First, Last and Only: 5 milestone events from the Mexican Grand Prix

Mexico has been the scene of a dominant engine manufacturer’s first win, and a dominant driver’s first podium appearance, as well as the scene of a three-time World Champion’s final bow. Here are five milestone events which have taken place at the Mexican Grand Prix.

1965: First win for Honda (and Goodyear tyres)

Honda took their first Formula 1 victory at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix. The Japanese manufacturer first entered the sport in 1964, only four years after producing their first road car. Richie Ginther started third for Honda in the race. Polesitter Jim Clark retired with engine problems, leaving Dan Gurney as Ginther’s only challenger. Ginther led every lap and finished two seconds ahead of Gurney, securing his and Honda’s first Grand Prix victory. Excluding the Indianapolis 500, this was also the first win for a non-European team. It was also the first of 368 wins for Goodyear tyres.

For Ginther, this would be the only race victory of his career. He made only six more Formula 1 appearances, but did not finish on the podium again. Meanwhile, Honda would continue in the sport as a works team until 1968. They returned as a highly successful engine partner in the 1980s, powering Williams and McLaren to six Constructors’ Championships. They returned as a works team in 2006, with Jenson Button taking their first win since Ginther’s at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix. After a seven-year absence, the team returned and now supply Red Bull and AlphaTauri with engines.

1992: First podium for Schumacher

Michael Schumacher took the first of his 155 podium finishes at the 1992 Mexican Grand Prix. 1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell and his Williams team-mate Riccardo Patrese dominated the weekend. Schumacher started third but lost positions at the start, putting him down to fifth at the end of Lap 1. The German soon found a way by Martin Brundle and then passed Ayrton Senna for third on Lap 12. That was where he stayed until the end of the race and he became, at the time, the sport’s sixth youngest podium finisher.

Image: Iwao, CC BY 2.0

The Mexican Grand Prix fell off the calendar after 1992 and didn’t return until 2015. This was the only time Schumacher appeared at the event. He, Clay Reggazzoni and Nico Rosberg are the only drivers with a 100% podium finish rate at the track.

1970: Last race for Jack Brabham

Jack Brabham made his final Formula 1 appearance at the 1970 Mexican Grand Prix. Brabham had an illustrious career, becoming the first Australian to win the Drivers’ Championship as well as the only man to have won the title driving one of his own cars. The Brabham team raced in F1 long after the three-time Champion retired.

Having started from fourth at the 1970 Mexican Grand Prix, Brabham retired from his final race while running in third on the 53rd lap as he encountered engine troubles. At the time of his retirement, Brabham was tied with Graham Hill as the driver with the most starts, both having made 123 race appearances. At the time of his death in 2014, he was the last surviving driver to have won a World Championship in the 1950s.

1966: Last pole for Maserati engines

Maserati competed in Formula 1 as both a works team and engine manufacturer between 1950 and 1969. Cooper is the only customer team who Maserati powered to wins, and John Surtees’ pole at the 1966 Mexican Grand Prix was the only one for a Maserati customer. Surtees took pole 0.32s ahead of Jim Clark’s Lotus.

While this was the last pole for a Maserati engine, it was the penultimate win. Pedro Rodriguez would score the final victory for a Maserati engine at the 1967 South African Grand Prix. The marque made its final F1 appearance powering Vic Elford’s privately owned Cooper T86 in the 1969 Monaco Grand Prix to a seventh place finish.

1989: Only point for Tarquini

Gabriele Tarquini scored the only point of his F1 career at the 1989 Mexican Grand Prix. The Italian made one appearance with Osella in 1987, before competing with the uncompetitive Coloni team in 1988. For 1989, Tarquini moved to AGS. After equalling his best result with eighth place in the 1989 San Marino Grand Prix, he qualified seventeenth in Mexico. Eight of the cars who started ahead of Tarquini retired, and he made up a further three places to finish sixth and score a solitary point.

This would also be the last points-scoring appearance for AGS, who had scored only once previously. Roberto Moreno had finished sixth for the team at the 1987 Australian Grand Prix. Tarquini stayed with the team until their demise in 1991, and then made point-less appearances with the Fondmetal and Tyrrell teams.

The 2022 Mexico City Grand Prix takes place at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 28-30.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *