F1, short for Formula One is one of the premier forms of racing around the world since the inaugural season in 1950. It’s a sport made for only the most fearless and at the same time calm as well as precise athletes, who dare to sit in a “car” that easily pass the 300 km/h speed. By some considered as a boring sport with “cars driving in circles for hours”, for others their favourite sport. I guess F1 is a sport that falls into the category; either you love it or not. Nonetheless, with a rich history and a lot of entertaining moments and spectacular races that have happened in F1 racing, there are some which caught my attention and stayed at the back of my mind as the best races in the F1 history.
Here is my list of top 5 Formula One races in history:
Brazillian Grand Prix 2008; Autódromo Josè Carlos Pace
One of the closest battles for the championship in our recent history took place in Brazil 11 years ago. An all-time classic with Lewis Hamilton and Felipa Massa racing for the title. Lewis Hamilton came into the race with 94 points, 7 more than the local hero Felipe Massa. This meant Massa needed to win, while Hamilton had to finish 5th or lower for Massa to grab the championship. The qualifiers were straight forward, Massa grabbed the pole, while Hamilton was to start at the 4th spot, but the race… it was something you can only see once in a lifetime.
Minutes before the race, the skies went black and rain started pouring, and we are not talking about just some rain, there was lots of it, delaying the start by 10 minutes for teams to switch their tires. Massa started off the race well and held the 1st spot. In a few minutes, the weather changed back to dry so the drivers went to the pitstops where they once again changed the tires. This was when Hamilton lost a lot of valuable time, as he dropped to the 7th spot and out of the championship position. He knew that and pushed for the 5th place which he got, but once again weather changed, which meant both Hamilton and Massa went back to pit stops to change their tires with only 5 laps to go. Both of the Toyota racers however gambled and stayed on the dry tires. The race continued and Hamilton once again fell to the 6th place. Meanwhile, Massa won the race, so he did his part, then he waited. The decision of Toyota to stay on the dry tires despite the rain proved to be the mistake that cost Massa the title. Hamilton passed Glock in the last corner of the lap of the last race which got them the 5th place and the title. A devastating result for Massa who did all he could to win, but in the end came short.
Brazillian Grand Prix 2007; Autódromo Josè Carlos Pace
At the 4th place of our top 5 best races in the history of Formula 1 we have got yet another race that took place in Brazil, this one happened in 2007, when we saw a Three Ways battle between Hamilton, Alonso, and Raikkonen, who were separated by only 7 points. Hamilton had 107, Alonso 103, while Raikkonen 100. This was the race that would finally separate the 3 with only one coming out on top as the champion. The pressure was on and the heat was terrific. Temperatures of the track were up to 63°C when the race started, which meant the tyre wear was huge. It was expected to be a highly entertaining race, with the top 3 races doing their best to win. Hamilton was considered a favourite to win, but a simple mistake from him saw him driving off the course after approaching the race too aggressively. This resulted in him falling down to the 8th place. Hamilton managed to reduce the gap in his own style, but there was more bad news for him, as his car seemingly for no reason slowed down. Luckily for him, the car suddenly came back to life, but it was too late as he was already 18th. Raikkonen used that and went on to win the race with some help of his teammate Massa, who let his teammate pass him which ultimately got him the title.
Japan Grand Prix 1976; Fuji Speedway
For our no. 3 pick we are traveling back in time to the year 1976. The 1976 World Championship was to be decided at the Mount Fuji circuit in the Japan Grand Prix. Prior to the race, Niki Lauda was just 3 points ahead of James Hunt. The 1976 season was full of incidents, most noticeably Lauda near-fatal crash at the Nürburgring, which saw him missing subsequent races.
At the day of the race, the weather was very wet and foggy with running water at several parts of the track. All in all, the conditions were extremely dangerous, kind of typical for a title decider. With only 3 points separating Lauda and Hunt, Lauda only needed to finish 3rd to win the title, but the conditions made it tougher than it should be. After the near-fatal crash, Lauda did not approach this race as fearless as we would have expected. He pulled into the pits early into the race due to extremely bad conditions. Hunt was holding the lead since the start of the race and it seemed like he would go on and win the race and the title with ease, but as soon as the track dried, he experienced problems due to wrong tires. Because of that, he had to pull into the pits, which saw him drop to the 5th place. With only two laps to go, Hut went on and passes Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni, which meant he finished the race 3rd. The counter, however, did not show him as 3rd until after the race with only added to the dramatic finish of the season. In the end, Hunt celebrated the championship title, which he won by only 1 point.
European Grand Prix 1997; Circuito Permanente de Jerez
The 17th and final race of the 1997 FIA Formula One World Championship took place in Spain at the Circuito Permanente de Jerez. This race was an interesting one for many reasons. We saw the 2-time world champion, Mikael Schumacher separated by only 1 point from the newcomer Jacques Villeneuve. The race was tense from the get-go. First, we saw a confrontation between Jacques Villeneuve and Eddie Irvine who blocked Jacques in the practice. After that, the racers went into the qualifying run, where Jacques Villeneuve set the fastest time of the season. The Schumacher went around the track… and set the exact same time than Jacques Villeneuve. If that was not enough, Frentzen, the Villeneuve teammate set the same time as well.
In the race, Villeneuve soon fell to the 3rd place behind his teammate and Mikael Schumacher, who led the race for the first 40 laps. Villeneuve slowly caught up to Mikael Schumacher and almost passed him. As Villeneuve was passing Schumacher, he tried to push Villeneuve off the track, but instead, he forced himself off into the graves which stalled his car.
Villeneuve continued the race with caution, which saw him finishing 3rd. This, in the end, proved to be a wise decision, as his battery was knocked out of the mounting, where he was hit in the clash with Schumacher. Had Villeneuve tried to win the race, the battery would surely fall out which would result in him needing to retire, which would ultimately cost him the championship. In the end, Villeneuve celebrated the title with only 3 points.
- Grand Prix of Belgium 1998. Spa
This one was a mess. It was a wet and action-packed Sunday in Belgium, where we saw all-McLaren front row for a wet start. Only seconds after the race started, we saw a massive crash in the first corner, Coulthard hit the wall, causing 13 cars to pile up on the first corner of the first lap. Over an hour later the race started again. But as you might have imagined, there was yet another crash. This time it was Hakkinen who lost control in the first corner and was hit by Herbert. While this crash was not as intense as the last one, it was enough to put Haikkinen of the racers out of the race. In addition, Eddie Irvine, Fisichella and Nakano also crashed out in the race. The conditions remained terrible which resulted in more racers retiring. Most noticeably, the battle between Coulthard and Schumacher when Schumacher was trying to pass Coulthard, but instead hit the back of McLaren saw both racers retiring.
In the end, we only saw 8 cars finishing, with Damon Hill 1st, Ralf Schumacher 2nd, and Jean Alesi 3rd. The mentioned race was not the championship-deciding race or the last race of the season. Nonetheless, it was one of the most memorable races in the history of the sport. With all the chaos that we saw it surely was a weird one and in my opinion the race that deserves to be at our top spot as the best race in the history of Formula One.