The Best Year of Formula 1 -By Decade
At Pole Position Prizes we are currently running a competition for someone to win every single Season Review of Formula 1 on DVD from 1970 to 2020.
It got us thinking…..
What is the best year from every decade?
Read to find out what we think is the best year from the last five decades……
70's - 1976
Perhaps the easiest selection as many consider this to the best F1 season ever.
Immortalised in the film Rush, 1976 has gone down in motorsport folklore for the season-long battle for the title – Lauda v Hunt, Ferrari v McLaren, a tussle that saw the pendulum swing one way then the other, bitterness due to a perceived illegal car for Hunt in Spain that saw disqualification and reinstatement, another disqualification for Hunt after the British Grand Prix.
The awful fiery accident that nearly claimed Lauda’s life on the Nordschleife, and the conclusion at a sodden Fuji Circuit that saw Hunt having to battle his way to the title even after Lauda retired, unwilling to race.
It had everything and a season like this, we are unlikely to see again.
80's - 1986
A close call: whilst 1984 was ultimately decided on the early halting of the Monaco Grand Prix, 1987 & 1988 receive honourable mentions and 1989 ended in controversy, we’ve gone for 1986.
Why? There was a rare 3-way tussle for the outright championship between Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell as the trio traded blows all year – a tussle that seemed to be going the way of the Williams drivers after Prost was disqualified at Monza.
Piquet and Mansell finished 4th and 5th the penultimate round in Mexico as Prost completed a brace of 2nd places, meaning Mansell only had to finish 3rd in Adelaide… He was running 3rd late on, and we know the rest….
The tyre exploded, the dream was over, but it was thrilling end to a tense season.
90's - 1996
This was toss-up between 1996 and 1999, with the latter being a case of “what if Schumacher hadn’t broken his leg” but still a superb effort by Eddie Irvine.
An honorable mention to 1998 with Hakkinen v Schumacher, but we’ve gone with 1996.
Slightly romantically perhaps, but many feel Damon Hill was robbed of the title in 1994 when Schumacher apparently deliberately drove into the Williams man in the finale at Adelaide after the German made a mistake.
1996 was a terrific battle between the Williams pair of Hill and rookie Jacques Villeneuve and would always end in a fairy story – either Villeneuve would win the title his father didn’t, or Hill would become the first son of a World Champion after his father Graham.
Hill took the title after Villeneuve retired at Suzuka – and we all love Murray Walker’s summing up of the situation:
“And I’ve got to stop, because I’ve got a lump in my throat.”
00's - 2008
A selection not just based on the winner, but this just about pips 2003 and the fairytale of 2009 when Brawn F1 caught everyone on the hop with the double diffuser – In terms of the drama across the season, 2008 takes it as it included race-fixing by the Renault team!
Again a 3-way tussle for supremacy between Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who had stunned the world by arriving like a meteorite in 2007 and narrowly missed being a rookie World Champion.
A disastrous run in Valencia, Spa, Monza and Singapore put Alonso out of the reckoning, and Hamilton’s victory in China ahead of Massa meant the Englishman needed to finish 5th in the final round on Massa’s home soil – Interlagos.
Weather played a huge part, sporadic downpours, a period of dry weather before gradual rainfall in the final laps, a hard call to make on tyres on a ever-moistening track.
Massa led, Hamilton was 6th behind Timo Glock with 3 corners to go… but Glock had stayed on dry tyres and slithered backwards, handing Hamilton the title in most dramatic of fashions, and breaking Brazilian hearts.
In a decade dominated by Mercedes 2016 gets an honorable mention in terms of inter-team drama, but we have chosen 2010 – the continued rise of a brilliant young German and Red Bull, and a terrific title scrap.
Again it was Alonso and Ferrari in the hunt, and across the season he and the Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel took 5 wins apiece with Mark Webber just 1 win behind his German team mate in the battle for the title.
The Red Bulls seemed to hold all the cards after Alonso finished 13th in Malaysia and 14th at Silverstone, but Vettel’s 15th in Belgium followed by 3 wins and 2 podiums for Alonso in 5 races saw Alonso with a 15 point advantage over Vettel going into the finale in Abu Dhabi. Webber was also right in the mix in 2nd despite being denied favourable team orders, which Red Bull we criticised for.
Alonso needed to finish 4th to be champion, but he and Webber we caught in traffic as Vettel seared into the lead to take the victory – Alonso was unable to find a way through the traffic and finished 7th, handing the title to Vettel by 4 points. Abu Dhabi was the first time Vettel had led the championship all year.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article, words were provided by Rich Hoit from The Hard Compound.
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