Clip The Apex
90 years ago, this November, the Bureau International Des Expositions was created by the signing of the convention relating to international exhibitions. Like most organisations, the BIE's home was Paris, France. The role of this organisation was to oversee the calendar, bidding process, selection and organisation of World Exhibitions and ensure that all countries worked together in the best conditions.
The first World Fair was held in Paris in 1844 and one of the best known of these early efforts became known as the Great Exhibition held in London in 1851 and featured the gigantic crystal palace. All these early world fairs featured technological developments and saw many technical wonders shown to the public for the first time.
As the years progressed, and with the formation of the BIE, the purpose of these fairs gradually moved away from technological developments and towards overall cultural themes. Ironically, the first of these was held in New York in 1939 and was titled "Building the world of tomorrow". Of course, over the next 6 years, nations did their very best to demolish the world of tomorrow.
Following the second world war, nation states were too busy rebuilding their shattered infrastructure and attempting to re-establish their economies to worry about holding cultural affairs. That was until Belgium was selected to host their 11th world’s fair. Expo 58. The theme would be "A World View - A New Humanism" and was set to run from July to September 1958.
The most well-known legacy of this event is the Atomium. The giant sculpture displays 9 Iron atoms formed into a cube representing the shape of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. The sculpture remains in Heysel Park on the outskirts of Brussels and is still open to the public today. It represented mankind’s faith and hope in scientific development and the nuclear age.
In 1958, Formula One chose its own way of honouring technical development as for the first time a trophy was awarded not just to the world champion driver but the International Cup for F1 Manufacturers was awarded to the most successful manufacturer. Initially, and until the late 70's, only one car, the best finishing, scored points towards the title. Vanwall became the first team to lift the new cup but Mike Hawthorn lifted the drivers title. Both cups were heading to Britain for the first time. Vanwall won 6 of the 9 races it entered that season with Moss and Brooks taking 3 wins each but unreliability cost both drivers the title. The Vanwall quite literally either won or broke down. Perhaps it was the involvement of an extremely gifted engineer, brought in to revise the car in 1957 after Vanwall's initial efforts in F1 were dismal failures. The name of that engineer? Colin Chapman.
At the 1958 Belgian GP, Tony Brooks finished first while Hawthorn finished second for Ferrari and Stuart Lewis-Evans brought a third Vanwall home in third place. Moss suffered an engine failure on the first lap. Further down the field, in the second Ferrari, a Belgian called Olivier Gendebien finished 6th in his first ever Belgian GP.
Gendebien had come to the attention of no less than Enzo Ferrari himself through his performance in sports car racing. Ferrari signed him to his team to drive in these events but also allowed him to make the occasional appearance in an F1 car. His best year however, was in 1960 where he took 2 podiums behind the wheel of a Cooper for the privateer Yoeman Credit racing team.
Enzo Ferrari summed Gendebien up as "a gentleman who never forgets that nobless oblidge and, when he is at the wheel, he translates this code of behaviour into an elegant and discerning forcefulness."
Such was this elegant and discerning forcefulness that, while very few would have ever heard of him in F1, his sports car record reads like this, 4 wins in the 24 hours of Le Mans, 3 wins in the 12 hours of Sebring, 2 wins at the 12 hours of Reims, 3 wins in the Targa Florio and 1 at the 1000km Nurbugring. A truly remarkable sports car record that few drivers even today, can match.
So, if anyone asks you in the future to name some famous Belgian racing drivers, among the likes of Gachot and Boutsen, don't forget to tell them about Olivier Gendebien. Gentleman, outstanding driver and Belgian.
Enjoy the race.
So on we go to Budapest (Wellwell Mogyoród but anyways) for the 33rd Hungarian Grand Prix. Its the 32nd to be held at the Hungaroring in a row. There is only Monaco and Monza that have been on the calendar for a longer span without any gap. That makes this race a true F1 classic although most won't call it that. The boffins over at wikipedia state 'Due to the nature of the track, narrow, twisty and often dusty because of under-use, the Hungarian Grand Prix is associated with processional races'. Clip the Apex however says differently with Hungary winning the best race of the year more times that any other track. Lets face it there have been some classics. Button winning in a Honda, Heiki winning his 'first of many', Danny Ric showing the 'ladies' how its done, Damon Hill making an Arrows car look like a world beater, Boutson inventing the Trulli train and one of the best wins of all time from Nigel Mansell. Will this years race live up to those standards? I guess we're going to find out.
Hungary itself is a very interesting and beautiful country. It was first defined as a nation in the 9th century, having it what it describes as its golden era up until 1526 where the country was occupied by the Ottoman empire which lasted all the way up until 1699. The country then came under Habsberg rule. You might think this has nothing to do with F1 but you would be wrong. Currently racing in F3 is one Ferdinand Habsberg who is a direct descendant from that royal family. Ferdinand is attempting to get into F1 so all that is relevant honest. Under the Habsberg's it was part of the great Austro-Hungarian Empire but after being on the losing side of WWI it was split into two. The borders defined for it then (1920) remain the borders it had today. At the start of WWII Hungary decided to form an alliance with the axis powers. It seems old habits die hard as last year the Hungarian track formed another axis alliance as German Seb Vettel took the win there in the Italian Ferrari. If you are my age and a 20th century history nut Hungary is most famous for its 1956 revolution where students riled up the population to overthrow the puppet government put in place by the Soviet Union. This seemed like it was going to be a success with the USSR even announcing it was going to withdraw troops. However they changed their mind and invaded Budapest and other parts of the country. The Hungarian held out for 6 days with 2500 being killed. 200,000 fled the country as the iron curtain came down. The USSR won but it lost all at the same time as their actions largely turned Western Marxists away from their cause. Talk of the revolution was completely banned from the Hungarian population meaning a whole generation grew up not knowing it even happened. I once met a Hungarian gentlemen who was a qualified historian who told me that until 1990 he had never heard of the 1956 revolution. Just to put that into context, if you'd been in Hungary in 1989 the average citizens would have been able to tell you more about Theirry Boutson and a Williams Renault than they could about their countries own history.
Speaking of Mr Boutson and the day he conquered Hungary - With all these he said/she said calls for penalties on the radio I also think back to that 1990 race and a move by Senna on Nannini. Watch it here at 1m 25 and tell me if you think there was a penalty.
The answer is no there wasn't. It wasn't even mention. it was just part of racing. Nannini retired and Senna went on to get 2nd. Later on it the footage Berger tries the same move on Mansell and puts them both out. To say we are living in a different era is an understatement.
Anyways thats my ramblings about Hungary. Its been a topsey turvey kind of year so I'm venturing no predictions for the up coming race other than it will be dominated by Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton has won here more times than anyone else and comes of the back of his greatest win ever. Of course its only his greatest ever win since the last greatest ever win he had but good all the same. The script should say he comes here on a high and kicks everyones bum. Script isn't always followed this year though.