Our new database page will launch shortly.
The history of what is now Formula 1 was born on the roads to the east of Le Mans on June 26 1906. Tired of its entries for the Gordon Bennett Cup being restricted the just three, the French authorities introduced a new event. The Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France (or simply known as The Grand Prix during those early years) attracted 13 manufacturers of which all but one started. This was instantly the most important event of the year and the de facto World Championship.
Run over two days, the 1906 GP de l’ACF was won by the Renault AK of Hungarian Ferenc Szisz who had averaged almost 63 mph. Crucial in that success was the introduction of Michelin’s new detachable rims that reduced the time taken to replace the inevitable punctures suffered on the uneven roads. Szisz changed 19 tyres during the race – those detachable rims may have been heavy but they saved 13 minutes each time new rubber was required.
The best of the rest proved to be Clément-Bayard and Fiat. Son of its founder, Albert Clément and Felice Nazzaro were the stars behind the wheel for those respective marques. Clément followed Szisz home on day one but had slipped behind Nazzaro by the end of the race.
Paul Sheldon called 1906 “probably the most significant year in motor racing” in his seminal Grand Prix and Voiturette Racing books – it certainly changed the sport forever.