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5 of the Most Unforgettable F1 Moments of all Time

  • by: Harvey Kennard
  • On: 4, Aug 2023
4 min read

F1 is a sport of extremes: incredible speed, larger than life characters, and cutting-edge cars. In almost every race there are amazing moments that encapsulate why so many people love the sport, dramatic battles for the podium, epic rivalries, or even explosive emotional outbursts from drivers.

With so much excitement packed into every race, and over seven decades of the sport to choose from, it’s difficult to pick just five of the biggest and best moments from Formula One’s history, but we’ve tried our best to pick moments that capture the drama, spectacle, and spirit of the sport.

Top F1 moments of all time

Lewis Hamilton winning the 2008 British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has an amazing record for championship wins, with seven World Drivers Championships to his name.

But Hamilton won his first British Grand Prix all the way back in 2008, and has been a household name in the sport ever since.

He had said there were only two races he truly wanted to win during his career: the British Grand Prix and the Monaco Grand Prix.

Hamilton managed to achieve both of these impressive wins in only his second year as a professional Formula One racer.

At the British Grand Prix, after 60 laps, Hamilton crossed the finish line 14 seconds ahead of the racer in second place, Rubens Barrichello, and over a minute ahead of Nick Heidfeld, who came in third.

He credited the win to the wet weather. While other drivers weren’t used to such conditions, after the race Hamilton said: “Racing here as a kid it was always wet, so it was a real good area for me to show my strengths. I loved that race, it was so much fun.”

Hamilton’s incredible racing and determination led him to take the Grand Prix, as well as being named the F1 Drivers Champion at the end of the 2008 season.

Ending of the 1971 Italian Grand Prix

The 1971 Italian Grand Prix saw the closest-ever finish in F1: British driver Peter Gethin beating Ronnie Peterson across the finishing line by just 0.01 seconds. The top five racers – Gethin, Peterson, Francois Cevert, Mike Hailwood, and Howden Ganley – were all across the finish line within 0.61 seconds.

Having started the last lap in fourth place, Gethin decided to push his engine to the limit, and beyond, later saying: “The rev limit was 10,500 rpm, but I took it to 11,500 before snatching top gear, figuring that the bugger would probably blow apart – but if it didn’t I’d win!"

His average speed of 150.754mph around a lap remains one of the fastest in F1 history. This was Gethin’s only win, but what a stunning victory it was.

Nigel Mansell’s 1992 Grand Prix Championship win at Silverstone

Nigel Mansell had a legendarily successful season in 1992. At the ninth round of the 1992 F1 British Grand Prix, Nigel Mansell won the 59-lap race for team Williams-Renault, leading every lap from start to finish.

Thousands of fans came in to watch the race, and the crowd rushed the tracks and flooded onto the circuit to celebrate with Mansell when the race was over.

The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix

The chaos-filled 2011 Canadian Grand Prix is a sure contender for one of the best F1 moments, being the longest F1 race on record at four hours, four minutes, and 39 seconds.

Jenson Button was in last place, having had six pitstops, and a collision with his teammate Lewis Hamilton, and still had 30 laps to go. In wet weather, with a huge gap between him and first place, no one would have believed he could go on to win.

When the rain stopped, and the track began to dry, Button began rapidly gaining positions. Within ten laps of the race restarting, Jenson Button had already made his way to tenth place.

There were other collisions and crashes which allowed Button to move into the lead with half a lap to the finish line. In a 70-lap race, Button ended up leading by just half a lap, having clawed his way to victory from the very bottom of the pack.

Lauda surviving his crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix

Following a horrific accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix, Lauda was trapped in his burning car. He would not have survived if it hadn’t been for the bravery of fellow drivers Arturo Merzario, Guy Edwards, Harald Ertl, and Brett Lunger, who was also involved in the crash. They pulled him from the wreckage, but he was badly burned and had inhaled a lot of smoke.

He fell into a coma and was not expected to survive. According to Lauda, he heard a priest reading him the last rites, and this gave him the strength to keep fighting for life.

Astonishingly, just six weeks later, he was back in his Ferrari.

For every moment we listed here, fans could think of ten other fantastic moments in Formula One, which is part of why the sport is watched by people all over the world.

Read about the best F1 circuits of all time, or learn about the F1 academy and why diversity in motorsport is important.

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