Top 10 most dramatic F1 races in history
A sport with mere speed and great tracks is incomplete as it also requires some nail-biting moments, hypes, chaos, and dramas. Again, the jaw-dropping moments and the raw sensations of the spectators, and the fierce competition in the end are all rich in high drama and emotion. On that note, the world has witnessed many dramatic F1 races since it’s inception in 1950. Its amphitheater vibe creates charismatic moments, scenarios, and discords which keep the fan buzz in a high octave.
Over the years, F1 has offered us a number of dramatic races that still gives us chills. Here are the Top 10 such dramatic f1 races from the history.
#10. 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Speed and control is not the only factor that determines the F1 winner, luck plays a shady role in it as well. Staged on June 25, 2017, the unexpected had set it’s sail and falling in our list of dramatic F1 races when Daniel Ricardo rushed from 10th on the grid to the one witnessing the Chequered flag first, followed by Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll who secured the second and third position on the podium.
Lewis Hamilton, leading the lap record was driving with a ‘clean air’ followed by Sebastian Vettel until the safety car was set on track to lead the cars slipped out of the circuit. On the car’s return, Hamilton complained that the safety car was not moving with proper speed causing trouble to continue the race further, while still ahead of Vettel. Hamilton with headrest fastened with flaw had been radioed to drive to the pit lane.
Vettel got a 10-second penalty for his scuffle with Hamilton earlier and his dangerous driving. Both returning from the pit, not in any winning position, accelerated their cars and struggled to finish the race in their desired position-Vettel who led Hamilton, finished in the fourth position while Hamilton finished fifth.
The race had turned dramatically chaotic for all, with Massa, Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez exiting the game. Hamilton and Vettel lagged behind the other racers. Lance Stroll was on the podium for the first time securing the third position in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
#9. 2005 Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka
You have heard of a nail-biting finish or one of the super dramatic F1 races in history, but how often do you see it? Well, the 2005 Grand Prix brings you that dramatic last-lap finish. Held on 9th October 2005, impressions indelible were left by dramatic some game-changing moments.
Amidst the several glorious moments in an otherwise brief career, Finn’s dramatic win at the last lap of the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix has been noted well in the history of F1 besides Kimi’s achievements.
Chequered off at a staggering 17 position, Raikkonen swiftly went onto to be the shocker from nowhere in the cinematic end moments of the contest. After a couple of stops, Kimi sped past Schumacher through Alonso, Button, and Webber with his McLaren MP4-20.
They say none can stop you when your stars shine bright. However, in an unusual turn of events, the Japanese Grand Prix was marred with crashes and collusions indulging Takuma Sato, Jarna Trulli, Juan Pablo, and Jacques Villeneuve. However, Kimi carefully kept adding swift laps.
After 12 laps, Ralph Schumacher took a pit stop giving a free lead to the Italian Fisichella closely followed by Jenson Button. Further ahead into the contest, Schumacher, Alonso, and Kimi started developing a better grid position with Kimi silently gaining on the rest. A few moves by Raikkonen on Michael outside turn 2 was a treat to driving.
Even though Raikkonen gained at the rear of the leading Renault, Fisichella didn’t bother much. He was unaware of the imminent threat coming between him and victory. In the final stages of the race, Kimi pushed the pumps hard and tensed up Fisichella who would eventually have to leave the road for the former. Kimi would further drive ahead boldly snatching the race out of the Italian Renault driver’s hands and winning what would be a truly fantastical Grand Prix in the coming years.
#8. 1998 Belgian Grand Prix, Spa
Flagged off on 30 August 1998, Belgium Grand Prix is one of a kind. The scotch mist fused with a thick layer of fog had prophesied the latter half of the race to be arduous enough. However, drivers couldn’t care less. Little did they know that this race could potentially be the last one for few!
Revved to a roaring start while it was drizzling, the fog was not dense yet. At the first corner, Coulthard ran over the drain metal, slipping it onto the tracks. This catastrophic event led to 13 cars crashing in the scene. Never in the history of Belgian Grand Prix had such collusion marred it. It was horrifying for everyone to witness such a dreadful scene. The drivers could have had career-threatening or even worse, life-threatening injuries but none of them faced any kind of difficulties and all of them were ‘fit as a fiddle’.
This mishap had damaged a lot of cars and also affected the financial budget. After this incident, the race had to restart. The race restarted and again there was a mishap near the first corner. Johnny Herbert ran into Hakkinen when the later failed to turn. Following this collision, they both had to forfeit themselves from the race.
Neither the drama nor the accidents ended. Coulthard now ran over on Alexander Wurz. It seemed he was having a terrible day but he never gave up. He started his journey again but Wurz couldn’t continue. Another racer forfeited. As Coulthard continued, drama and accidents followed. On the 24th lap, Coulthard slowed down his car because of the thick mist thwarting David Schumacher. As a result, their cars collided. Schumacher lost his front wheel and Coulthard lost his rear wing. What came next was unbelievably horrific!
It was an easy win for Schumacher and he would’ve won if not for the accident. Schumacher made quite a scene out there but no foul was given. Damon Hill finished first and won the Belgian Grand Prix. Schumacher’s accident has benefitted him as he was behind Schumacher for around 35 seconds before his accident.
There were emphatically plenty of dramatic moments in this race alongside the frightening horrendous accidents as well. The race starting with 22 teams and ending with 7 explains the depth of horror and therefore, it has earned its place as one of the most dramatic F1 races.
#7. 2019 Monaco Grand Prix
The banner was up on 26th May 2019. The day of remorse for every F1 fan because Niki Lauda, the F1 legend had ‘bitten the dust’, afresh. That day, every fan, drivers, and the other members were out not only to make a point but also to pay tribute and mourn the late great Niki Lauda.
The race was a roller coaster with Louis Hamilton leading. Leclerc, Grosjean & Hulkenberg were having a fierce battle just when Leclerk’s tires tattered and he was out of the race. Drama! But this is definitely not the end of the drama.
When Leclerc got his momentum back in lap 16, he was involved in an accident with Kubica, Giovanazzi, Russell, and Perez. However, the drama didn’t end as Leclerc has forfeited and left the race. The local boy had to quit because the car wasn’t in a stable form.
Meanwhile, Verstappen is handed a 5 seconds penalty for the accident he caused earlier. Everything started to seem normal in the race with Louis Hamilton leading and Verstappen is just behind Hamilton and Sabastian Vettel on the 3rd position. However, due to Hamilton and Vettel’s engine overheat issue, Vettel became defensive. The race became a tactical show now. On one hand, Hamilton was lapping other cars and on the other hand, Vettel was slowing things down. On the radio, Hamilton was very angry with his teammates, there was no time for him to take a pit break but his tires were not supporting him. He said, “you need to hope for a miracle to win the race”.
The fans were eager for a twist in the tail and they got it. Verstappen’s engine had the power to beat Hamilton in the final laps and he was motivated as well. Verstappen had to finish 5 seconds before Hamilton because of the penalty and at one moment it felt like he can do it since Hamilton was facing issues taking turns because of the tires.
But we all know Hamilton, right? He likes to take risks, has that attacking mindset and therefore, he won the race in the end. Sabastian Vettel came second beating Verstappen.
What a way to end the race! It was a perfect tribute to late great Niki Lauda. This is what Formula One races provide. Tactics, speed, excitement, and gallons of drama amidst the entire game.
#6. 1971 Italian Grand Prix
It was September 5, 1971, when Monza captivated the remarkable history in the Italian Grand Prix. Never did people come across such a dramatic F1 race with a ‘neck-and-neck finish’ vibe.
Five contenders to secure the conquest in the final Lap, none knew whose wheels would make it to the tape first. Recalling such teeth clenching race, not anytime soon in the timeline did take place until the 2003 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The race also witnessed the fastest lap in the history of F1 at 252km/h (156 mph).
Everything was about records. But how did the race go?
Chris Amon, Jacky Ickx, Jo Siffert, Howden Ganley, François Cevert were all in a place to excel in the race to win the championship. The difference between first and fifth was of 1.61 seconds, that’s how close it was.
There were lots of changes in the first position as Ronnie Petersen had the lead initially and then Stewart took the lead and many others in other laps. Chris Amon’s Matra V12 at 45 laps, with only 10 left, had nearly set his conquest until the sheer misfortune let it slip his hands and the opportunity was clutched by Peter Gethin, another BRM runner, bagged his only F1 win in the 1971 Italian Grand Prix.
#5. 1957 German Grand Prix
In the summer of 1957, Germany witnessed the brilliance of Juan Manuel Fangio. Television was not that popular but that didn’t stop entire Germany to talk about ‘El Maestro’.
Held on 4 August 1957, this race had heaps of dramatic moments. The Maserati racer Juan Manuel Fangio with his stellar performance had hit the first pole position, fastest lap, and even stood tall in the podium marking his end victory for the record. Also, cited as one of the greatest victories in racing history and one of the most dramatic F1 races of all time.
Even though Juan Manuel Fangio won the title, the journey was quite hazardous and laborious. He chose soft tires for the race so that he can take sharp turns around the corners and the chicanes.
Things were looking pretty good for Juan but during a pit stop, except the mechanical error in one of the wheel nuts. Despite his unfortunate event, Fangio didn’t give up. He managed to gain pace and then it was him creating glamorous magic on that track! He managed to close the gap and was challenging for the first spot breaking the lap record 9 times, ultimately passing all the records.
#4. 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix
More than drama, this race of the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix was more eventful. It was the retirement race of Michael Schumacher and winning the race of Sebastian Vettel. To add on, it was also the last race for other drivers like Timo Glock, Pedro de La Rosa, Narain Karthikeyan, and Bruno Senna.
It is typical for the winner to have a dramatic deficit at the beginning. So did Vettel drop to the 7th position, and Alonso progressed to the 5th position. However, very soon, the racers Vettel, Senna, and Perez got caught in a crash and suffered severe damages to their cars.
A slight rain kissed the tracks for which the leaders did switch tires except for Button and Hülkenberg. They had continued with the same tires. Hülkenberg took a lead over Button during this time.
With the rain drizzling again, Vettel stopped for a change of tires among the first but as his radio was damaged his team wasn’t ready causing a delay. Vettel still managed to grab Schumacher’s 6th position which will eventually be essential for him to win the race and the championship.
#3. The 1994 Australian Grand Prix
Held in the Adelaide Street Circuit was famous for the enthralling drama in the race. It has captivated fans throughout and has served as a race that just couldn’t be slipped out in the years to follow.
The race geared on with Schumacher in the lead, closely followed by title rival Benetton driver Hill. The equation was similar until the 36th lap when both the drivers indulged in severe collisions at the East Terrace corner causing irreparable damage to Schumacher’s car. However, Hill could continue for a few laps but eventually, even he had to succumb to the injuries of his car. After the racers retired, Mansell led the race and was eventually winning the race. He was closely followed by Berger to win the second spot and Brundle to win the third spot. However, the element of drama invoked within the Hill Schumacher crash and the surprising turn of events is what makes this race-worthy of featuring in this list. Panis and Jean Alesi featured in the top 6 of the race.
#2. 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix
Hamilton had to give away his chance at the Championship in 2007 after a gearbox malfunction that locked up his brakes dropping him down to the 18th position. However, he was back at the Interlagos 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix. Though there have been some nerve-racking moments at the Japanese Grand Prix, there was nothing as close as the level of drama that this race had.
The GP at Interlagos had all the drama one could ask for; conspiracy, rain, collusion, overtaking pit stops, and a nail-biting finish allowing us to witness one of the most dramatic F1 races. You would ask me, what could be so interesting? Well, with 8 laps to go, in the Brazilian Grand Prix, all the top 5 racers stopped to change tires and refuel before the final lap. However, Toyota’s Glock doesn’t as he already has done it in his 36th lap.
In the dramatic last lap, Hamilton causes a mishap with Vettel and Brit. Losing momentum, he allows Brit and Vettel to go through. There already won Brazilian Massa unleashes celebrations in the control room. However, it is through Glock’s discovery that we realize that Hamilton has won the race. What more drama could possibly be in a race that the result changes even after the chequered flag is flagged off.
#1. 2011 Canadian Grand Prix
Perhaps no race will ever be a better example of drama and excitement than the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. The sheer adrenaline in seeing Jenson Button race from the last position to the first since the remaining 30 laps to clinch a surprising victory is a unique feeling.
This is not an account; it is the story of Button and rain. From starting last to finishing first and getting suspended to changing tires to collusions. This race has every bit of drama an F1 fan could ask for.
A couple of hours of rain suspension, a couple of collisions, and six pit stops for the victor -the race had it all. However, to assess Button’s progress, we need to be patient. His gradual race is slow but steady.
Revving in at seventh under wet conditions, he collided with Lewis Hamilton, McLaren driver, and crashed into the pit wall. Button, angry from the collusion shouts, “What is he doing?” Staggering at 15th position on the 14th lap, Button experienced several things. From being the first to change his tires to serving a penalty for speeding to moving up to the 11th position by the 17th lap.
To add on to further drama, rain again suspended the race in the 25th lap. Resumed after a couple of hours the safety protocol was followed before revving back the engines.
Button moved from the last position to the second position within 25 laps and was passing by Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher and Red Bull’s Mark Webber and gearing up behind Sebastian Vettel. Vettel, under pressure, ran wide into the final lap and let Button win. It was something to be witnessed.
Formula One has forever conducted races that have managed to glue the eyes of its fellow fans to the tracks. It had produced some of the most dramatic F1 races that made fans scream with thrill to weeping in the field. F1 has always ended up being a crazy chaotic race with many historic moments and dramas evergreen making us realize how life is filled with uncertainties. Keeping the vibe all pumped up and super hyped of their fans since it’s outset have proved to be Formula One’s signature style.
Driving with precaution and safety measures should always be followed, valuing one’s owns life and their loved ones as well.
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