Ten worst… Championship anti-climaxes

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Interlagos, 2005 | Peter Spinney / LAT PhotographicAn unofficial round of the F1 drivers’ championship is being fought in a Parisian courtroom today.

And if the outcome of the hearing has a major effect on the championships one way or another, it would be a terrible way to decide the titles.

There have been some disappointing championship finales in the past, though. Here’s ten of the very worst.

1950 Italian Grand Prix, Monza

Giuseppi Farina won the race and with it the first ever Formula One drivers’ championship. He accepted the applause of the crowd… and went home, refusing to give any interviews.

Not the most auspicious of starts for the new championships, but an approach that some of today’s drivers might approve of…

1956 Italian Grand Prix, Monza

It was the epitome of chivalry and sportsmanship by the standards of the day. To modern eyes, a baffling capitulation.

Had Peter Collins not handed over his Ferrari to team mate Juan Manuel Fangio after the Argentine had retired, Collins would have become Britain’s first F1 champion, and Fangio would have had to wait another year for his fourth championship.

Instead Collins was killed at the Nurburgring two years later, and never crowned champion.

It’s hard to appreciate that the value of the championship was far less in 1956 than it is today – especially so given that so little importance was attached to the safety of those engaged in fighting for it.

1971 Austrian Grand Prix, Osterreichring

Runaway championship leader Jackie Stewart retired from the Austrian Grand Prix when his half shaft broke, but he knew that closest rival Jacky Ickx had also retired, and so is second title was assured.

It was, nonetheless, preferable to the circumstances in which the previous year’s title had been decided, when Jochen Rindt became champion weeks after his death at Monza after Ickx failed to overhaul his championship advantage.

1985 European Grand Prix, Brands Hatch

It’s remembered as an exciting race that gave Nigel Mansell his first victory. But the championship concluded with a whimper.

Michele Alboreto’s Ferrari rolled into retirement, its engine ablaze. That allowed Alain Prost to cruise home fourth, over a minute behind, to take the first title for a Frenchman.

1987 Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka

An anti-climax if ever there was one. The scene was set for another tense battle between the two Williams team mates. But when Mansell crashed in practice and badly injured his back, Nelson Piquet immediately became the champion.

1992 Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring

When Mansell finally won the title it was not in a fashion that suited his buccaneering style behind the wheel.

He dominated the season and won the title after finishing second in the Hungarian Grand Prix. His only title rival had been team mate Riccardo Patrese, who seldom seemed a credible threat.

1993 Portuguese Grand Prix, Estoril

More of the same followed in 1993 when Prost got his hands on the dominant Williams-Renault. Like Mansell he had a similarly un-threatening team mate in Damon Hill.

At Portugal Michael Schumacher out-foxed him strategically to take the lead, and Prost hardly seemed interested in racing him for the lead, opting to sit back and collect his final title. After that, and again like Mansell, he quit the sport at the end of the year.

1995 Pacific Grand Prix, TI Aida

If ever a venue was unworthy of a Formula One World Championship finale it was surely the miserable, tiny TI Aida circuit in Japan.

It was here that the one-sided title battle between Schumacher and Hill finally petered out with none of the acrimony or drama it had the previous year.

2001 Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring

Schumacher’s domination of the sport was so great in the early 2000s that people began to speak of finding new ways to make Grands Prix more interesting.

There was no opposition to the two red cars at Hungary and Schumacher took his fourth title with ease. The race was otherwise utterly forgettable.

2005 Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos

In 2005 the task of overwhelming Fernando Alonso’s championship advantage proved too much for Kimi Raikkonen – as the revised championship points system made it easier for Alonso to minimise the damage Raikkonen did to his lead.

Juan Pablo Montoya beat Raikkonen in the race, Alonso took third and the title with it.

Aside: Lewis Hamilton also has some experience of champion anti-climaxes. He won the GP2 title last year in the space between the feature and sprint races at Monza.

This came when Giorgio Pantano was stripped of his point for fastest lap after it was discovered he had set the time under yellow flags. Hamilton received the confiscated point, which was enough to give him the title over Nelson Piquet Jnr.

Photo: Peter Spinney / LAT Photographic

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1 comment on Ten worst… Championship anti-climaxes

  1. and we have new one , ruling is out …

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