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Top Ten Formula 1 Last Lap Battles

These battles are so close you won’t believe it!

10. Austrian GP 1982, Elio De Angelis vs Keke Rosberg

The year was 1982. The race was the Austrian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps, the 13th race of the season. Alain Prost had dominated proceedings but after running into mechanical trouble second place Elio de Angelis inherited the lead, but an equally determined Keke Rosberg was catching in his Williams. Neither de Angelis or Rosberg had won a Grand Prix. De Angelis Lotus-Ford held off Keke Rosberg’s Williams-Ford to win by just 0.05 seconds, or less than half a car length.

9. Spanish GP 1986, Senna vs Mansell

It was 1986 and Senna was at the wheel of the Lotus 98T for the Spanish Grand Prix. While the Lotus did not have the outright pace or reliability of the Williams, it had Senna. With less than 10 laps remaining, Senna who had been leading the Grand Prix comfortably started to suffer from significant tye wear. Mansell was catching the Brazillian hand over fist, the Williams having pitted for fresh tyres. As they came onto the finish straight on the final lap Mansell pulled out of the slipstream but it was not to be. Senna finished in front but just 0.014s

8. French GP 1979, Rene Arnoux vs Gilles Villeneuve

Gilles Villeneuve was arguably the greatest driver throughout the 1979 Grand Prix season aboad his Ferrari 312T. The Renault took the win with French driver Jean-Pierre Jabouille and while this last lap battle wasn’t a fight for the win, it certainly goes down in history as one of the best last laps in history. It was Villeneuve in the Ferrari vs Arnoutte in the Renault. The pair swapped positions 5 times on the final lap however it was the Canadian who came home in front by just 0.2s.

7. Monza 1971, Peter Gethin

At the time it was the closest margin of victory in Formula One history. The 1971 Italian Grand Prix gave Peter Gethin his only Formula 1 victory and was to make him famous. Battling 4 other drivers on the last lap it was on the final corner of Monza, the Parabolica, that Gethin in his V12 powered BRM barged his way past François Cevert in the Tyrell and just managed to squeeze out Ronnie Peterson to take the win, by a mear 0.01s.

6. Styrian GP 2020, Norris vs Stroll vs Perez

The year 2020 was one of the strangest years in Formula 1. The Styrian Grand Prix held at the Red Bull Ring in Austria held one of the mostthrilling last lap battles of the year. Lando Norris had pitted for fresh tyres. The two Racing Point Mercedes drivers of Stroll and Perez were in front but struggling on worn rubber. The McLaren team had timed his pit stop to perfection: Norris caught the Racing Points through the last half of the last lap, his fresher tyres being put to good use to pass both drivers and take 5th place.

5. US GP 2017, Verstappen vs Raikkonen

The US Grand Prix, held at the Circuit of the Americas was the location for this last lap tussle between Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull protoge Max Verstappen. Verstappen had started from grid 16 after an engine penalty dropped the Dutch driver down the starting order, however a charge through the pack including this last lap battle with the veteran Ferrari driver netted the final podium spot. That podium place was short lived though, Max being seen to overstep track limits during his pass on Kimi, and with a 5 second penalty applied, relegated to 4th.

4. Japan 2005, Raikkonen vs Fisichella

With 3 laps to go McLarens Kimi Raikkonen had caught the Italian Giancarlo Fisichella in the Renault. The McLaren driver had started 17th on the grid but through masterful driving and strategy the Finn smashed the field. Fisichella was instantly on the deffensive, holding the McLaren up for 2 laps before finally, while trying to protect his position, allowed Kimi to get a run on him over the start finish straight to take the Renault around the outside on the first sweeping corner of Suzuka on the last lap. Raikkonen lead the last lap to take the win.

3. Canada 2011, Button vs Vettel

It was race day and the rain was coming down heavily at the Montreal circuit. With the entire field starting behind the safety car it was an early battle between Vettel and Alonso. Button in his McLaren was having a mixed race, first taking out his own team mate, then a drive through penalty. He was in 15th place. A thunderstorm caused the race stoppage. Upon the race starting again there was yet more bad luck for Button. A touch with Alonso caused a puncture, relegating him to last place, however while other drivers started to struggle on the ever drying circuit on their intermediate tyres, Buttons swap to slicks was allowing him to slice his way through the field. With the 2 hour limit fast approaching Button passed Webber and Schumacher and had the leader Sebastian Vettel in his sights. There was no way Vettel was going to let Button through on the last lap, however he was too busy watching his mirrors and ran wide on the damp track. Button came through to take one of the most popular wins in the modern era.

2. Brazil 2008, Hamilton vs Glock

The 2008 title showdown between Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and McLarens’ Lewis Hamilton was to take place at the final race of the season in Brazil. Massa need to win the race and Hamilton finish lower than 5th for the Brazilian to take the championship. The race started on a wet track and as it dried, Massa was in a commanding lead. Hamilton was down in 7th after pitting for dry tyres. With 5 laps to go the rain came down again. Hamilton pitted for wets, along with race leader Massa. Toyota gambled and stayed out on wet tyres. As the rain came down harder on the last lap the Toyotas struggled. Hamilton overtook the Toyota of Timo Glock on the last corner of the last lap of the last race of the season to become World Champion.

1. Japan 2007, Massa Vs Kubica

The year was 2007. Massa was driving for Ferrari, Kubica for the factory BMW team. The Japanese Grand prix, held at the famous Fuji circuit was soaking wet and provided for one of the best last laps of all time. Kubica was leading Massa into the last lap. The track was so wet the drivers were struggling to see. How these two made it through that last lap we’ll never know. They battled hard, running off the circuit multiple times, banging wheels along the way, but it was the Ferrari driver Massa who came out on top of this battle.

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