On the occasion of the 70th anniversary Grand Prix this weekend at Silverstone, here is a non-exhaustive selection of races that have marked the F1 history of the discipline, decade by decade.
German Grand Prix 1957
The race organized on the Nurburgring in 1957 will go down as one of the finest driving demonstrations by the Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio. On pole in his Maserati, the king of F1 history at that time was quickly overwhelmed by the Ferraris of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins.
On the fifteenth lap (out of twenty-two), El Maestro was 48 seconds behind the Commendatore cars. Fangio will catch up in just six laps and overtake the Ferraris for the win while setting the track record during his comeback.
Belgian Grand Prix 1963
Graham Hill (BRM) took pole position for the second Grand Prix that year while the eventual winner, Jim Clark (Lotus) only started from 8th place. However, the shy Scotsman took the lead during the first lap even before the Raidillon de l’Eau Rouge.
The rain intensified on the toboggan des Ardennes from the 17th lap when Graham Hill was forced to retire. This does not prevent Clark from winning with more than 4 minutes ahead of the runner-up, Bruce McLaren (Cooper). The Lotus rider will sign four consecutive successes on this circuit making him one of the “Kings of Spa”.
1971 Italian Grand Prix
In the 1970s, the Monza Circuit had little to do with the one we know today. It was by far the fastest circuit of the season, consisting of just five corners connected by straights. At the start, Clay Regazzoni (Ferrari) leaped from the fourth row to take control of the race to the delight of the Tifosi present en masse in the stands.
After sixteen laps, there are already five different leaders. In the following loops, the engines died on the Ferraris of Ickx and Regazzoni, causing consternation in the stands. But this edition of the Italian Grand Prix is best known for its thrilling finale, which saw the first five drivers pass the parabolic and cross the finish line wheel to wheel.
Peter Gethin won his only victory there (and the 16th of the BRM team as a constructor) ten thousandths ahead of Ronnie Peterson (March) and a tenth ahead of the late Francois Cevert (Tyrell).
German Grand Prix 1976
The 1976 season was known for the terrible title battle between defending champion Niki Lauda (Ferrari) and rival James Hunt (McLaren). The Grand Prix held at the Nurburgring was certainly the most striking that year, not because of Hunt’s victory but because F1 history experienced one of its greatest tragedies here.
Having started on rain tires, Lauda stopped at the end of the first lap, like many drivers, but conceded time in the pitlane and returned to the peloton. On the next lap, for a reason that will remain unknown, the Ferrari driver hit the wall in the previous Bergwerk bend then bounced right in the middle of the track before being hit by other cars.
The Austrian car bursts into flames and Lauda remains trapped in the flames before four other pilots come to free him. His condition is critical, with severe burns, not to mention inhalations of toxic fumes. As unbelievable as it may sound, Niki Lauda will return to competition six weeks later and finish 4th at Monza for his comeback.
1986 Australian Grand Prix
For the season finale, three drivers can take the world title: the duo Williams, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet as well as Alain Prost (McLaren). Mansell takes pole on Saturday while his rivals are only in the second row. At the start, however, it was Keke Rosberg (McLaren), who started 7th, who took control of the race.
On the 23rd lap, Prost suffered a puncture and took to the track far behind his opponents but was able to make the junction during the rest of the event. It was then that the championship changed. Keke Rosberg saw his right rear tire explode and retired for his last Grand Prix.
Mansell experienced the same mishap on his left rear tire at a very high speed on the main square of the circuit. Faced with this situation, Williams decides to recall Nelson Piquet as a precaution, which gives Prost the first place. Despite the warning of the fuel indicator on his McLaren, the world champion held on until the end and pocketed his second world crown.
Japanese Grand Prix 1989 – F1 History
Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost wage a merciless war at McLaren during the 1988 and 1989 seasons and this Japanese Grand Prix is one of the peaks of this duel. Prost has been leading since the start of the race but Senna has to overtake him to be titled (only the 11 best results counted to be champion at the time).
The rest is known. Two or three lengths behind his team-mate, Senna dives inside in the final chicane. Prost points and the two cars catch up. The Frenchman gives up while the Brazilian sets off again and despite a broken front wing and a pit stop, wins the race. The Frenchman is nevertheless crowned world champion, Senna being disqualified for having cut the chicane by leaving. The Brazilian legend took his revenge as we know the following season …
Grand Prix of San Marino 1994
It is certainly the most disastrous weekend in the history of this sport, but it was impossible not to mention this Grand Prix
It all started with Rubens Barrichello (Jordan) crashing off the track on Friday during practice. The pilot is finally doing well. On Saturday during qualifying, the Austrian Roland Ratzenberger (Simtek) was killed in the Villeneuve corner at more than 300km / h. Following these events, Ayrton Senna (Williams) admits hesitating to take the start.
During the start procedure, JJ Lehto’s Benetton stalled and was hit by Pedro Lamy (Lotus). After leading the start of the race, Ayrton Senna came out into the Tamburello curve and hit the wall. A dark day in history, which forever changed the face of the discipline.
European Grand Prix 1997 – F1 History
On this last Grand Prix of the season, Jerez was to crown Michael Schumacher, having joined Ferrari the previous season, or Jacques Villeneuve (Williams). The tension couldn’t be more noteworthy after the passing meeting which saw three drivers set a similar time in 1’21 “172) including the two competitors for the world crown.
Having set his time ahead of his rivals, Villeneuve started on pole ahead of Schumacher and his teammate at Williams Heinz-Harald Frentzen. The Red Baron was the quickest at the start and led the race until the famous 47th lap. The son of the late Gilles Villeneuve attempted a virile attack on his rival who then gave this famous steering wheel, before ending his race in the gravel.
Third behind the McLarens of Mika Hakkinen (1st victory) and David Coulthard, Jacques Villeneuve is titled. Schumacher was then disqualified from the championship but still kept his six victories that season.
Brazilian Grand Prix 2008
This edition at Interlagos will certainly remain one of the most memorable championship finals in F1 history. For his second season, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) must finish at least 5th to be titled. His last opponent, the Brazilian Felipe Massa (Ferrari) must win the race, hoping that luck will be on his side with a poor result from the Briton.
Advantage on Saturday for the Brazilian from Scuderia who signed a comfortable pole position ahead of Jarno Trulli (Toyota) and his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, outgoing world champion. Hamilton is only 4th but this result may be enough to win Sunday.
The next day, the rain disrupted the discussions. A few laps from the end, Hamilton lost fifth place which was enough at this moment for his happiness in favor of young Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso). Felipe Massa crosses the line, after 71 laps of the race, in front of a delirious crowd, and thinks he has won his first title.
It is euphoria in the Ferrari stand, consternation at McLaren where we believe to relive the scenario of the previous season when Raikkonen crowned the crown against Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso for a small point. In the last sector, Vettel and Hamilton overtake Timo Glock (Toyota) who remained on slick tires.
The explosion of joy at McLaren. The young Briton cannot believe his eyes, he is a world champion. Ferrari may well win its 16th (and so far) constructor title, Felipe Massa would undoubtedly have deserved to be crowned in front of his audience.
Brazilian Grand Prix 2012 – F1 History
Another Brazilian Grand Prix and a thrilling final battle for the title. This time it is Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) who are fighting for the laurels at Interlagos. Whoever wins will pocket his third world crown, Vettel being able to settle for a 6th place to be crowned while Alonso must win or finish 2nd, hoping that his German rival takes only the minimum of points.
After an average start, Vettel was hit by Bruno Senna (Williams) at the exit of the fourth corner. Starting like a top, the German left in the last position. Patiently, the future Ferrari driver will move up in the hierarchy and after 71 intense laps where the crown changed heads several times, Jenson Button (McLaren) won ahead of Alonso and Felipe Massa (Ferrari).
Despite all his efforts, the latter could not prevent the steamroller from Red Bull, 6th having braved the vagaries of the race, the rain, and a strategy not perfect, to win a third consecutive title. This Grand Prix also remains Lewis Hamilton’s last at McLaren, and the last of Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), 7th after a breathtaking duel against Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus).