Awesome: Formula One
With nearly a thousand World Championship Grands Prix being held in over 60 years of Formula 1, many, many Crowning Moments Of Awesome arose. Here is the place for them. Please order them chronologically and use the spoiler tag for current moments less than three Grands Prix ago.
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- 1953 French Grand Prix: While we really only have eye-witnesses proclaiming that, Juan Manuel Fangio and Mike Hawthorn having one of the first truly great battles in F1 history still very much counts as awesome.
- 1961 Dutch Grand Prix: In this race, the entire field gets one for having no retirements at all. While only 15 cars actually stated the race, it was still very impressive. To give you a picture of just how awesome that is, the second time this happened was in 2005! That is 44 years later in an era where cars are designed with reliability in mind whereas in these days having your car not fall apart at the end of the Grand Prix was considered a sign of inferior design.
- 1975 French Grand Prix: Niki Lauda suffered from the flu and still managed to take a great victory on the way to his first World Championship.
- 1976: During his defence of said championship, Lauda suffered a near-fatal crash at the German Grand Prix, was horrifically burned...and then just six weeks later, having missed just two races, he got back in the car and only lost the championship by a single point. Now that is awesome.
- Even better, the race he returned at was the Italian Grand Prix, it was reported he was in serious pain throughout the entire weekend, to the point he couldn't even put his helmet on without being in agony. He not only finished, but came 4th and scored vital points, that takes balls of steel.
- 1987 British Grand Prix: The race was being dominated by the Williams of Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet, both of whom were challenging for the title. However shortly into the race Mansell suffered problems with a wheel due to a lost weight, which forced him into the pits, despite the race strategy having both cars run without a stop. Mansell emerged on fresh tyres with 28 laps to go, and 29 seconds behind Piquet. What happened next was truly astonishing. Mansell started destroying Piquet's advantage, setting fastest lap after fastest lap while the home crowd started cheering him on. Despite worries he would run out of fuel he kept on using the turbo charge to keep going. With 2 laps to go he caught Piquet down the Hangar Straight, sold him a dummy and shot straight past him, with everyone from the crowd to Murray Walker erupting in cheers. Mansell was able to win the race, running out of fuel on the slowing down lap and getting engulfed by the fans.
- 1988 Italian Grand Prix: Gerhard Berger manages to break the stranglehold of McLaren on the championship to take the only non-McLaren win that year at the home track of Ferrari just after Enzo Ferrari had passed away.
- Perhaps Alain Prost's CMOA was in this race: Prost noticed in the early stages that he would have an engine failure later on and felt like he could do nothing about that. With that in mind he pushed completely, challenging his leading team mate and championship rival Ayrton Senna. As Prost predicted, Senna did not realise this odd behaviour of Prost's and let his desire to beat his rival get the best of him. After Prost had his predicted engine failure, Senna had used way too much fuel in the battle and had to tune his engine down to make it to the end. This allowed Berger to catch up and forced Senna to drive aggressively past backmarkers in the way which led to him having contact with Jean-Louis Schlesser and retiring. This display of genius by Prost limited the damage that failure did to his championship.
- 1991 Spanish Grand Prix: The first race at the Catalunya circuit was thrown into unpredictability when the rain fell, Nigel Mansell needed to win to ensure he could keep his championship challenge alive, of course his main rival was Ayrton Senna, a master of wet conditions. However Senna decided not to pit as the conditions worsened and this gave Mansell a chance to take advantage. The result was the now iconic image of Mansell going wheel-to-wheel with Senna down the start/finish straight at nearly 200mph, where they came perhaps milimeters from touching and taking each other out.
- 1993 European Grand Prix: Regarded as one of Senna's greatest drives. The Williams cars lined up 1st and 2nd, Senna dropped down to 5th at the start in wet conditions. However he started passing cars like the surface was completely dry and led by the first lap. He then began pulling away like it was no problem at all; even though the track constantly drying and getting wet again Senna pitted fewer times then everyone else. This was made sweeter when Prost stalled in the pit lane, giving Senna even more of an advantage. The only blot in the copybook was when he went into the pit lane without needing to and simply drove though; ironically, this set him the fastest lap of the race due to the nature of the pits. By the time he won, he had lapped every car on track apart from Damon Hill, who was 1 minute 23 seconds behind!
- 1996 Monaco Grand Prix: On a day where virtually everything and everyone failed, Olivier Panis was there to take the win in what was pretty much a home race for him. He also scored the last win for the prestigious Ligier team, and he showed that it was not only due to the retirements that he was a major player in this event, at one point being the fastest car on the track by some way even when Damon Hill in his Williams was still very much in the race.
- 1998 Belgian Grand Prix: One of the wettest Formula One races to be held, with Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher taking Jordan's first victory and 1-2 when most other cars retired. It was red-flagged after an accident on the first lap took out 13 of the 22 cars; the restart and subsequent race took out several cars with Michael Schumacher taking a commanding lead from Hill in an unfancied Jordan. However, when Schumacher came up to lap David Coulthard he plowed straight into the back of him, taking both of them out. Despite the conditions the two Jordans kept going despite pressure from Jean Alesi and both managed to cross the line intact. Made better by the fact Hill's car was set up for dry conditions as well.
- 2000 German Grand Prix: It looked set to be an easy win for Mclaren. Schmuacher had been taken out right at the start and Hakkinen and Coulthard sped off into the distance. Then a disgruntled former Mercedes employee got onto the track and caused a Safety Car, bunching up the pack. The Mclarens, so far in front didn't hear about it until they started the next lap, creating confusion in the pits and delaying them both. Rubens Barrichello, the man tipped to succeed Ayrton Senna. Who had been unlucky to never win before, who had started in 18th place had been flying through the field, moving up lap after lap, and when the Mclaren's were forced to pit again due to rain, he gambled on staying out on dry tyres. The nature of the old Hockenheim track meant it could be dry in one part and wet in the other. Therefore no one was able to catch him! He was able to cross the line to huge cheers from the crowd. On the pdium, he was so overcome he burst into tears.
- 2004 French Grand Prix: Ferrari and their lead driver Michael Schumacher were pretty much controlling F1 at that point. The French Grand Prix seemed like a change of the guard for once with Renault and Fernando Alonso looking more than competitive. However, Schumacher and his strategists employed a very cunning plan in order to take the victory, involving Schumacher stopping four times, something that had not been done willingly before. This plan worked brilliantly due to Schumacher being able to truly use everything the car gave him.
- 2005 Japanese Grand Prix: A wet qualifying left Renault's Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Kimi Räikkönen in 16th and 17th respectively. Although Alonso had already won the championship, the two drivers raced each other through the field to both finish on the podium. Along the way to finishing 3rd, Alonso overtook Michael Schumacher around the outside of the infamously fast 130R corner. However, Räikkönen passed Alonso's teammate Giancarlo Fisichella round the outside of the almost-as-fast turn 1 on the penultimate lap to win the race.
- 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix: Michael Schumacher's last (at that time) race weekend started horrible with a failure in qualifying leaving him 10th on the grid and an early puncture bringing him on the verge of being lapped, some 110 seconds behind the race leader. Despite being on a full tank, Michael Schumacher once and for all solidified his legend status by driving his heart out, overtaking more than a dozen drivers on track (culminating in one of the overtakes of the year against the great defense of Kimi Räikkönen) and finishing only 25 seconds behind the race winner.
- 2007 European Grand Prix: Markus Winkelhock had a mediocre debut weekend in the weak Spyker car. The German qualified dead-last, more than a second behind his team mate. However, a friend told Winkelhock around an hour before the race that it would most likely rain. Therefore he was the only car that dared to start the seemingly dry race on wet tires. As they hoped, just two laps in the rain came and it came hard, forcing everyone to pit. Those who weren't able to do so struggled very much, allowing Winkelhock to pick up place after place and ultimately overtake the soon-to-be World Champion Kimi Räikkönen on track for the lead. Said lead grew to 33 seconds before the race was red-flagged for just being too wet. With Winkelhock never having another race again, this is perhaps THE best definition of One-Scene Wonder ever seen in the world of sports.
- 2008 Canadian Grand Prix: After suffering a devastating crash that most likely would have been fatal 15 years ago at the previous Canadian Grand Prix, Robert Kubica returned to Canada and comfortably won the race, providing both Kubica and his BMW team their first (and only) wins in Formula One.
- 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix: Rubens Barrichello was forced to pick up positions from further down the field after his pit stop was out of synch with the rest of the field. It did not take long for Barrichello to close in on his former team mate, the returning Michael Schumacher. After the last corner, Barrichello was looking to take Schumacher on the inside. Still not having lost all of his viciousness, Schumacher pulled inside in order to squeeze his old partner out of the overtaking attempt. The faster Barrichello had none of that however and just squeezed through barely having more than a car width between Schumacher and the wall. While Barrichello was, for some rightfully so, furious afterwards, it did not make this moment any less impressive.
- 2011 Canadian Grand Prix: A very wet track caused chaos for Jenson Button. Inside ten laps, he had been to the pits twice; once as a precaution after colliding with teammate Lewis Hamilton, then to serve a drive-through penalty. He fought his way from 18th to 10th before the race was stopped due to standing water. When the race resumed two hours later, Button's tangle with Fernando Alonso gave him a puncture, forcing him to pit for a fourth time. From the back of the grid after his pit stop, Button kept his head and picked up positions as others struggled to be 7th when the track was dry enough for slicks. Making the tyres work, Button was fourth before another safety car period. With only a handful of laps left, Button made his way past Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber and halfway through the last lap, he forced championship leader Sebastian Vettel into a (very rare) mistake, overtaking him and winning the race four hours after it had started.
- 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: A fuel irregularity after qualifying relegated Sebastian Vettel to 24th and last place. One can only imagine how happy Alonsonote was when he heard the news. Given Alonso's performance this season, where he repeatedly qualified 5th or 6th but still managed a podium placing, everyone expected him to get into the top 3 again and take the lead from Vettel. Vettel started from the pit lane as the Red Bull mechanics took his car out of parc ferme but in the very first lap, he made contact with Bruno Senna and wrecked one side of his front wing. His team let him choose whether he wanted to pit for a new one but he chose to stay out. By lap seven, Vettel was running in P13 having passed sevennote cars on track. At lap 8, a horrible crash between Rosberg and Narain Karthikeyan brought out the safety car, bunching the field together. Vettel was P12 and this looked like a great opportunity for him to get within the points, but in lap 13 under safety car conditions, he swerved to avoid Daniel Ricciardo in front of him and hit a sign, wrecking the other side of his front wing. He is forced to pit for a new front wing and drops back into 21st and last, where he has to make his way through the field all over again. Despite all this, he stormed through the field to take 4th place before another safety car period allowed him to catch up to Button, and he passed the British driver in lap 52 to take 3rd place. In a race where his team principal and chief engineer expected nothing better than 5th, and that's being optimistic, Sebastian Vettel drove his most impressive race ever to take 3rd having started from the pit lane. And who said Vettel couldn't overtake?
- 2013 Monaco Grand Prix: Kimi Raikkonen, running in fifth on Lap 70 of 78 at Monaco, the toughest course in the Formula One calendar to overtake on, has been fending off the McLaren of Sergio Perez for the last 25 laps, while keeping in mind an overheating engine. Perez finally gets close enough to Raikkonen to pass him, going into the chicane after the tunnel, when Perez and Raikkonen come together on the notoriously narrow street circuit. Kimi ended up with a left-rear puncture and had to pit, Perez ended up retiring, and Raikkonen rejoined in 16th and last place on Lap 73, with only six laps to go. Did we mention that Kimi is two points finishes away from beating Michael Schumacher's all-time record for consecutive points finishes? Of course, that record seemed to be standing for another two years, with even the commentary teams writing it off as an impossible task. But Raikkonen, proving that he has lost none of his pace after his two-year sabbatical from Formula One, proceeds to pass van der Garde, Chilton, Gutierrez, Bottas and finally Hulkenberg, in five laps, to snatch tenth place and keep his points-scoring record alive. In a race where the only overtaking in the top five was done by the safety car and pit lane.
- 2013 Belgian to Brazilian Grands Prix: Vettel winning nine races in a row to end the season, absolutely humiliating anyone that thought some of the other contenders such as Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton had an outside chance of dethroning the thrice-reigning king after the summer break. While he couldn't use this momentum to break Alberto Ascari's consecutive wins streak (which Vettel tied with his ninth at Brazil) nor tie Michael Schumacher's record of consecutive championships (five), it was still one of the most stunning and dominant runs of race craft seen since Schumacher's Ferrari era.
- 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix: This race produced one of the greatest duels for the lead of a Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg had a pace advantage over his teammate Lewis Hamilton through practice and qualifying only for it to be ruined by a bad start. The heat was intense from the beginning as Rosberg attacked Hamilton into turn one on numerous occasions but was denied each time. When he did finally make the pass Hamilton stayed with him and re-took the lead five corners later. Mercedes decided to split the tyre strategy giving Lewis the faster tyre in the middle stint and Nico in the final stint. Hamilton built up a big lead with this strategy and it seemed that Rosberg would only have a few laps at the end to overtake. However, when Maldonado flipped Gutierrez and brought out the safety car the pendulum swug in Rosberg's favour. Yet Hamilton would not be denied victory with one of the great displays of defensive driving managed to repel Rosberg on faster tyres for over 15 laps. An interesting aside is that Force India finished 3rd and 4th with Perez on the podium followed by Hulkenberg.
- 2014 Monaco Grand Prix: With Mercedes' domination and often aggressive battles for the lead, everyone knew Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were set for a cold-blooded street fight. Unsurprisingly, they swept the front row, Rosberg on pole. For 60 laps the two put on a classic duel, never apart by more than a few seconds, until Hamilton's eyesight was compensated, allowing Rosberg to pull away. But the fun was only beginning.
- Due to a mid-race safety car period and the slower speeds at Monaco, Hamilton did not have as comfortable a gap on Daniel Ricciardo as the Silver Arrows might have at other Grands Prix. As Hamilton was telling his team he couldn't care about Ricciardo, the Aussie put on some of the fastest laps of the race at the end and charged at Hamilton with all his might, but just couldn't quite have enough time to break the Mercedes strangehold. But it did show than in the right conditions, Red Bull could still race Mercedes hard.
- But perhaps the most dramatic fight of the race was for 8th position. Kimi Raikonnen ran third early on when he cut a tire in the pits in a squabble with Marussia's Max Chilton. The extra stop put him well outside the top 10, but he charged back to put himself in solid scoring position. While Raikonnen charged, Valtteri Bottas blew up. And then Esteban Gutierrez cut a tire and spun. And then Raikonnen stalled himself and Kevin Magnussen in the hairpin going for a bold overtake. So who did these events promote to 8th? Hometown boy, Marussia's Jules Bianchi (a Frenchman but he grew up right near Monaco). Yes, the same Marussia who, as Virgin, were part of the hapless rookie class of constructors in 2010 (along with HRT and Caterham, then Lotus) that failed to score a single point for eleven combined seasons and change (eleven because HRT withdrew after 2012). But here was Bianchi, well in the top ten with Romain Grosjean hot on his heels. Being told he was in the points, he refused to serve a second drive through (with the possibility of disqualification had he chose not to serve it), held on for eighth, and in the end, was only given a minor time penalty that relegated him to ninth. Finally, Marussia had something to celebrate, and they had room to spare.
- What makes this story more awesome was that if Bianchi was penalized to outside of the top 10, Caterham would have had a 10th place finish and a single point of their own with Marcus Ericsson instead. It was clear that at least one of these teams would at last get their moment in the sun, and at Monaco nonetheless.
- Becomes a bit of a Tear Jerker though, as this was the only point Bianchi would ever score before his fatal accident in Japan.
- 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix: The combination of the Hungaroring and rain always lead to an F1 spectacle and it delivered again. The cars lined up on the grid with Rosberg on pole and Hamilton in the pit lane after an engine fire in Q1. The field makes a decent getaway and Hamilton left the pit lane only to spin at turn 2 and brush the barriers. Ericsson crashed a few laps later and brought out the safety car, catching out Rosberg and the other front runners. Rosberg then got overtaken by Vergne on the restart as Hamilton overtook four cars on the same lap to reach 9th. As Vergne held up a train of cars, Alonso who was having an excellent drive grew a lead in his mediocre Ferrari. Perez then crashed while crossing the start line and brought out another safety car. Rosberg pitted and Hamilton overtook Vergne to chase down Alonso for the win. However, Rosberg closed on Hamilton and Mercedes ordered him to move over as Nico still needed to pit again but Lewis refused as he would have to back off and lose time to Alonso. None of them bargained on Daniel Ricciardo on fresher tyres to make an exhilarating charge overtaking Hamilton around the outside of turn 2 and then Alonso under braking into turn 1 to win his second race after taking his maiden win the race before in Canada.
- Other highlights include Vettel spinning in the same place as Perez and miraculously missing the pit wall, other cars and the barriers. Rosberg's qualifying pace laps to chase down Hamilton for 3rd were exhilarating.
- It later emerged that Hamilton had a fuel pressure problem in the last few laps depriving him of extra power that would have seen him win the race from the pit lane!
- 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix: After a great qualifying session which landed him second, Sebastian Vettel, driving now for Ferrari, finally ends the Italian team's no-win streak long one year and a half by managing to defeat both of the Mercedes by taking advantage of the safety car deployed after Ericsson's accident, and not pit at all, something that Mercedes did. Oh, and, back in Australia, Nico Rosberg, who placed second at the GP, facetiously told Vettel to "get stronger". But the real crowner is Vettel's celebration for his victory, it being his first for Ferrari.
Vettel: WOOOOHOOOO!!!! YEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAHHHH!!! (sighs in relief) Mi senti? Mi senti? Grande macchina! Bella gara! Grazie! Grazie! Grazie! Sì! Forza Ferrari!
- 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours: While this moment didn't take place in F1, it involved an active Formula One driver: Force India's Nico Hülkenberg was hired by Porsche to do an one-off race at Le Mans. Apart from the Spa 6 Hours, Hülkenberg hasn't had much experience with sportscars. And yet, he's won his very first Le Mans 24 Hours, showing that Formula One drivers are indeed capable of competing eye-on-eye with the very best sportscar drivers. For an added bonus: One of the drivers that finished on 2nd place was a certain Mark Webber, also driving for Porsche.