The recent passing away of British racing hero Peter Gethin brought back memories for Formula 1 fans of his victory in the 1971 Italian Grand Prix, the closest race in F1 history.
The famous bout in Monza saw him crossing the line just 0.01 seconds ahead of second-placed Ronnie Peterson, with just 0.61 seconds separating the top five drivers in one of the most exciting ends to a race ever seen.
Over the years, Formula 1 has been the place to experience days of racing excitement like know other. We look back at three more classic F1 races which will live long in the memory and have been firmly cemented in the sport’s history.
Japanese Grand Prix, 1989
One of many classic battles between McLaren teammates and fierce rivals Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost as both went head-to-head for the drivers’ championship going into the penultimate race of the season. Despite sitting on pole, Senna saw Prost race ahead for a five-second lead right at the start but he clawed it back to just one second with seven laps to go in this potentially title-deciding race. Senna took a brave inside line but Prost refused to budge, with both cars sliding into the gravel. With Prost’s car forced into retirement, the determined Senna refused to give up on the title, crawling back to the pits to have his damaged car repaired before eventually storming past new leader Alessandro Nannini on the same chicane on the final lap. He appeared to have rescued his chances of pipping Prost to the championship by crossing the line first, before he was disqualified for failing to properly complete the chicane after his earlier clash with his French rival.
Spanish Grand Prix, 1991
On this occasion, the rain in Spain fell mainly on the track, contributing significantly to a thrilling battle between racing legends Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna. Gerhard Berger Jean Alesi and a young Michael Schumacher made things interesting in the early laps too, with Berger storming into the lead. After a thrilling tussle, Mansell emerged ahead of Senna and the rest of the chasing pack after the pair’s wheels touched and the Brit soon slipped ahead of Berger, while Brazilian Senna spun in the watery conditions, condemning him to a fifth-placed finish as Championship rival Mansell held his nerve for the win.
Brazilian Grand Prix, 2008
In just his second year in Formula 1, British hopeful Lewis Hamilton took his place on the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix knowing he needed just a fifth place finish to secure the championship title on which he had narrowly missed out the previous season. Lining up fourth with closest rival Felipe Massa on pole ensured a nervous start for the young Briton, while the arrival of rain 63 laps in threatened his title dream further. After changing tyres, Hamilton watched in vain as first Timo Glock and then Sebastian Vettel slipped past him to leave him in a title-crushing sixth place. Massa crossed the line for the win with his Ferrari team celebrating what they thought was also championship victory. But Hamilton persevered and as Timo Glock’s dry tyres struggled in the torrential rain, the 23-year-old snuck past him on the final corner for that all-important fifth place and with it became the youngest ever Formula 1 Champion.
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