The driver who started an F1 race illegally

Your questions answered

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I’ve had many emails complaining about Red Bull’s team orders at Silverstone.

There’s nothing I can do about that. But hopefully I can answer some of your other questions.

Here’s the latest batch.

Hans Heyer’s illegal start

Let’s start off with a history question from Ponas:

I know that there was one German who started an F1 race illegally, but sadly that’s pretty much all the information I know about him.
Ponas Myznius

It’s fair to say that if HRT had ignored their failure to qualify in Melbourne this year and simply sent their cars onto the track, they’d have been handed a massive fine and probably thrown out of the sport.

But it didn’t deter Hans Heyer when he missed the cut for the 1977 German Grand Prix by four-tenths of a second.

Heyer, who had won the European Touring Car Championship three years earlier, was driving a Penske PC4 for Gunther Schmid’s ATS team.

The Hockenheimring had just taken over the from the Nurburgring as the home of the German Grand Prix. At the start, a problem with the lights caused widespread confusion. As the race finally got underway, no-one spotted Heyer’s Penske making its way out of the pits.

He completed nine laps before the gear linkage broke on the PC4 and he stopped. This was his only appearance at an F1 race weekend. Whether it should be counted as an official start is another matter entirely.

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His sole F1 race weekend appearance was captured for posterity by a camera car:

Metric vs imperial

I’d never considered this question from Arnols before:

Why are the onboard graphics (speed) in KPH and not MPH in F1?
Arnols Ansell

The teams have been working in metric measurements for some time – going back to the eighties and even earlier, the use of metric was widespread among most teams.

That is the case even here in Britain where, although metric measurements have been taught in schools for decades, imperial measurements are still widely used including on car speedometers and distance signs on roads.

But given that the teams work in metric, and Formula One Management’s graphics are used around the world, it makes sense for the onboard graphics to be in metric rather than imperial.

Dress to impress

Another unusual question from Amira:

If you please, what is the dress code for the Grand Prix event?

It depends where you’re watching from. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Paddock Club the dress code is ‘smart casual’.

At the other end of the spectrum if you’re in the stands you can wear pretty much whatever you want. At Silverstone the choice of top runs the gamut from modern team wear to faded Nigel Mansell Williams T-shirts to nothing.

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Chipping in

Thomas hit trouble while trying to contribute to F1 Fanatic.

I’m from the US and I was wondering if could support F1 Fanatic using in the states. I click the link but it takes me to and I’m just not sure how to do it.

If I can’t then no big deal, I’ll just have to set up a Paypal account and donate sometime. Thanks!

F1 Fanatic users can support the site by shopping through the UK Amazon site:

At the moment, I’ve not got a similar option set up for America or other countries, but I will look into it for the future.

In the meantime if you wish to make a donation you can do that very easily through PayPal.

As ever, sincere thanks to anyone who has helped contribute towards running the site. It’s sincerely appreciated.


Another question on the site from Lallan:

A very bad question to ask, but have you ever thought of selling off F1 Fanatic?
Lallan Yadav

Definitely not – what on earth would I do with my time if I did?

Predictions Champion

Lastly, it was great to receive this email from last year’s Predictions Championship grand prize winner. He won two tickets to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last week:

Hi Keith,

What a fantastic weekend! Great race and an absolutely superb view.

Particularly enjoyed Hamilton and Massa at the last corner, and also the classic comedy moment of Alonso chasing after the drivers’ parade truck – he got the last laugh though!

My son was enthralled by the whole experience – he’s been to BTCC at Knockhill with me before and loved it, but this was something else! He’ll be an F1 Fanatic for life after this.

Once again, thanks for everything!



If you want to emulate Jim and win a pair of tickets to next year’s race, add your entry here:

Got a question for F1 Fanatic? Send it in via the contact form. Please include your real name.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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111 comments on “The driver who started an F1 race illegally”

  1. LOL Keith

    At Silverstone the choice of top runs the gamut from modern team wear to faded Nigel Mansell Williams T-shirts to nothing.

    1. Well im pretty sure there has at least been one stripper 0.0

      1. You might not believe this, but if you watch the 1996 F1 season review (only released on VHS), as they do the Australian GP post-race wrap-up, they actually show a woman flashing. She was very quick about it, but if you look for it, you won’t miss it.

        Crazy but true.

        1. The good old 80s season reviews are even better for some boobies :P

      2. There was the strangely boobied rubber doll that kept distracting a particular race driver during the after-GP concert. I’m pretty sure that one was clad in nothing. :-D

    2. McLarenFanJamm
      18th July 2011, 16:30

      I had to laugh at that too. It’s so true. It could be -50 and there would still be one nutjob with his top off.

      1. Ha, bound to be finnish then! Or russian and drunk :-D

  2. Well here’s another question.
    Why is the race distance, minimum number of laps to complete 305km, Monaco excepted?

    1. That’s actually a really good question. Why 305km? It seems like a bit of a random number. Why not 300km?

      I can answer the Monaco part of the question though..
      Because Monaco is so slow when compared to the other tracks, 305km would take too long so the race distance is shorter. :)

    2. Interesting question. Regarding Monaco, I guess it would exceed the 2h limit if they were to race for 305km’s.

      Next to being more widespread than the imperial system, the metric system is also more accurate as it uses smaller intervals. Hence it’s more useful in a sport where differences are minute.

    3. McLarenFanJamm
      18th July 2011, 16:32

      That’s a great question, I didn’t even know the minimum distance is 305km…

    4. I believe the distance is set to the lowest number of laps required to do 300km, + 1 lap. So if a circuit was 10km long, the distance would be 31 laps as 10 X 30 = 300, plus one extra. I’ve no idea why.

      1. That cannot be the answer as the tracks in Spain, Canada and Hungary are all less that 5km.

        1. Why would that make a difference?

          According to wiki, Catalunya is 4.655km long. It’s a 66 lap race, and if you multiply the length of the circuit by 65 (ie. minus a lap of the actual distance) you get 302.575. Plus one lap takes it up to the 307.1km distance that the race is.

          1. Very good point, I concede.

      2. It’s the shortest number of laps needed to exceed 305 km, except for Monaco’s 260.5 km (it used to be 100 laps until 1969, when they took 20% of the laps out. The length increasing from 251 km to just under 260 km in 1985 because cars got quicker).

        1. I’d like to see 40 lm more of Monaco.

        2. But why 305km? It is such an odd distance.

          1. I believe its 300 + 1 lap to make classification easier. More often than not 300km race distance will be in the middle of a lap, so to avoid confusion, they take 300km race distance plus 1 more full lap. Instead of writing messily ‘300km + 1’ they average it out to 305km.

            I think though, I may be wrong.

          2. Maybe it’s to reach over 190 miles?

          3. Article 5.3 of the Sporting Regulations says “the distance of all races… …shall be equal to the least number of complete laps which exceeds 305 km (Monaco 260 km).”

          4. As to why the extra 5 km, I cannot answer. Perhaps someone in the FIA could (or at least someone in the FIA in 1985, when that ruling appears to have been made).

          5. “Tradition” would probably be about the best answer for 305kms, use the same answer for why is there a rest day at Monaco

      3. Because the finishline is in front of the pitlane and the startline after.. If they dont do it like this, the starters in front wont be able to take the distance

  3. I’ve got a question. It probably sounds rather dumb but here it goes..

    With the tyre rules this year saying that both compounds need to be used unless the wet weather tyres are used, suppose one team just cannot make one of the compounds work, could they start the race on the intermediates and pit at the end of lap 1 to avoid running the other compound tyre? Could this actually work or would they lose too much time on the first lap?

    As I said it’s a rather dumb question but I’ve been thinking about it for a while now.

    Thanks Keith. Great article as always.

    1. Get on the phone to ferrari and ask them they’d be the most interested team i think.

    2. I think if the race is said to be dry by race control both dry compounds must be used. However if race control says the race is wet on lap 1 and from lap 2 it’s dry, only one dry compound can be used.

      could they start the race on the intermediates and pit at the end of lap 1 to avoid running the other compound tyre?

      If the do one lap on the intermediate wouldn’t it be better to do one lap on the dry compound that they just can’t make work and pit at the end of lap 1 anyway, but without using wet-weather tyres? The intermediates wouldn’t work well anyway.

      1. I think you have just shown the flaw in this idea Fixy!

      2. If the do one lap on the intermediate wouldn’t it be better to do one lap on the dry compound that they just can’t make work and pit at the end of lap 1 anyway, but without using wet-weather tyres?

        Very good point.

        1. I mean, in one lap they can’t lose more time on the inters than on the slicks!

    3. why not just run the first lap on the compound they can’t make work? no need for inters, just stick on a set of slicks!

    4. They certainly could, but it would have to be really disastrous for them to make that work because intermediate tyres burn rather than grip at dry-weather racing speeds. The cars would be considerably slower than they could go on a dry compound.

      1. And slippy-er.

    1. I like his style.

    2. Truly hilarious the write-up in that link – “he made his debut in tourism, and won 2 times 24 hours of Brignoles.”

  4. A picture of Hans Heyer here

    1. And a full-on Wikipedia article too!

  5. plutoniumhunter
    18th July 2011, 16:47

    Heyer is LEGENDARY. His feat will probably not be repeated though ^^;;;

    1. they should interview the guy…

  6. DamionShadows
    18th July 2011, 16:52

    Even though I didn’t get a happy birthday atleast I got my question answered :D

    1. Well here goes…. Happy Birthday!

    2. Joyeux anniversaire!

      Cake, champagne, balloons, those little twiddly things that make noise and let’s par-taaaaay!

    3. wait, here goes

      Happy Birthday to you Damion!

      1. Lol, thanks guys

    4. My grandmother used to think a certain British driver was called Damien Hill…

      So in honour of reminding me that, Happy Birthday!

      1. Happy birthday for 6 mins ago!!!!!!

      1. Hope you had a nice day!

  7. UKfanatic (@)
    18th July 2011, 17:51

    F1 is almost the only case in the world of someone an group or industry a culture that acknowledge how much easier is the metric system much more simpler its hard to start getting to it but after a while the metric system is conversible into anything volume, mass, distance, etc, it was created by a frenchman, (I know a frenchman) and it is widely used around the world apart from the states the uk of course and all the commonwealth.

    1. What do you mean “the only case”? The entire scientific community and universities all over the world don’t count? In fact, I’m sure that’s why F1 uses metric: because it uses scientific standards. Which means metric measurements.

      1. Actually NASA doesn’t. That is how they lost that Mars Rover a couple of years ago. With the landing system the part made by the European space agency was metric and the part made by the boffins at NASA was imperial. So when the internal systems had to communicate they got all the calculations wrong and smashed it into the surface of Mars.

    2. (I know a frenchman)

      I know quite some Frenchmen. :-D

      As Ral said earlier: it is the scientific tool of measurement of all academia and researchers…

    3. Well, I am french too and i used to live in the UK a while ago, and though i find the metric system extremely handy and natural, i still think that this imperial system has quite some charm !
      Stones and pounds, yards and feet… I have never used the shilling though !
      I’d be sad when Britain drops it entirely…

      1. I have an old house in France and could never remember the size of the windows as they were not in multiples of 5 or 10 cm.but one day I measured them with a bi-standard tape and discovered they were standard Imperial sizes, just like all the pre-made ones at Castorama.

        1. Most construction materials, such as wood and boards even if quoted in metric sizes are actually Imperial.
          And the last time I was at a German street market I could by erdberren (strawberries) in pfunds.

          1. oh yes, theres is still the “livre” (pound) for roughly 1/2 kilogramm on the markets here too…

    4. a bit of contradicting yourself there? Or just very focussed on the UK/USA?

      How can it be “widely used around the world” while at the same time “F1 is almost the only case of … the metric system” as you say?

    5. Canada uses it. I believe Australia does too.

      I was brought up on the metric system. I prefer imperial when I’m not doing Physics.

      1. Jack Flash (Aust)
        19th July 2011, 4:40

        No Australia does not. The Metric system (SI Units) were regulated into primary measurement laws for Australia in 1972. Since then, all formal Engineering and Scientific works are performed by law in Metric SI. Tradespersons and other building and construction industries have been given leave to keep using Imperial systems of sizes and measures for hardware (there are God knows how many stupid variants of those), so Maintenence of prior builds can be upkept. However, any new work is supposed to be performed in metric measures and material sizes/threads. It still doesn’t happen completely thouygh. There is a basic stubborness in trade industries (older tradies) to move over to REAL measurements.

        I can happily work in both systems (taught both in school), but why the hell would you pick Imperial, if you have a choice – especially in precision Engineering and Scientific applications. Base 10, 100, 1000 anyone?

        Imperial – PICK a BASE and stick to it ‘already’ sheesh! Base 3, 12, 14 16, 2046, the list goes on forever…… Anyone who has had to undertake physics or engineering calcultions in Imperial understand how backward (cow herder relevant) the system is.

        I have no idea why USA continue to us it formally, and the UK still informally. The world is Metric SI – get over it, and move into the 21st century! Get with the program.


        1. As an American, I’ve wondered that a few times myself, especially when in the kitchen. Metric is so much more logical, and thus easier to work with.

          I like to think I’m familiar enough with metric to be comfortable, but never having lived in a place where metric was the standard, I can’t ever be sure.

    6. You are wrong about the Commonwealth. Australia started going metric in the 60’s.

      1. The metric system is easy to use in science but when it comes to speed I have no idea what 200 kph is. All i know is it’s slower than 200 mph i’d prefer it if the on screens were done in mph simply because I have an understanding of what that is. but it will never happen. :P

        1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
          19th July 2011, 4:56

          For ease of use 60mp/h = 98km/h, but most people just round it up to 100km/h so 200km/h=120mp/h. And for other speeds it is mp/h x 1.6 = km/h

          I personaly find the metric system easier as measurements use the same 1/10/100/1000 measurements whereas imperial the difference between inches and feet is not the same as feet and miles and nor do the measurements of different types (distance/liquid etc…) match up, so you need to do multiple conversions instead of just adding subtracting zeros.

        2. Jack Flash (Aust)
          19th July 2011, 5:02

          80 km/hr = 50 mph (almost exactly – not quite)
          160 km/hr = 100 mph

          Therefore 200 kmh = 125 mph (or near as matters at that speed; or velocity of 55.55 metres per second).

          Not hard.

        3. As someone that grew up in a country that only uses SI / metric measurements I have absolutely no idea how fast miles per hour is. Also kilometres per hour is written as km/h rather than kph

          1. It’s roughly a 5:8 ratio from miles to kilometres.

            One mile is exactly equal to 1.609344 kilometres. Thus, divide by 1.609344 to convert km to miles.

      2. I would hazard a guess that in fact the UK are the only part of the commonwealth that still uses Imperial measurements.

        NZ is definitely metric as is pretty much all of asia.

        I think US companies like Boeing and NASA are probably stuck with imperial due to the need for new tooling etc. But more and more i hear US reporters and documentaries using metric measurements.

        Aviation generally us Metric for fuel, but are stuck with Feet and Knots as again it would be prohibitive to convert every aircraft to Meters and KPH. On saying that modern computerized aircraft would mostly just need a software change.

        1. Yes you’re right!

          Miles are so yesterday! British people must move on, there’s no British empire anymore.

    7. Pretty much the WHOLE WORLD uses the metric system.

      The United States being the main culprit for keeping its head in the sand and staying with imperial measurements.

      1. Jack Flash (Aust)
        20th July 2011, 4:13

        Forrest Gumps LoL

    8. I love the quote from Lord Kelvin on the imperial system (1884).
      “I look upon our English system as a wickedly, brain-destroying system of bondage under which we suffer”.
      Tell it like it is!

  8. Metric is the official system in UK as well. The only exception being milleage on the roads (and therefore extensive to speedometers and milleage counters in cars) due to the (alleged) cost of replacing all the signs in one go.

    This is the EU, like it or not :-)

    An upside for those who, as myself, have a hard time converting cubic inches per yard into square meters by kilometers per hour. again :-)

    1. How about converting those darn recipes, huh? I’m always left wondering how in the name of the Holy Baker I’m supposed to figure out how many grams are in “two and a half cups of flour” and “1 cup of slightly softened butter”.

      Life is tough. Sigh. Tsk tsk tsk… :-)

      1. I’m always left wondering how in the name of the Holy Baker I’m supposed to figure out how many grams are in “two and a half cups of flour” and “1 cup of slightly softened butter”.

        Buy a set of measuring cups and you don’t have to work it out.

        1. Better still , buy a French cookbook.

          1. even better: don’t follow recipes !

        2. Buy baguettes!

      2. I like imperial, but I’m a country boy and it makes more sense to me.

      3. Actually the cups and spoons are defined in cl and cm3 as well for the pro’s Trix.

        1. Who said I’m a pro? I’ve given up on baking “real” American cookies and just went ahead and tried metric European ones. :-D Still tasted good.

          Getting confused in the kitchen is taking the fun out of it. I bake Amélie style.

          It has to make me feel better.

          1. How did we get to this? I thought this site was about F1 ;-)
            Interesting though…

    2. Metric and imperial live side-by-side. Plenty of small businesses I know (primarily food) use imperial and get round the EU ruling by putting the conversion in small letters.

      1. It is like robbing a bank. As far as you are not caught you can live with (and from) it. But it is illegal.

        Funny enough, it is easier to go around EU rules than around logic (although sometimes logic looks elusive…

        The UK on its own, without any external push, decimalised the currrency in February 1971 since the pence, shilling, pound was a barrier for trade and development and made the Sterling a base 10.

        Apparently, when something is important and you need to use it fast you go IS.

        1. The UK (and other countries in the EU) is permitted to use any combination of measurement systems they like, provided that the actual transaction – as shown on the receipt – is conducted in metric and the buyer has had the opportunity to see that price before being obligated to purchase the product. Therefore, the practise I described is perfectly legal, if awkward for those who make purchases from those shops in metric.

          1. As you say the actual transaction has to be conducted in metric, therefore no transactions in other systems are legal. They, simply, do not exist.

            Funny enough I find this discussions more substantiated than those on our respective favourite drivers :-)

  9. Team Orders, why is everyone complaining about Red Bull at Silverstone?

    Last year in Germany everyone blasted Ferrari for giving coded messages, everyone made a HUGE deal about how it was underhand and how everyone knows there are team orders in F1 and why can;t they just be upfront about it, people would understand, oh how it’s unfair on the poor fans etc etc etc.

    So now team orders are legal and Red Bull were upfront with it, good right? what everyone wanted last year in Germany right? Yeah right, now people are crying and moaning about having team orders! Honestly get a grip about it and stop moaning!

    1. NetBurst (@)
      18th July 2011, 20:41

      Because Red Bull said that they would never use Team Orders

      1. No they didn’t, they said they’d let their drivers race up to a point and as with most teams (maybe not Ferrari) they do. For Red Bull to throw away 33 points so Mark could Finish ahead of Vettel is crazy in anyone’s book, why do they care who comes 2nd and who comes 3rd? it’s the same points for them either way and to risk them with 2 laps to go would be stupid. However it would’ve been interesting to see if the same orders were giving if it had been Vettel chasing down Webber, i have my doubts.

    2. Well, yeah but the Idea is, that it isn’t illegal anymore so they do not need to use coded messages any more now.

      The trouble we have with Red Bull doing this is all their outrage at Ferrari last year and claiming they would never do TO (even if it would lose them the WDC!) last year as it did not fit their team ethos.

      1. And don’t forget Seb really needs the extra points.

        1. Yeah, the championship is much closer than last year’s. :D

    3. Because Red Bull weren’t upfront about it, the act was self-destructive as well as sport-destructive and some people are not convinced the ban should have been lifted in the first place for exactly the sorts of reasons demonstrated by Red Bull.

  10. Sidney Vianna
    19th July 2011, 4:11

    Pics and text available @

      1. Fun fact: Heyer was born in the same town that later produced Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Nick Heidfeld …

        1. Hey! What a coincidence.

        2. I did part of my studies there. I can understand they drove away with speed, nothing that special to be seen!

        3. I thought the name of that city looked familiar, but I didn’t bother to look it up.

  11. There’s nothing I can do about that.

    I’m curious as to what people were expecting you to do, Keith.

    1. In the main they just wanted to have a big old rant with the Caps Lock on.

  12. Another question on the site from Lallan:

    A very bad question to ask, but have you ever thought of selling off F1 Fanatic?
    Lallan Yadav

    Definitely not – what on earth would I do with my time if I did?

    Well, it depends on the number of “0” after the first figure in the check. May I suggest you to buy a F1 Team…

    1. 5 zeros according to, though I think it is a rather humble estimation.

      1. All the data on that page is completely inaccurate. No idea how they’re coming up with it but it’s all miles out.

        1. For realistic stats I use alexa or this site which also uses alexa data.

          Would you comment on *these* numbers please?

  13. I just love that Hans Heyer is on

  14. Hey Keith,
    that question about imperial vs metric reminded me somehow of another thing I was about to ask you: Do you why they changed the way they display the time gap between cars in the race? Untill recently, all the differences were shown in relation to the leading car but now they show the time difference to the car just in front. What do you thing about it? I find it worse than before. Many times, due to different strategies, a driver in front is in reality battling a car several positions behind him and now it can be hard sometimes to figure out what the gap is (much easier, in the short time the figures are on display, to subtract two numbers to know the diff between the 3rd and 4th, for instance, then summing up 7 numbers to know the diff between, say, 1st and the guy that was running in 2nd, just pitted, and is now running in 8th). Curious to hear yours and the other f1fanatics’ thoughts on it.

  15. Regarding Metric vc Imperial…

    What I would really like to know is why is the fuel efficiency of cars stated (In the UK at least) in Miles per Gallon, but fuel sold in Litres..??

    Surely Miles per Litre would be more relevant..??

    1. Litres used per 100 kms is the better method.

      MPG (or a similar equivalent MPL) can be misleading, eg improving 40 MPG to 60 MPG might initially look as good as improving from 20 MPG to 40 MPG, but when you look at the amount of fuel used to drive, say 100kms, its 5.88L to 3.92L & 11.76L to 5.88L. Showing it as L/100kms tells the story better

    2. Anathema!Mixing two different metric systems to the hell of scientists. Perhaps KM/Pint?

      A suggestion might be to use nautical miles instead of land miles, then we can use knots for speed and reflect the predominance of aerodynamics in todays F1. :-)

      I have to stop here, have to visit my psychiatrist for the weekly appointment :-)

  16. Metric is the way forward. Wish the UK would ditch this imperial rubbish!

Comments are closed.