Can you think of times in Formula 1 where you’ve cheered? Where you jumped up and down with joy? Where you smiled from ear to ear? I’m going to share some of the moments that I’ve seen in Formula 1 where I thought, wow.
1 – Olivier Panis winning the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix
My favourite race of all time, wet to start before drying, 6 cars out on the first lap, two drivers (Damon Hill & Jean Alesi) retiring while comfortably in the lead, and my favourite driver of all time, Olivier Panis, winning for Ligier Mugen-Honda, the last win for the French team and the only win for the French driver. Only 3 drivers saw the checkered flag, Panis, David Coulthard & Johnny Herbert. Everyone else either spun out, crashed or had mechanical issues. A race to remember for me.
2 – Nigel Mansell & Ayrton Senna – Circuit de Catalunya 1991
Seeing two legends of the sport, side by side, inches apart, sparks flying, is just amazing. Mansell got a run on Senna off the last corner, and got alongside. Just amazing racing.
3 – Rubens Barrichello wins the 2000 German Grand Prix
The very likeable Brazilian took his maiden Grand Prix win in the changeable conditions of the old Hockenheim circuit, staying out on dry tyres when everyone else around him pitted for wets. It was the first win in F1 for a Brazilian since the death of Barrichello’s mentor & friend, Ayrton Senna, and the win was cheered for up and down the pit lane.
4 – Nigel Mansell wins the 1989 Hungarian Grand Prix
Hungary doesn’t have a reputation for many great races, but Mansell’s charge from P12 on the grid to victory on a track notorious for the lack of overtaking, was amazing. He passed Alain Prost & Ricciardo Patrese earlier in the race, before coming up behind Ayrton Senna. While coming up behind the slow Onyx of Stefan Johansson, Senna got baulked, and its Murray Walker’s voice I remember most. “And Mansell goes through, oh fantastic!” Just brilliance from Nigel.
5 – Mika Hakkinen vs Michael Schumacher – Spa 2000
Amazing pass, just amazing. McLaren vs Ferrari, Hakkinen vs Schumacher, Legend vs Legend. One lap after just failing to pass Schumacher, Hakkinen tried again, getting a tow from the Ferrari driver and then using backmarker Ricardo Zonta to his advantage. Schumacher went one way, Hakkinen the other. Hakkinen got passed, and went on to win the race. Amazing.
6 – Jacques Villeneuve vs Michael Schumacher – Portugal 1996
No one thought it could be done. Around the outside of the final, fast corner of the Estoril track. No one told Villeneuve it couldn’t be done. In fact he told his bosses he could do it if he got a chance. And he got a chance, and it was against Michael Schumacher of all people. Very daring, very exceptional. Villeneuve at his very best, going onto win impressively.
7 – Takuma Sato vs Fernando Alonso – Canada 2007
The underdog vs the favourite, and the underdog prevails. The little Super Aguri team didn’t have much to cheer in their short F1 life span, but this was their stand out moment. Taku came up to and passed championship contender Fernando Alonso and took sixth place off him. Was an amazing thing to see.
8 – Jenson Button wins the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix
Jenson Button was in every position at some point during this race. Yet when the dust settled, he had won. He forced long time leader Sebastian Vettel into a mistake and pounced. One of the best races of Jenson’s career. And one of the best races of all time, full of action.
9 – Gerhard Berger wins the 1988 Italian Grand Prix
Ayrton Senna had this race in the bag, he was miles ahead in his McLaren MP4/4, perhaps the greatest car of all time, and was cruising. However he was to end up beached on a Kerb. Jean-Louis Schlesser was standing in for an ill Nigel Mansell for Williams, and was being lapped. However Senna misjudged where Schlesser was and was pitched into the spin that ended his race. Ferrari drivers Gerhard Berger & Michele Alboreto took a famous 1-2 in front of the Tifosi, the first Italian GP after the death of team founder Enzo Ferrari. Very emotional victory.
10 – Sebastian Vettel wins the 2008 Italian Grand Prix
We all know what Vettel has accomplished since, but his first Grand Prix victory is one to cherish. In the unfancied Toro Rosso, he first of all put it on pole position (still their only one!) and then dominated from start to finish in difficult conditions to win the race (again, their only victory). It was the first real sign of the talent the Red Bull family had unearthed.
These are just a few of the many memories I have of Formula 1 since I began to watch it in 1988, and are just my opinion. Feel free to let me know the memories of F1 that have made you smile over the years.
Tagged: Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Canada, David Coulthard, F1, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Formula 1, Gerhard Berger, Jacques Villeneuve, Jean Alesi, Jean-Louis Schlesser, Jenson Button, Ligier, McLaren, Michele Alboreto, Mika Hakkinen, Monaco 96, Monza, Mugen-Honda, Murray Walker, Nigel Mansell, Olivier Panis, Onyx, Overtake, Ricardo Patrese, Ricardo Zonta, Rubens Barrichello, Sebastian Vettel, Stefan Johansson, Super Aguri, Takuma Sato, Toro Rosso, Win