While the first half of F1’s sixth decade will be remembered for the crushing dominance of Michael Schumacher, the second half was much less predictable.
I know I’m as guilty as anyone of complaining about the odd duff race too much when I should be talking up the great moments F1 gives us. So let’s celebrate those and ask what was the best race of the 2000s?
Here are my suggestions, please share yours below.
Update: The short list has been compiled: Vote for the best F1 race of the 2000s here
2000 Belgian Grand Prix
This was the battle of the twice-champions. Mika Hakkinen led to begin with but a mistake let Schumacher through. Then followed, for lap after lap, Hakkinen hounding Schumacher around every turn of Spa’s glorious 7km.
It nearly ended in disaster – a bid by Hakkinen to pass Schumacher on the run towards Les Combes was rebuffed when the Ferrari driver pushed his rival onto the grass at over 200mph.
Hakkinen finally squeezed through with a momentous piece of opportunism, seizing the inside line as the pair went either side of Ricardo Zonta’s lapped BAR.
2003 British Grand Prix
A confession: like the first race on my list, I was in the crowd at this one, so perhaps my judgement is a little coloured.
This was an astonishing race, however, brought to life by two safety car periods early on. First David Coulthard’s cockpit surround blew off and landed on the racing line. Then the notorious ‘lunatic priest’ arrived – Neil Horan sprint up Hanger straight, nearly being mown down by Mark Webber’s Jaguar, and eventually being wrestled to the ground by a marshal.
Once the madness had stopped the fun could begin. The field was now so disrupted both the Toyotas were leading, and it was left to Kimi R?â?ñikk?â?Ânen to carve his way through and take the lead.
Further back Rubens Barrichello was also charging, and by lap 42 he was on Raikkonen’s tail. He got alongside at the chicane but the pair ran side-by-side through it, Bridge and into Priory before Barrichello finally wrested the lead away. Rare were the days when Barrichello got the better of Schumacher at Ferrari, but this was definitely one of them, and a stunning race to boot.
2005 Japanese Grand Prix
The championship had already been won by Fernando Alonso, but at Suzuka he and Raikkonen started back in the pack after rain during qualifying.
The pair ripped through the field. Alonso was briefly held up as the stewards got themselves in a muddle over whether he’d passed Christian Klien legally or not. Once that was sorted he caught and overtook Schumacher in a rude, round-the-outside pass at 130R.
The Klien delay had cost him any chance of catching catch up with Raikkonen – who soon had leader Giancarlo Fisichella in his sights. As they began the penultimate lap the Renault driver made Raikkonen go the long way around at turn one, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his rival snatching the win away on the last lap.
Read more: 2005 Japanese Grand Prix Review
2008 Brazilian Grand Prix
This was one that had you on the edge of your seat right from the word ‘go’. The start of the race was delayed as a rain showed blew in, and everyone tip-toed around the first laps.
Felipe Massa needed to win to stand any chance of taking the championship, and rarely looked like losing the lead on his home track. That meant Lewis Hamilton had to finish fifth to guarantee himself the title, and his unusually conservative approach made it very difficult.
Late in the race the rain returned and Hamilton, along with almost everyone else, scurried back into the pits for wet-weather tyres. Timo Glock hung on with his dry-weather tyres, moving up the order and leaving Hamilton a precarious fifth.
Disaster struck the McLaren driver on lap 70: Robert Kubica un-lapped himself and Vettel seized his opportunity to follow the BMW past Hamilton. It was all over – Hamilton could not respond.
But as the rain fell harder Glock’s tyre temperature plummeted and his was left crawling around the final lap. Vettel and Hamilton caught him at the last corner, the McLaren driver took fifth place back, enough to deny Massa the title by a single point.
These are just the first four races I came up with – but what were the other great races of the 2000s?
What about the 2000 title decider at Suzuka? Fisichella’s surprise win at Interlagos in 2003? Or Jenson Button scoring his maiden triumph at the Hungaroring in 2006?
Nominate your favourite races of the 2000s below, make your case and post videos, and we’ll vote on the best later this week.
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