My first season remembered


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
In the summer of 1980 I went round my friend Gooey's house and on Sunday Grandstand was the British Grand Prix from Brands Hatch. I'd watched F1 races on the BBC Grand Prix program before but never seen a race live. I was transfixed.

The two blue Ligier's ran off into the distance with some Ozzy bloke called Jones chasing them down in a white and green Williams. Eventually the French cars fell by the wayside with tyre problems and, for the fans at Brands, the next best thing to a British driver winning was an Australian in a British car. From that moment on I was a hooked on F1 racing.

I particularly recall an exchange between James Hunt (co-commentating with Muddly Walker) and guest summariser Jackie Stewart. Stewart suggested the Ligier boys should have seen the problems with their tyres in their mirrors, "I think you're showing your age there Jackie, you can't see the rear tyres in the mirrors of a modern F1 car" says Hunt. "Well I sat in the Tyrrell yesterday and could quite clearly see the rear tyres" replied Stewart. James was very quiet for a few laps.

I had to find out more about the season up to the British race and I had to see the rest of the season. I also had to avoid seeing the race results until the highlights came on late in the evening on BBC2 - a little more simple in the days before multi-channel TV and 24 hour rolling news.

At the next race in Germany Laffite got his own back for the let down in Britain with the Williams boys 2nd and 3rd. Jones was leading the Championship with some young lad called Peekay not too far behind in a Brabham. Laffite's brother-in-law won the race a week later in Austria but I knew enough then to understand that the turbo charged Renaults would be difficult to beat at a high altitude circuit like the Osterreichring. Jones was 2nd and extending his lead in the Championship - Woo Hoo!

Holland next and for some reason Arnoux in the other Renault was on pole. This didn't make any sense to me, at some places the track was below sea level so why was a turbo car on pole? As the race started Jones jumped into the lead and was over 2 seconds ahead at the end of the first lap, this was going to be easy for my new hero. But, horror, a few laps in and Jones runs wide damaging one of his side skirts. He's in the pits for an extended period as the skirt is replaced and his nemesis, and my new public enemy No1, Piquet takes the win.

Jones is on pole in Italy, all is going well at the new Imola circuit. But what's this? The Brabham takes the lead and Jones can't catch him. Piquet now leads the Championship, this isn't right.

Now there's a long wait for Canada. Horror, Piquet is on pole. As they gallop to the first corner there's a big pile up and Piquet is off but the race is red flagged and they start again, this time with Nelson in the spare car. Jones leads for the first 2 laps but Piquet passes him on lap 3 and scampers off into the distance. But then my prayers are answered, the Brabham spare car has an older engine and a con-rod lets go putting Piquet out. Jones wins as Pironi is given a 1 minute penalty for jumping the start and Alan Jones in the 1980 World Champion - HOORAY!

A week later Jones puts the cream on the top of his Championship winning at Watkins Glen after Bruno Giacomelli has led for much of the race in his Alfa Romeo. Much rejoicing for the 14 year old FB.

I still recall these moments like they were yesterday and can feel the emotions, see the grainy images from Canada and the US as they didn't broadcast in the same format as European TV and satellite feeds weren't quite as good as they are today. Sitting up until late at night when the BBC thought it was safe to show F1 racing and then getting about 40 minutes coverage of the whole race.

Happy memories of simpler days :)
Great thread FB :) . I was too young to remember my first season (1980, aged 6) when Jones won it in las Vegas in that car park - I do remember thinking it was a strange track, or even Keke winning in 82, when I remember supporting him, but not the details. Are there any video sites where you can see the story of the season?

I guess the following Piquet, Prost, Senna, Mansell seasons all had memorable moments, but the season I followed most closely and enjoyed the most was Hill in 96. I was the right age to be a dedicated fan - staying up when I wanted to, going to Silverstone at 3am on race day after an all nighter with the boys, turning up without tickets and finding a way in. Cracking the beers and having a barby at Stowe at 6am topped it off and then being woken up by the morning warm up session they used to have....

My mate gave me the video of that season for Christmas that year, so I have been able to remember it, but what makes it so memorable was that was the only time he ever gave me a present :D . Don't worry, we are still mates but Hill was the glue that allowed us to get to know each other.
FB, I suppose the Ferraris were so terrible, they didn't figure. Had you started watching F1 a year earlier or a year later, you wouldn't have given "AJ"/"Jonesy" a second thought and, instead, you'd have idolised a Ferrari driver called Villeneuve like no other. ;) Cheers, FB.
Useless fact: It was in the summer of 1980 I was born (sharing a birthday with the first F1 World Championship race) in the same city a certain Mr Newey graduated from University with a First Class honours degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics, also in the summer of 1980.

I don't remember that year for obvious reasons but it was a cool year for more reasons than giving us FB (valued member not Facebook). My first year of real memories was 1993 and 1994 being my first full watch every race season (as a Williams and a D. Hill fan it's any wonder I continued) although I do remember watching the odd race and Nigel Mansell for a few years before that.
I first started watching seriously in 1989, although my bro and dad had watched a few of the 1988 races on the tellybox. In '88, I'd looked at a list of the competitors and I liked the name of no. 1 in that rather spiffing yellow car. My brother was, by the end of 1988, an ardent Berger supporter; our first full season of F1 was almost equally woeful for the yellow and the red - Berger's year only saved by three late-season podiums. Nelson's year was very mid-field, even failing to qualify at Spa.

There were some really cracking races in '89: Mansell's wins in Rio and Hungary, Boutsen imperious in Canada and Australia, Gugelmin flying at Paul Ricard, massive prangs for Berger and Pirro at Hockenheim, the weirdness of Estoril, but most of all, the McLaren rivalry that culminated in that move..

The only race I didn't see that year was Australia - my dad set the VCR on the wrong channel...
It's so long ago I can't actually remember which was my 'first' season; sometime around the late sixties, '67 or '68 probably. All I know for certain is that messrs Hill senior and Stewart were involved and it was in black & white.
My first season was 2002 with my first race being the Monaco GP, ironically it was the fallout after the Austrian GP that attracted my attention to the sport and watching what was a fairly chaotic race (with McLaren winning as well) hooked me, not even Schumacher's dominace put me off, (probably because of the excitement of the 2003 season)
Hungary '06 was the first race but '07 was my first season. With the ultra close championship, McLaren spying, Alonso being a... and Kimi's comeback made for a brilliant season. The most memorable moments were being infuriated at Alonso at the start of Spa, holding my head in my hands in China and sulking for two days after Brazil but of course the first corner of Oz...
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