Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher, Jerez, 1997

Which was F1’s best down-to-the-wire title fight?

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For the 30th time in 71 seasons of the Formula 1 world championship, the drivers’ title was decided in the very final race of the season.

But what was F1’s best ever final showdown? Recap all thirty of the final race title deciders below and then let us know which one you feel was the best climax seen in a Formula 1 season.

1950: Fangio vs Fagioli vs Farina

The first world championship produces the first title showdown at Monza. Fangio needs a win or second place to become the inaugural world champion, but Fangio retires twice in two separate cars, opening the door for Farina who takes the win and the first ever world title.

1951: Fangio vs Ascari vs Gonzalez

The next year, another threeway showdown for the title at the season-ending Spanish Grand Prix around the streets of Barcelona. Going into the final round with the lead, Fangio holds off Ferrari’s Jose Froilan Gonzalez to take the chequered flag and secure his first of five titles.

Juan Manuel Fangio was in F1’s first three showdowns

1956: Fangio vs Collins

Peter Collins has the chance to win the world championship for himself in the final round in Monza, but when Fangio retires with steering problems and Ferrari team mate Luigi Musso refuses to hand his car over to the Argentinian, Collins sacrifices his own title chances to gift his car to Fangio. Stirling Moss wins the race for Maserati, while Fangio secures title number four in second.

1958: Hawthorn vs Moss

The Moroccan Grand Prix will decide which British driver – Mike Hawthorn or Stirling Moss – will take the title. With an eight point lead and fewer DNFs through the season, Hawthorn holds a keen advantage. Hawthorn takes pole but Moss takes first at the start and leads every lap to win. But Hawthorn’s second place is enough for him to take the title by one point after dropped results.

1959: Brabham vs Moss vs Brooks

The season finale at Sebring will decide the championship between Moss, Jack Brabham and Tony Brooks. Brabham has the edge, with Brooks needing the most fortune to claim the crown. Moss takes pole and leads the first five laps, but transmission problems ends his championship hopes. Brooks takes third but Brabham’s fourth place secures the Australian’s first world championship. New Zealand driver Bruce McLaren takes his first grand prix victory by winning the race.

Graham Hill, Lotus, Zandvoort, 1967
Graham Hill won two deciders and lost a third

1962: Graham Hill vs Clark

The South African Grand Prix is the scene of the first title showdown of the Sixties. Hill is ahead on points, but thanks to the dropped results system, all Clark needs to secure the championship is a win. Clark gives himself the best possible chance, leading Hill from pole for the first 61 laps. Then an oil leak on his Climax engine forces him to retire and gifts the win and the title to Hill.

1964: Graham Hill vs Surtees vs Clark

Graham Hill has a strong chance of taking his second title heading into the Mexican Grand Prix. Former Motorcycle Grand Prix world champion John Surtees is in hot pursuit in the Ferrari with reigning champion Jim Clark holding an outside chance in third. Clark takes pole and leads most of the race. Hill was hit by Lorenzo Bandini’s Ferrari, damaging Hill’s BRM and allowing Surtees through. Then another engine problem takes Clark out of the lead, allowing Surtees into second where he would finish, taking the title by one point and becoming the only person to win both the MotoGP and F1 world championships.

1967: Hulme vs Brabham

The 1967 world championship comes down to a duel between Jack Brabham and his team mate, Denny Hulme, within the team Brabham himself owns. The gap is just five points after Hulme had finished ahead of Brabham at Watkins Glen, with Brabham starting in front of Hulme on the third row of the grid in Mexico. Jim Clark leads from pole as the Brabham cars move up the order. Clark wins, but Brabham’s second place is not enough to deny his team mate the world championship in third.

1968: Graham Hill vs Stewart vs Hulme

Hill is in the hunt for the title in a showdown for the third time, with Jackie Stewart challenging him in the Matra and champion Hulme in with a shout after two late season wins in a row. Hill takes to the front at the start in Mexico City and trades the lead with Stewart over the opening laps. Hulme’s hopes are dashed by suspension failure on lap ten, as Hill and Stewart continue to duel out front. Then a series of car problems late in the race slow Stewart and drop him through the field, allowing Hill to take the win and his second world title.

1974: Fittipaldi vs Regazzoni vs Scheckter

The 1974 season sees two drivers locked together on points at the top of the standings for the first time ever, with Emerson Fittipaldi and Clay Regazzoni both on 52 with Jody Scheckter within reach in third heading to Watkins Glen. Scheckter starts six, ahead of Fittipaldi in eighth and Regazzoni ninth. Handling problems leaving Regazzoni struggling for any pace, as Scheckter retires from fourth. Fittipaldi finishes in fourth place to claim his second title.

James Hunt, 1976
James Hunt took the title in Japan in 1976

1976: Lauda vs Hunt

Reigning champion Niki Lauda survives a horrific accident at the Nurburgring that almost kills the Ferrari driver. McLaren’s James Hunt takes a series of late wins to sit within three points of Lauda at the final race in Fuji. Torrential rain makes the circuit conditions incredibly dangerous with many drivers feeling it is not safe enough to race. The race begins anyway, with Lauda choosing to withdrawn, rather than risk the life he so nearly lost earlier in the year. Hunt fights through the spray and fog to take third place and a famous world championship victory.

1981: Reutemann vs Piquet vs Laffite

The atrocious Caesars Palace car park circuit is the venue for the 1981 showdown. Carlos Reutemann leads Nelson Piquet by a single point, with Jacques Laffite in contention in third. Piquet passes Reutemann on lap 17 after the Williams brakes so early into the final corner that Piquet believes it was an attempt to take him out. Gearbox troubles see Reutemann drop down the field and Piquet fights through exhaustion to finish fifth and take his first world title.

1982: Rosberg vs Watson

Didier Pironi leads the 1982 world championship before a horrible crash at Hockenheim ends his F1 career through injury. That leaves Keke Rosberg and John Watson to battle it out for the title at Caesars Palace once again. Chasing down a nine point deficit, the odds are against Watson. The McLaren driver’s best efforts are good enough for second place, but it’s not enough to deny Rosberg and Williams the world championship.

1983: Piquet vs Prost vs Arnoux

Alain Prost leads Nelson Piquet by just two points heading into the final round in Kyalami. Piquet jumps from second on the grid to take the lead of the race at the start as Rene Arnoux’s slim hopes for the title fade after engine failure on lap nine. Prost retires from third with turbo failure midway through the race, meaning Piquet just needs to finish fourth to win the title. He backs off and crosses the line in third to claim his second world championship.

1984: Lauda vs Prost

A resurgent Niki Lauda and McLaren hold a 3.5 point advantage over Prost heading into the 16th and final race at Estoril. Prost lines up second, with Lauda only 11th on the grid. Rosberg takes the lead at the start but hits early engine trouble, dropping down the field and allowing Prost into the lead, which he never relinquishes. Lauda gradually makes his way through the field and up to second place, holding on to deny Prost his first world title and secure his third and final championship by half a point.

1986: Mansell vs Piquet vs Prost

Adelaide’s second grand prix sees it hold its first decider in a threeway battle between Piquet, Prost and Nigel Mansell. The British driver leads by six points. The three contenders are running line astern on lap 63 when leader Rosberg is eliminated with a puncture, moving Piquet to the lead and Mansell to a championship-winning second place. The next lap, Mansell suffers a major tyre failure that pitches him out of the race. Williams pit Piquet, handing Prost the lead. Prost holds on to take the win and the title, successfully defending his championship.

Michael Schumacher collides with Damon Hill, Adelaide, 1994
Michael Schumacher collides with Damon Hill, Adelaide, 1994

1994: Schumacher vs Hill

A contentious season-long duel between Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill reaches a dramatic climax in Adelaide. Schumacher holds the points advantage and the early lead with Hill in second. Mid way through the race, Schumacher runs off the track entering Flinders’ Street and hits the wall. Hill sees the Benetton in trouble and dives to the inside of the next right hander, the two rivals colliding and sending Schumacher into the air and the barriers, out of the race. Hill recovers to the pits but the damage to his suspension cannot be fixed and he is forced to retire, meaning Schumacher takes his first of seven titles.

1996: Damon Hill vs Villeneuve

The 1996 world championship is an exclusive contest between the Williams drivers of Hill and rookie Jacques Villeneuve. Hill is significantly ahead on points as they arrive in Suzuka, but Villenueve takes pole position. Hill takes the lead at the start as Villeneuve drops to fifth. A loose rear wheel flies off Villeneuve’s car on lap 37, sending him out of the race and securing the title for Hill, who goes on to win the race.

1997: Schumacher vs Villeneuve

Schumacher is within touching distance of his first world title for Ferrari and leads Villeneuve by a point heading to the European Grand Prix at Jerez. The two contenders occupy the front row after posting identical qualifying times. Schumacher leads the early stages, with Villeneuve chasing behind. Ferrari pit Schumacher first, with Villeneuve attacking hard after he pits for fresh tyres. Approaching the Curva Dry Sac on lap 43, Villeneuve dives inside his rival but Schumacher forcefully hits the side of the Williams. The Ferrari ends up in the gravel out of the race, as Villeneuve continues in a wounded Williams. Needing only to finish fifth to take the title, Villeneuve allows both McLarens of David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen through into first and second and crosses the line in third to take the title. Schumacher is retroactively disqualified from the 1997 championship for his actions.

1998: Hakkinen vs Schumacher

McLaren’s Mika Hakkinen has been locked in a battle with Schumacher throughout the 1998 season. With a four point deficit at the last race in Suzuka, Schumacher’s hopes suffer a major blow when he stalls from pole position at the start, relegating him to the back of the grid. Hakkinen leads from the start as Schumacher recovers from the rear up to third, before a tyre failure caused by debris puts an end to his championship challenge. Hakkinen wins the race to take his first of two titles.

1999: Irvine vs Hakkinen

Ferrari’s Eddie Irvine has a four point advantage over reigning champion Hakkinen at Suzuka. Schumacher has returned from injury and taken pole position, but gets a poor getaway and Hakkinen sprints into the lead. Irvine struggles to match the pace of his team mate, let alone Hakkinen’s, and has to settle for third, far, far from Schumacher and Hakkinen ahead, who dominates the race to successfully defend his world title.

2003: Schumacher vs Raikkonen

Schumacher looks to secure his unprecedented sixth title – and fourth in a row – against young McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen. Schumacher holds a strong nine point lead, but a rain-interrupted qualifying sees the contenders start eighth for Raikkonen with Schumacher 14th. All Schumacher needs is one point in with eighth, but his job is made more difficult after losing his front wing following contact with Takuma Sato. A close encounter with brother Ralf Schumacher sees him narrowly avoid further damage. Raikkonen moves up to second but cannot catch the leading Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello who wins the race and confirms a sixth title for Schumacher.

2006: Alonso vs Schumacher

Schumacher has a chance to take an eighth crown at Interlagos in what has been announced to be his final grand prix. But he needs incredible fortune if he is to do so, needing to win the race with Renault’s Fernando Alonso failing to score points. Schumacher’s difficult task becomes even harder when a fuel pressure problem in Q3 sees him unable to set a time, dooming him to tenth on the grid. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa leads almost the entire race from pole, with Alonso a distant second, absorbing pressure from Jenson Button. Alonso crosses the line and secures his second consecutive world championship as Schumacher recovers to finish fourth.

Kimi Raikkonen won arguably the closest championship in 2007

2007: Hamilton vs Alonso vs Raikkonen

The closest ever threeway title decider sees McLaren rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton hold a stunning lead in the championship at Interlagos ahead of team mate Alonso and Raikkonen third, seven points behind. Massa leads Ferrari team mate Raikkonen at the start, as Hamilton falls to eighth after a messy first lap. On lap 8, Hamilton’s McLaren suddenly falls into neutral, dropping him down to 18th. Alonso in third cannot challenge the Ferraris ahead, as Raikkonen takes the lead in the final stint and takes the chequered flag to take his only world championship, just one point behind the two McLaren drivers who finish equal on points.

2008: Hamilton vs Massa

Hamilton looks to have a strong chance of taking his first world championship in Brazil after a commanding win in China. But rain plays a wildcard role as Massa leads from pole. Hamilton is safe in fourth, until a late rain shower sees the leaders pit for intermediate tyres while a number of cars stay out to risk it on dry tyres. Hamilton slips down to sixth with only a couple of laps remaining, taking him out of championship-winning position. Massa duly wins the race, but the rain falls harder, allowing Hamilton to catch and pass Timo Glock’s dry-laden Toyota on the last corner of the last lap, moving him to the fifth place he needs to claim his first of seven world titles.

2010: Alonso vs Webber vs Vettel vs Hamilton

The only four-way championship showdown in F1 history sees Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso fighting Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, with Hamilton in contention in fourth. Vettel takes pole and leads from the start, but an early safety car allows a number of drivers to make their single stops early. When Ferrari pit Alonso, he resumes behind Vitaly Petrov’s Renault, who had switched to harder tyres under the safety car. Around the dire Yas Marina circuit, Alonso spends the remaining 39 laps unable to find a way past Petrov, ultimately crossing the line in seventh place. Vettel’s win is enough to see him clinch the title by four points and become the youngest ever champion.

2012: Vettel vs Alonso

Fernando Alonso somehow keeps his hopes of a third world championship alive heading into the final race in Interlagos, with Vettel holding the lead. Vettel is caught up in a melee at the Subida do Lago corner making heavy contact with Bruno Senna’s Williams and dropping to the rear of the field. Another light shower makes conditions treacherous but allows Vettel to recover back up to sixth place. With Alonso unable to catch and pass Jenson Button for the lead of the race, Vettel crosses the line in sixth to take his third successive world title.

2014: Hamilton vs Rosberg

A season long battle in the first year of the V6 turbo era sees the championship come down to the dominant Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. A quirk in the rules means the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will award double points, which could prove beneficial to polesitter Rosberg. Hamilton takes the lead at the start with Rosberg chasing, until he loses ERS power on his car halfway through the race. Hamilton is untroubled out front and takes a comfortable win to secure his second world championship as Rosberg fades down the field to finish 14th.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2021
Max Verstappen won the title in the most controversial circumstances

2016: Rosberg vs Hamilton

Rosberg’s second opportunity to win a championship against his Mercedes team mate sees him go into the final round with the points lead. Hamilton leads the race from the start, but Rosberg is safe in the knowledge that second will secure him the title. As the Ferrari of Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen close up to the two Mercedes, Hamilton deliberately slows off the pace to try and back Rosberg into the clutches of the cars behind. Rosberg repels Vettel’s pressure and holds on to finish second and take the world championship, before promptly retiring from the sport.

2021: Verstappen vs Hamilton

At the end of a 21 race marathon battle between Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, the pair are on equal points heading to Abu Dhabi. Verstappen takes pole, but Hamilton gets the better start and takes the lead. Hamilton appears to have the pace advantage over Verstappen, only losing ground to the Red Bull thanks to the defensive efforts of Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez. A late safety car allows Verstappen to pit for fresh tyres while Hamilton stays out. Race control announce lapped cars will not be allowed to unlap themselves, before then announcing that they will a lap later. Only five cars between leader Hamilton and Verstappen are permitted to overtake the safety car, with the race restarting on the 58th and final lap. Verstappen uses his fresh tyres to dive past Hamilton into turn five and hold off the Mercedes’ best efforts to fight back. Verstappen takes the chequered flag to win and snatch the world championship in highly controversial circumstances.

You say

Which was F1's best down-to-the-wire title decider?

  • 2021: Verstappen vs Hamilton (22%)
  • 2016: Rosberg vs Hamilton (1%)
  • 2014: Hamilton vs Rosberg (1%)
  • 2012: Vettel vs Alonso (8%)
  • 2010: Alonso vs Webber vs Vettel vs Hamilton (9%)
  • 2008: Hamilton vs Massa (26%)
  • 2007: Hamilton vs Alonso vs Raikkonen (11%)
  • 2006: Alonso vs Schumacher (2%)
  • 2003: Schumacher vs Raikkonen (1%)
  • 1999: Irvine vs Hakkinen (0%)
  • 1998: Hakkinen vs Schumacher (1%)
  • 1997: Schumacher vs Villeneuve (5%)
  • 1996: Damon Hill vs Villeneuve (1%)
  • 1994: Schumacher vs Damon Hill (3%)
  • 1986: Mansell vs Piquet vs Prost (6%)
  • 1984: Lauda vs Prost (2%)
  • 1983: Piquet vs Prost (0%)
  • 1982: Rosberg vs Watson (0%)
  • 1981: Reutemann vs Piquet vs Laffite (0%)
  • 1976: Lauda vs Hunt (1%)
  • 1974: Fittipaldi vs Regazzoni vs Scheckter (0%)
  • 1968: Graham Hill vs Stewart vs Hulme (0%)
  • 1967: Hulme vs Brabham (0%)
  • 1964: Graham Hill vs Surtees vs Clark (1%)
  • 1962: Graham Hill vs Clark (1%)
  • 1959: Brabham vs Moss vs Brooks (0%)
  • 1958: Hawthorn vs Moss (0%)
  • 1956: Fangio vs Moss vs Collins (1%)
  • 1951: Fangio vs Ascari vs Gonzalez (0%)
  • 1950: Fangio vs Farina (1%)

Total Voters: 193

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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67 comments on “Which was F1’s best down-to-the-wire title fight?”

  1. 2021 lewis Hamilton vs Masi and Max and Horner

    1. 2021 F1 Fans vs Max/Lewis phanbouys.

      And now a bit more serious.
      Thanks @WillWood and @KeithCollantine for another good article. Today was one of the best days (round-up, Caption Competition, and good analytical articles/polls). Now finding a way to clean up the comment section.

      1. Maybe Keith can get Masi to clean it up? I’ve heard he’s good at fixing things.

        1. A perfect reply!

      2. LMAOOOOOO give this comment of the day pleaseeee 🙏

  2. Of the ones I’ve seen (1997 onwards), I’d rank Sunday’s race first, thanks to the dramatic ending – you literally couldn’t ask for more than a last-lap, winner-takes-all duel between the two title contenders. The way we got there might have upset Hamilton’s sizeable fanbase, but the lap itself was undeniably thrilling. Honourable mention to 2008 which had an equally ridiculous finish, although as the title contenders weren’t scrapping on track it didn’t quite have the same drama.

    Looking at all of them – and I can’t be objective here, since I know far more about some of them than others – I think 1976 must be the best of them all. Even though Lauda had withdrawn from the race, it was a truly dramatic conclusion as Hunt was just on the edge of clinching the title all race. Apparently he didn’t even know he’d won it until he stopped the car, as he couldn’t read his pit board in the atrocious conditions.

    1. Nope… Because this one has the smell of race direction and/or the-owners-of-F1 in it. Let’s say Hamilton pitted and came out second under the safety car.

      Would they have made the same call???

      (Note: this is not about “deserving” it’s about “perception” and the credibility of F1; also see “history”)

  3. 2021 lewis vs Masi and Max and Horner aint no more racing as one

    1. Yes, 2021 season must not be viewed as sport anymore, so it is not entitled to be among other seasons.

  4. 2012 for me. 1986, 2008 and 2021 had more dramatic conclusions, but didn’t have quite the same drama from start to finish.

    1. Edit: 1976 is also up there. But losing one of the title contenders from the race (as understandable as it was) does detract a little.

    2. 2008 was also good throughout – it’s just a great track with a nice short lap.

  5. T’is needs fixing: “Villeneuve allows both McLarens of David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen through into first and second”

    Hakkinen got his first win gifted this way in 1997.
    (Kind of like Verstappen if you think about it ;-)

  6. 2006 is a very underated season

    1. The title battle was great. Two all time greats performing at their best and a really heated rivalry between the teams. Along with some dubious stewarding to throw in some controversy. (I’m still convinced that the penalty Alonso got in Monza qualifying was a fix to remove Schumacher’s only real threat on the weekend he announced his retirement)

      The only thing that lets it down was that many of the races were pretty average.

      1. I agree, and there are many parallels between 2021 and 2006. The tension at the end of the season was something else too. To this day Alonso’s 2006 title is still the absolute benchmark for season long consistency and quality. Max this year was the closest but his Brazil weaving and Saudi antics let him down a little vs Alonso’s 06. If this season ended after 18 races it would have concluded with Max’s Mexico GP win and perhaps it would have surpassed Alonso’s season.
        Schumacher and Hamilton were very similar too, relatively slow starts before slowly clawing their way back to the point the moment it looked like they were going to take control of the WDC bad luck befalls them. There cars both seemed a class above their rivals too, at the very end of the season.

        1. Indeed, was something I wanted to say as well! Very true alonso and verstappen did better than their opponents (and I’m a schumacher fan) that season, by throwing away less points with mistakes under their control, also true that both were young and were going against a driver at least 11 years older, both just past their peak but still competitive, and initially the younger driver was far less lucky, then things changed towards the end, evening luck out partially (2021) or completely (2006), and the older driver in both cases had a better car towards the end, just like hamilton in 2021 if schumacher hadn’t had the engine failure he would’ve probably won the title even with the fuel pump failure in quali last race, since he would’ve had more to lose and would’ve taken less risks when passing fisichella than he did, could’ve been an interesting final with schumacher needing 2 points less than alonso for them to end with even points.

  7. It sure wasn’t 2021.

  8. 2012 was an incredible race and proved the doubters wrong who said Alonso had no chance going in to the weekend.

    But I voted for 1994, which was the first title decider I had seen. An incredible finale to an incredible (for mostly all the wrong reasons) season.

    Mansell returning and putting it on pole. Schumacher and Hill racing off in a class of two. Hill driving out of his skin. The collision. Then a great battle between Berger and Mansell to the end. The wise-old-men on the podium (Mansell, Berger, Brundle) and in the press conference afterwards seemed a fitting group to eloquently sum up the season in the press conference after.

  9. 2021 shouldn’t be on there—all the others involved natural occurrances such as rain, reliability etc 2021 was about the Race Directorfabricating rules to gift one of the title rivals

  10. Of the more recent ones, 2016, 2012, 2011 and 2008 spring to my mind immediately!

  11. I voted 2007. As a fan of Raikkonen I really wanted to see him take the title but thought it was unlikely – the McLarens looked so much better and against Alonso or rookie Hamilton, I doubted he’d snatch it at the last gasp. But also after the whole ‘cheating’ thing I really didn’t want to see either McLaren get it. So I was super happy to see Raikkonen claim it.

    1. THAT IS THE SINGLE WORST COMMENT I HAVE EVER SEEN. I’m not Lewis’s biggest fan, but I respect him, and that comment is absolutely appalling. There is no excuse for that kind of comment.

      @keithcollantine This needs sorting out. I know it’s an anonymous user and would thus be difficult to ban the account but that comment is disgusting.

      1. That’s the single worst comment you’ve ever seen? You must be pretty new to the internet.

        1. @rocketpanda I’ll clarify that to the worst I’ve seen on this site. Doesn’t make it any less abhorrent though

  12. I like 2016. Because of the Mercedes Civil War. The margins were so close and no driver had a car advantage. It was all down to skill. Put it along with the fact that overtaking was so difficult in 2016. This was Mercedes’ most dominant season, adding even more pressure on Rosberg and Hamilton. A glass of wine for The Mercedes Civil War.

    2021 may have been intense, but 2016 when your enemy is in the same territory and knows your weaknesses, you know it’s going down to the wire.

  13. The fitness of todays F1 drivers and the drivability of modern F1 cars are much higher than it ever was so my feeling it also intensifies the battles much more when the drivers and cars are matching each other. I think we saw a season like never before!

  14. Of the ones I saw live and can properly comment on, 2007 or 2008 were the best for me. Honourable mention for 1999, purely for the ridiculously good start Hakkinen made (was a Mika fan at the time)… along with 1997, as we saw foul play go unrewarded.

    1994 and 2021 were the worst.

    1. I must say that I never thought I will say that 1994 season is not the worst F1 season ever. But 2021 season made me quit F1 for good. I just still stay here for while to have a laugh at FIA’s circus in trying to punish Lewis Hamilton and not Michael “The Cheat” Masi.

  15. I would have voted 1988 if Suzuka was the last race of the season. It surprised me to learn that it wasn’t (nor that it wasn’t in 89, 90 and 91).

    Besides that, it’s a close call between 86, 12 and 21 for me. Eventually I voted 2012, because the race itself is the best of all 3: some chaos, a shock scenario from the beginning, the virtual championship switching between VET and ALO several times, and many dramatic moments during the race. I still have vivid memories from watching every minute of it.

    1. …Adelaide was always the final race…

  16. Really enjoyable read, shows how much mechanical reliability was just a pivotal factor especially up to the 1970s.

    1976, 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2021 all stand out as most memorable. Conversely 1981, 1982 and 2010 strike me as particularly poor – terrible circuits making for terrible racing!

  17. Ambrogio Isgro
    18th December 2021, 20:27

    Senna is the only multiple champion that never went in a title showdown at the final gp. He won or lost titles always at the penultimate in Suzuka.

    1. I’m so used to having Melbourne at the start of the season that I forgot that Adelaide followed after the clash at Suzuka in 1989. If you speak of manufactured results, I’d say 1989 is worse than 2021.

      1. Why though? Suzuka 89 Was ultimately completely inconsequential. Senna would have kept his Chance alive with a win in suzuka but would have needed to win Adelaide as well. as he retired in Adelaide, suzuka didn’t matter at all.

    1. Suzuka, then Malaysia

  18. 1986 is unforgettably dramatic, but sad circumstances with unravelling tyres deciding it, and maybe Murray Walker’s contribution elevating it even higher than it deserves.

    For a brilliantly bonkers decider won and lost by racing, I’d go for 2008.

  19. Cant remember the year but it was the one where there neck and neck and there swapping places and rubbing wheels and there building towards the end and a bloke with a big moustache and a dog as a co-driver suddenly goes off chasing a pigeon……Oh my bad.. that was Wacky Racers

  20. In terms of the pure drama of the moment the title was decided: 2008.

    In terms of the best overall race of this lot: 2012.

    Honourable mentions: 1986, 2007, 1999.

    Poor deciders: 1994, 1997, 2010 (Abu Dhabi really messed that up).

    Worst one: None are even close. 2021

  21. 84 sounds amazing. Will have to chase down a tape of that one. A drive through the field after a puncture/mechanical failure is always good. That it was Lauda who had already been through so much would have added something special. Controversial accidents and unlucky failures that directly decide the outcome don’t really do it for me, but you can never deny the excitement/skill of carving through the field to win.

    1. I don’t know about finale’s, but the whole period between 2006 and 2012 was a phenomenal time as an F1 fan;

      -Rise of Alonso
      -Rise of Hamilton
      -Kimi’s WDC
      -The whole 2008 season
      -Brawn GP fairytale
      -Almost season long 5-way fight in 2010, 4-way in the final GP
      -2011 was an outlier… Let’s skip that one.
      -7 winners in first 7 races of 2012

      It was that period, along with the drivers and characters present, that turned me from a casual to a hardcore fan.

      1. @joeypropane

        I always bring up this stay. I’d say that between 2000 and 2013, I’d count 2002, 2004, 2011 and the second half of 2013 as duds, the rest of them were competitive.

        I think 2010 was one the best seasons, it’s not often you 4 drivers from 3 different teams going into the final round all with a chance of winning. Although the final race itself was a let down, the season was so unpredictable.

        I voted for 2007 though, that was epic.

      2. @joeypropane


        Ricciardo made his debut
        We still had 12 teams/24 drivers!
        Senna came back after a half year absense.
        We had techinally two Lotus teams on the grid: Lotus GP
        and Team Lotus
        We maybe had the best ever race in Canada!

        But to be honest it was a dull season. After all what had happened in 2007-2010 and earlier.

  22. This is such a difficult one so I’ve gone with the one that was the most intense to watch live (an emotional rather than objective vote). That has to be 2008. That was nuts. It’s hard to vote for ones I didn’t watch live as you don’t have quite the same anticipation or excitement, especially historic ones which you already know the result of. For me, I can’t really vote for anything before 2007. That would have been the first decider I watched live.

  23. 1997, where the cheater didn’t win. It was a feel good Hollywood ending to an epic duel!

  24. I’m completely biased on this subject but 1998 is my choice. It was the first full season of Formula One I watched and as a Finnish kid I was obviously enthusiastic about the season final, even though watching it meant waking up early. In retrospect, Suzuka 1998 probably wasn’t a thriller, but for me it is the most exciting Formula One race I have seen.

  25. Jose Lopes da Silva
    18th December 2021, 22:09

    Usually we skip previous decades because we haven’t watched them, but the fact is that modern decisions have brought more wheel to wheel fights between title contenders. 2021 has to be one of the best. Although 2008 has a very special place, having been decided in the last corner.

  26. 1986 easily. Probably because I was there.

    It had none of the nastiness and controversy that we’ve seen recently and the final lap where piquet shaved 21 seconds off Prost was amazing.

    I miss Adelaide!

    Second was 2010 with 4 drivers still in the mix but it was ruined by Abu Dhabi.

  27. Glad that my favourite got a mention for the 1982 Championship. Honestly, there were so many deserved champions who didn’t eventually become ones…Pironi, Gilles Villeneuve, Peterson, Reutemann, von Trips, Ickx, Moss…as for the most intense title decider, I would pick 2008 followed by 2012, at least from those in the recent memory.

  28. Didn’t vote yet cause it’s a hard one, I don’t like dismissing the old times, but this 2021 one was pretty impressive, unfortunately without the SC the cars weren’t close performance wise in that race, but going there with the same points after 22 races and fighting at the last lap of the last race was great.

  29. Been watching since 1994 and Brazil 2012 is the best race I have seen. How we can hold a title decider these days in a location that has almost zero chance of rain is utterly beyond me.

  30. As a Ferrari fan, I would say Lewis vs Felipe baby.

  31. Many good ones, but I eventually went for the most recent.

    1. RandomMallard
      19th December 2021, 7:38

      @jerejj Please don’t take this as a personal criticism, because that’s not what I’m trying to achieve, but I’m curious as to why you think it was this year?

      Sure, the final lap itself was exciting in the moment, but only because of an absolutely colossal screw up from Race Control. The rest of the race was pretty dull.

      If we’re going for a last lap overtake for the title, I would choose 2008 over 2021 any day of the week. If we’re going for a brilliant race from start to finish, I don’t think you can look past 2012.

  32. As much as I’d like to vote for the older ones that I’ve only read about, like the 1958 showdown, I’ll go with THAT race in Adelaide in 1986. To me, it perfectly captures what F1 can be about.

    Close second the Interlagos finals in 2012 and 2008.

  33. Well the 2021 title does stand out because it was the only one decided by the race director.

  34. On the basis of the current votes, Hamilton is involved in 65% of the best down to the wire championships.

    Seems crazy to think! I think some of the easy championships at Mercedes have tainted how incredibly tough he has had it all the other times (this season being 1 of them).

  35. I’m amazed by the number who voted for this year. I’m curious what age demographic everyone is here.
    For me it is 1997. I was13 then so it sits well in my memory. Also it showed that dirty driving won’t be tolerated and that rules most be applied correctly. Oh the irony.

  36. I have to say 2008. Maybe somewhere in the future I rate this season as high as the others but I was left with the feeling that this season was too good to be true. Almost in every other race we had these two batteling with each other. It almost felt too artificial. Maybe it was maybe it wasn’t. Still that after Massa had crossed the line at the end of the ’08 season we still weren’t 100% sure who was the champion. You cannot get better than that and + Lewis’s pass on the final corner of the final lap of the final race. Is there really anything better than that?
    Shoutout also for the ’98, ’99, ’03, ’06, ’10, ’12 and ’16.

  37. Well to be honest. Without max verstappen the last few f1 years would have been boring everyone till death.
    It was good Mercedes got their act together to put up a real fight between teams they had not endured for years.
    All intra team battles should be disregarded because they only show marginal differences between team drivers.

  38. 86 was amazing and so was 2003. In the former the outsider prevailed whereas in 2003 the incumbent took the tittle.

  39. As a season, 2021 was one of the best, closely followed by 2006; both which had 2 absolutely top-of-their-game drivers from 2 different teams.

    As a final race; 2008 wins it over 2021 for me. While both titles switched hands on the last lap, one was artificially created by the race director, one happened naturally due to rain

    As a final lap, 2021 wins over 2008 as the championship protagonists were actually fighting each other on the lap and not anyone else.

    So for the purposes of the poll question, 2008 it is!

  40. That was hard but i think 1964, 2010 and 2021 (even without the last race) and 1 in the 90s but i don’t remmeber the date anymore.

  41. Quite surprised how many votes 2021 has. I love a last lap pass but want a fair fight that follows the rules.
    For me it would have to be 2008 or 2012, I really can’t pick between the two.

  42. Racing Incident
    22nd December 2021, 17:51

    2008 all the way.
    2021 should be the worst ever.

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