5 Best 1980s Formula 1 Races

Published 12/02/2017, 3:59 AM EST


Formula 1 used to be a spectacle in the 1980’s and produced some of the most entertaining races in the history of the sport. 1980’s was the golden phase of Formula One, the phase of Senna, Mansell, Piquet and Prost. Unlike recent times, back then, the focus was on the driver rather than his car and many a times, surprises were produced where the winning car was nowhere near the pace of it’s competitors. Even though it is difficult to pick only 5 races, here we bring you the 5 best 1980s Formula 1 races in numerical order of the years in which the race took place.

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5 Best 1980s Formula 1 Races

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The race was won by Gilles Villeneuve and is considered to be Villeneuve’s tactical master-piece and one of his best races ever. Even though his Ferrari was not upto the mark, the Canadian qualified in 7th place and was 3rd by the first corner in the race, damaging Prost’s front wing in the process. By the end of the lap, Villeneuve stepped out of the slipstream of Reutemann and took 2nd place from the Argentinian. Jones, who was leading the race, went off track and by the time he joined back, he was 10 seconds behind Villeneuve. The conditions were very hot and at the front, it became a 5 way tie with Villeneuve narrowly leading. The Canadian used the power of his Ferrari engine to pull away on the straights but in the corners, others were all over him. Many would pull alongside the Ferrari but when the Ferrari horsepower kicked in, Gilles went ahead. In the end, the five crossed the line with a gap of just 1.24 seconds to record the second closest race in the history of Formula 1. This was the last ever victory for Gilles Villeneuve, but he made sure it was one of the best 1980s Formula 1 races.

Read More : F1 Archives : The Iconic 1981 Spanish Grand Prix

In qualifying, Senna took pole position followed by Piquet and Prost. The race began with Senna leading and Piquet and Prost dropping behind Mansell. Piquet recovered his position a few laps later but was still a few seconds behind Senna. After catching up with Senna, he found it difficult to pass the Lotus of Senna. But on Lap 12, Piquet found a way and there was not stopping him after that. Later, suffering from high tyre wear, Piquet pitted early but Senna stayed out and when he pitted, he came out with a 7 second lead over Piquet. Not losing his spirit, Piquet mounted a charge and with Senna’s car not being a 100%, Senna had to defend hard. In a move which is considered as one of the best overtakes in the history of Formula 1, Piquet overtook Senna and went on to win the race.

Read More : F1 Archives : The Iconic 1986 Hungarian Grand Prix

In a race where the Lotus and McLaren of Senna and Prost were uncompetitive, the Williams duo of Piquet and Mansell were the front runners during the entire race with Piquet leading Mansell. The duo were scheduled to go the entire race without a tyre change but Mansell and the team decided to do a tyre change. Mansell rejoined 29 seconds behind Piquet with 28 laps remaining. On fresh rubber, Mansell began an epic charge and by lap 62, the cars were nose-to-tail. On lap 63, Mansell performed his now famous ‘Silverstone Two Step’ move, selling Piquet a dummy on the Hangar Straight and then diving down the inside into Stowe Corner. Mansell ran out of fuel on the slowing down lap and the race winner was engulfed by the crowd. The race provided one of the most epic comebacks in the history of Formula 1 and cemented itself as one of the best 1980s Formula 1 races.

Senna showed his wet weather prowess in the 1988 Japanese Grand Prix. After stalling on the grid, Senna bump started his Mclaren and staged a comeback to win the race from 14th place. Due to the only track on the calendar with a sloped grid, Senna got his Mclaren going with teammate Prost leading. By the start of the second lap, Senna had gained six places.With a little luck and pure determination, Senna was going through the field as the laps passed. Rain began to fall on parts of the track by lap 14. Prost had a faulty gear box but continued to lead the race due to the highly powerful Honda engine with Senna catching fast. The conditions favoured the Brazilian and he passed Prost on lap 27. The race finished with McLaren securing another 1-2 finish with Senna winning the race ahead of teammate Prost. This ding-dong battle between Prost and Senna is why this race in particular is on our list of best 1980s Formula 1 races.

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In one of Nigel Mansell’s finest races, the British driver staged a silent comeback from 12th to win the race in epic fashion. By the first corner, Mansell was 8th and took 7th on lap 12. By lap 22, four drivers were in contention for the race win, pole sitter Patrese in first, followed by Senna in second, Berger in thrid and Prost in fourth. By the time Mansell secured 5th place, he was 17 seconds behind Prost. With his tyres in good condition, Mansell moved into 3rd after constantly pushing Prost and passing him after Berger pitted for fresh tyres from third. While Patrese was driving perfectly, his Williams developed a problem and he had to retire on lap 53. This meant, a great battle was on the cards. Ferrari was a very unreliable car but had great cornering speed but not the speed requires to pass Senna on the straights. But on lap 58, the tables turned and Mansell secured the lead after the duo came behind a slow moving car which caught Senna, who had to slow down rapidly and Mansell who was behind, in an attempt to prevent a crash, dived down the slow cars and emerged in the lead. Masell went on to win an epic race.

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Kushagra Agarwal

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