In the throes of the F1 off-season, FormulaRapida.net compiled a list of tracks raced at in the category associated with particular moments.
From obscure circuits to notable ones, our list features a number of tracks the legacies of which are overshadowed by one particular moment, be that a shocking DNF, an unlikely result, an unavoidable controversy, or on-track drama.
Forced to exclude historic circuits such as Silverstone, Monza, Spa, Monaco, or Brazil for their overwhelmingly rich histories, we’ve instead decided on a list of tracks infamous, or famous, for one particular event that transpired there.
Here’s our list – in no particular order:
Indianapolis – 2005 tyre farce
A widely respected venue in the wider motorsport world, Indianapolis remains an infamous circuit within F1 for its tyre farce in 2005. That year, teams using Michelin tyres – all but three – faced issues with the circuit’s banking, and it was deemed unsafe for those on Michelin rubber to participate in the race. Attempts to reach a compromise by implementing a chicane in the circuit proved futile, and only six cars – all on Bridgestone tyres – entered the race. Among the most controversial moments in modern F1 history, this event drastically changed public perception of tyre wars in the sport.
Dallas – Mansell blacks out in 1984
The 1984 Dallas GP was a comedy of miscalculation, with extreme heat meaning the track surface of the street circuit disintegrated. So great was the heat that the circuit had to be repaved hours before the race start in order to replace the compromised asphalt, and Lotus driver Nigel Mansell fainted in the midst of his effort to push his car across the line in his pursuit of a fifth place finish. The Englishman, who’d started on pole, had his race ended by a mechanical failure, and despite a valiant effort his fainting meant he didn’t finish the Grand Prix.
Dijon – 1979’s battle for second
Among the greatest battles in F1 history, the duel for second – between Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux – in the 1979 French GP is an iconic moment in Formula 1’s past. The action ended with Villeneuve earning himself second for Ferrari, after their last-lap shoot-out.
Valencia – 2012’s unlikely podium
In its five-race tenure as the venue of the European GP, the Valencia street circuit earned itself a reputation as a circuit conducive to boring racing, but 2012’s edition of the Grand Prix provided anything but. Long-time race leader Sebastian Vettel suffered a mechanical failure after a lap 33 race restart, handing first place to Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who’d started 11th. After second-place runner Romain Grosjean had a DNF of his own, Lewis Hamilton inherited the position, but he wouldn’t hold it for long as he was soon overtaken by Kimi Raikkonen. Once in third, Hamilton was taken out by Pastor Maldonado, handing Michael Schumacher the final spot on the rostrum. Neither the German, nor eventual hometown winner Alonso, started within the top ten. Raikkonen, who held on to second, was the only driver on the podium to start within the top ten, as he lined up fifth on the grid at the race start.
Jerez – Controversial title decider in 1997
1997’s title decider played out at the Spanish circuit of Jerez – the venue of that year’s European GP. With one point between title rivals Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve prior to the race start, and the two running first and second 47 laps in, whoever of the two finished ahead of the other would win the title. On lap 47, Schumacher led Villeneuve, but on the subsequent lap the Canadian dove down the inside of the then two-time world champion at Curva Dry Sac. Schumacher went into the gravel trap after pinballing off of Villeneuve’s car, with suspension damage and the gravel meaning he was unable to recover his Ferrari. Villeneuve carried on to win the title, and Schumacher was disqualified from the season, the FIA using his case to put an end to the activity of championship leaders to eliminate their rivals as had happened in prior years.
Sepang – Multi 21
In 2013’s Malaysian GP, Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel started on pole, but his teammate Mark Webber would clinch the lead at the start. Vettel, second, was instructed to hold position behind Webber so as to maintain their 1-2, but the German was not content to hold position. Pursuing his fourth world championship, Vettel engaged in battle with Webber with 13 laps to go, and he would ultimately take the lead – in spite of pleas from Red Bull for him to wean off his teammate. In the cool-down room after the race, Webber referenced “Multi 21”, so as to ask why he would disobey orders and jeopardize such a result. Considering how the moment shaped up the rivalry between drivers, we had to give Kimi Raikkonen’s famous ice cream moment from 2009 F1 grand prix.
Donington – Senna’s lap one heroics in 1993
Remembered as one of the greatest laps in F1 history, Senna’s opening lap in the European Grand Prix of 1993, held at Donington, began with a poor getaway from fourth that saw him drop to fifth. After recovering to fourth and passing Schumacher, he would go around the outside of Karl Wendlinger, before subsequently passing Damon Hill to take second. Later in the lap, he would pass Prost for the lead. It would be a lead he never relinquished.
Nurburgring GP circuit – Raikkonen’s 2005 tyre failure
Raikkonen entered the last lap of the 2005 European GP at the Nürburgring GP circuit attempting to nurse his heavily worn tyres to an impressive victory, but his failure at this would become evident heading in the first turn, with vibrations causing a suspension failure and sending Raikkonen’s McLaren into the gravel traps. His DNF meant that Renault driver Fernando Alonso would finish first, only leading for one lap of the race.
Fuji – Hunt’s 1976 title triumph in the rain
A hotly contested 1976 title fight culminated in one of the most famous finales of all time, when Niki Lauda conceded the rain-soaked race, fresh off of season-pausing burn injuries incurred in the German GP that year at the Nürburgring Nordschleife – a similarly wet race. James Hunt, his title rival, needed a fourth place finish to win his title, but a slow puncture dropped him out of position. He fought back to claim P4, though he was famously unaware of this, and thought he had lost the title.
Singapore – Crashgate
High above all the great races, and all the great races to be held here in the future, stands an indelible memory: crashgate. A blight on F1’s history books, the event – transpiring in 2008’s Grand Prix – occurred when Fernando Alonso of Renault, whose strategy demanded a safety car, was conveniently given this opportunity after teammate Nelson Piquet Jr hit the wall. There was later found to have been collusion between Renault and Piquet, who was ordered by the French team to crash out to aid his teammate’s efforts. Many involved were barred from competition in one of the most consequential moments in modern F1 history.
Baku – Vettel hits Hamilton in 2017 thriller
Amid a crazy 2017 Azerbaijan GP, a safety car was called for excessive debris, and with the pair having just pitted, Ferrari’s Vettel and Mercedes’ Hamilton led the pack, with the former having the track advantage as he sat first, and therefore controlled the pace. With Vettel eager behind, the German hit the rear of Hamilton on the exit of Turn 15. Minor damage was incurred, but Vettel – perceiving this to have been an effort to brake check him from Hamilton – pulled alongside him and turned in on the Mercedes driver, making contact on the sidewalls of their respective tyres. For his move, Vettel was granted a ten second stop-and-go penalty, and both the incident, and the penalty, proved highly controversial. To be fair, in less time, Baku has had several moments but the above should be remembered forever over the Red Bull duo collision between Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in 2018 and also the famous ‘Ericsson hit me’ radio from Romain Grosjean’s engineer in the same grand prix.
Canada – Vettel incurs controversial penalty
After leading 2019’s Canadian GP for the majority of the race, Ferrari’s Vettel – under pressure from a rapid Lewis Hamilton – went onto the grass at turn three, recovering his car at turn four but blocking off Hamilton in so doing, the FIA judged. Receiving a five-second penalty, Vettel was furious as he felt there was little he could have done to avoid blocking Hamilton. Many fans were similarly furious, feeling stripped of a tight battle between the previous year’s title rivals. Sparking outrage on social media, the incident changed the FIA’s approach to dealing out penalties, and F1’s sanctioning body soon adopted a ‘Let them race’ attitude as they had been encouraged to do in the wake of this incident.
Suzuka – Senna v Prost title finales
Both in 1989 and 1990, Suzuka played host to two of the most memorable title finales in Formula 1 history. Both involving Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, both 1989 and 1990 saw the two collide, with the eventual champion in both instances intentionally causing the accident. In 1990, the collision occurred when Senna, the championship leader, careened into the side of Prost as they headed into turn one, sending both into the gravel. In 1989, Senna needed to win the race in order to secure a second title, but as he attempted to get past teammate Prost to take the lead, Prost turned in on him and the two went straight ahead. Senna was able to enter the race again in this case, and he would win on track but be disqualified for having been helped by marshalls as he got going once more.
Bahrain – Grosjean’s horror crash/Bahrain Outer – Shock win for Perez
Though a recent event, Romain Grosjean’s terrifying accident in the 2020 Bahrain GP and the subsequent fire are unlikely to be forgotten, and will forever be associated with the Bahrain international circuit. Images of his flaming Haas, having hit the wall at speed after contact with Alpha Tauri’s Daniil Kvyat, are unlikely to ever be forgotten.
A circuit to have held only one Grand Prix, and one likely to never host a race again, the Bahrain Outer circuit threw up drama in its Sakhir GP last season. With Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton sidelined by a positive COVID-19 test, Williams’ George Russell was called upon to replace his fellow countryman for the race.
With Haas’ line-up altered on account of Romain Grosjean’s injuries in the wake of his horrific accident the week prior, and Williams having replaced Russell with Formula 2 driver Jack Aitken, fans were prepared for an unusual race. Unusual was one eligible descriptor. After a pair of horrible pit stops and a puncture for Russell (who’d taken an early lead) and also a mistake in Bottas’ strategy, Racing Point driver Sergio Perez emerged victorious, the Mexican having recovered from a lap one shunt that sent him to the back of the grid in a long-awaited victory for the 30 year old.
Nurburgring Nordschleife – Lauda’s fireball accident
At the German GP in 1976, a horrifying accident for Niki Lauda saw his Ferrari hit the wall at the Nurburgring and be sent across the circuit, ablaze all the while. Lauda was subsequently hit by another car, and helped out of the flames, but his injuries were severe. It seemed as though his burns could have sidelined him for the remainder of his 1976 campaign, but less than six weeks later he would return to the cockpit in remarkable fashion.
Notable mentions – circuits where it was difficult to have one standout:
At a circuit like Silverstone, it was difficult to single out one moment in the track’s rich past, from such things as a fan on the track in 2003, Michael Schumacher breaking his legs in 1999, Lewis Hamilton’s various wins there, and intense battles.
At tracks like Spa, the same was true, with Schumacher’s win in 1995, Mika Hakkinen’s pass on the German in 2000, Charles Leclerc’s first victory of an anticipated many among countless moments from which no one could be selected. The dramatic crash from Romain Grosjean in 2012 is also remembered by F1 fans, for which the Frenchman was handed a race ban and also earned the ‘first-lap nutcase’ tag from Mark Webber.
Monza‘s various moments, all carrying similar weight, meant we could not pinpoint a single among them, with each of Ferrari’s wins remembered by many, Pierre Gasly’s victory in 2020 or that of Sebastian Vettel in 2008, the fastest lap in F1 history, and more.
Brazil was a particularly difficult track to identify one moment from, with “Is that Glock?!” a contender, but one among far too many from the circuit, we judged. With 2012’s season finale, Ayrton Senna’s 1991 win, the 2007 championship decider, and others.
Spain and Melbourne were two others we chose to exclude, with the former’s races in 1996, 2012 (in addition to fire in Williams garage post their dramatic win), and 2016 all held to a high regard, and the latter’s drama in 2002, David Coulthard’s sportsmanship in 1998, and last lap drama in 2012.
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