The 7 most contested seasons in Formula 1 history
The 2021 season with the incredible battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton until the last lap in the last race filled us with great emotions and undoubtedly went down in the history of Formula 1 as one of the most contested seasons of all time.
Let’s remember and talk about 7 more of the most contested seasons back over the years:
The movie Rush tells the real story of the incredible battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda for the world title. The year was marked by Lauda’s crash at the Nürburgring, in which the Austrian nearly died and suffered some severe burns. In addition, the season is known for the numerous protests, disqualifications and canceled decisions.
Because of the burns Lauda missed two races, but he returned at Monza and finished fourth. Jackie Stewart described Lauda’s comeback as “the greatest comeback in the history of motorsport”.
With a round to go Niki had a three-point lead over Hunt, but horrific weather conditions and the heavy rain in Japan forced the Austrian racer to withdraw from the race. Hunt finished third and the points he took were enough for him to win his first and last world title.
This is the only season in the history of Formula 1 where the title was decided by just half a point. That’s because in the historic Monaco Grand Prix, where the young Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna’s star was rising, just half of the points were awarded. The race was stopped prematurely on the 26th lap, due to heavy rain and a signal from Prost to the stewards. At this time the French racer was the leader and kept his victory, but instead of 9 points, he took only 4.5 points. During the year, McLaren drivers Lauda and Prost rushed into a mad battle, leaving the other racers far behind.
The last race took place in Portugal, where the difference between the two was only 3.5 points in favor of Lauda. Prost won, but Lauda finished second, taking the title by just half a point. This happened despite the fact that Lauda had only 5 wins on the season, while Prost had 7, including the last two races.
Three points separate the top three after another phenomenal season in the history of our favorite sport.
Prost, Mansell and Piquet, and Senna, too, at one point in the season, wage a fierce battle for the championship in 1986.
Before the last race in Australia, Britain’s Nigel Mansell has a comfortable 7-point lead over Prost and Piquet. The fifth place will guarantee him his first career title. Everything goes according to plan, but in the middle of the race, the British driver has a flat tire and leaves the race.
The leader turns out to be his teammate Pickett, which would have crowned him the champion if he had made it to the final. The Williams team, however, are worried about his tire blowing out as well, so they call him for an extra stop, which allows Alain Prost to take the first position.
The Frenchman maintained his lead until the end of the race and, surprisingly for himself, grabbed his second world title. He does so with an asset of 72 points, while Mansell remains with 70 and Pickett with 69.
This is one of the classics in the history of the sport – the 1988 season. McLaren Honda gathers in one team the two-time champion Alain Prost, as well as the rising superstar Ayrton Senna. The two totally dominate the season winning 15 of the 16 races, missing out only the victory in Italy when they did not finish.
Behind the scenes, however, there is an interpersonal conflict between them over who should be the team’s lead driver. Prost is angry at the aggressive style of Senna, who in Portugal attacked him so risky that he almost cost a brutal crash on the track.
The last three races are incredible: Senna wins three pole positions, but in two of the cases Prost manages to overtake him and win. This is also the case in the last Australian Grand Prix, in which Prost wins. However, he needs 5 points for the title, but Senna does not miss the second place, with which he wins his first world title.
In fact, Prost has more points from all races, but at the time the asset is formed by the driver’s 11 best results – so the Frenchman collects 87 points, while Senna has 90.
One of the saddest years in the history of Formula 1 is 1994. On May 1, the world plunges into grief because of the death of the hero of an entire generation – Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian had just moved to the then-dominant Williams team with his fourth title in mind, but fate had something else in store for him.
However, this season becomes one of the most contested and will be remembered for Michael Schumacher’s first world title.
The German was having a great battle with Williams’ Damon Hill. One race before the end of the championship the Briton drops behind by just one point.
The race is in Australia and the predictions are that Williams has the faster car and Schumacher needs to outdo his Benetton to maintain his fragile lead at the top.
On lap 35 the two contenders are very close to each other and when Schumacher feels that he is losing the first position he causes a deliberate collision. The two drop out of the race, and Schumacher wins his first Formula 1 title with an asset of 92 points, just one more than Hill. It is one of the most scandalous moments in motorsport history, casting a shadow over Michael Schumacher’s sportsmanship.
This is the only season in history where three drivers are separated by just one point. Ron Dennis wants to make a star team again, like the one he made with Senna and Prost. He brings together two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and rising British superstar Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren team.
Sparks began to fly between the two early on, eventually leading to Alonso’s departure at the end of the season.
During the year, the drivers of McLaren, as well as those of Ferrari – Raikkonen, and Massa, exchange victories as at one time of the season all four were in the battle for the title.
After all, with two races to go, rookie Hamilton has a lead of 12 points over Alonso and 17 over Raikkonen. A win in China makes him a champion, but the Brit makes one of the strangest mistakes in history when he crashes on his way to the pits.
A double victory for Ferrari at the last start in Brazil and another failure for Hamilton gives Kimi Raikkonen the title with Ferrari, the last for the Scuderia to date.
The Finn finishes with 110 points and Hamilton and Alonso with 109 each.
The season is also remembered for the great spying scandal between McLaren, Ferrari, and Renault, which eventually leads to McLaren being disqualified and stripped of all team points for the year.
This is something that is unlikely to happen again anytime soon. The 2008 title is decided in the last turn of the final race in Brazil.
The season again goes evenly between Ferrari and McLaren, this time the contenders for the title are Massa and Hamilton.
A race before the end, the Briton has accumulated a solid lead of 7 points. A place in the top 5 will guarantee him the world title.
After a lot of rain, emotions, and dramas and a few turns before the end, Felipe Massa looks like a champion in front of his home crowd after crossing the start-finish line as the winner.
Lewis is sixth at the time, but a slip of the Toyota of Timo Glock a turn before the end allows Hamilton to reach a coveted fifth place, winning his first title in the most dramatic way possible. This is a season finale that will be remembered forever.
13 years later, another would-be multiple champion wins his first title after last-lap drama. This time on the losing side is none other than Lewis Hamilton.
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