Thuesday, 05 december 2017, 05:45
In a glittering ceremony in Paris on Monday evening, famous faces and representatives of Formula One met at the headquarters of Automobile Club de France (ACF) to honour previous champions and induct them into the newly created F1 Hall of Fame.
All 33 drivers who have won the Formula One world championship have been inducted, but the inaugural members of the Hall of Fame were Sir Jackie Stewart, Mario Andretti, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg.
The ceremony itself took place in the library of the ACF which is where Formula One's original regulations were drafted in the 1940s.
The inductions went in order of titles won, starting at one all the way up to the seven of Michael Schumacher. In the first group, the very first F1 champion Giuseppe Farina was honoured and this went through to 2016 champion, Nico Rosberg.
This group included 1992 champion, Nigel Mansell, who said: "I’d like to thank the FIA for making this evening possible for all of us. It’s such a special evening. I’d also like to congratulate all the other drivers here, truly they are all tremendous.”
Damon Hill, also a one-time winner, echoed the statements of his compatriot, Mansell.
“It was always very difficult to get it through my head that I’d become a world champion at all, so the thrill continues," said HIll.
"it just an amazing honour to be included. You see the people who are here and the names mentioned – Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Sir Jackie Stewart and it’s hard to believe I’m in the same gang. So, congratulations to the FIA for instigating the Hall of Fame and thank you for including me.”
Two and three-time winners were then honoured, and this included Fernando Alonso who won championships in 2005 and 2006. The Spaniard gave his thoughts on the prestigious night, and also commented on his venture into other motorsports such as the Indianapolis 500.
“It has been a fantastic night,"said Alonso.
"I’m very honoured to be here with these great champions. All of them inspired me to become a Formula One driver, they inspired all the kids of my generation, so I feel very proud.”
"I’m trying other series now and trying to imitate some of the idols I had when I was a kid. The Indy 500 experience this year, maybe Le Mans in the future. President Todt mentioned that the Hall of Fame for endurance racing will be in 2019, so I have two years!”
Vettel praised the idea of the Hall of Fame and thinks it was about time the sport's history was honoured.
“It’s been incredible to see all these names, all these faces," said the German.
"Obviously a lot of them I only know from what I have read, what I have seen, but I think it’s a great idea. There’s so much history in the sports, it’s still so alive, and thanks to events like tonight’s, we’ll keep it like that. I love racing but as you get older you change your way of thinking and I think your appreciation for things and definitely for things like tonight grows.”
The last inductee of the night was seven-time champion Schumacher, who sadly could not be in attendance due to his continued recovery from a life-threatening skiing accident suffered a few years ago. Hs manager, Sabine Kehm, accepted the induction on his behalf and commented on his absence, saying:
“We all know Michael should be here and I am totally sure he would love to be here. He always had the highest respect for everyone in this room and he would be very honoured. What made Michael so special, what made him so successful was, as with everybody in this room, a love and passion for this sport.”
The governing body of F1, the FIA, had their president Jean Todt explain why the Hall of Fame was created.
“The FIA Hall of Fame has been created to highlight the values that run through motorsport and the champions who have been and who still are the exemplars of the FIA’s values of commitment, integrity, respect and sportsmanship,” said Todt.