With Lewis Hamilton wrapping up the title early, it denied fans the chance to watch him and Sebastian Vettel duel it out. To make up for that disappointment, Essentially Sports brings to you 8 of the Best F1 season finales of all time. These F1 season finales could be between 2 drivers or even more. The point is, every battle defines a driver. So without further ado, here are the Best F1 Season Finales.
This was an absolutely nail-biting race as Carlos Reutemann held a 1-point lead over Nelson Piquet. The pendulum swung towards the Argentine as he started on pole. Just as it seemed that fortune was smiling on Argentina, the tables were turned just as quickly. Handling problems during the warm-up culminated into a totally undriveable car in the race. As a result, he began to drop like a stone. Meanwhile, teammate Alan Jones drove off into the sunset. By lap 17, Piquet’s Brabham caught and passed the ailing Williams of Reutemann.
“I remember seeing there were still 33 laps to go,” Piquet recalled. “I couldn’t believe it. By then I was already finished. I couldn’t keep my head straight. I just kept going because I knew if I was in front of Carlos then I had the championship.” He eventually crossed the line fifth but on his returned to the pits he collapsed in the cockpit, vomiting. That race seriously took a toll on the new world champion.
The Adelaide GP was truly an exciting race. Nigel Mansell locked horns with Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost for the title at the time. Nigel had 70 points on the board, Prost on 64 and Piquet on 63. The Frenchman was quite the underdog with the more powerful Williams-Honda trouncing Prost’s McLaren. However, the tide turned when Mansell’s tire blew and he was pitched into a wild spin. It was race and championship over for the man from Worcestershire. A nervous Williams pitted Piquet as a precaution and Prost seized the lead. Piquet reeled off the laps and closed to within 4 seconds of the Frenchman, but it was too late.
Michael Schumacher snatched the first of his seven world championships in Adelaide. He arrived in Australia with one point separating him and Damon Hill. Michael knew that if he finished in front of the Williams he would become the first German world champion. He rocketed off into the distance, but on lap 35 everything fell apart when he ran wide and clipped the wall. With his car heavily damaged and Hill closing in, he attempted to block the Williams from passing.
The two touched, taking Schumacher out on the spot and forcing Hill to return to the pits with a bent wishbone. The car was checked over by the Williams pit crew but the damage was too severe for Hill to carry on, handing the title to Schumacher.
New year, new team, same old story. Schumacher found himself in a familiar situation. Once again he led the title battle by a single point ahead of the final round and once again he saw his race lead come under attack from his title rival. This time it was Jacques Villeneuve in the Williams attempting to squeeze up the inside. Schumacher was having none of it.
He quite visibly turned his Ferrari into the side of Villeneuve. Unfortunately for the German his timing was a teensy bit off and his car bounced off and into the gravel. Schumacher’s race was over and, exactly as he had done in Adelaide in 1994, he watched from the behind the Armco to see if the Williams was still running. It was. Villeneuve went on to secure third in the race and take the championship. The FIA weren’t amused by Schumacher’s tactics and stripped him of all his championship points.
This was one of the best F1 season finales of the 2000s era. It was a race that a certain Felipe Massa would love to erase from his memory. The battle came down to the final corner of the final lap of the final race. So close was the contest that both challengers, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, were celebrating as they crossed the line.
Hamilton needed to finish fifth to secure the title but dropped to sixth in wet conditions towards the end of the race. As he exited the final corner before the long slog up Interlagos’ pit straight, he came across Timo Glock’s Toyota struggling for grip on dry tyres. On his intermediates he powered past him. The celebrating Ferrari pit crew were too busy gloating. The Briton crossed the line to become world champion at the same circuit where he had failed by a point the year before. “My heart was in my mouth,” Hamilton said. “I was almost exploding, I don’t know how I did it. I was very fortunate.” Massa, meanwhile, was distraught: “I don’t cry a lot, but today it was difficult not to.”
For the first time in history, four drivers arrived at the final round of the championship with a chance of winning the title. Fernando Alonso was the clear favourite heading into Abu Dhabi. Mark Webber was second, trailing by by eight points in the championship. Ferrari’s mistake was focusing on the battle with Webber. What they failed to realise was that Sebastian Vettel had a mathematical chance of winning. Vettel went into the race 15 points behind Alonso, but secured pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton (24 points behind Alonso ahead of the race) and Alonso in third.
If they had finished the race in the same order Alonso would have been crowned champion. Unfortunately, a disastrous call from the Ferrari pit wall bundled Alonso backwards. Webber was the first to pit on lap 12 and Ferrari shadowed his every move. The decisions dropped both championship protagonists behind other cars. With overtaking near impossible, the two were out of contention for the title. Vettel gleefully went on to win the race ahead of Hamilton and with it took the first of his four world championships. The fact that 4 drivers were in with a shout of the title makes this one of the Best F1 season finales.
After just four corners of the final round in Brazil, Sebastian Vettel’s race nearly ended right there. The RB8 was facing the wrong way, in last position with a gaping hole in the sidepod. The dream of a third consecutive championship was as tattered as his car’s bodywork and was almost completely broken. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso manoeuvred his Ferrari to third place — a title-winning position if the order had remained the same. But never say never in Formula One. Vettel wasn’t done, not by a long shot. In the next 71 laps he survived rain showers, four pit stops, no radio communication with the pit wall and but still managed to muscle his way up to sixth.
Felipe Massa generously granted his teammae Alonso 2nd. Thus leaving Vettel with a three-point lead in the standings when the chequered flag dropped. “I think that everything that could go wrong went wrong, but as a matter of fact we always kept believing instead of getting angry and frustrated about the situation,” Vettel said after the race. “Imagine yourself: You are the wrong way around at turn four; you have a lot of cars coming at you and you are facing the wrong way! I went off the brakes because everyone is going in this direction so to join them I tried to roll downhill and avoid cars by driving backwards! It’s very difficult to find the right words, especially after the race today.”
Since Vettel had to really fight for this championship, it qualifies as one of the best F1 season finales.
Nico Rosberg arrived in Abu Dhabi with a 12-point lead over teammate Hamilton. The season was all about the 2 Mercedes as Rosberg and Hamilton tussled all season long. As they lined up on the grid, the Silver Arrows locked out the front row with Hamilton on pole. Lewis took the lead and never looked back, but he wasn’t exactly getting away from the pack either. He cheekily tried to back up his teammate so that other drivers would overtake Nico. Later, it transpired that Hamilton had ignored the team’s commands. Mercedes were getting a bit nervous as as they saw the opposing teams catching up, particularly Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
This is why the 2016 season makes it onto the list of Best F1 season finales.