Padmore fends off Stretton challenge to win first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race of Oldtimer Grand Prix weekend

In the first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race of the Oldtimer Grand Prix weekend at the Nürburgring, Nick Padmore (Williams FW07C) was forced to deal with a strong challenge from Martin Stretton before Stretton’s Tyrrell 012 backed off, allowing the championship leader to continue his winning streak.

In the opening laps, Padmore drove off to a lead of 1.9 seconds on lap 4, but then his progress faltered. With the fastest lap of the race on lap 5, Stretton cut Padmore’s lead to just over a second and subsequently got it down to 0.7s on lap 7. That was the closest Stretton got as he picked up a vibration and was forced to slow his pace. He eventually finished 15 seconds down on Padmore.

Martin was miles closer now!” said Padmore, referring to Stretton not being quite able to put up a real challenge at Silverstone. “He was really good through the first sector and used the aero. I really needed to manage the traffic – and that’s what I did.

“I really, really tried”, said Stretton. “But then I had a sloppy lap, I was just so ragged. I picked up a vibration, and then the car was understeering so badly that I backed off. I had a safe second place so I decided to look after the car. I’ll try again tomorrow!”

Christophe d’Ansembourg continued his strong season by taking another podium in his Williams FW07C. The Belgian finished 28 seconds down on Padmore, deciding against chasing the two leaders.

Yes, another podium, I’m getting used to it!” said a beaming d’Ansembourg. “It was a bit lonely, but I just kept my pace and hope to have a good car for tomorrow!

Joaquin Folch-Rusinol (Brabham BT49) passed Steve Brooks (Lotus 81) on lap 6 to take fourth. In the opening stages Steve Hartley was fourth but the Arrows A4 dropped back behind Brooks and Folch, and then fell into the clutches of the pre-78 class leaders.

That class saw a dramatic finish when two laps from the end the leading Henry Fletcher pulled off at the Veedol chicane, his March 761 having lost drive. This handed the class lead to Max Smith-Hilliard (Fittipaldi F5A) who had just overtaken Hartley to put some air between himself and perennial class rival Greg Thornton. Again, the two were fighting over the same bits of asphalt lap after lap.

“Yes, I just thought I put a bit of a gap between me and Greg, so I got myself past Steve”, said Smith-Hilliard, happy to take the win after Thornton’s double at Silverstone. “And so I did!”

When Thornton’s March 761 developed a fuel pick-up problem on the penultimate lap, Jason Wright (Shadow) nipped past to claim second place in class.

“We got held up by Steve [Hartley] pretty badly, weren’t we?” said Thornton. “And then on the final laps the car just died everywhere. It was fuel pump off, fuel pump on, off, on…”

“I was really put off my concentration by the car that came flying past at the start”, said Wright, referring to Georg Hallau’s jump start in the Theodore N183. “I lost a whole lap behind him, and then Max and Greg were gone. But it’s not over until it’s over!”