Throwback Thursday: A look back at some of F1’s defining moments
F1 has produced plenty of phenomenal racing, high intensity drama and true characters over the years, with the likes of James Hunt, Ayrton Senna and Lewis Hamilton all gracing the history books. To see how F1 has progressed throughout that time, you have to look back to some of the greatest and saddest moments, to really capture what the sport has, and could, become in the future.
It wouldn’t be a look into the past if one of F1’s coolest and most beloved drivers wasn’t mentioned – Great Britain’s James Hunt. The 1976 season would prove to be a typically Hunt season, with rule breaking, supposed preferential treatment, boycotting and teams tattle-taling on one another to gain an advantage, and Hunt winning by just one point. It was an intense one too after Austria’s Niki Lauda, Hunt’s main rival, suffered severe injuries during a crash at the German Grand Prix which left him in a coma for a short time and he lost the majority of his right ear and his eyelids.
4 March 1978
The 300th Grand Prix in F1 history was held in Kyalami in South Africa, and it would also be the debut for a very influential man in racing. Keke Rosberg set off on his first race and although he had to retire, he would become the Driver’s Champion 4 years on in 1982. Almost 40 years after his debut, his son Nico Rosberg would become the 2016 Driver’s Champion.
9 September 1979
This was the year that South African F1 legend Jody Scheckter won his last race in Monza. It would be the year he finally won the Championship and also his penultimate season, he retired after the 1980 season which he finished 19th in overall. He came close to winning the Driver’s Championship on three occasions (1974, 1976 and 1977) but it took a Scuderia Ferrari team to help him clinch the Championship.
For McLaren this was a golden year to look back on. Alain Prost and Niki Lauda partnered up for an epic Championship battle that would eventually go to Lauda, but only by half a point, even though Prost won more races than his Austrian teammate and even won the final race of the season in Portugal. It was a controversial weather signal from a clerk that resulted in the Monaco Grand Prix being cut short, and Prost being awarded half the points that he had earned.
1 May 1994
It’s a date that most F1 fans know by heart – the day that racing lost a legend. Ayrton Senna, a three-time Driver’s Champion died after crashing into a concrete wall at approximately 233km per hour at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994. It was a weekend packed with accidents and he was not the only driver to lose his life – Austria’s Roland Ratzenberger was killed in qualifying after the front wing of his car broke and sent him into a concrete wall. He was just a rookie, and had only made three entries, with one successful start.
10 June 2001
Michael Schumacher’s career is glittering with trophies, new records and fastest times but in the Canadian Grand Prix he would go on to do something amazing – he would finish behind his brother Ralf for the first 1-2 finish for siblings in F1 history. They would go onto the replicate this several times over throughout their illustrious careers. Michael would go on to win the Driver’s Championship in 2001, it would be his 4th season win out of a record of 7 (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004).