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American legend Mario Andretti to celebrate 60 years of Formula 1™ in Bahrain

Submitted by on March 4, 2010

Manama, 28th February 2010: American motor racing legend Mario Andretti will play a starring role in the Kingdom of Bahrain as the 2010 FIA Formula 1™ World Championship season starts at the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix on March 12/13/14. Mario, patriarch of the famous Andretti racing dynasty, will be reunited with the Lotus 79 in which he stormed to the 1978 Formula 1™ title as part of this once-in-a-lifetime event to mark 60 years of the world’s biggest annual sporting series.

“I’m delighted to be invited to the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix and especially to be part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Formula 1™.  This is something very special to me,” said Andretti, who celebrates his 70th birthday on February 28.

Not only did the great American win 12 grands prix in his 13 seasons of Formula 1™ with teams such as Lotus, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Williams but he also won the American IndyCar title four times, the 1969 Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Daytona 500 in 1967.  Andretti will take part in an unforgettable gathering of former Formula 1™ world champions in Bahrain including Sir Jack Brabham (1959, 1960, 1966), Sir Jackie Stewart (1969, 1971, 1973), Emerson Fittipaldi (1972, 1974) and Nigel Mansell (1992).

Starting in May 1950 at the British Grand Prix, the FIA Formula 1™ World Championship has witnessed 820 grands prix across Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Middle East.  A total of 31 drivers have been crowned champion from Dr. Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina in 1950 to Jenson Button in 2009 and 13 constructors have been crowned from Vanwall in 1958 to Brawn GP in 2009.  The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix was the first world championship round to be held in the Middle East, joining the calendar in 2004 and last hosted the opening round of the season in 2006.

The 60th Anniversary celebrations in Bahrain will feature a unique collection of more than 20 world championship-winning cars from every era, including Ferrari, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Cooper, BRM, Lotus, Matra, Tyrrell, Brabham, Williams and McLaren.  On public display throughout the event, many of these priceless cars will also be in action on the Bahrain International Circuit to evoke the sights and sounds of the past as their champion drivers take a lap of honour.

This event marks Mario Andretti’s first visit to Bahrain and its Grand Prix, in which four former champions will be taking part, commenting:  “In addition to the race, I’m looking forward to visiting the Kingdom of Bahrain.   I have followed the six previous races with great interest.   It looks like a spectacular venue and I can’t wait for what will certainly be a weekend of excitement on the track, as well as fun and reminiscing with good friends.”

Nick Garton

Images courtesy of Denis David’s GP hall of fame www.ddavid.com, speedhunters.com and F1-Facts.com

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