Last-lap losers (p2/2)

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Nelson Piquet said he 'almost came' after beating Nigel Mansell to Canada '91 win

Yesterday we looked at four races that ended with the leader losing the race on the last lap – this after Felipe Massa came within three laps of winning the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend.

Here are four more tales of woe involving Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen.

1991 Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal

Nigel Mansell had run away with the Canadian Grand Prix and was set to get his 1991 championship challenge under way.

Exactly what happened to his car at the Casino hairpin on the last lap has been disputed. The story at the time was that Mansell had knocked the engine kill switch while waving to the crowd. Mansell insisted the car stopped with transmission failure.

Nelson Piquet didn’t care either way, as he passed his hated former team mate to score what would be his final win. A grinning Piquet said afterwards that when he saw Mansell’s Williams stopped at the side of the track, "I almost came."

1997 Hungarian Grand Prix

Damon Hill was in the commentary booth for ITV this weekend and he will have felt Massa’s pain. He lost a potential win at the Hungaroring himself 11 years earlier.

This was in the first year of the Bridgestone-Goodyear tyre war and Bridgestone arrived at the Hungaroring with the perfect tyre for the hot conditions. While the most of the leading teams struggled on their Goodyears Hill’s Bridgestone-shod Arrows burst pass Michael Schumacher and disappeared off into a 40-second lead.

Arrows looked set to end a victory drought that spanned two decades – but it wasn’t to be. Hill’s car slowed on the final lap and Jacques Villeneuve’s Williams, with four wheels on the grass, powered by to win.

Afterwards Arrows blamed a 50p component for the failure.

Video of the 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix

2001 Spanish Grand Prix

Mika Hakkinen had won plenty of races in the preceding three years including each of the Spanish Grands Prix.

But 2001 had been a frustrating year for the 1998 and 1999 champion when he arrived at the Circuit de Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix. And it was about to get worse.

Ferrari’s F2001 was the car to beat for most of the season but Hakkinen had the measure of Schumacher in Spain – until the final lap at least. A broken clutch halfway around the final lap robbed him of the win.

Schumacher took the ten points and Hakkinen was left to hitch a ride home on team mate David Coulthard’s sidepods.

2005 European Grand Prix, N???rburging

In an attempt to contain escalating speeds in 2005 the FIA forced teams to use one set of tyres for an entire race distance. For drivers this menat a momentary locking of the brakes could ruin a tyre and wreck their race.

Kimi Raikkonen fell foul of the new rules in the most spectacular way at the Nurburgring. He was leading comfortably but locked his front wheels hard while lapping Jacques Villeneuve, flat-spotting the front right tyre.

As the race neared its end Raikkonen was faced with the choice of pitting to replace the tyre – and losing a potential win to title rival Fernando Alonso – or gambling on making it to the end.

He chose the latter, but at the start of the last lap it all went wrong. The tyre was now causing massive vibrations which tore the front suspension apart on the start/finish straight. The McLaren snapped out of control and barely missed Jenson Button’s BAR as it hurtled off the track.

Raikkonen was completely unhurt, but his championship hopes took a battering as Alonso collected the win.

2005 European Grand Prix review

Read the first part of this feature: Last-lap losers (p1/2)

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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10 comments on “Last-lap losers (p2/2)”

  1. I was at the 2001 Spanish GP and remember distinctly Mikas engine starting to go, and watched it grind to a halt right in front of me…gr8 race with gr8 memories!

  2. Keith, you said this article had a story about Heikki Kovalainen in the opening, yet the story is about Kimi, you may want to clear that up.

  3. Kester – fixed, thanks.

  4. Kester – in view of Kovalainen’s generally awful luck so far in 2008, I fully expected Timo Glock to win the Hungarian GP at the last corner of the last lap…

    On the Mansell example from 1991. My understanding was that the Williams’ semi-automatic gearbox required a certain level of hydraulic pressure in the system to function. The pressure was generated by the engine and, as Nigel slowed down to wave to the crowd, the engine revs dropped below the minimum level needed to maintain pressure. The result was that the Williams was stuck in first gear – hence Mansell claiming a transmission failure. In a sense he was right, but it was a driver-induced failure. Typical Mansell.

  5. KB I was at Barca 2001 too :)

    I remember two guys infront of us had a bet that Schumacher would win and the other one said he wouldn’t. With a few laps to go we said to the guy that betted against Schumacher that his money looks safe. About 2/3 minutes later….

  6. Very interesting to hear from those of you who were at the track in 2001. It would be great if you could share some of your tips on visiting the circuit here:

    Circuit de Catalunya

  7. “I almost came”

    That’s gotta be be best F1 quote EVER! :)

  8. It was hearth braking moment when Mika’s car stopped. I could not believe my eys and i was ready to kill McLaren or Schumacher lol.
    That was first time when i heard Schumacher being nice. He said in press conference that he did not want win in that way.

  9. “I almost came”

    That’s gotta be the weirdest sexual dysfunction ever. If ever I thought there was something seriously wrong with Piquet, that clinches it.

  10. Yeah, Spain 2001 was as bad as Massa’s breakdown in Hungary. Hakkinen deserved that victory, but 2001 was just not his year and the Barcelona race eptomised this.
    As for Raikkonen in 2005 at the Nurburgring, as disappointing as that was, I always felt that it was different as it was self inflicted. I admired Raikkonen and McLaren for ‘going all out’ for the win, but being second in such a situation may well have proved more valiable at the end of the season.
    I remember Mansell’s breakdown well, I wanted to punch that Piquet so badly on that hook shaped nose of his!
    I hated that man, really, really hated him with a passion.

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