Thrills and spills in F1 history

Published : Nov 25, 2010 00:00 IST

The 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where the race and the championship winner wasn't decided until the final laps, should rank among the classic finishes in Formula One history. It's races such as this that helps fans keep their faith in Formula One alive.

Here are a few other season-ending races that decided the championship winner.

1981 Las Vegas Grand PrixNelson Piquet (Brabham, 49 points)Carlos Reutemann (Williams, 48 points)

Going into the final race of the season, Reutemann had to only finish in the top four to win the championship. He and his Williams team-mate Jones had locked up the first two places on the grid. But before the race, Jones simply refused to help Reutemann in his attempt to win the championship. “That would be unsporting,” he said. Reutemann, however, struggled with his car and gradually yielded ground to Piquet. Jones went on to win the race, while Piquet garnered the two points he needed to win the world title by finishing fifth. As for Reutemann, he finished eighth.

Final scores: Piquet 50 — world champion, Reutemann 49 & Alan Jones 46.

1984 Portuguese Grand Prix Niki Lauda (McLaren, 66 points)

Alain Prost (McLaren, 62.5 points)

Perhaps the closest ever finish to a season in Formula One history. Both Prost and Lauda had their tasks cut out – while the former had to win the last race, Lauda had to finish not lower than third.

Prost nudged ahead, while Lauda steadily climbed up the field. Nearing the end, Lauda capitalised on Nigel Mansell's retirement with a brake failure. Though Prost won the race, Lauda lifted the title by finishing second. And what separated the champion from the runner-up was a mere half point.

Final scores: Lauda 72 — world champion, Prost 71.5.

1994 Australian Grand Prix Michael Schumacher (Benetton, 92 points)

Damon Hill (Williams, 91 points)

A solitary point separated Schumacher from Hill as both drivers got into a shoot-out for the world title. Hill chased Schumacher right up to the 32nd lap when both got involved in a spectacular crash. Trying to pass Schumacher, Hill banged into the Benetton driver's car, despatching him into a tyre barrier. Hill damaged his suspension in the collision and both the drivers retired. Nigel Mansell (Williams) won the race, while Schumacher won the world championship narrowly.

Final scores: Schumacher 92 — world champion, Hill 91.

1998 Japanese Grand Prix Mika Hakkinen (McLaren, 90 points)

Michael Schumacher (Ferrari, 86 points)

Hakkinen and Schumacher went into the last race with varying mathematical possibilities. But owing to a technical hitch, Schumacher was forced to start from behind. Hakkinen made a clean start and went into the lead. Schumacher worked his way up the grid to move to the third place, but in the 32nd lap his tyre burst and he was forced to retire. Hakkinen won.

Final scores: Hakkinen 100 — world champion, Schumacher 86.

2007 Brazilian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton (McLaren, 107 points) Fernando Alonso (McLaren, 103 points)

Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari, 100 points)

Lewis Hamilton went into the final race as the favourite to win the world title. He started second behind Felipe Massa (Ferrari) but was banished to the back following a gearbox problem. Though he fought back to seventh place, Raikkonen, driving brilliantly, went on to win the race and the world championship.

Final scores: Raikkonen 110 — world champion, Hamilton & Alonso 109 points apiece.

2008 Brazilian Grand Prix Felipe Massa (Ferrari, 87)

Lewis Hamilton (McLaren, 94)

It took the final lap of the final race to decide the world championship winner. No doubt Massa, seven points behind Hamilton, dominated the race from the start, but sharp showers towards the end created a lot of confusion.

Hamilton, needing to finish not lower than fifth to win the title, dropped to sixth after getting into the pits for a tyre change.

Massa at that stage appeared to have sealed the championship, but Timo Glock, in fifth position, suddenly slowed down to a crawl, his car refusing to move as if it were stuck on glue and tar (the problem was with his car's wet slicks). Meanwhile Hamilton managed to overtake Glock to finish fifth (four points) and capture the world title.

Final scores: Hamilton 98 — world champion, Massa 97.

More stories from this issue

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment