A great sporting moment?

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

It?s easy to get carried away in the excitement of the moment, so I waited until today before writing this piece.

Was what we saw yesterday one of the great sporting moments? How does it compare to other memorable F1 championship finales?

A clean fight

One of the most gratifying things about yesterday?s title decider was that it was a clean fight.

The Ayrton Senna-Alain Prost collisions of 1989-90 stick in the memory for obvious reasons, as do the Michael Schumacher scandals of 1994 and 1997.

Yesterday?s stunning title decider was all the more exceptional because it was clean from start to finish (unless you subscribe to The Glock Delusion).

Flashback to Spa

Remarkably, the season finale ended in similar circumstances to the notorious Belgian Grand Prix earlier this year. A rain storm blew in, soaked the circuit, and left the drivers faced with a perilous decision whether to change tyres or not.

Given how close the Spa penalty came to deciding the championship, it was deeply ironic that the final race should end in similar circumstances ?ǣ but with a different twist.

F1 Fanatic live blog

While the world’s TV commentators struggled to keep up with the action the 722 of us following the race on the F1 Fanatic Live Blog were doing the same. Here?s a small sample of the discussion (with typing tidied up):

18:42 Journeyer: Hamilton now exposed to Vettel. GOODNESS.
18:43 Ben Goldberg: this is for the championship!
18:44 Journeyer: KUBICA?!
18:44 sam: this is horrible
18:45 rich: Vettel passses him
18:45 DanD: Vettel got by HAM, putting HAM in p6
18:46 Filipe: Now the only hope for Ham is Glock having some problem
18:47 gerdoner: last corner
18:47 Ollie (BlogF1): GLO ran slow. They passed for 5th.
18:47 DanD: Glock gave it up, HAM in p5
18:48 Journeyer: WHOAAAAAAAA!
18:48 doctorvee: OMG WHAT A RACE
18:48 rich: HAM WC 2008
18:48 DanD: shocked Massa family
18:48 F1Fanatic.co.uk: That is incredible. That is the most stunning championship I’ve ever seen.
18:49 Robert McKay: Greatest title climax ever.

Read the full original live blog here.

Other great sporting moments

How does that race compare to other great moments in other sports? I’m not an expert in much sport beyond F1, so I’d appreciate your thoughts on it.

Yes, the middle part of the Brazilian Grand Prix was fairly static. But for me that only served to heighten the tension: all race long Massa was poised to grab the title if Hamilton faltered in the slightest.

The last time I remember seeing the destiny of a major championship change courses so late in the day was when Manchester United snatched the Champions’ League trophy from Bayern Munich in 1999.

What other sporting moments would you compare the Brazilian Grand Prix to?

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36 comments on “A great sporting moment?”

  1. … the middle part of the Brazilian Grand Prix was fairly static…

    Had the race not been about the World Championship, it would have been rather dull, indeed.

    Given how close the Spa penalty came to deciding the championship, it was deeply ironic that the final race should end in similar circumstances – but with a different twist.

    And will you please stop saying this. It’s simply not true. Had Massa won the title, it would have been down to Hamilton making mistakes like in Bahrain and Canada, and bad luck like in Hungary. Now that Hamilton took it, it’s down to Massa making mistakes like Fuji and bad luck like in Australia. Let’s keep it at that.

  2. yorricksfriend
    3rd November 2008, 15:00

    I don’t watch a heck of a lot of sport but for me the only thing more exciting to watch this year was a cricket match in the Indian Premier League between Punjab and Mumbai where Mumbai was taking a run on the last ball to win the match and Punjab’s captain got the ball and dived onto the stumps to give Punjab victory. But yeah with this races conclusion my heart was thumping almost as much at was in Spa (not as much because I was out of my seat then coz im a Kimi fan) and I have a fairly indifferent attitude to Lewis and Felipe (I prefer Felipe). I can’t even begin to imagine just how tense it must’ve been for fans of Lewis and Felipe.

  3. David Watkins
    3rd November 2008, 15:07

    The Champions League Final of 1999 was astonishing but slightly different to this as it was only a single game.

    A more apt comparison, I think, would be Michael Thomas winning the championship for Arsenal at Anfield in the very last minute of a league season of 40-odd matches.


  4. schumi the greatest
    3rd November 2008, 15:11

    I dont think in any sport ever has the destiny of the most important tittle in that sport changed hands so back and forth so quickly.

    all race hamilton had it but knew any mistakes meant he would lose it, then vettel went past and it was doom and gloom…i couldnt believe it was happening..somehow though i had the feeling he would get the place back…but il admit i pretty much thought it was all over when brundle commented on glocks sector times:

    “Hows glocks sector times….theyre fine!!! theyr absolutley fine!! hamilton’s not going to get the championship”

    my heart was pounding (god knows why…imagine how lewis and felipe must of felt) then that bit of commentary as hamilton and vettel approcahed the final corner:

    MB: “Is that glock going slowly??….it is…thats glock!!!”

    unbeleivable..it was like a movie..the final corner at the final race…i cant think of any other sporting finale with that much tension it was unbelievable…cant quite get my head round it. f1 boring?? your having a laugh!

  5. rugby world cup final 2003

  6. Yep agree, Rugby World Cup Final 2003.

  7. In terms of sheer drama I struggle to think of events that I’ve been more excited, amazed and thrilled by.

    The 99 Champions League Final springs to mind, as does the 03 Rugby WC as others have mentioned.

    The only other major event that comes close for me was the 2001 Wimbledon Final when Goran Ivanisevic, a completely unranked wild-card entrant, won the title in a 5 set thriller after previously being beaten in the final three times in the past.

  8. With many mentioning the 99 CL final, I’m suprised no-one has mentioned the 2005 CL final, which was a true story of the underdog coming good.

    United were domestic double winners that year, Liverpool finished 5th behind Everton and got knocked out of every domestic cup, only to go on a knock out the best teams in europe.

  9. … it was like a movie… the final corner at the final race…

    Except that, if it were a movie, nobody’d believe it.

    Didn’t Murray Walker say something like ‘Anything can happen in Formula One… and it usually does’?

  10. Yeah the rugby world cup final and the champions league final are the only comparisons I can really think of…or how about that Nadal-Federer final where it looked like Federer had staged a massive comeback only for Nadal to snatch it in a tiebreaker?

  11. Keith, I was thinking just the same thing, I mean the similarities with Spa. It started with light rain that progressively got heavier. Unfortunately, while Massa benefited the most from the Spa race, it went the other way in the Brazil.

  12. I follow football and Liverpool in particular. I have two memories that bring the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.

    1994-95 – final game of the Premiership season Blackburn were playing Liverpool away at Anfield and needed to win or draw to win the championship for the first time. When in the last minute Liverpool scored a free kick to take the lead 2-1,it looked all lost for blackburn, however man Utd their rivals had lost to West ham. the outcome was never clear until the final whistle.

    Champions League Final – Liverpool V’ AC Milan

    Liverpool went 3 – O down in the first half and looked dead and buried, only to stage what has been described as the greatest final comeback in European football history. They managed to get back to 3 – 3 in the second half before snatching victory in Penalties.

    Lots of people at work are talking about the race, many are not even F1 fans and they are simply buzzing who the conclusion of a championship could be so exciting. Unfortunately there had to be a loser, but I think Brazil has created a very positive impression.

  13. Roger Carballo AKA Architrion
    3rd November 2008, 16:47

    I’m with you, Lustigson. And what about the penalty Massa was given in Singapur? This seems pretty like what happens with refferees and the football season. The leave you tied with pros and cons.

    I understand all the hysteria and lewismania rising up after he clinches his first wdc. But I’d expect some balanced opinion speaking out loud on the tv that it was emotional, risky, hard and full of pressure win, but….

    but it wasn’t as brilliant as other we’ve seen recently. The Bahrain and Canada errors were ugly, hard to understand, silly?? There was emotion till the end, but How much of it came because of those errors? Is this season just as brilliant as a Schumi’s 2004, a Fred’s 2005, a Senna’s 1988?

    The ball is on your roof, Keith.

  14. Carlos Sainz 500m from the end of the GB rally 1998! gifting championship to Makinen.

  15. Roger Carballo AKA Architrion
    3rd November 2008, 17:25

    I’ve found one supreme moment that happened THIS YEAR…. Wimbledon’s final… an instant classic. Certainly, no doubt about it, the best tennis match ever played, heavy weighted drama till the end. The only difference? Nadal and Federer they both played supreme tennis, while, yesterday, Lewis wasn’t as brilliant as he usually does while on the razor’s edge.

  16. It was very exciting in the first and last 10 laps. Rain again became a critical factor. I enjoyed the drama of the finish, even if I wanted Massa to take the championship.

    David Hobbs was one of our commentators and he’s telling Lewis, you’ve got to get past Vettel or it’s all over. Then, suddenly, he realized Vettel was passing Glock, and then so was Hamilton. Just like that, the world championship was won. Quite intense, and to all the drivers’ credit, they didn’t crack under the pressure. Very clean racing at the end, and wonderful to watch.

    Yes, I think as a world championship moment, after all the controversies of the year, and the drama of the last lap of the season, we’ll be talking about this for years.

    And with Alonso running in the Renault so well (hope he stays with them), Massa coming so close, Kimi’s lack of speed and inconsistency, and BMW Sauber putting their resources into next year’s car, I’m looking forward to 2010.

  17. Keith – you’re absolutely right that we should pause to draw breath before considering the historical importance of last night’s events. Time to shower off the cold sweat, let the nervous nausea in our throats subside leaving only a trace of acid in our still dry mouths and adjust to a regular heartbeat following a prolonged bout of cardiac dysrhythmia.

    Only now, 24 hours later is it possible to contextualise those few moments in Interlagos. Yup, I can be completely objective:

    With what sporting events does Interlagos 2008 compare? Well, for me none, in terms of the deleterious effects on my health. But in general, you’ve got to say in terms of epic battles it’s right up there with America beating Russia to the moon in 1969 (Way to go Neil’n’Buzz), the RAF smacking Luftwaffe butt over the skies of southern England back in 1940 or Mexico triumphing over Texas at the Alamo in 1836.

    And I don’t think I’m alone. The last time a Mercedes driver got this much media attention was when Henri Paul took too much speed into the Pont de l’Alma tunnel and hit the concrete barrier, back in Paris ’97. (Was that in bad taste?)

  18. Great sporting moment:
    Beijing Olympic rowing
    Men’s coxless fours final
    GB come through in the final 100m of a 2000m race to win gold
    Not something to forget in a hurry.

    There’s a video on youtube for anyone interested:

    Also RWC Final 2003 England 23-20 Australia – as mentioned above – fantastic moment when time just seems to slow down.

    No apologies for the GB bias to this – it’s a question of home.

  19. What was it….This year’s US Open between Tiger and the other guy? That was rediculous too. And it was GOLF!

  20. I’ve got to go for another racing moment which, as a Scot and a Dario Franchitti fan since ’95, is close to my heart.

    Last years Indycar finale at Chicagoland where the title was decided wheel-to-wheel between Scott Dixon and Dario on the last lap and on the last corner of the race. They were both concerving fuel having stayed out when everyone else pitted which meant they were on a lap of their own ahead of everyone else for a while.

    Dixon ran out of fuel and Dario won! Check the video for the last 2 laps (Dixon red and white car, Franchitti orange and black car).


  21. Andrew Wilson
    3rd November 2008, 22:31

    What about Dennis Taylor beating Steve Davis in the Embassey 1985 world snooker final. Dennis was behind the whole way through and it got to 18 frames all, i think, in a match of best of 37 (first to nineteen). It got to a black ball fight and Dennis got it, the only time in the whole 37 frames that he was ahead. the last ball of the last frame. Is this the snooker equivilent of the last corner of the last lap in the last race?


  22. I remember there was a discussion a few months back on why things like Tennis got more headlines than F1, why Nadal v Federer dominated the pages… now I’d compare this to that, in the sense that it was absolutely epic and so tense. That game had so many Championship points for Nadal that Federer so calmly kept at bay until the inevitable happened. Only difference is they are considered two established greats… like a Senna V Prost battle.

    In terms of last minute action – yes, 99′ Champions League (and Solskjaer has won it!! – even as a Man Utd hater, that sent shivers down my spine), Pool V Milan as mentioned.

    I’d also put forward Arsenal v Liverpool – 89 Division One title I believe, then the top tier of football, and the top two playing each other. Arsenal had to win by 2 clear goals, and with injury time approach, were leading 1-0… all seemed lost, but then Michael Thomas stepped into the frame and made history.

    England v Greece, 2002, qualifier but had that sense of magnitude and emotion about it, a great sporting moment for anyone here.

    Man Utd v Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup, that goal by Giggs.

    Others that you may want to youtube – the Borg V McEnroe tie-break in 1980, Usain Bolt destorying the Olympic Record when jogging the last 10 metres, and a very minor one in comparison, but Jimmy Glass’ goal for Carlisle which kept them in the Professional football leagues – 93rd minute, by a goalkeeper =)

  23. Damn – I get all the way this far down in the thread only to find someone else has posted what I was going to say!

    This was Taylor-Davis all over again – but much much faster…

    There’s been nothing like it since.


  24. The only other major event that comes close for me was the 2001 Wimbledon Final when Goran Ivanisevic, a completely unranked wild-card entrant, won the title in a 5 set thriller after previously being beaten in the final three times in the past.

    I remember that well, but it was the weather that interfered with that set of results IIRC – in the semi-final Goran Invanisevic was losing very badly to Tim Henman, and clearly flustered. Heavy rain meant the match was stopped. When play was resumed, Ivanisevic demolished Henman, just as Henman done to him before stoppage. Ivanisevic went on to win the Wimbledon title.

    I don’t watch much other sport, unless it’s big events. My only contributions are of the recent olympics I think!

    Though not a commonly watched sport unless it’s the Olympics, and over pretty quickly, Michael Phelps collection of olympic golds in swimming, in Beijing this summer past, was almost interrupted by someone (can’t remember who!) in the 100m. Phelps was in P2 the whole time, didn’t gain on the lead until the last 20 metres, and it was literally the last and final stroke where Phelps stopped the clock at 50.58…his opponent did 50.59! 100th of a second in swimming is probably 10,000th of a second in F1!

    Another would’ve been the Olympics Womens Team Gymnastics, where China and the USA were in the rotation – each matching or bettering each others scores (marginally)…and each making the same mistakes. There was nothing in it. The positions for the final rotation were 1. USA. 2. China. 3. Russia. The pressure come the last rotation, of which the US had the better seeded gymnasts for the apparatus, was too much for one of the US competitors, and her mistakes (combined) allowed China to steam ahead to claim the gold. Also in the last round, Russia flunked up and Romania took advantage to claim Bronze. There was plenty of heartache there although, unlike Interlagos, not for the host country.

  25. David Watkins
    4th November 2008, 1:07

    Good call Greg on Jimmy Glass’ goal for Carlisle!


  26. 2008 F1 finale is the ‘real’ MOMENT of TRUTH of the sport!

    Hamilton lost by ONE point last season… (upset most of McLarren supporters, double blown season!). And the payback was at Interlagos…

    He will be the great F1 driver in years to come, and definitely will match the current F1 legend, Michael Schumacher!

  27. To be honest, I don’t think I have ever seen a climax to ‘any’ championship quite like the 2008 F1 World Championship. I remember the Manchester United victory back in 1999 very well, and can remember considering changing the channel until Teddy Sheringham was brought on. He gave Manchester United a whole new incentive, and you could sense that the game was not finished.
    I had simular feelings towards the 2003 Rugby World Cup too, as Johnny Wilkinson had been on such fine form, and you could sense that maybe England could pull it off. On Sunday, when Vettel overtook into fifth, I was convinced Hamilton had blown it.
    I could see no way back from it, no way at all. With all of the confusion, and SPEED Tv seemed as confused as I was, I did not know Hamilton had passed Glock until he crested the brow of the hill to the main straight. Even then, I was sure he had not made it.
    So no, I don’t think nothing compares to this. Nothing at all.

  28. First up, fantastic moments in sports mentioned by many of you. Being born and raised here in America for all of my life, I have not seen most of the rugby and soccer(as we call it, sorry) matches you have mentioned. However, with the annual broadcast being the world’s most-watched event each season, how could you guys forget perhaps one of the greatest stories, one of the greatest finshes in modern sports history….

    Super Bowl XLII

    The championship game of the National Football league has produced many great games over the last 42 seasons, but few could match the drama and storylines of this year’s instant classic. Many expected the game to be a blowout by the New England Patriots- a fitting end to their accomplishing of the once-impossible: finishing an entire NFL season unbeaten at 19 wins and zero losses. The win would be the Pats fourth Super Bowl win in the last eight, forever securing their place as an NFL dynasty in an era where the league has taken strides to create parity among the 32 teams.

    However, the upstart and underdog New York Giants- my beloved team since my toddler years- had other ideas. After earning a wild-card birth into the playoffs with a less than stellar record, Big Blue went on to win three striahgt road playoff games to reach the Super Bowl, including beating the Green Bay Packers-argueably the NFL’s most storied franchise- on the road in weather that was well below freezing.

    The Giants were shut out in the first half of the game, but quarterback Eli Mannning- a player who had been scrutinized and picked on by the media since his debut in 2004- led the team on two fourth-quarter touchdown drivers, including the game-winning drive with under 3 minutes left. The win gave the Giants their third Super Bowl Championship in the 42-year history of the event, and allowed longtime defensive end and future hall of famer Michael Strahan to retire with the championship ring he so coveted.

    When the Giants last won the Super Bowl, in January of 1991, I was six years old and asleep on the couch with an ear infection, so my sheer joy floowing this season’s win is understandible. Sunday’s season finale will rank as one of the best sporting contests I have seen, but I don’t know if anything will ever top this seaon’s Super Bowl. I grew up following the Giants in the same fashion many of you in Europe root for ManU, Barcelona, or Real Madrid as kids, and to see my team bring home the championship was truly amazing.

  29. i congratulate lewis , for the championship . I am just not sure how come this become a great sporting moment. It was exciting finish though ..Hamilton just won because of Toyota’s inability to finish the race or may be some thing else.Comparing trulli’s and glocks timings in this race are rubbish . This race lewis was just lucky , not because of his skill or tallent, he himself was struggling as a wet weather master to keep his 5th or 6th place , in one of the faster cars in the circuit which favors mclaren a lot in weather conditions ;) .

  30. @ John Spencer 3 November 2008 at 6:11 pm

    With what sporting events does Interlagos 2008 compare? Well, for me none, in terms of the deleterious effects on my health. But in general, you’ve got to say in terms of epic battles it’s right up there with America beating Russia to the moon in 1969 (Way to go Neil’n’Buzz), the RAF smacking Luftwaffe butt over the skies of southern England back in 1940 or Mexico triumphing over Texas at the Alamo in 1836.

    Ha ha! Why not add Eve versus the Serpent, and David versus Goliath, too…

    @ sujesh

    Hamilton just won because of Toyota’s inability to finish the race or may be some thing else.

    No, Hamilton won because he scored 98 points over the entire season.

  31. Romain from Grenoble
    4th November 2008, 10:10

    Hello all.

    I think of 2 sporting events, one I saw live : the soccer Euro 2000 finale (France-Italy). Italy was leading 1-0 when the clock was 93 minutes. Then one goal for France before extra time, which meant there had to be a ‘sudden death’ or ‘golden goal’ extra time. Then Trezeguet scores : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uJb2WsQmvA . Since then, he is called Tr*z*GOOOOAL. Recap of the match : http://en.euro2008.uefa.com/history/season=2000/round=1461/match=65299/index.html .

    Another interesting end of championship, in motorsports, was “The Pass”. Zanardi won the 1996 Cart Championship with a pass on the last lap of the last race. It was not actually the last corner of the lap, but almost (there were 3 corners left) : http://www.motorsportmad.com/view/2909/champ-car—that–famous-pass . A pass in the Corkscrew deciding the championship. Impressive.

    A bit off-topic, but I have suggestions for articles related to this last race :

    – What about Kubica behavior? He unlapped himself from Vettel and Hamilton, clearly impeding Lewis, it is this event which allows Vettel to pass. Had Lewis not won the championship, McLaren would be very upset towards Robert.

    – An interesting article could be “What was the most exciting season finale?”. 2008 scores high of course, but 1997 was also a classic.

  32. Nicole Cook at the Road Cycling Event at this years Olympics was a similar ending – she dropped behind at the last corner and managed to sprint through on the final straight to clinch gold.

    It was very similar, but obviously a lot slower.

  33. Roger Carballo AKA Architrion
    4th November 2008, 13:37

    who whooooo….. the english camp has forgotten one of the most intense moments in sports finals…… Come on, guys, don’t you remember the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Manchester United? That was electrifying!!!! Awesome. I was rooting Manchester, who played and extraordinary game while loosing 1-0. And in final moments Sheringham min 91 and Solskjaer min 92 won the cup while Bayern players fall down thinking it was a nightmare that couldn’t be real…. The best football final I’ve seen. And it was yours, brits……..

  34. As dramaturgy goes this one was similiar to Nadal vs Federer and Super Bowl XLII. Leaders looking like they are bottling it just to recover with almost no time left. (obv tennis doesn’t have time limits). Obviously as emotions goes this one is up there with any thrilling title deciders encounters of your favorite sport.

    Liverpool vs Milan would be like Suzuki 05 with Alonso in Fisichella’s position and the title still up for grabs. It was a game that was thrilling all 120min+. Mancs vs bayern would be more like Hungary 08 being the final race of this season. Massa(Bayern) taking an eary lead, Hamilton’s tireblow leaves him limping in sixth, Massa leading and bam! Almost there and the engine goes! I want to make the point that this season has seen mayber more than half incredible races, any of which had made exciting title deciders (think Monza, Spa, Monaco, Singapore, Canada, Hungary, Turkey and so on).

  35. I’m no football fan at all, but stumbled across the quarter final between Croatia and Turkey, at Euro 2008. Croatia scored in the 119th minute, and believed the match was over and they had made the semi-finals. But Turkey made a goal 3 minutes later, 2 minutes into injury time, tying the game. Croatia was gutted, while the pepped-up Turks took the win through penalties.

  36. I’ll write some spectacle provided by 2 matches combined:
    In the 2007 season of La liga

    Going into penultimate day the La Liga table looked like this:

    Real Madrid 72 pts
    Barcelona 72 pts
    Sevilla 70 pts

    Real were playing Zaragoza, Barca were playing Espanyol
    88th min – Barca were winning 2-1, Real losing 2-1
    89th min – RVN scores – Real 2-2 Zaragoza
    90th min – Raul Tamudo scores for espanyol , 2-2 draw there

    That was something!


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