People will probably be able to tell by now that I have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with F1. They wouldn’t be wrong to be honest! I’ve watched it for coming up to 10 years, and seen a fair share of quality races, as well as the not so good ones. There’s some that stick out more than others, but here are my top 10 Grand Prix races while I have been watching the sport.
10. Canadian Grand Prix 2010
The Canadian Grand Prix encapsulated the whole 2010 season. The 5 title contenders were involved in a race long battle, where Lewis was able to come out as an eventual winner with fellow Mclaren team-mate Jenson Button making it a 1-2. It looked like Lewis and Fernando would finish 1 and 2 after a lot of on track battles, but eventually the Spaniard lost out to Jenson in the closing stages. The Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were also in the mix, but couldn’t convert the teams’ pace into a podium.
Yeah, the racing on track was thoroughly entertaining to watch, but I’ve mainly put this race in for different reasons. The track conditions resulted in high tyre wear for all the teams, meaning the front runners had to make 3 or 4 pit stops. Variation in tyre strategy is what the fans wanted,with this race providing the platform in which Bernie wanted to build on in 2011. He indicated to Pirelli, who were taking over from Bridgestone at the end of 2010 as the official tyre supplier for the teams that he wanted fragile tyres to mix up strategies and make races unpredictable.
9. Chinese Grand Prix 2012
I didn’t put this race in because there was a huge battle for the race win, but because of the battle for 2nd. Nico Rosberg stole the show, claiming a dominant win and the first of his career. Again, it was a battle of strategy; Mercedes were on a two stop, with Mclaren on a three stop in the hope they could give Jenson a pace advantage in the closing stages. Unfortunately he had a slow final pit stop and was sent back out into traffic.
To say there was a lot of traffic was definitely an understatement. Button was in a battle with 12 other cars for second spot, stretching from the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen in 2nd down to Paul Di Resta’s Force India in 13th. Michael Shumacher would’ve also been involved in the fight but unfortunately his Mercedes broke down. A frantic final 10 laps saw Kimi Raikkonen’s tyres ‘hit the cliff’, Alonso and Webber getting caught up on the marbles whilst 2011 World Champion Sebastian Vettel overtaken by the two Mclaren’s and his team-mate Mark Webber. A solid race all round!
8. European Grand Prix 2012
In a season where there had been 7 different race winners, the European Grand Prix served up a classic around the streets of Valencia. It would end up being the final time the streets of Valencia would host a Grand Prix, so the final event here was to serve up a treat.
It was a fairly low key race for the first third or so; it looked like another Sebastian Vettel runaway show, but boy did that all change! Just after the halfway mark, a safety car was called out after debris was left on the track following a collision with the Caterham of Heikki Kovelainen and Jean-Eric Vergne of the Torro Rosso. A frantic restart saw both Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean retire with alternator failures, leaving the race wide open.
In the end, Fernando Alonso somehow won the race after starting from 11th with a range of brilliant overtakes, whilst Kimi Raikkonen finished in 2nd and Micheal Schumacher took his first podium after returning to the sport. It should’ve been Lewis Hamilton on the podium, but he was taken out by bad boy Pastor Maldonando on the penultimate lap.
7. United States Grand Prix 2015
A classic at the Circuit of the Americas, where Lewis Hamilton took the victory and claimed his 3rd World Championship. It was a race weekend affected by Hurricane Patricia, causing the second practice to be cancelled and qualifying to take place on the morning of the race.
Nevertheless, it was Nico Rosberg who qualified on pole in the wet. The race start saw an aggressive move by Hamilton, pushing Nico down to fourth, behind the two Red Bulls. Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat looked strong in the damp conditions; Ricciardo was able to take the lead before it turned dry. Mercedes pace took over once the damp conditions had abated, with Nico Rosberg holding a 10 second lead over Lewis Hamilton.
It looked like Lewis would have to wait until the Mexico GP before he would get an opportunity to win the World Championship, but a late safety car brought out after Daniil Kvyat binned his Red Bull giving the Brit a chance. A mistake by Nico caused by a sudden gust of wind handed Lewis 1st place, and with Sebastian Vettel only in 3rd (the closest contender to Lewis at the time), Hamilton gained an unassailable lead in the Championship, making him tied for most championship wins by a Brit.
6. Hungarian Grand Prix 2014
Although Lewis Hamilton would eventually go onto be crowned Drivers Champion in 2014, he went through an incredibly difficult spell in the middle of that year. He suffered a brake failure in qualifying at the German Grand Prix, followed by an engine blowout at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Starting from the pitlane in Intermediate conditions, Hamilton span and nearly crashed out on the first lap. He was however able to recover, catching up with the back of the field.
I’ve put this race in my list because of the amount of on track action, coupled with diverging strategies that came into play, as well as an on track dispute between the two drivers battling it out for the Championship. In the end, it was Daniel Ricciardo winning the race, with Fernando Alonso in 2nd and Lewis Hamilton surprisingly in 3rd. The Aussie produced a stunning overtake around the outside of the Mercedes at turn 2, making the most of the fresh rubber he had in comparison to the front runners.
Nico was understandably annoyed that Lewis didn’t let him past earlier on in the race. On different strategies, Hamilton refused to let Nico past, which turned out to be a good move for the Brit as it gave him track position in the closing stages. The tyres on Hamilton’s car had gone off and Nico’s were comparably fresh. The German attempted an overtake around the outside of turn 2, but Lewis shut the door and pushed him wide. Was this the move that the caused the fallout at the following race in Belgium?
5. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2016
This race is in my list purely because of the drama in the closing stages of the race. Lewis Hamilton found himself 12 points behind Rosberg going into the finale. He had suffered from his fair share of mechanical problems throughout the season, but was able to win the previous 3 races to give himself a chance going into the Duel in the Desert. He needed to win the race and hope that his team-mate finished in 4th place to have any chance of winning the World Championship.
He always said that he wouldn’t back his team-mate up, but it was the only chance he had to win the Championship. This provided the setting for an epic finish to the race, with Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen closing in on Nico. Sebastian had a half look at the Mercedes going down the back straight, but couldn’t quite get past. After a tense final 5 laps or so, Lewis took the race, but Nico secured the second place he needed to clinch his first (and last) Formula One World Championship.
4. Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2017
This race is on the list because it had pretty much everything. The previous year it was a bit of a borefest, not much happened. The 2017 race however proved completely different; championship contenders collided with each other (one intentional collision), team-mates collided with one another, drivers who were relegated to the back of the grid secured unlikely podiums and a young driver silenced his critics by securing a 3rd place finish. It probably helps that the track has been described as a bumper karts track to be honest!
It was a race won eventually by Daniel Ricciardo, highly unlikely given the nature of the track! Valteri Bottas, who at one point was a lap down, was able to overtake Lance Stroll at the death to snatch an unlikely 2nd, while Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was still able to finish ahead of Lewis Hamilton after the Brit had to pit to fix a loose headrest. The clash between Sebastian and Lewis created a talking point after the race, adding even more fuel to a race that will go down as a classic.
3. Bahrain Grand Prix 2014
A race that would set the tone for the 2014 season. In the new hybrid engine era implemented at the start of 2014, Mercedes were a class above, holding more than a second pace advantage to its nearest challenger. Everyone knew it would be a straight fight between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton for the 2014 Championship; the Bahrain Grand Prix proved just how desperate both would be to win the title.
I’ve put this race in because of the unreal wheel-to-wheel driving from the two drivers. Lewis got off the line the cleanest, going into turn one in the lead, only for Nico to gain a slipstream down the following straight. It was firm, but fair driving from the Brit, meaning Nico had to settle into 2nd place.
He made another unsuccessful attempt to get past coming upto the first round of pitstops, but the battle intensified after a late safety car. Lewis was on the slower Medium tyres, while Nico was on the quicker Soft tyres, so it looked like Nico would be able to take the win. Epic driving from the two made for great viewing. Lewis Hamilton somehow kept Nico at bay, taking his 2nd win of the season and closing up to Nico in the drivers standings.
2. Brazilian Grand Prix 2008
The first race I watched in F1, mainly because my dad likes F1 and knew that Lewis Hamilton had a chance of winning the World Championship, becoming the first Brit since Damon Hill in the mid 90’s. Of course I decided to watch and I am so glad I did!
Everyone knows the drama that happened in the race, well, the closing stages of the race. Knowing Felipe Massa was winning his home race at a canter, Lewis knew he had to finish 5th to secure the title. It looked good going into the closing stages, but he slipped to 6th in the wet conditions. It looked like the Championship was slipping from his grasp, but he was able to get past Timo Glock on the final corner to claw it back.
To have that much drama in the first F1 race I watched got me hooked really. I went crazy when Hamilton managed to get past Glock, something I didn’t think I would do bearing mind I’d only just started watching! So as well as the drama, it was the significance of the race which is the reason I’ve put this race 2nd.
1. Canadian Grand Prix 2011
There will never be a better race than this one! This race has gone down as the longest in the history of F1, lasting more than 4 hours because of a heavy rainstorm causing a 2 hour delay. I don’t think we will every be able to say that a driver, who visited the pits 6 times because of tyre changes and penalties ended up winning a race. Jenson collided with his team-mate, collided with Fernando, yet was able to show that he was the king of changeable conditions, lapping considerably faster than pretty much the whole pack.
He passed Mark Webber on the damp side of the track on dry tyres, before getting past Schumacher, putting Vettel firmly in his sights. On the final lap of the race, he applied the pressure, forcing Vettel wide and into a mistake, allowing the Brit to take an unlikely yet historic race win.
I remember watching the race and thinking this would never be beaten in terms of pure racing entertainment. There were incidents through the field, including Massa spinning into the wall, Schumacher arguably putting on his best performance since his return, Nick Hiedfeld’s wing going punderneath him and a steward falling over after picking debris up! Even Martin Brundle and David Coulthard trying to fill time by talking about random things was highly amusing.