You are browsing the archive for Formula One.

Top five F1 championship finales

November 23, 2016 in News & Features

This weekend sees the climax to another thrilling Formula One season, with Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton going head to head for the World Drivers’ Championship.

For the second time in three years, Rosberg and Hamilton head the pack going into the Abu Dhabi finale.

This time, it’s Rosberg who is the clear favourite, given his 12-point lead – but there are still several ways Hamilton could come from behind to snatch the title from his team-mate.

Rosberg will win the 2016 crown if he finishes on the podium. Hamilton must finish within the top four to stand any chance of snatching the championship – but even then he needs a helping hand from his German rival.

The title has been won in the final race of the year 28 times in the 66 seasons it has been awarded.

Elephant Sport selects its top five final-race championship deciders; many British motorsport fans will be hoping that this weekend’s finale will be added to the list.

1984: Niki Lauda wins by the finest of margins

prost-lauda-1984

1984 team mates Alain Prost (left) & Niki Lauda (right)

The 1984 season came to a dramatic conclusion in the final round at Estoril, Portugal.

The campaign was dominated by McLaren drivers Niki Lauda and Alain Prost.

Frenchman Prost had won seven races to Lauda’s five, but Lauda eventually prevailed by half a point – the smallest margin in F1 history.

Prost qualified second, Lauda 11th. There were shirts and posters already printed that stated “Prost: 1984 World Champion”; but Austria’s Lauda proved them wrong by climbing up to third.

Prost moved up to first and led most of the race, with Nigel Mansell in second in his last race for Lotus before moving to Williams. Mansell retired due to persistent brake problems, Lauda duly moved up to second- ensuring his third drivers crown.

1986: Heartbreak for Nigel Mansell

Three drivers stood a chance of claiming the drivers’ championship in the 1986 season finale in Australia.

Mansell, with 70 points, needed at least third place to beat Prost, who had 64. Nelson Piquet had 63 points going into the final race.

Mclaren’s Keke Rosberg initially led Piquet, with Prost third ahead of Mansell.

The turning point in the race came on lap 32, a blessing in disguise for Prost. The Frenchman’s right front tyre punctured forcing him to make a pitstop, and he returned to the track in fourth.

It looked as though Prost’s race was ruined, but it eventually proved key to him winning. Goodyear technicians inspected his punctured tyre and saw that it was actually in good condition.

The technicians informed the other teams that they could reach the end of the race, without needing to stop to fit fresh tyres.

242

Mansell’s 1986 championship dreams explode

But on lap 63, race leader Rosberg retired with a tyre de-lamination; the compound tyres were not lasting the race.

With the McLaren gone there was one less car standing between Mansell and the title, and it mattered not that Prost had passed him, leaving the Briton third once again.

Mansell was on lap 64 of 82, when, cruising down the main straight, his left-rear tyre exploded and a shower of sparks burst from the rear of his car.

His catastrophic exit remains one of F1’s most enduring images, and it left Piquet leading from Prost.

The Brazilian on the verge of winning the championship, but there was no hesitation in bringing him in for fresh tyres.

That left Prost in the lead, thanks to his early pitstop. Luck was definitely on his side that day as he secured a second drivers championship.

1994 & 1997: Schumacher madness

0126b6eceb58bf65084338f93c8976d4

Schumacher controversially collides with Hill in the 1994 season finale

Two similar incidents occurred in the final races of both the 1994 and 1997 seasons to determine the world whampion, both involving Michael Schumacher.

1994 saw Schumacher pip Damon Hill to the title by one point in the last race of the season (Australia).

On lap 35, Hill was right behind the German, who led, when he saw his chance to pass. As Hill’s Williams drew alongside the Benetton, Schumacher appeared to turn in aggressively and there was contact between the two cars.

The Benetton was damaged badly enough to mean immediate retirement. Hill’s car initially appeared to be okay but soon he was also back in the pits and out of the race.

This left Schumacher champion on 92 points, with Hill on 91. The controversy and speculation was furthered when ‘Schumi’ attempted the same trick to win the 1997 title.

9536a1c3f1eff29ebf8601b55249b30d

And again in 1997; Schumacher collides with championship rival Jacques Villeneuve

Unfortunately for the German, it backfired.

On lap 48 of the season finale at Jerez, championship rival Jacques Villeneuve was catching Schumacher and attempted to overtake.

The Canadian had the inside line and was slightly ahead when Schumacher turned into him, his front right wheel connecting with the side of the Williams car.

Schumacher had ended his own race but Villeneuve was able to continue and went pn to take third place – enough to win the championship.

The German was later punished by for causing an avoidable accident and was disqualified from the 1997 championship.

2008: Hamilton’s last-corner victory

The 2008 finale in Brazil was one of the most dramatic yet, fought out in wet conditions between Hamilton (McLaren) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari).

Hamilton led by seven points going into the final round. A maximum of ten were available for thewinner, which meant that Massa could win the title if Hamilton finished sixth or lower.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives on his way to winning the Formula One World Championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Hamilton dramatically passes Glock on the last corner of the race

A late-race rain shower looked to have cost Hamilton the title when he dropped to sixth after a stop for wet tyres.

Massa had won the race and prematurely began his celebrations.

But Hamilton managed to pass Toyota’s Timo Glock quite literally on the last corner of the last lap, to finish in fifth and clinch his first world title.

2010: Four-way showdown in the dessert

In 2010 as many as five drivers from three teams were in contention for the title. At different points in the season Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull all seemed to have the car to beat.

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso all went to the final race in Abu Dhabi still with a chance of taking the drivers crown.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 14: Race winner and F1 2010 World Champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium following the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 14, 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Vettel

An emotional Vettel clinches his first championship in 2010

Hamilton was an outsider in the McLaren with team-mate Jenson Button’s title hopes slipping away before the campaign’s climax in the desert.

Vettel drove a masterful race in the Red Bull to win and lift his maiden F1 title.

The German was third in the standings prior to the race but led from pole and saw other outcomes go his way to become F1’s youngest champion.

Ferrari’s championship leader Alonso came seventh after a poor pitstop strategy saw him stuck behind Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, and the same fate befell Webber (Red Bull) who finished eighth.

Hamilton, who had a slim title chance, finished second but it wasn’t enough. It was a dramatic end to an enthralling season and gave Red Bull their first drivers’ title.

The final standings had Vettel top on 256 points, four clear of Alonso, 14 above third-place Webber and 16 in front of Hamilton in fourth.

Overall, 32 different drivers have won the F1 drivers title, with Schumacher holding the record with seven.

Rosberg will be hoping to become No.33 by winning his first championship this weekend.

The current Drivers’ Champion is Hamilton, who won his first World Championship in 2008, regained it in 2014 and retained it in 2015.

But Hamilton, having been involved in several final-race showdowns, will know that the championship may not be so straightforward for Rosberg who is overdue some bad luck.

The lights go out on Sunday at 1pm (GMT) but the drama will begin on Saturday at 1pm with the all-important qualifying session to decide who begins on pole.

Why Hamilton can still win the F1 drivers’ crown

November 10, 2016 in Opinion

The Brazilian Grand Prix has served up incident-packed races ever since it first appeared on the F1 calendar in 1973.

And a good dose drama at Interlagos is exactly what Lewis Hamilton needs if he is to take the drivers’ championship into the final round in Abu Dhabi.

rosberg

Hamilton cannot afford to see Rosberg celebrating a win in Brazil

His Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg will take the crown if he wins either of the year’s two remaining races, or by finishing with at least one second and third place even if Hamilton wins in both Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

So can Hamilton snatch the title out of the German’s grasp despite trailing him by 19 points?

Most petrolheads will tell you that Interlagos is a circuit that produces tantalisingly good races – contests that, down the years, have seen many championships won and lost.

So Britain’s three-time F1 champion only needs to glance through the Brazilian GP’s history to be hopeful of derailing Rosberg’s title dream.

Comebacks and drama

In 2006, Michael Schumacher proved the circuit is one for overtaking. Starting from 10th position on the grid, the German did an astonishing job after falling to 19th position due to a flat tyre.

The seven-time world champion returned to the race, having almost been lapped, and carved his way through the field to finish in fourth place.

“Hamilton will take confidence from replaying his 2008 outing at Interlagos, showing that miracles in Brazil can happen.”

‘Schumi’s’ performance was agonisingly not enough to win his eighth drivers’ crown, as Fernando Alonso successfully defended his title.

Hamilton will also surely take confidence from replaying his own 2008 outing at Interlagos, showing that miracles in Brazil can happen.

After adopting a conservative strategy to secure at least 5th place, and the title, a late-race rain shower caused unexpected problems.

Hamilton wins the championship at the last corner in Brazil 2008

Hamilton was pushed down to 5th place by Timo Glock who didn’t enter the pits for intermediates like most others.

With just three laps to go, Sebastian Vettel overtook the Briton which meant Hamilton would end up with equal points to Massa, but with one fewer victory.

Against all expectations Vettel and Hamilton were able to overtake Glock, who had lost all grip with his dry-weather tyres, in the very last corner of the race.

This meant that Hamilton ultimately grabbed the fifth place he needed to become champion.

The 2009 season saw more drama as Jenson Button sealed the drivers’ championship with a sublime recovery drive, starting in 14th but finishing fourth.

In 2012, the outcome of the championship remained in doubt until the final lap, as Vettel – who fell to the back of the field on the first lap – drove a gritty race back through the pack to seal the title.

Although Hamilton is yet to win in Brazil, he can take confidence in denting Rosberg’s maiden title hopes from the tracks record of drama.

Weather

Rain is nothing out of the ordinary at Interlagos in November, and so the weather might also give Hamilton a helping hand.

He won’t have forgetten the Monaco GP earlier this year, which he won in in wet conditions while Rosberg struggled home in seventh place.

Inclement weather often courses havoc in F1, with drivers’ race strategies hit by puddles and spray, while chopping and changing tyres from full wets, to intermediates and back to slicks can often catch them out.

rain-in-interlagos-in-2013

Rain is a regular occurrence at the Brazilian GP

The forecast for Sao Paulo suggests there is a chance of low temperatures and showers on Saturday and Sunday.

Another seventh placed finish for Rosberg and a win in the wet for Hamilton would leave the pair level on 355 points going into the final weekend in Abu-Dhabi.

Three of the last six race weekends in Brazil have featured wet weather.

Combine that with Interlagos being a tight, twisty circuit which dries out quite quickly, and unpredictability is almost guaranteed.

For example, Nico Hulkenberg won a surprise pole position for Williams on a drying track in 2010.

A full-on wet race could also swing the balance towards Red Bull who have looked strong in the rain this season.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished second in a wet British GP earlier this year with Hamilton winning, Rosberg third and Verstappen’s team mate Daniel Ricciardo fourth.

Rosberg overdue bad luck

hamilton-mayalaysia

Hamilton breaks down in Malaysia

Over the course of the year Rosberg has surprisingly only won one more race than Hamilton, despite the large points difference between the two.

Hamilton has had the lump sum of bad luck between the pair. You only need to glance at the table below to see that Rosberg is due a blip.

Race’s in which Mercedes drivers have had problems

Race order Driver Problem
Bahrain Hamilton Hamilton suffered a first-corner collision dropping to 7th; he fought back to 3rd
China Hamilton Hamilton started at the back of the grid due to a power unit failure; he finished 7th
Russia Hamilton The Brit started 10th after an engine failure in qualifying; he finished 5th.
Spain Hamilton & Rosberg Rosberg and Hamilton collided on the first lap resulting in both not finishing the race
Canada Rosberg The German finished 5th after suffering a slow puncture during the race
Austria Rosberg The German turned into a corner late as Hamilton tried to pass around the outside and damaged his front wing, finishing fourth. Rosberg was given a 10-second penalty.
Belgium Hamilton Hamilton started in 21st place on the grid, after a raft of engine penalties resulting from failures early in the season. He fought back to third.
Malaysia Hamilton Hamilton’s title hopes were dealt a heavy blow when his engine failed as he led the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Just one error for Rosberg will blow the championship wide open, be it in the wet conditions he’s struggled in this season, the drama the Brazilian GP often throws up or an overdue car performance issue for the German.

If Hamilton can emulate his hero Senna and notch his first win at the late Brazilian’s home circuit; the current world champ could bolster his chances of defending his crown and taking it right down to the wire in Abu-Dhabi.

Team-mates, not mates

November 3, 2016 in News & Features

In everyday life, there will be people we come across and have to work alongside that we will not get along with. Sport is the same, it happens, and when it does it’s often broadcast on TV for the world to see.

From fights on the football pitch in front of thousands of fans, to bitter feuds on and off the racing track and widely-publicised affairs, sportspeople often provide added drama for fans to lap up.

We look at five of the best (worst?) feuds between sporting team-mates.

5. Eyal Berkovic v John Hartson

YouTube Preview Image

Training ground bust-ups are usually kept in-house and dealt with swiftly and discretely by the club in question.

But when West Ham’s Eyal Berkovic reacted badly to a tackle by big John Hartson by punching the Scotsman in the leg. John Hartson took matters into his own feet, so to speak, and delivered a kick an MMA fighter would be proud of to the head of Berkovic, sending him back down to the ground.

As the incident was caught on camera and shared for the world to see, the FA were able to take action against the Welsh striker and charge him – the first player to be punished for misconduct in a training ground indecent.

4. Lee Bowyer v Keiron Dyer

YouTube Preview Image

Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer decided the best place to scrap about the latter not passing the ball was in front of 50,000 fans at St. James’ Park while they were losing 3-0 to Aston Villa.

It took Villa captain Gareth Barry, aided by Newcastle’s Stephen Carr, to break the pair up as they traded punches in the middle of the pitch.

Both of the England internationals were subsequently red carded by the referee and trooped off with ripped shirts. With Stephen Taylor sent off earlier in the game, it left the hosts with just nine men.

The TV cameras caught a brilliant shot of the two fighters sitting either side of the fuming Magpies boss Graeme Souness like naughty school kids.

On top of the automatic three-game ban for seeing red, Bowyer was additionally fined £30,00 and given an additional three-game ban and he was further punished by Newcastle for throwing the first punch as they fined him six weeks wages.

No.3 Wayne Bridge v John Terry

YouTube Preview Image

Footballers are infamous for their womanising ways, but not many make the mistake of cheating with the partner of a team-mate.

However, that’s exactly what Chelsea skipper John Terry did with Vanessa Perroncel after she and Wayne Bridge split up.

Although the couple weren’t technically an item anymore, Terry’s conduct damaged his career with both the Blues and England.

The defender used a super-injunction to try and stop the news from coming out, but it was lifted by the courts and the newspapers jumped at the opportunity to carry lurid details of his affair.

Bridge left the club and joined Manchester City, in 2010, and City beat Chelsea in the first home defeat of the season.

But the headlines were made before the game had kicked off as because Bridge refused to acknowledge England team-mate Terry in the routine pre-match handshakes.

Bridge subsequently moved to West Ham but again refused to shake Terry’s hand when they played Chelsea.

No.2 Bill Romanowski v Marcus Williams

The NFL is known for its tough players and hard-hitting tackles, but in 2003 Oakland Raiders line-backer Bill Romanowski ended team-mate Marcus Williams’ career by removing his helmet and punching him in the face for “holding him in a drill”.

Williams sued Romanowski for battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The assault left him with a broken eye socket, concussion, double vision, and – he claimed in his lawsuit – depression and memory issues.

Two years after the incident, the case was settled, with Romanowski ordered to pay $40,000 in medical expenses and $300,000 in damages to Williams.

As this incident took place in training there isn’t any official footage of the career ending punch, but here is a clip of the tough tackler breaking an opponent’s jaw:

YouTube Preview Image

No.1 Lewis Hamilton v Nico Rosberg

Formula One, described as an ‘individual’ team sport, has brought fans some of the most entertaining feuds between team-mates.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have been together at Mercedes since the 2013 season and have provided their fair share of dramatic incidents.

Their rivalry began at the Bahrain GP in 2012, when Rosberg was referred to the stewards for driving Hamilton – then with McLaren – off the track as he defended his racing line.

The following year at the Malaysian GP, Hamilton earned his first victory for his new team Mercedes. This was aided by team orders to Rosberg who was told to “Hold station behind in fourth” to allow his team-mate to win.

After the race, Hamilton said “If I’m honest, I feel Nico should be standing here.”

In 2014, another three incidents between the two drivers fuelled the feud. First, Rosberg’s dubious qualifying crash in Monaco stopped Hamilton from setting a faster lap time.

In Hungary, Hamilton ignoring team orders to let Rosberg overtake him, and in Belgium, Hamilton accused Rosberg of deliberately colliding with him, resulting in a puncture.

More chapters have been added to the feud between the former karting buddies this season.

At the Spanish Grand Prix, the pair were so intent on outdoing each other at the start that they collided and both crashed out.

The Canadian GP saw Hamilton start aggressively, trying to bully Rosberg out of the way. As Hamilton barged through he made contact with Rosberg’s car and forced him on to the grass which resulted in the German only finishing fifth while the British driver went on to win.

The most recent spat in the on-going rivalry came in Austria, with the Mercedes duo on the final lap and on course for a first and second place.

But when Hamilton decided to make a late bid for victory, Rosberg was not in the mood to let him and tried to nudge Hamilton out the way. In doing so, the German was handed a penalty, surrendering the lead and a podium finish as he subsequently finished in fourth place.

He may get the last laugh this season, though, with time running out for Hamilton to overhaul him in the race for the drivers’ championship.

Move over, Yianni – my supercar experience

November 1, 2016 in Participation

As a young motorsport fan, I always knew I had the need for speed and began taking driving lessons as soon as I turned 17. 

Four months later, I passed my test and bought my own car, only to realise my 1.2 Volkswagen Polo went from 0-60 in 14 v-e-r-y long seconds.

So I was going to have to get my speed fix elsewhere, and a birthday gift provided the perfect opportunity.

The Red Letter Days voucher for me and a friend to have a go at driving supercars was a dream come true.

The venue was at an old airfield turned racing circuit in Oxfordshire, and all the way there I imagined myself at the wheel of a Lamborghini Aventador, rather than my trusty but unglamorous VW.

Personal favourite

Supercars tend to be owned by the super-rich, but legions of less wealthy drivers aspire to one day put their foot down in vehicles worth more than Wayne Rooney’s weekly wage.

I was one of those people who only saw supercars on the internet or TV. Shows such as ‘Top Gear’ give you an entertaining view of what it’s like to drive and test them in ways most manufacturers wouldn’t dream of.

“I was greeted by the sound of beautifully-tuned cars which were lined up in a row waiting for me”

I also follow the social media accounts of many supercar owners and I especially like their YouTube channels as it feels more personal, as if you are riding with them in the passenger seat.

One of the best-known is Yianni Charalambous, better known by the name of his celebrity car-customising company Yiannimize.

Yianni customises vehicles for the rich and famous and also runs a couple of supercars himself: a light blue Ferrari 488 Spider and a stunning super-charged six-litre rose gold Range Rover SVR with a custom body kit.

My personal favourite of his has to be one of his previous cars, a rose gold Aventador.

Adrenaline

After arriving at the airfield after a sluggish drive up the M40, I was greeted by the sound of beautifully-tuned cars which were lined up in a row waiting for me to choose the two I wanted to drive.

“Going at 100mph without having to worry about police cameras was thrilling and not at all frightening on the track”

Before booking my driving experience, I had conducted some research about which of the cars on offer could go the fastest, and I found that the Lamborghini Gallardo and the Audi R8 were the ones for me.

Unfortunately, between them and me was a safety briefing which, at the time, went on for what felt like hours as I sat there full of adrenaline and ready to drive.

At all times in both cars, I had a member of the track team with me to ensure I kept things safe, but to me I was in a scene from The Fast & Furious and the person sitting alongside was Dwayne Johnson.

Race ready

Driving the supercars was much harder than I initially imagined. It wasn’t all about sheer speed, but precision and timing. When it came to cornering, I had to be in total control of the vehicle in order to get the best out of it when exiting the curve.

Although taking part in lap time races wasn’t recommended for newcomers, my competitive nature and need for speed wouldn’t allow me not to.

In my head I kept repeating to myself, ‘slow and close’ (to the apex) when going into corners as I knew that would help my chances of getting a good time.

On the long straights, I was able to put my foot down and experience speeds in excess of 95mph, which for a supercar is not even a struggle whereas my own car would be likely to blow up before going that fast.

Going at 100mph without having to worry about police cameras was thrilling and not at all frightening on the track.

Anticipation

Short but sweet is the perfect phrase to describe the experience – it’s almost addictive as ever since my first visit I have been itching to go back.

“Not only had I won, but my victory meant he had to take the wheel and drive all the way back to London”

After taking off the overalls and helmet provided, I was ushered into a room where a small TV screen revealed my lap time.

At this point, I was sweating and leaning forward in anticipation of the result like a celebrity guest on Top Gear.

When my name appeared on the screen four places above my friend’s, a smile of sheer relief appeared on my face.

Not only had I won, but my victory meant he had to take the wheel and drive all the way back to London while I relaxed and thought back on my experience in the passenger’s seat.

Skip to toolbar