Easter is the highest feast of the Catholic Church. Holding a Grand Prix on this day was also a no-go in Formula 1 for a long time. It was not until 1985 that the first of 16 World Championship races took place on Easter Sunday – with Alain Post as the race winner.
The Easter races were often spectacular. In 1989 Nigel Mansell surprisingly won the Brazilian GP in a Ferrari. The test drives went so bad for Ferrari that Mansell had booked a flight home before the end of the race and he wanted to put on a show at least at the beginning of the race with less fuel in the tank. But to everyone’s amazement, his car stopped and Mansell won.
Ayrton Senna set off real fireworks at the 1993 Easter race. At the legendary rain GP in Donington, the superstar overtook Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Damon Hill within the starting lap. It was one of Senna’s best races – and a completely insane Grand Prix. 64 pit stops were counted – a record that was only exceeded at the 2010 Chinese GP.
First victory for Ralf Schumacher
Holding a race in Great Britain at Easter is not the best idea in terms of weather. That became clear in 1993, but above all in 2000. Freezing cold and continuous rain made the F1 paddock in Silverstone tremble on Friday practice. The way David Coulthard waded through the mud with only socks on is legendary. It seems to have helped: he won the race.
A year later, Formula 1 was on site in Imola at Easter. The race was not spectacular, but it was historic: Ralf Schumacher celebrated his first victory in the premier class of motorsport in a BMW-Williams. This makes the Schumis the only F1 brother pair that has ever won. In 2003 the two started the Imola GP – also at Easter – from the front row. Her mother Elisabeth died a few hours before the start of the race. Michael won the saddest race of his career, Ralf crossed the finish line in fourth place.
Heidfeld crashes into the medical car
In 2002, Formula 1 made a guest appearance in Brazil at Easter. Nick Heidfeld had to deal with a moment of shock in the warm-up. He raced into the medical car that had just disengaged from Enrique Bernoldi because of an accident. Fortunately, no one was injured. Michael Schumacher won the race – albeit after a collision with Juan-Pablo Montoya.
The last Easter race winner so far is Sebastian Vettel. In 2010 he won the Malaysia GP at Easter. In 2017 he outwitted Lewis Hamilton at the start of the Bahrain GP and Valtteri Bottas with an undercut in the pit lane. It is a shame that there is no Easter GP this year. That would have been a good omen for Vettel.
All Easter race winners of Formula 1
1985 Alain Prost (McLaren-Porsche) Brazilian GP
1988 Alain Prost (McLaren-Honda) Brazilian GP
1989 Nigel Mansell (Ferrari) Brazilian GP
1993 Ayrton Senna (McLaren-Ford) European GP
1996 Damon Hill (Williams-Renault) Argentina GP
1997 Jacques Villeneuve (Williams-Renault) Brazilian GP
1998 Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) Argentina GP
2000 David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) Great Britain GP
2001 Ralf Schumacher (BMW-Williams) Imola GP
2002 Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) Brazilian GP
2003 Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) Imola GP
2007 Fernando Alonso (McLaren-Mercedes) Malaysia GP
2008 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) Malaysia GP
2010 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault) Malaysia GP
2014 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) China GP
2017 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) Bahrain GP