A brief history
European motor racing
1885 Karl Benz builds his first motor car.
1886 Karl Benz builds his second motor car. Racing is born.
1894 The first organised car race is held, a 50-mile reliability challenge around the streets of Paris. The winner completes the course at an average speed of 10mph, slightly faster than it’s possible to drive the streets of Paris today.
1898 The first closed-circuit race is held on the Course de Périgueux track. 1899 Course de Périgueux race organisers conclude things might be less crashy if all the cars run the track in the same direction.
1900 Newspaper mogul George Bennett, named after the popular expletive of the time, organises the first international motorsport event, with France, Belgium, Germany and the USA racing 350 miles across France. The American competitors retire at the first corner, utterly bemused.
1923 The first 24 Hours of Le Mans is held. The endurance race gives manufacturers of the time a chance to demonstrate the speed and reliability of their vehicles, and German spectators of the time a chance to demonstrate how many cans of strong lager they can drink before collapsing in a heap just behind Tertre Rouge.
1950 The inaugural Formula One season is held. Bernie Ecclestone mysteriously already holds the television rights.
1969 F1 enters its innovation era, with manufacturers pumping millions into technological research. In a high-security lab in West Germany, scientists create the first ‘Michael Schumacher’, an advanced driving automaton made of titanium, silicone and pure ruthlessness.
1979 The first Paris–Dakar rally is held, between Paris, France, and Dakar, Senegal. Organisers later decide this is far too confusing, and relocate Dakar to South America.
1982 The World Rally Championship enters its legendary ‘Group B’ phase. 1987 The World Rally Championship exits its legendary ‘Group B’ phase, sideways and largely on fire.
2008 British tyro Lewis Hamilton wins his first world championship. 2010 Lewis Hamilton splits from long-term girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger. 2011 Lewis Hamilton gets back together with long-term girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger.
2015 Lewis Hamilton splits from long-term girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger. 2016 Australian racer Daniel Ricciardo wins a motor race, drinks champagne from a shoe.
2017 Sébastien Ogier secures his fifth successive World Rally Championship title. No one notices.