THE FIRST CHINESE DRIVER IN F1

2/21/2022

 In 2022 Formula 1 will get its first Chinese driver. This is the history of all the other countries’ first appearances in F1.

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​Not only do the regulations change but the 2022 season of Formula 1 is destined to make history when a Chinese driver takes part for the first time. As one of the two drivers for the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen, Guanyu Zhou will succeed where his fellow Chinese drivers Qing Hua Ma and Adderly Fong have failed: Qing Hua Ma was third driver for HRT and Caterham for 5 GPs between 2012 and 2013 whereas Adderly Fong was a test driver at the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP for Sauber, but did not take part in the qualifiers or the race.​


 

Zhou will use an all-Brembo braking system consisting of 6-piston aluminum-lithium calipers, 330 mm diameter 32 mm thick carbon brake discs and carbon brake pads with various compounds. In these years in Formula 2, Zhou has already used Brembo 6-piston calipers. 


Thanks to Guanyu Zhou, the country with the highest population in the world will finally have its own representative in F1: with China, the number of countries with at least one driver at the start of a Formula 1 Grand Prix will rise to 39. But although several have been taking part since the first World Championship GP, the 1950 British GP, many have been added as the seasons have gone by. ​

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THE FIRST RACE: FROM GB TO ITALY, THE FIRST 9 COUNTRIES 


23 drivers in 21 single-seaters – two of them took turns at the wheel – took part in the first race on 13 May 1950 at the Silverstone circuit,: only two Italians took part but they monopolized the first two positions, with Nino Farina winning ahead of Luigi Fagioli, both of them in Alfa Romeos. Eleven English drivers took part, captained by Reg Parnell, third over the finishing line with the invincible 158. 


Four Frenchmen took part, with two of them in the points: Yves Giraud-Cabantous came fourth and Louis Rosier fifth in the Talbot Lago, although they were two laps behind the Alfa Romeo. There was also a Belgian (Johnny Claes 11th, 6 laps behind the winner), an Argentinian who would become legendary (Juan Manuel Fangio who withdrew), an Irishman (Joe Kelly unclassified), a Thai driver (Prince Bira who withdrew), a Swiss driver (Emmanuel De Graffenried who withdrew) and a Monégasque driver (Louis Chiron who withdrew). A total of 9 countries were represented in the first World GP. ​


 

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THE FIRST TWO YEARS: THE GIANTS GERMANY, BRAZIL AND ​ 


In the following race, the Monaco GP, the United States competed for the first time with Harry Schell with a Cooper powered by a JAP engine: 20th on the starting grid, he pulled out on the first lap because of an accident which forced nine vehicles to abandon the race. In the last race of the year, the Italian GP, it was Germany’s turn: driving a Maserati, Paul Pietsch was stopped by a problem with the 4CL engine after just a few meters. 


In the next two races in the 1951 championship, a Brazilian and a Spaniard made their debuts. In Monza, Chico Landi managed to complete just one lap in a Ferrari before being stopped by transmission problems. Francisco Godia-Sales, on the other hand, managed to finish his home race, the Spanish GP at Pedralbes, in a Maserati, although he was 10 laps behind the winner.


 

THE 1950s: FROM OCEANIA TO THE REST OF EUROPE​ 


In 1952, three countries raced for the first time: Australia at the Belgian GP with Tony Gaze who finished 15th in his HWM 51 Alta, 6 laps behind the winner, although at the time the Spa-Francorchamps track was 14.12 km long. In Great Britain, it was Uruguay's turn with Eitel Cantoni, who retired due to brake failure, while home favorites Dries Van der Lof and Jan Flinterman both took part in the Dutch GP but were unclassified.​ ​


 

In the 1956 Italian GP, it was Sweden’s turn with Jo Bonnier who was forced to retire on the 8th lap with an engine problem. Three years later, the New Zealander Bruce McLaren came to Monaco in a Cooper Climax and made his debut with two points after coming fifth. In the summer in Portugal, the Portuguese driver Mario Araujo De Cabral took to the track in a Cooper Maserati and although he was six laps behind, he finished tenth.​


 

THE 1960s: AFRICA, LATIN AMERICA AND AUSTRIA ​ 


It was Venezuela's turn in the 1960 Argentinian GP with Ettore Chimeri although he raised the white flag after 23 laps because he was too tired to continue. In Great Britain a year later, South Africa competed for the first time with Tony Maggs who came 13th in a Lotus Climax. Once again in 1961, although this time at Monza, the Mexican Ricardo Rodriguez made his debut: 2nd after the qualifying round, he pulled out on the 14th lap because of a problem with the fuel pump.​ ​


 

The first Canadian appeared in the next race in the United States: Peter Ryan came 9th in a Lotus Climax. 1961 was also the year when Brembo was founded by Emilio Bombassei just outside Bergamo. Two Rhodesian drivers made their debut, on the other hand, in the last race of 1962, in South Africa: John Love came 8th in a Cooper Climax whereas Mike Harris was forced to retire because of steering problems, the same problem that stopped the Austrian Jochen Rindt's Brabham in the 1964 home GP.​​


 

​THE 1970s: THE SMALLER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES AND JAPAN​ 


Rikky Von Opel is even today the only driver from Liechtenstein to have raced in Formula 1: his first race was the 1973 French GP behind the wheel of an Ensign where he came 15th. Participation from Finland was much stronger and began at the 1974 Swedish GP with Leo Kinnunen in a Ford Surtees who was unfortunately stopped by an electrical failure on the ninth lap. Denmark had to wait for the 1974 South African GP: Tom Belso's Iso-Marlboro was last in qualifying and during the race stopped immediately due to problems with the clutch. ​ ​


 

Brembo appeared for the first in Formula 1 in 1975 with a small supply of cast iron discs for the Scuderia Ferrari which immediately won the world title with Niki Lauda. Three Japanese drivers competed in the first edition of the race at Fuji: Noritake Takahara came 9th in a Surtees, Masahiro Hasemi 11th in a Kojima whereas Kazuyoshi Hoshino was forced to pull over due to a tire problem.​


 









THE 1980s: SOUTH AMERICA ONCE AGAIN


The first Chilean made his debut in 1981: Eliseo Salazar competed in the San Marino GP in a March but was stopped on the 39th lap by a problem with the oil pressure. In the next championship, Colombia appeared for the first time with Roberto Guerrero at the GP USA West for Ensign: coming off the track after the first third of the race when he was in 11th position took him out of the race. 


From 1980 to 1999, a total of 161 drivers competed in Formula 1. However, other flags did not need to be brought out of mothballs because the countries remained the same as in the past. Brembo's presence intensified during these twenty years and it managed to win over the British garages which until then had been inclined to use home-produced braking components. ​

 

 

2000-2009: ASIA AND EASTERN EUROPE COME ONTO THE SCENE​ 


From the start of the third millennium, new countries made an appearance even though since then there has not been more than one per season. Malaysia began the series with Alex Yoong who took part in the 2001 Italian GP where he went into a spin and damaged his Minardi. The following year, the same track set the scene for the Czech driver Tomas Enge’s first appearance; he finished 12th with the Prost team.​ ​


 

The Hungarian Zsolt Baumgartner had the chance of his life at the 2003 Hungarian GP when he replaced in the Jordan team the Irishman Ralph Firman, victim of a terrible accident during the free practice sessions: however, the engine left him high and dry halfway through the race. It was then India’s turn with another Jordan at the 2005 Australian GP with Narain Karthikeyan who came 15th. The Polish driver Robert Kubica came 7th in the 2006 Hungarian GP but was disqualified for having an underweight car.​


 

2010-2019: THE GIANTS RUSSIA AND INDONESIA​ 


In 2010, the world's largest country also came onto the scene thanks to Vitaly Petrov who competed for the first time in Bahrain, stopping after just 14 laps because of a broken suspension. Despite its late start, Russia is in 19th place together with New Zealand in the ranking of countries that have competed in the most GPs.​​


 

Indonesia, on the other hand, had to wait for the 2016 Australian GP: Rio Haryanto qualified second to last but started behind his teammate due to a penalty incurred after an accident during the practice sessions. Both were 5.8 seconds before pole position but qualified all the same. However, during the race, Haryanto was stopped by a transmission problem after just 18 laps.


 
 

 


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