When the title defence ended

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    Some reigning world champions were successful in defending their titles – Schumacher, Vettel and Fangio won 4 or more consecutive titles, and right now it looks like Hamilton will successfully defend his 2014 title. But in 47 seasons (if I’ve counted correctly), the champ failed to repeat their success the following year.

    Let’s think of some famous and less famous moments that ended a current champion’s title defence.

    I’ll start with:
    Belgium, 2008 – When Raikkonen crashed out of his battle with Hamilton for victory at Spa, it was clear he would not retain his title.

    And a rather strange one:
    Italy, 1970 – Rindt’s fatal crash in qualifying. His chance of defending the title had been over before he even won the 1970 championship.

    45 to go?

    • 1997 – Hill drove for Arrows in a monumentally poor car, after he dominated in 1996.
    • 1996 – Schumacher moved to Ferrari and started the rebuild of the Italian marque.
    • 1994 – Prost retired after winning in 1993
    • 1993 – Champion Mansell went to Indycar in 93 after he dominated 1992.
    • 1992 – Senna was destroyed by the Active Suspension in the Williams.

    I’ll leave some for other people to get ;)


    Belgium 2010 – when Vettel crashed into Button at Spa it was obvious he wasn’t going to succesfully defend his title


    When Mike Hawthorn retired?

    Sir Teukka

    Häkkinen’s engine blowing up in the 2000 US GP.


    How about in 2005 when it became clear early in the season that michelen rather than bridgestone had the better tyre to last a race distance

    Or in 2007 during the hungarian grand prix qualfying when Alonso disobayed team orders by refusing to drive his car as he was trying to disadvantage Hamilton


    In 2007 I think there were specific moments for Alonso and Hamilton where they both lost the championship in the showdown at Interlagos – in Alonso’s case it was the superior getaways made by the Ferraris which meant that he’d be third at best, not quite enough to beat Hamilton to the title regardless of what Raikkonen did, while Raikkonen was in a position to win as soon as he got into second place with only his team mate ahead. Hamilton lost it with the 30 second gearbox failure which caused him to plummet down the order. He had already gone off track earlier but he had already made it back into the fifth place he needed to become champion IIRC, but after that point he had too much ground to make up.

    Come to think of it, Alonso looked like he’d lost it at Fuji after crashing out, leaving him 12 points behind his team mate with two races to go, but Hamilton’s slip into the pit lane gravel trap at Shanghai cut his lead to 4 points so Alonso was very much in with a chance going into the Brazilian GP.

    Jacques Villeneuve’s defence of his title ended in the 1998 Australian GP when the McLaren-Mercedes cars lapped his Williams-Mecachrome (indeed, they lapped both Williams drivers), with only Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari able to get close before having to retire. I don’t remember this but at the time a season of McLaren domination would have looked a certainty, and really it was only MSC’s brilliance (Hungary remains perhaps the outstanding example) that prevented this. I guess you can argue that he lost his title when Williams lost works Renault support, although I’d say that Williams probably still thought they do better than they did with what was essentially the old Renault engine.

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