Come with us on an exciting journey where we review the best five Formula 1 races in History. We will remember those legendary moments full thrill and spectacularity which have entered F1 Olympus for posterity.
The stars of these mythical feats include figures such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Ayrton Senna or Gilles Villeneuve. The following five performances are true masterpieces which encapsulate the competitive essence of the sport.
Germany 1957: Fangio & ‘the impossible’
Juan Manuel Fangio’s performance at the German Grand Prix of 1957 is what took him to the heights of Formula 1. It was the 4th of August, when ‘The Master’ sealed an impossible comeback at one of the most dangerous and demanding scenarios in the world, the great old, Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit also known as ‘The Green Hell’.
The Argentinian dive started from the pole and soon imposed a devastating pace onboard his Maserati opening a 30 second-gap with the Ferraries of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins, his main adversaries. It seemed as if Fangio had the victory in his pocket when suddenly everything changed in a disastrous pit stop.
The mechanics had problems with one of the wheels and so the South American diver rejoined the race 50 seconds behind the leaders. Climbing back that amount of time in such a treacherous circuit was practically impossible … and very, very dangerous. But a fearless Fangio decided to launch a suicidal attack, signing one fast lap after another, in a desperate chase for the triumph.
Nobody believed he could ever catch up with the two red bullets but the Argentinian hero broke the fastest lap record nine times over ten laps!, overtaking the Ferraries in the last lap and crossing the checkered flag in the first position. German fans stared in disbelief.
It was Fangio’s last F1 victory on the same season he won his fifth crown. He would later acknowledge at an interview that that had been the only race where he had felt he was not fully in control. Sure it was one of the best five Formula 1 races in History.
France 1979: Clash of the Titans
The Dijon-Prenois Circuit hosted the 1979 French Grand Prix on July the 1st and another of the best five Formula 1 races in History. On that day, Jean Pierre Jabouille would make history taking the first-ever turbocharged engine (Renault RS10) to victory.
The spotlight, however, was captured by the breathtaking duel of his teammate René Arnoux and Ferrari’s Gilles Villeneuve over the last laps.
The dangerous overtaking maneuvers, last minute braking, and wheel-to-wheel battles had the public at the edge of their seats. The tires smoked at every bend.
The Canadian diver form Ferrari finally beat the local idol and his Renault. The cars reached the finish line literally in pieces, with practically no brakes or tires left.
It was a battle as ruthless as it was respectful and clean, so much so that the rivals fondly merged into a hug as they got off their cars.
Monaco 1984: Senna’s feat
Another one of the best five Formula 1 races in History took place on June the 3rd, 1984 at the Monaco Grand Prix. The appalling downpour provoked innumerable accidents and vehicles kept on going off track. This same track conditions, however, showed up the pure skill and bravery of the pilots regardless of the cars they were driving.
It was under these critical circumstances that a rookie named Ayrton Senna stood out from the rest. At the wheel of his Toleman-Hart TG184-2, one of the worst cars on the grid, he gave a masterclass on driving on the wet.
From a thirteenth starting position, he began to devour rivals one after the other, imposing such a high pace that he sealed the fastest lap by the 24th.
The audience was astonished and team leaders wondered who was that pale and thin young driver. Just when he reached the second position and had leader Alain Prost within reach, race director, Jacky Ickx, gave in to the pressure and suspended the race on lap 32.
Senna was outraged seeing that his decision had stripped him from his first F1 title. His extraordinary expertise at the wheel, however, didn’t go unnoticed and became one of his trademark abilities.
Japan 1988: The first of Senna’s titles
The season of 1988 had become a fratricidal battle between the two McLaren drivers. Alain Prost reign was shaken up by the impetus and speed of his new partner: Ayrton Senna. The rivalry had spilled over from the professional to their personal lives; so much so that the French and the Brazilian drivers were not even talking to each other.
Such was the situation at the last race of the season at the Suzuka circuit. Senna started from pole, but stalled his MP4 / 4 as soon as the traffic lights turned green.
Thanks to the slight descending slope on the first Suzuka straight, the driver from Sao Paulo was able to start the car again but he had fallen to the fourteenth place. Meanwhile, his mortal enemy was leading the race.
Ayrton then began a legendary comeback. At the end of the second lap, he was already eighth and only two laps later he had climbed another four places. At lap 14 it started to rain.
This, together with Prost’s problems with his gearbox, helped the Brazilian driver stick to the tail of the French McLaren. On lap 28, Senna saw his chance and took over Prost on a bend winning the position, the race and the title. A myth was born signing one of the best five Formula 1 races in History.
Brazil 2008: The closest of all endings
The last race of 2008, the Brazilian Grand Prix, would be the crowning a new F1 king. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) with a seven-point lead over Felipe Massa (Ferrari), was racing for the title at his rival’s home: The Interlagos Circuit.
Despite the rain, Massa crossed the finish line first and was virtually a champion, since the Briton was still on the sixth position. The stands and the Ferrari box were exploding with joy until, in the very last corner (Juncao) of the track, Hamilton overtook Timo Glock‘s Toyota climbing to fifth place.
In a most cruel move and by a single point the Briton had snatched the victory from the hands of the local hero. This became one of the most dramatic and exciting endings in the history of Formula1.