Race Report: FIA Historic Formula One – Hockenheim 15-18 April
Round 1 of the FIA Historic Formula One Championship saw 17 cars of the 18 registered for the event take the grid at the popular Hockenheim Historic event at the German GP venue. Reigning HFO Champion Bobby Verdon-Roe made certain that his investment in the stunning ex-Christian Gläsel McLaren MP4A showed its class right away by taking pole position with just minutes to go in the second qualifying session. BVR had only driven the car for twenty minutes before arriving in Germany but a test and two qualifying sessions was enough time to make the car work to good effect.
“I just need to know how the car works and how I am supposed to drive it” .said the resident of Portugal.
Until BVR took pole, a stunning qualifying lap in the cold early morning session had looked positive for the Brabham BT49 of Joaquim Folch. Run by Fredy Kumschick the Spaniard sat out most of the second session hoping not to have to use his best tyres for the second run but when BVR hit the front his few laps could not produce any advance. Rowland Kinch worked his way up to third fastest with some neat tweaks whilst the Colin Bennett family-run Williams FW07 of Japanese communications entrepreneur Katsu Kubota finished fourth fastest with Steve Hartley’s Mirage Arrows fifth and Richard Eyre’s Williams sixth.
The grid also included Nico Bindels returning to the series with Hall & Hall fettling his Lotus 87B, Laurent Fort with his own Espirit Competition Surtees TS9B and Austrian Gunther Alth with the beautiful Class A March 701. Former Italian Touring Car Champion, Cosimo Turizio performed very well to be halfway up the grid on the first session in his Hesketh 308 but a broken hub carrier put a premature stop to his weekend. Regular Dave Abbott sat out this meeting whilst his shoulder operation fully heals in time for Spa and all the teams suffered travel chaos from the Icelandic volcano, almost all having to make last minute drive arrangements as flights were cancelled across the world in the two days preceding the event. Return journeys also became a stress.
A really good volume of spectators basked in sunshine for the Sunday race and as John Felix switched off the red lights BVR dropped the clutch for a superb start and headed a fast starting Kinch with Folch snapping at the back of the Arrows. Hartley was already under pressure from Kubota as they came into the Stadium for the first time with Richard Eyre sixth, Peter Meyric, Abba Kogan’s Williams already heading Class B, then Bindels, Peter Weunch, John Delane and Terry Sayles. On lap 2 Verdon-Roe built a 4.4 second advantage and Kubota got past Hartley.
Kinch had the throttle fuel cam jam virtually at the start and driving on the brakes, gears and ignition switch was proving to be a handful and the number 7 Brabham of Folch got past on lap seven and the Arrows retired to the pits four laps later, albeit with the fastest lap point to its credit. At lap 11 Folch was 9.8 seconds behind the McLaren with Katsu Kubota working hard to close the gap. Hartley and Eyre were involved in another mighty tussle which went to Eyre on the following lap. Bobby started to ease the pressure slightly for the final three tours leading Folch home by 8.8 seconds with Kubota less than a second behind at the finish. Eyre was fourth ahead of Hartley, Meyrick, Kogan, Bindells, Weunch and Delane in tenth place overall to take Class A whilst Terry Sayles in the Osella took Class D victory.
Bobby Verdon-Roe took top podium spot and was delighted with his weekend.
“We only got the MP4 at Christmas so there has been a lot of work to get the car ready. I did 8 laps at Estoril last Monday, loaded up and set off to drive the truck to Hockenheim. I’ve worked with Alan Mugglestone before, he is simply the best race engineer I know and has won 50 championships, so I think we are in great hands. This is a job well done, my first overall pole position in HFO and my first overall win. I wonder if McLaren will notice that they have won the races for the two FIA Formula One Championships today!”
Full results here
Second round of the FIA Historic Formula One Championship is at Spa, Belgium 23 May.