RaceFans readers’ top 20 F1 races you can watch free right now

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 has opened up its F1 TV archive to watch for free during April. But where to start with its catalogue of past races?

Since the 2008 season, RaceFans readers have rated every round of the championship. Here are the 20 highest-scoring races, and spoiler-free notes on why you should watch them.

20: 2018 British Grand Prix

RaceFans readers’ rating: 8.65/10

Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen collided at the start, setting up a duel between their team mates for victory at Silverstone which was decided after a Safety Car restart.

19: 2010 Canadian Grand Prix

Buemi, Alonso and Hamilton dispute the lead
Unexpectedly high degradation of the Bridgestone tyres created a frantic, unpredictable race. It also prompted F1 to urge new 2011 tyre supplier Pirelli to produce high-degradation rubber, a decision which doesn’t look great in hindsight, but on the strength of this race it’s not hard to see why they felt the urge to try it.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 8.67/10

18: 2016 Spanish Grand Prix

A first-lap collision between two warring team mates opened the door for a shock first-time winner.

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RaceFans readers’ rating: 8.71/10

17: 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix

Is that Glock? No, it’s Trulli chasing Massa…
It might be hard to recreate the real tension of watching the 2008 championship showdown live, but the final half-dozen laps remain as unbelievable now as they did 12 years ago.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 8.76/10

16: 2018 United States Grand Prix

Ferrari had lost their way in the second half of 2018, but after removing several months’-worth of unsuccessful updates they were suddenly back on the pace, setting up a three-way battle with Mercedes and Red Bull for victory at the Circuit of the Americas.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 8.76/10

15: 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

It was only five months ago, but last year’s action-packed Brazilian Grand Prix is worth a second look – or even a third. You probably know how this one finishes though.

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RaceFans readers’ rating: 8.77/10

14: 2012 United States Grand Prix

A race with a twist: Austin 2012
Sebastian Vettel was trying to pull clear of championship rival Fernando Alonso in the closing stages of 2012. But a chance encounter with a backmarker while he was leading at the Circuit of the Americas set up a thrilling finale.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 8.77/10

13: 2012 European Grand Prix

Races at Valencia’s little-loved street circuit mainly feature towards the bottom of our race rankings. But the final race at the track was packed with surprises, and produced a popular winner. Romain Grosjean may not remember it so fondly, though.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 8.78/10

12: 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Since joining the F1 calendar in 2016, Baku City Circuit has swiftly earned a reputation for producing dramatic races. Its second event featured a notorious clash between the two championship contenders.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 8.79/10

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11: 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

An unusually lively encounter at Yas Marina in 2012
Yas Marina may look like it was designed to discourage racing, but the island track has seen some drama, notably in the nail-biting closing stages of 2012. Vettel’s charge towards the front after his disqualification in qualifying was a highlight, as was a certain radio message involving Kimi Raikkonen.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 8.85/10

10: 2019 Austrian Grand Prix

Another recent race. Mercedes had dominated the opening rounds of last year, but Charles Leclerc seemed set to end their winning streak by claiming an overdue first win for Ferrari. Then Verstappen appeared in his mirrors…

RaceFans readers’ rating: 8.88/10

9: 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix

A race which shows how much drama a well-timed Safety Car can bring. It left Hamilton scrambling to fend off team mate Nico Rosberg, who had a tyre advantage, and behind them most of the midfield scrapped for the final podium place.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 9.1/10

8: 2011 Canadian Grand Prix

Once the weather improved, the race was a corker
The main advantage of watching the four-hour-plus 2011 Canadian Grand Prix nine years later is you can fast-forward through the length Safety Car interruptions. It’s also a corking race, but it’s worth reflecting on how much less exciting it would be with the four-time time limit which was subsequently introduced…

RaceFans readers’ rating: 9.1/10

7: 2015 United States Grand Prix

After heavy rain throughout practice and qualifying, merely being able to hold a race at the Circuit of the Americas in 2015 was a relief. And the race which followed was a corker, which decided the drivers’ title battle.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 9.1/10

6: 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix

The first race after the tragic death of Jules Bianchi produced both a fitting winner under the circumstances and a contest which reminded everyone of F1 at its best.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 9.11/10

5: 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

Ericsson’s shunt brought Hungary 2014 to life
Another surprisingly lively race at the Hungaroring, a track not renowned for producing great races. The field started on intermediate tyres following a rain shower, and an early Safety Car period triggered by a heavy crash for Marcus Ericsson produced an exciting outcome.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 9.14/10

4: 2014 Canadian Grand Prix

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve served up more nail-biting thrills in a spectacular 2014 race which culminated in a late pass for the win and a spectacular crash.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 9.19/10

3: 2011 Chinese Grand Prix

F1 introduced high degradation tyres and DRS to create more pit stops and passing. It worked, at least to begin with in 2011, and the second race of the season at Shanghai International Circuit was action-packed.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 9.24/10

2: 2019 German Grand Prix

Intermittent rain at the Hockenheimring created extremely tricky conditions which caught out many drivers in the most exciting race of last season.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 9.44/10

1: 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix

F1’s 2012 title-decider had it all. Yes, that’s a Force India leading…

It would be hard to script a more intense championship-deciding race than this. The title looked like Vettel’s to lose from the start, but a spin on the first lap left him nursing a wounded car, and opened the door for Alonso to grab the title. Incidents aplenty, tricky weather conditions and the prospect of a shock winner meant this race had it all.

RaceFans readers’ rating: 9.45/10

Over to you

Which races from before 2008 are you most keen to watch again? And are there any other races from the last few seasons which belong in the top 20?

Have your say in the comments. And check out the top 100 and bottom 10 races as rated by our readers:

2020 F1 season

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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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26 comments on “RaceFans readers’ top 20 F1 races you can watch free right now”

  1. It was only five months ago, but last year’s action-packed Brazilian Grand Prix

    Was such a cliffhanger that Keith couldn’t even complete the description ;)

    1. @phylyp Right??? it was such a

      1. @fer-no65 – it totally blew my

          1. Ha ha, @riptide. That’s a SFW option, so let’s go with that. :)

    2. Well, Keith promised spoiler-free descriptions and that would count…

    3. @phylyp Apologies – error with some code. Fixed now.

      1. @keithcollantine. Thank you, and no worries, it’s little glitches like this that gives us the opportunity for some light-hearted comments (as if we needed an excuse!)

  2. I’m toying with this free month trial, but if I did, I’d probably just go back as far as possible and start watching in chronological order!

  3. I started watching Formula 1 in 1995. Some of the races I would like to see again are
    1995- Canadian GP- Alesi’s win
    European GP- Schumacher’s superb win.
    1996- Australian GP- Williams battle
    Monaco GP- my favourite GP ever
    Spanish GP- Schumacher destroys everyone
    1997- Melbourne- Coulthard wins
    Monaco 97- Schumacher dominates
    Hungary- Hill in epic form
    Jerez- final race with 2 drivers racing for the title
    98- Spa what a race and Suzuka with Hakkinen’s 1st title
    99- Melbourne Irvine wins
    99 Canadian GP Champions wall got a few hits
    99- Hockenheim – Mika Salo nearly wins
    99 Magny Cours- Superb qualifying and race with a Jordan winner
    99 Italian GP- Another win for Jordan
    99- Nurburgring a surprise winner and so many leaders and poor Badoer
    99- Suzuka- win for Hakkinen from a brilliant start.
    I could go from 2000 to 2010 but this post is long enough!!

    1. I also started watching in 1995! My classics from the ‘early’ days are:
      1995 nurburgring
      1996 spa
      1997 Albert park
      1998 Hungary
      1999 nurburgring
      2000 spa (I was there!)
      2001 Brazil
      2002 can’t think of one
      2003 suzuka
      2004 Monaco
      2005 Albert park (suzuka is the obvious one though)
      2006 China
      2007 fuji

      I limited myself to one per season. The early 2000s have become lost from my memory somewhat, but I’m sure there were some great races.

  4. Wow, not a single decent race before 2010? How peculiar!??

    1. One race in the list is from before 2010. Considering there are only 2 out of 11 seasons covered by Rate The Race from before 2010 (the stipulation noted at the beginning of the article), that’s only one less than would be expected from strict statistical average.

    2. Tones of interesting races before 2010. And most of them can be found on YouTube and VK already.

    3. The rate the race used to have annotations next to the ratings (for example, 10 was “perfect”) so it was more of a likert scale than a numerical rating scale. The ratings all became a bit higher after the annotations were got rid of, so it’s not really possible to compare like with like across all of the seasons. Subjectively, Brazil 2008 was just out of this world compared to some of the 9s that were merely good races, but hey ho, c’est la vie!

  5. How does one get access to the free month? I can’t see where that would be.

    1. I just tried to get in, but was greeted by the ‘sign-up’ instruction. Presume they are hoping you’ll put your details down, then forget to cancel them in time to avoid fees.

      Not so free really..

  6. Why isnt the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix at no 1, it is the best race I have ever seen and probably the only time I will ever see a driver go from last to first in a race

    1. I loved that race, but I can’t say it was the best race I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to beat those where a championship was on the line, like Brazil 2008 and 2012.

      1. @fer-no65 In context, ones with a championship on the line are better but, if you’re going to watch a one-off in isolation, ones like Canada 2011 rise higher. To me, Canada 2011 is the most memorable race. Been watching since 1996.

  7. Ambrogio Isgro
    12th April 2020, 16:47

    Suzuka 88, 89 Senna vs Prost title Battle in Mclaren
    Hungaroring 89 unstoppable charge
    Mexico 90 Ferrari vs McLaren battle
    Interlagos 91 Epic magic
    Monaco 92, Jarama 81 defense skills
    Spa 92 Young Schumi
    Donington 93 That First lap
    Estoril 93 olds and youngs
    Barcelona 94 a german lesson
    Suzuka 94 mastering the Rain
    And… Digione 79, Zandvoort 79, several from the early eights with Piquet, Prost, Arnoux, Jones, Rosberg…
    Monaco 84, Estoril 85, 86 final gp.

  8. I much rather see Formula One from long long ago where the cars weren’t real safe And drivers would race bare sleeved and some would smoke at the same time. Unbelievable. The cars then were certainly a handful and it took brute strength and big balls to master. I betcha Lewis would have dominated then too. So the point is this list should have been decided decade by decade so Fans could feel what racing once was. Instead this list covers extensively the past six years. And these are the best or favorite races?? Almost everyone features DRS and other gimmicks meant to improve the show???
    But do they??? I’ve been against any aid that artificially gives advantage “so the show is better” I think the show is perfectly fine when drivers are allowed to test their skills based on their abilities. Having money doesn’t buy skills but provides a better chance to win in a better car. Doesn’t that improve your skills ?? So it’s really about money. I think many young drivers think they are better than they are because someone else’s money given to them and enough loot to attract sponsors .
    He’s got talent and he’s got a good team with heritage and he has enough money to keep the team going. But is he any good?? That’s my point.
    Now go back at watch the fifties and the sixties races again. You might learn of how the greats got the job done way back then.
    I think this list of races are good but too many from the same era and most aren’t worth seeing again. Show us a broader list from ALL of F1 races. Problem is here too many new fans with limited memory.
    Example watch Gilles Villienueve in his “three wheeled” Ferrari try to pass the Renault’s on the last few laps in 1979 at the French GP. Watch Senna attempt to pass Prost at Suzuka (WHAT ?? A stupid Senna moment ) yes that did happen too often. The point is the list is impossible to cover all. The disappointment comes from seeing such a narrow minded list.
    Only those who have seen more than 500 Formula One races should be allowed to answer this question. Those fans will know

    So then, What are the best F1races ?

    1. I kind of like the 1985 British Grand Prix. Kind of the end of unlimited nature of F1 around that time. I like seeing Rosberg smoking a cigarette on the grid while talking to Patrick Head. Then flicking it away and getting in the car. The race is nothing special. It’s just a window on what F1 used to be like. Not any better or worse. Just a different time.

    2. Did you even read the first two paragraphs of the article @STEEV?

      “Since the 2008 season, RaceFans readers have rated every round of the championship. Here are the 20 highest-scoring races, and spoiler-free noted on why you should watch them.”

      Keith has simply compiled a list of fan favourites from the range that he has empirical data on. He may well be planning something on the older races farther down the line. What’s the point in having a go at him for only covering a specific range of races when he a) states why and b) is doing all this for free for the viewing public?

  9. Canada 81 is just epic. The scrap for the lead between Jones, Piquet,Prost, Laffite, villenuve in the rain. An eye opener.

  10. And 6 of them had teammates coming together.

Comments are closed.