Top Ten Formula One Highlights

In a sport as fast and furious as Formula One, every race has more than its fair share of heart-stopping and inspirational moments. But every now and then one race or incident is destined to go down in history - and here are 10 of the best.


1 May 13, 1950

The 1950 British Grand Prix at Silverstone was where it all began for Formula One, with the very first race of the new seven-race series (the others were Monaco, the Indianapolis 500 in the US, Switzerland, Belgium, France and Italy). It was Nino Farina who won the inaugural race in his Alfa Romeo, leading a podium clean sweep for the Italian manufacturer, ahead of Luigi Fagioli and Reg Parnell, but it was the Italian's Argentine teammate Juan Manuel Fangio, who challenged for the lead before retiring with an oil leak, who would go on to be the first Formula One champion.

2 Sept 2, 1956

It is unlikely that any of the drivers in the current season's championship would make the sort of sporting gesture produced by Peter Collins at the Italian Grand Prix, the climax to the 1956 season.The Briton, who had a chance of being world champion, was lying in second place in the race, needing a win to take top spot. But he gave up his chance by handing over his car to Ferrari teammate Fangio, whose own car had failed, to help the Argentine score the points he needed to win his fourth world title as he took second.

3 Dec 12, 1959

Going into the final round of the season - the American Grand Prix at Sebring - the title was between Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks. Moss had led from pole, but a gearbox failure ended the Briton's race. This left Brabham seemingly on target for his first world title, as Brooks was down the order. Brabham led going into the last lap, but his Cooper-Climax ran out of petrol. Undaunted, the Australian got out of his car and pushed it the remaining quarter of a mile to take fourth place - enough to claim his first championship.

4 Sept 5, 1971

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza, with its long straights, is synonymous with close racing - and never more so than in 1971. The leaders ran in a pack for much of the event, with none able to make a break and on the final lap five cars were in contention. Peter Gethin's BRM squeezed over the line first, with the top five all within six tenths of a second, making it the closest result in Formula One history.

5 Sept 12, 1976

The determination of Niki Lauda in the 1976 season typified the courage of Formula One drivers. The Austrian world champion had suffered life-threatening injuries and burns when his Ferrari had caught fire following a crash during the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. But remarkably, just 42 days later he was back racing, finishing fourth at the Italian Grand Prix as he had battled to retain his title. In the event, he would miss out at the final race to Britain's James Hunt, but his determination and heart in recovering so quickly were clear to see and he would go on to win two more championships.

6 July 1, 1979 One of the best duels in the sport's history came in Dijon as Rene Arnoux's Ligier battled with Gilles Villeneuve's Ferrari in the closing laps of the French Grand Prix. The pair traded places regularly, occasionally touching wheels as they navigated their way around the tight twists of the track. Throughout the exchange, which lasted three laps, both drivers gave the other one space at all times, and it was a great exhibition of tough but fair racing. Villeneuve eventually prevailed, finishing just ahead of Arnoux. It was the other Ligier of Jean-Pierre Jabouille that won the race, but all the talk after the event was of the heroics of the other two men on the podium.

7 April 11, 1993 It is notoriously difficult to pass in Formula One, but Ayrton Senna, the three-times world champion, showed what could be achieved by the specially talented when he produced an astonishing opening lap at the European Grand Prix at Donington Park in the UK. In damp conditions and in an inferior car, the Brazilian managed to pass Michael Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger, Damon Hill and Alain Prost to move from fifth to first by the time the first circuit of the track had been completed. He would go on to win the race in his McLaren-Ford and celebrate a victory that would be remembered as one of the best of the 41 he claimed in the sport before his untimely death just over a year later, in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix.

8 Aug 29, 2004 Michael Schumacher's second-place finish in the Belgium Grand Prix in his Ferrari earned him his record seventh world title. The German had dominated the sport like no driver before since his debut in 1991, but even by his own standards his supremacy in 2004 was astonishing as he won 12 of the first 13 races, making the title his with four races to spare. Even though he has to failed to recapture his past form this year, since coming out of retirement with Mercedes GP, his legacy as the most successful driver in Formula One history remains intact.

9 Sept 11, 2004 The fastest lap in Formula One history came at the wrong time for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Colombian scorched around Monza in pre-qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix with an astonishing lap time of 1m 19.526s. The average lap speed of 262.242 kilometres per hour made it the fastest lap in Formula One history, a landmark that has not been passed. Unfortunately for Montoya, that was as good as things would get for him that weekend in his Williams-BMW, as he was beaten to pole in qualifying by the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello, and then could only finish fifth in the race.

10 Nov 1, 2008 Lewis Hamilton, who had missed out on being champion a year earlier by a single point, had a seven-point lead over Felipe Massa going into the final race in Brazil, and needed to finish only fifth to take the crown. But Massa did what he needed to do by winning, while Hamilton, who had been fourth for much of the race, suddenly found himself down in sixth after pitting for intermediate tyres when a rain shower hit the track. Massa crossed the finishing line out front and, for a few moments, thought he was world champion. But Hamilton was able to overtake the Toyota of Timo Glock, who had stayed out on dry tyres, at the final corner as the rain got heavier, snatching back fifth place and denying Massa the title by a single point.