It was way back in 1950, when the Formula 1 celebrated its maiden season, almost 65 years before. The sport has never been the same in all these years, with technology taken over the drivers. Safety is being given the utter importance and so is the importance to reduce fuel consumption. But one thing has never changed, the fierceness and dedication to win the championship title. And in a bid to achieve so, the race has taken a turn, so fierce and so thrilling, that no one can tell till the last moment, who is going to win.
Be it the 1950 season, where three drivers were in contention to win the championship till the last race, or be it the 2014 season, where the championship will see teammates Hamilton and Rosberg, battling it hard to win the title. Every title race is shocking, nothing short of dramatics and famous, in their own respect.
As we enter the last and final race of the 2014 season, in hopes of a great battle for the title, we present to you, top 10 of the most memorable F1 title showdowns.
Italy, 1950 - Drivers: Nino Farina (champion), Juan Manuel Fangio and Luigi Fagioli
It was 1950 when the Formula1 was first introduced to the world, in the form of a seven race season. Those were the times when Alfa Romeo was at the peak, with all the top three contenders, driving an Alfa Romeo. The stakes were high, to make F1 famous, and that needed an epic final race battle, to create interest among the viewers. And it was like, Juan Manuel Fangio, Nino Farina and Luigi Fagioli, read people's mind.
Fangio was 26 points, leading the tally, two ahead of Fagioli and four clear of Farina. Alfa Romeo decided to give Farina and Fangio, the new, more powerful 159 model for the Italian finale. Fangio retired early with a gearbox trouble, and Fagioli was in a distant third. Farina did something extraordinary, placed at 3rd in the drivers' tally, he won the race to become the first champion in Formula One history.
USA, 1959 - Drivers: Jack Brabham (champion), Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks
Nine years after the famous inaugural season battle, the horns were locked again between three drivers in the final round with a chance of winning the title. And the names were big this time- John Arthur ‘Jack’ Brabham (the first man and the only man to win a title in a car made by him), the ever famous Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks. While Sir Arthur Brabham and Stirling Moss were driving a Cooper T51, Brooks was on his Ferrari. Prior to this race, Brabham was 5.5 points ahead of Moss and way ahead of the Brook's Ferrari.
The race was no short of drama with Moss, who claimed an early initiative, suffering a mechanical failure, forcing him to retire. While Brabham was running fast to claim his title, he ran out of fuel in the very last lap forcing him to stop. He was pushed back to 5th position, losing the hope to win the title, but he pushed his car over the line to finish fourth - enough for him to become the first Australian world champion.
Mexico, 1964 - Drivers: John Surtees (champion), Graham Hill and Jim Clark
John Surtees, is the first and the last man on earth to win both two wheel and four wheels world championship. And this was the race, he managed to create the record, but all thanks to his teammate Bandini. How? The 1964 season boasts of sheer drama and entertainment. BRM’s Graham Hill led the championship with 39 points, followed by Ferrari’s Surtees on 34 and Lotus’s Clark. Graham Hill needed a third position win to secure the title, which he was duly keeping upto, until the 31st lap, when he and Lorenzo Bandini collided, with kept his title hope alive, only if both Clark and Surtees didn't score any points.
All was going fine for Clark, who was leading the race, with Surtess moving ahead at the third in absence of Hill. But seven laps remaining in the race, and there was again a twist in the race, as Clark’s Lotus began leaking oil. Just one lap from the finish line, his engine seized and he was out of the race. This left Surtees running behind Bandini, but Bandini duly moved aside in order for the former motorcycle champion to finish second and make history as the first and to date, the only driver to win world championships on two and four wheels.
Japan, 1976 - Drivers: James Hunt (champion) and Niki Lauda
Saw the movie 'Rush'? Yes the famous and the greatest sports and car movie ever made! The protagonist of the movie are legends now, Nicky Lauda and James Hunt. This is the season the movie was based on, and what happened in the season became a folklore for the coming years. Nicky Lauda was at his career best, winning four races and achieving six podiums. He entered the 10th race at the infamous Nurburgring hoping to win again, but in a very rainy conditions. Lauda suffered a crash, and was engulfed by smoke and flames, fighting for his life. His whole face burnt and lungs filled with smoke, he went to the hospital, with everyone writing his career off. But the Austrian made an astonishing recovery, as barely a month after the crash, he returned and finished fourth in Monza.
Lauda was competing against McLaren’s James Hunt, who won two races after Lauda's accident. Despite his leading standing at the table, the point gap was reduced to just three points. The last race was in Japan, and the weather as harsh as Nurburging, where Lauda suffered the crash. Lauda did start the race, only to pull out of it after one lap. It was all on James Hunt now, a fifth position means win for Lauda and anything above that means win for Hunt. Hunt passed Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni just two laps from the chequered flag to secure third and beat Lauda to the crown by just one point.
Portugal, 1984 - Drivers: Niki Lauda (champion) and Alain Prost
While many consider the Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost rivalry as the most bitter on in the history of F1, only a few knows, the intense fight between the teammates Niki Lauda and Alain Prost. With the win out of hands in the 1976 season finale, Lauda again entered the 1984 season with Alain Prost at the commanding position, winning eight of 16 races. But Lauda was not far behind, winning next three races and finishing second twice in other five races. The epic battle moves to the finale at the Estoril with only a 3.5 point margin separating the two. What followed next is a season which saw the smallest margin ever in the F1 history, half a point.
Prost did all he could, to secure a pole and then winning the race, equalling Jim Clark’s 1963 record of seven wins in a season. But the win was not enough, as it all was dependent on Lauda, who still controlled his own destiny. He required to finish second, which he duly did, winning the season by only half a point.
Australia, 1986 - Drivers: Alain Prost (champion), Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet
Alain Prost represents the golden era of Motorsports, and like 2 years ago, he was in no mood to lose the title again. But as they say, to reach to the top, you need hard work, dedication, talent and a little bit of luck too. And luck was in favor of Prost that day. Williams’ Nigel Mansell entered the season finale as the title favourite, needing just third place to win the title. He was competing against Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost.
The race started with much of a drama, as Mansell started from the pole, but soon left behind in fourth. But a tyre burst of Keke Rosberg, who was ahead of Mansell till 63th lap, pushed Mansell to 3rh spot, which he needed to win. But luck, it is, as his tyres also burst, forcing him to get out of the race, shattering his title win dream. Piquet, who, after the Mansell fall, was leading the race, also suffered tow retirements, eventually helping Post to take the decisive lead and hence the 1986 title, his first world championship.
Australia, 1994 - Drivers: Michael Schumacher (champion) and Damon Hill
More than remembering this year as the maiden championship for Michael Shumacher, driving on the Benetton, this year is remembered as the year of controversy, harshness, allegations and the death of famous Ayrton Senna. And it is remembered as the season with the most infamous final round in the history of the F1.
The images from that finale will remain engraved in the black book of the sport. Schumacher entered the race with a one point lead over Damon Hill. As they entered the 36th lap, with Shumacher in the lead, his car slides off the track, hitting the side wall in his Benetton. Immediately Hill’s Williams closed the gap and as he was about to overtake the Schumacher car, Schumacher came back on track, hitting the Hill car. Both the drivers were out of the race immediately, making Schumacher the first ever German title holder. It was a tainted end to a tragic season, and one that immensely degraded Shumachers image, one that he carried forward three years later.
Europe, 1997 - Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve (champion) and Michael Schumacher
Formula One and Shumacher go hand in hand, and so did Shumacher and controversies. It's now that Shumacher is considered a legend, but in his early years, before the start of the millennium, he was widely regarded as a young brat, who could do anything to win a race and controversies were his second name. Shumacher now raced for the Ferrari and once again entered the final round one point ahead of his Williams rival.
Three drivers - Villeneuve, Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen shared the fastest time in qualifying, but Villeneuve started from pole. Ambitious Schumacher entered into a clash with Villeneuv, only to end up in the gravel and in disgrace. Schumacher was disqualified from the championship, but even before that, with a survival from the collision to finish third, Villeneuve won the title.
Brazil, 2008 - Drivers: Lewis Hamilton (champion) and Felipe Massa
This was one of those races, where even after winning the race, one is not confirmed to win the title and had to depend on the loss of other drivers. But, Felipe Massa, who was hoping to give the crowd a reason to die of joy, at his home country, Brazil, had to suffer a huge heartbreak. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa only needed a first or second position, to secure the world title, in front of a massive and cheering home-crowd in the Brazil 2008 season finale. And he did his best to achieve a pole and then a victory in front of a raucous home crowd. The Brazilian was all set to be confirmed the world champion in front of his family and fans.
But it was the day of Lewis Hamilton, who driving his McLaren, needed a fifth to win the championship. The initial goof-up on a rain drenched track, made Hamilton slip from that all important fifth position. However, in a shocker of a moment for Massa, just a few hundred metres from the chequered flag, Hamilton passed Timo Glock to secure fifth, and with it, grasped the crucial four points. Important four points they were, as he won his maiden world drivers’ crown, earned in the most breathless fashion.
Abu Dhabi, 2010 - Drivers: Sebastian Vettel (champion), Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton
As if the heartbreak of Felippe Massa was not enough, who had to see if Hamilton finishes fifth or not in the 2008, this was also one heartbreaking season, but this time for the other Ferrari driver, Alonso. For the first time in Formula One history, four drivers headed into a final round with a chance of a championship title. Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was leading the table with 246 points, ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber (238) and Sebastian Vettel (231), while Lewis Hamilton also had a lean chance, on 222 points.
The race started with Vettel claiming the pole and duly leading the start, Hamilton second, Alonso fourth and Webber fifth. And all Alonso needed was a fourth position finish to win the title, which he couldn't. Vettel won the race, but had to wait for results of Alonso, which, if he could somehow finish in fourth, would make him the champion. A perfect definition of hard luck, the news broke within 30 seconds that Alonso has finished 7th, making Vettel the world champion for the first time, which he returned for the next three seasons too.
Story Credit: Formula1