From Lewis Hamilton’s grand win in 2008 to Romain Grosjean’s unfortunate insane fiery crash, we’ve got the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here are some of the most memorable moments in F1 history to look back on.
With the spotlight on motor racing gaining traction, it is no wonder that the Formula 1 races have been a ‘must-watch’ for fans worldwide. Throughout the years, fans have come together and witnessed several iconic moments, remarkable clashes, and spicy controversies. For those who are new to the sport, or are simply looking for a list of significant F1 instances — be it good or bad, join us as we count down the top 10 most memorable moments in F1 in history!
10. 1988 Monaco Grand Prix – Ayrton Senna’s Pole Lap
Image credits: Fox Sports Australia
Starting off strong, we recount the moment legendary Ayrton Senna made F1 history at the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix. Driving for McLaren, Senna debuted four years earlier at the same Grand Prix (GP) and soon made a name for himself by the 1988 GP.
With only three races into his career, Senna’s determination to outpace champion teammate, Alain Prost, raised his commitment to the sport, with it coming to fruition at Monte Carlo. Nabbing the pole position with 1 min 23 seconds, Senna beat Prost by one second and became the favourite to win that season.
“I was just going faster and faster, and there was a point when I was over two seconds faster than anybody, including my teammate with the same equipment,” Senna commented on his qualifying lap when he interviewed for Silverstone in June 1990.
Most Memorable Moments In F1 History: Click here to watch Aryton Senna’s Pole Lap
9. 2003 British Grand Prix – Elf Track Protestor
Image credits: Top Gear Malaysia
Aside from glorious victories, the world of F1 is no stranger to several fails. Interestingly, the British GP saw a rather absurd fail when Catholic priest, Neil Horan, ran onto the Hangar Straight – the fastest part of the circuit dressed in an elf’s folk dancing outfit! Horan ran down the track and waved a board at the cars as he performed a religious protest. This scared spectators, who watched as drivers zoomed past the protestor at speeds of up to 200 mph! He was later tackled to the ground by a marshal and arrested for aggravated trespassing (well-deserved if you ask us).
However, that’s not the last of the former priest! He made headlines the year after for dragging a marathon runner out of the lead in the 2004 Athens Olympics and performed at Britain’s Got Talent in 2009.
Most Memorable Moments In F1 History: Click here to watch the Elf Track protestor
8. 1976 Italian Grand Prix – Return of Niki Lauda
Image credits: Formula 1
Only six weeks after his fiery crash at Nurburgring, the Ferrari racer, Niki Lauda, made his courageous return to the track and stunned fans. Truth be told, he shouldn’t have been racing that year as the crash had resulted in severe injuries. Thanks to Guy Edwards, Arturo Merzario, Brett Lunger, and Harald Ertl, Lauda was dragged out of his vehicle and fought in the intensive care unit. In fact, his injuries were so bad that he received last rites and was not expected to survive. With facial burns and flame inhalation damaging his lungs, the fact that Lauda managed to rise above and overcome death is impressive.
The undefeated Austrian champion took fourth place that year.
Most Memorable Moments In F1 History: Click here to watch Niki Lauda’s comeback
7. 1959 United States Grand Prix – Jack Brabham Pushes to Finish
Image credits: Essentially Sports
On the last lap of the 1959 F1 World Championship at Sebring, Jack Brabham’s Cooper T51 suddenly ran out of fuel. Desperate to win, the Australian driver hopped out of the vehicle and pushed it up the hill and across the finishing line. This move led him to clinch fourth place, giving him the first of his three World titles and a first for Cooper, whose mid-engined car revolutionised the sport. While this may not be the last time we see a driver pushing his car to the finish line (Nigel Mansell tried to push his Lotus in the aggressively hot weather of 1984), it was definitely a huge win as Brabham became the first Australian to win an F1 World Championship that year.
Most Memorable Moments In F1 History: Click here to watch Jack Brabham push his vehicle to the finish line
6. 1991 Canadian Grand Prix – Nigel Mansell’s Early Celebration
Image credits: WTF1
Speaking of Mansell, the British racer had a massive failure when he raced during the 1991 GP. Leading every single lap of a race in which many other top runners had retired, Nigel Mansell was set to take home his first victory of the season. However, his confidence got to his head during the final lap, in which he waved to the crowd and indulged himself in a premature celebration. This led to the revs on his Williams FW14 dropping a little too low, causing the engine management system to cut and stall his vehicle.
To make matters worse, his arch-rival and former teammate — Nelson Piquet, sped ahead and snatched the victory, marking a win for Benetton. We’re all feeling the heat of second-hand embarrassment from this incident (oops).
Most Memorable Moments In F1 History: Click here to watch Mansell’s last lap heartache
5. 1957 German Grand Prix – Fangio Wins
Image credits: Formula 1 Twitter
If you ask any F1 fan, they will tell you that this incident was proof of the most incredible drive, by the most significant F1 driver ever to race, on one of the trickiest circuits of all time.
Driving his iconic Maserati 250F, Fangio led the race before stopping for a pit stop on lap 12. This pause messed up his momentum and he immediately fell to third place. However, that did not stop him as he set an unbelievably amazing succession of new lap records towards the end of the race.
Fangio won the GP that year despite his seat coming loose, marking the last victory in his decorated career.
Most Memorable Moments In F1 History: Click here to watch Fangio’s last victory
4. 1997 Australian Grand Prix – Lola’s Debut
Image credits: WTF1
Backed by Mastercard, the British F1 team contested only one race in the 1997 F1 World Championship. Lola spent years providing chassis to other F1 racing teams as a big name in the automobile industry and decided to try its hand at the big leagues.
While the team’s debut was ramped up to be iconic, it soon turned sour after both drivers failed to qualify with an 11-second gap. Due to financial and technical difficulties, the team was forced to withdraw from the Brazilian GP and never again made another debut in F1.
Most Memorable Moments In F1 History: Click here to watch Lola’s debut
3. 2008 British Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton’s Win
Image credits: Formula 1
With the 2021 Russian GP marking a milestone for the British racer, we believe his very first race (and win!) deserves a spot in the top three of this list!
Even though he almost won the title in his rookie year, Hamilton proved that he was a once-in-a-lifetime talent by overhauling teammate, Heikki Kvolainen, and becoming champion on the rain-lashed track. While every other driver struggled to stay on the circuit, Lewis proved his worth by clocking in a gap of 68 seconds between him and second place.
“It was a perfect area for me to show my strengths,” he noted in an interview, “I loved that race; it was so much fun!”
Most Memorable Moments In F1 History: Click here to watch Lewis Hamilton’s win
2. 2008 Singapore Grand Prix – Crashgate
Image credits: Formula 1
In the second place, we have one of the worst scandals to hit F1 history ever. Nelson Piquet Jr. was asked by his bosses at the Renault team to deliberately crash at the Singapore Grand Prix so that his teammate, Fernando Alonso, would have a greater chance of winning the race.
Although Alonso made an early pitstop, he got to the lead and eventually won the race due to Piquet Jr’s ‘accident’. Ultimately, the driver let the cat out of the bag when he was dropped from the team in the middle of the 2009 F1 season, granting him immunity and instigating an investigation.
This led to Briatore and Symonds being banned from F1, and the Renault team received a suspension. Talk about scandalous!
Most Memorable Moments In F1 History: Click here to watch the crashgate
1. 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix – Romain Grosjean’s Fiery Crash
Image credits: Eurosport
While it might come as a shock to some, we’re sure that no one will disagree that this was one of the worst crashes to ever be seen during an F1 race. Racing at a speed of 119 mph, Grosjean’s car struck the triple guardrail barrier with a peak impact of 67G. The car suffered extensive damage during the impact and was immediately split into two before being swallowed in angry flames. Fans watching the race held their breath as officials quickly ran to the car, knowing that no one would survive a tragic accident like this.
Grosjean was stuck inside the burning vehicle for 27 seconds and managed to dislodge his foot and escape the flames. Suffering burns on his hands, he spent three days in Bahrain’s Defence Force Hospital before returning home to Switzerland. The 10-time podium finisher missed the final two races of his career that year, but it wasn’t long before he made his comeback to the sport this year.
Most Memorable Moments In F1 History: Click here to watch Grosjean’s Fiery Crash
A Recap Of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly In F1 History
Now that you’re up-to-date with the most memorable moments in F1 history, you’re ready to take you’re one step closer to kicking off this Formula 1 season! Whether you’re racing to get F1 tickets or stuffing your face in some trackside snacks, don’t forget to pay with your YouTrip card to make full use of our Wholesale Exchange Rates and skip those pesky bank fees.
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Keep that racer spirit burning!