F1 sprint races

Even on its most mundane day, F1 is a crazy sport. There are races where the fight to avoid the drop is intense. There are races where the midfield is a hodgepodge of teams intensely trying to beat the rest. And there are races where there is a fierce battle at the head of the pack for the top spot.

F1 has had blistering moments (quite literally). Choosing the best ones from them, especially given the longevity of the sport, is a daunting task. Nevertheless, we have taken it upon ourselves to try.

Here are, according to us at least, the top five moments to ever take place in F1.

5) Jenson Button’s Canada win

This was the epitome of a jaw-dropper.

Jenson Button’s win in Canada was only one moment in a race full of highlights. It was the longest ever F1 race, lasting a little over four hours. The weather conditions danced to the tune of the race, starting out wet, then really wet, and then dry.

Button, at one point languishing in last place, romped all the way to P1. He pitted an astonishing six times and even then, his race was far from faultless. He collided with quite a few drivers, and passed race leader Sebastian Vettel on the last lap.

Wins don’t come any more dramatic than that. Sorry, Sergio Perez.

4) The closest F1 race ever

These days, you have Sir Lewis Hamilton finishing 20+ seconds ahead of the driver in second place. But what if we told you it wasn’t always this way?

The 60s and 70s are hailed as the Golden Age of Formula 1, and perhaps rightfully so. Back then, drivers could take different lines at turns. This meant pure racing and overtaking took precedence over team strategy. The greatest example of this was the 1971 Italian Grand Prix.

This race was run for 200 miles, and the average speed recorded was a staggering 150 mph. RM driver Peter Gethin won the race, but he finished 0.01 seconds ahead of Ronnie Peterson. More incredible is the fact that the top five cars all finished within six-tenths of a second. We feel the timing officials must have been robots back in the day.

One of the closest Grand Prix finishes in F1's history: the 1971 Italian GP  held at Monza. – Formula One Insights – by Jason Sultana
You just cannot see this kind of finish these days. Source: formulaoneinsights.com

3) Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 championship

Talk about drama.

This was one of the greatest races of all time, and it ushered in the era of Lewis Hamilton. Heading into the final race of the season, Hamilton had his best chance at a maiden WDC. All he had to do was finish fifth if Felipe Massa, seven points behind him, came first.

Massa did exactly that, which meant Lewis’ destiny was in his hands. He was well on course to finish fourth, until rain began to fall. Hamilton ran wide and dropped to sixth, with his chances of winning looking bleak.

In a miraculous turn of events, the skies cleared up. On the last lap, Hamilton overtook Timo Glock to cross the chequered flag in fifth place and win his first title. He did it by a single point, and became the youngest driver to win a championship. The greatest and most dramatic title win, and one that may never be topped.

Lewis Hamilton | Formula 1®
Lewis Hamilton (pictured) celebrates his first ever championship, won in dramatic circumstances. Source: formula1.com

2) Niki Lauda’s comeback

Death came calling for Niki Lauda after his accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix. However, he was saved from its clutches and rushed to hospital. In a stunning turn of events, he recovered from his coma and was cleared to race six weeks later.

Having lost his right ear and received scars on his face and head, no one thought they would see Lauda race again. However, he did just that, returning to a hero’s welcome. No matter the team or driver you supported, you couldn’t help but cheer for his comeback. The greatest thing was him putting in a spectacular performance, as he qualified fifth and came home fourth.

One can only imagine the sheer mental fortitude that Lauda displayed to get back to the sport he loved. His comeback remains F1’s greatest ever superhero story. On that day, as he descended into the cockpit of his car, the F1 world was unanimous in their endless respect.

1) Ayrton Senna’s death

Could it really be anything else?

It’s tempting to put Lauda’s glorious comeback ahead of this tragedy because of the feel-good factor. But the sheer magnitude of this incident means it takes the top spot. Ayrton Senna’s death sent shockwaves across the world, and changed F1 as we knew it.

At Imola, the daredevil driver crashed into the wall at 135 mph. The sight of the Brazilian great lying motionless in the car was unnerving. The dreadful news followed hours later. Senna had succumbed to his injuries and passed away.

The F1 community had lost one of the all-time greats, a phenomenon and a fantastic person. Not just F1, but the entire sporting community mourned the loss of Senna. However, the aftermath of his death was the catalyst for major changes in the sport. F1 cars and driver safety improved by leaps and bounds. Perhaps that is the hallmark of a legend; that they live on not just through their accomplishments.

We often forget that drivers put their lives on the line when they race for our entertainment. While crashes still happen in F1, they are far safer than before. Indeed, there has not been another death on track since that tragedy of 1994. For Senna’s sake and for the sake of F1 in general, let us hope that it continues to remain the case.

Death of Ayrton Senna - Wikipedia
This remains one of the most harrowing images ever taken. Source: en.wikipedia.org

These are, according to us, the top five moments to take place in Formula 1. This list contains incidents ranging from glorious triumphs to tragic loss of life. It is a testament to the nature of the sport and human emotion in general. That is perhaps what makes F1 the sporting phenomenon it is today.

Read more: Tip of the Rosberg: What happened to the only Hamilton alternative F1 has ever seen?

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