dropping down to sixth, but it was lap 2 that saw tragedy strike. While heading into Parabolica, Von Trips’ Ferrari collided with future F1 champion Jim Clark. The contact made his car airborne and it crashed into a side barrier. The car went into the crowd and 16 people lost their lives, including Von Trips himself.

Hill won the race, and subsequently the championship. But for the fans it was yet another great driver lost. They had already lost Collins, Musso, Castellotti, and de Portago, all in Ferraris since 1957.

von Trips’ Legacy

Before Von Trips died, he set up a karting track in Kerpen, Germany. This track has since created a legacy which is continuing today, as after Von  Trips’ death, there were several people who started leasing it, one of whom was Rolf Schumacher.

Rolf’s sons, Michael & Ralf, took their first racing laps on the karting circuit, thus creating a legacy, which has resulted in 11 world championships: seven for Michael Schumacher and four for Sebastian Vettel as well as 150 race wins across Michael and Ralf Schumacher and Vettel. So whilst Von Trip was never champion, he paved the way for Michael, Sebastian, Ralf & Michael’s son, Mick into racing.

Feature Image Credit: @RetroRacingCo on Twitter

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