Top ten… Races of the 2000s

Michael Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya, Interlagos, 2001, 2 | Ferrari MediaWhen F1 is at its very best there’s no other sport than can match it for excitement.

And even despite some of the dodgy rules that seemed design to make racing impossibly there have been some cracking races this decade.

Here’s ten of them – and no, they’re not all wet races either!

Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps, 2000

Mika Hakkinen led on a drying track early on but a spin let Schumacher through into the lead.

Schumacher tried everything to keep Hakkinen behind in the dying stages – even risking a collision at 200mph by swerving into the path of the McLaren. Finally Hakkinen broke through as the pair lapped Ricardo Zonta to score a memorable win.

Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos, 2001

Michael Schumacher’s two-stop strategy should have seen him romp away from the field. But when he was passed on a rolling restart by the one-stopping Juan Pablo Montoya his race was compromised.

Montoya, in his third race, was taken out by a lapped Jos Verstappen while leading. A late rain shower looked as though it would hand the initiative to Schumacher, but David Coulthard pulled off a surprising pass not unlike Hakkinen’s to take the win.

Ralf Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Melbourne, 2002 | Ferrari MediaAustralian Grand Prix, Melbourne, 2002

An enormous shunt wiped out almost half the field at the first corner – but the cars that remained made a decent race of it.

While Michael Schumacher raced to the win Mark Webber resisted pressure from Mika Salo’s to score two points for Minardi on his d???but at home.

British Grand Prix, Silverstone, 2003

Two safety car periods early on set up a frantic race notable for some excellent passes.

Best of all was Rubens Barrichello’s move on Kimi Raikkonen that took the pair from Abbey until Priory to complete. It was surely the Brazilian’s finest win.

Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos, 2004

Barrichello started his home race from pole but Kimi Raikkonen and Montoya seized the advantage in the rain.

The two came out of the pits nose to tail before Montoya squeezed around the outside at Subida do Lago to claim the win.

San Marino Grand Prix, Imola, 2005

Fernando Alonso hung despite gigantic pressure from Michael Schumacher in the closing stages of the San Marino Grand Prix.

For lap after lap Schumacher explored every millimetre of the Renault’s rear wing but couldn’t find away around it. A classic nail-biting finish.

Fernando Alonso, Monte-Carlo, Renault, 2005 | Michael Cooper / LAT PhotographicMonaco Grand Prix, Monte-Carlo, 2005

The ‘no tyre change’ rule used in 2005 had its detractors but it can’t be denied that thanks to the rule we even saw overtaking at Monte-Carlo.

Nick Heidfeld pulled off a supremely-judged pass on Alonso in the dying stages while Michael Schumacher raced from the back of the field to pass team mate Rubens Barrichello on the last lap.

Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, 2005

The championship battle was decided before the race but rivals Raikkonen and Alonso put on a cracking show.

Raikkonen won the race by slicing past Alonso’s team mate Giancarlo Fisichella in a thrilling move on the final lap.

Meanwhile Alonso performed one of the most celebrated passes every by taking Schumacher around the outside of the ultra-fast 130R.

Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring, 2006

It would have been too easy to fill this list with races that were interesting because it rained.

Alonso drove one of the best first laps ever seen at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix and eventually took the lead, only to crash out after a wheel nut failure.

Early leader Raikkonen also crashed out when he hit Vitantonio Liuzzi. Schumacher stayed out too long on wet weather tyres and banged wheels with Nick Heidfeld, eventually finishing eighth.

After all that, Jenson Button hung on to win his first race.

Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos, 2006

Schumacher signed off with a flourish with a staggering performance in his final race. He may have suffered car trouble in qualifying and picked up a puncture during the race, but there was no doubt who the star was.

After his early problems he flew past car after car, squeezing through the tiniest of gaps to move ahead of Raikkonen. But none of that meant the home crowd were going to overlooked Felipe Massa becoming the first Brazilian to win at home since Ayrton Senna.

Photos: Ferrari Media, Ferrari Media, Michael Cooper / LAT Photographic

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11 comments on Top ten… Races of the 2000s

  1. looks like a mix up between San Marino and Monte Carlo :-)

    Suzuka 2005 would be on top of my list. I know you did not want to make a list of wet races, but Shanghai 2006 was the best one I have seen live from grandstands …

  2. I think Button doesn’t get enough credit for his win in Hungary last year. He was closing on Alonso when the Spaniard’s wheelnut came off. And, apart from that, he kept his head while all around him were losing theirs.

  3. Tommy B said on 6th September 2007, 14:52

    Suzuka 2005 was definately one of the best GP’s ever. A reverse grid because of the qualifying rules that year, made an amazing race! You missed Brazil 2003 though! The crazy race that saw everyone spin off on that same wet corner! I would of added Nurburgring 2007 too :P

  4. Robert McKay said on 6th September 2007, 15:03

    I had a list of top races from the 2000’s in my own head, which more or less matches yours. I’d definitely add the French Grand Prix 2000 (DC stuck behind the two Ferraris letting MS get away, passes Rubens, chases down Schumacher and passes him for the lead, with additional hand gestures!), and the European GP 2007. (I’d also be tempted to add Australia 2003 and Monaco 2002, but those are probably more because I’m a DC fan. And I’m sure that there have been a few other Monaco GP’s this centruy that were quite memorable, but ironically I can’t remember them, so maybe I’m talking nonsense.)

    But what I think it does prove is that there is basically, on average, one or two races a season maximum that are truly great, truly memorable, truly exciting events. Out of 17 races, is that really a good strike rate? There’s probably four or five a year that are really tediously dull, and the vast majority of F1 races are tense, interesting, strategic affairs, with leaders separated by 6 or so seconds trading fastest lap times, races that never really burst into something that gripping.

  5. Ben Goldberg said on 7th September 2007, 0:08

    I would have definitely put Interlagos 03 up there, who cares if it was raining or not, it was a very interesting race! The European GP this year was also great.

  6. GooddayBruce said on 14th April 2008, 0:02

    I would surely add Hockenheim 200 in there.

    Schumacher tangles with Fisichella at the first corner allowing the McLaren’s to pull away until a track invader brings out the safety car.  Meanwhile Barrichello on a two stopper is storming up from 18th on the grid thanks to a wet qualifying to line up third behind the McLarens. Late rain leaves the stadium section wet but the forest dry – Hakkinen and DC pit for wets but Rubens stays out on drys to win his first race at his 124th attempt triggering emotion down the pitlane the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Canada 1995.  It also left the first three in the championship separated by 3 points at mid season.

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th April 2008, 0:06

    Yeah, I didn’t want both the ‘crazy guy runs on track’ races in there though. Especially considering the bloke at Hockenheim that year set out to ruin the McLaren-Mercedes’ races and succeeded. Not F1’s finest moment.

  8. Yay! no one can beat Interlagos for good races!

  9. sam said on 8th April 2010, 0:18

    Like you guys ain’t biased against schumacher or anything…

  10. What about the 2007 2008 2009 years?

  11. Des Elmes said on 11th November 2011, 21:17

    How about Nurburgring 2005?

    Raikkonen leads for 48 of the first 58 laps – but struggles as the end of the race approaches, tyre damage causing the suspension of his McLaren to vibrate.

    Neither he nor his crew have any intention of pitting, though, with Alonso catching him hand over fist.

    Going into the 59th and final lap, he leads the Spaniard by 1.5 seconds… only to lose it completely at turn one, as his suspension finally gives up the ghost.

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