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Monaco Grand Prix 2023

When Ecclestone tried - and failed - to qualify for the Monaco GP

2023 marks 65 years since one Bernard Ecclestone attempted to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix. He didn't.

Bernie Ecclestone
To news overview © XPBimages

Bernie Ecclestone is synonymous with Formula 1, even if some of his views are out of step with the modern, dynamic, social media-embracing, Netflix hosting circus it has become.

But without Ecclestone, none of what we enjoy today would have been possible. It was this son of a Suffolk fisherman who got F1 on TV as part of a package as opposed to broadcasters picking up the odd race here and there as they saw fit.

It arguably would have happened regardless, but Ecclestone was the person who gave F1 a kick from a championship for devoted enthusiasts to worldwide appeal.

His legacy and contribution should not be forgotten – but one thing which often is, is that he himself was once a Formula 1 driver.

A Formula 1 driver in the loosest sense, but one nonetheless.

When is a F1 driver not an F1 driver?

These days, drivers very rarely fail to qualify for races.

Should some calamity befall them before qualifying or they post a lap outside the 107% rule, they will appeal to the stewards to race by using practice times to prove they have a respectable pace. It is always granted.

However, back at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix, a certain B C Ecclestone entered two ageing Connaught machines.

He attempted to qualify one of the cars, and failed, his driving skill not matching the ambition – although funnily enough, the two drivers he had originally entered, Ken Kavanagh and Paul Emery, both made the start.

Ecclestone therefore has driven an F1 car in an official session, but didn't earn the right to be an F1 race driver, not that it bothers him.

That race in Monaco was won by Maurice Trintignant in a Cooper-Climax after Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn both retired with mechanical difficulties.

Interestingly, the only man to achieve the Triple Crown of motorsport (Monaco GP, Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 Hours), Graham Hill, also made his debut in this race, retiring at the wheel of a Lotus.

Hill would go on to be dubbed 'Mr Monaco' for his five wins in the Principality, which stood as the record until 1993 when Ayrton Senna claimed his sixth. Hill is still level with Michael Schumacher on five wins.

As for Ecclestone, he would turn his hand to driver management, running Stewart Lewis-Evans in the latter half of 1958, before Lewis-Evans was killed as a result of injuries sustained in a fiery accident in the Morocco finale.

Ecclestone would then re-emerge in the late 1960s as manager of Jochen Rindt, who became the only posthumous World Champion in 1970.

He would then become boss at Brabham and guided Nelson Piquet to two titles in the early 1980s – before the grander ambitions took his attention...

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F1 2023 Monaco Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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