Bumper to bumper

2010: The year Sebastian Vettel became the youngest F1 champion. With a victory in the penultimate race of the season in Brazil, the Red Bull driver got his foot in the door, as he went into the final race at the Yas Marina circuit with 231 points, 15 behind championship leader Fernando Alonso and seven behind team-mate Mark Webber, who was second. While Alonso needed to finish not lower than fifth to win his third world title, Webber had to finish second to take the championship. As for Vettel, nothing short of a victory was necessary to make history.

Vettel showed his precocity by reeling out impressive timings despite running on heavily worn out tyres. The German never relinquished the lead he took midway through the race and went on to post his fifth victory of the season to win the world title.

Final points: Vettel 256; Alonso 252; Webber 242.

2008: The championship was decided in the final lap of the final race (Brazilian Grand Prix). Massa, seven points behind Hamilton, dominated the race from the start to win, but it wasn’t enough for the Brazilian as he was soon to find out, much to his chagrin. Hamilton, who had to finish not lower than fifth to win the title, dropped to sixth after getting into the pits for a tyre change. Nearing homestretch, Timo Glock, in fifth position, suddenly slowed down to a crawl and Hamilton sensed his chance and quickly overtook him to finish fifth (four points) and capture the world title.

Final points: Hamilton 98; Massa 97.

2007: A season when the feuding team-mates, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, ripped McLaren apart. Still, going into the final race of the season at Interlagos, McLaren appeared to be in a commanding position with both Hamilton (107 points) and Alonso (103 points) in a position to win the world title. However, the team didn’t expect Kimi Raikkonen (100 points) to knock away the title from underneath its nose. The Finn drove brilliantly to win the race and with it the world title.

Final points: Raikkonen 110; Hamilton & Alonso 109 points each.

1994: It was a shoot-out between Michael Schumacher (Benetton, 92 points) and Damon Hill (Williams, 91 points) in the final race, the Australian Grand Prix. It was spectacular racing until the 36 {+t} {+h} lap as Hill went in hot pursuit of Schumacher. Into the sixth corner, Hill attempted to pass the German that led to a big collision. Both drivers had to retire while Hill’s team-mate Nigel Mansell went on to take the chequered flag. Schumacher, thus, won his first world title, albeit narrowly.

Final points: Schumacher 92; Hill 91.

1984: In one of the closest ever finishes to a season, Alain Prost and Niki Lauda (both of McLaren) were involved in a remarkable tussle for supremacy in the final race, the Portuguese Grand Prix. Prost had to win the last race, while Lauda had to finish third or higher. Starting in the second place, Prost went ahead of the field while Lauda steadily made his way through from 12 {+t} {+h} position on the grid. Mansell’s spin-off in the 52 {+n} {+d} lap was a godsend for Lauda who worked his way up to finish second, behind Prost and claim the world title.

Interestingly, only a half point separated the winner from the runner-up in the championship. In the end analysis, the Monaco Grand Prix that year proved to be Prost’s weak link. The race had to be called off because of inclement weather and Prost, who was leading the race, won only 4.5 points instead of the full nine.

Final scores: Lauda 72; Prost 71.5.

1981: A straight fight between Nelson Piquet of Brabham and Carlos Reutemann of Williams, the world title would be decided only in the final race, the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Reutemann had his task cut out as he had to finish in the top four to win the championship. Alan Jones went on to win the race, while team-mate Reutemann struggled with his car right through to finish eighth and thereby let slip the title. Piquet finished fifth but it was enough for him to win the first of his three world titles.

Final points: Piquet 50; Reutemann 49. G. Raghunath