Coming from behind to win the Championship


In 64 seasons of Formula One racing, the eventual Champion has trailed entering the final round on 10 occasions and they are fairly evenly spaced out over this time frame. No driver has ever led the Championship entering the final round on 2 separate occasions and failed to capture the crown both times, although Fernando Alonso was ahead of the eventual Champion in the standings in 2007 and leading the Championship in 2010 before being overhauled. 8 of the 10 men to lose the Championship in this manner were former/future World Champions.

Before Final Round: Fangio 26 pts - Farina 22 pts
After Final Round: Farina 30 pts - Fangio 27 pts

Monza, Italy - Juan Manuel took Pole Position but dropped to third immediately after the start. He then retired two different Alfas (setting the fastest lap) while Farina led nearly the whole race en route to capturing the title on home soil. Nino would win just two more races in his career while Fangio became a legend.

Before Final Round: Hill 39 pts - Surtees 34 pts - Clark 32 pts
After Final Round: Surtees 40 pts - Hill 39 pts - Clark 32 pts

Mexico - In one of the most incredible motor races of all time, the title changed hands 3 times on the final lap culminating in the Ferrari's swapping places at the last moment securing John Surtees the Championship. Jim Clark was set to capture back-to-back titles until his already struggling engine called it a day with less than three miles to go. Graham Hill would then have retained his Championship lead if Lorenzo Bandini hadn't realized what had occurred and duly slowed down for the formerly fourth-place Surtees.

Before Final Round: Lauda 68 pts - Hunt 65 pts
After Final Round: Hunt 69 pts - Lauda 68 pts

Fuji, Japan - Drama abounded in 1976 and the season finale was no different. Having nearly lost his life less than three months earlier, Niki Lauda retired his Ferrari on Lap 3 of a soaking wet Japanese Grand Prix opening the door for the leader of the race, James Hunt. He led every lap through to 61 before relinquishing the lead, eventually making a pit stop and dropping back to fifth (and out of Championship winning position) with just three laps remaining. Hunt passed both Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni on the 71st lap however and P3 was enough to nick the title by one.

Before Final Round: Reutemann 49 pts - Piquet 48 pts
After Final Round: Piquet 50 pts - Reutemann 49 pts

Las Vegas, NV - The 1981 Championship was unfortunately decided at one of the worst racing venues of all time due to a lack of funds at Watkins Glen. Carlos Reutemann and his Williams teammate locked out the front row, but while Jonesy went on to lead every lap, Carlos suffered gearbox problems immediately and never ran higher than P5. Passing Reutemann on Lap 18, Nelson Piquet (who had also dropped back at the start) was now in position to win the title, and although he struggled physically to bring the car home 5th, the Williams without 4th gear could do no better than a lapped P8. Somewhat interestingly, Carlos had led Nelson home in the South African GP that was supposed to start that year's Championship. This result would have given him the title, but due to the fact that the Non-Cossie cars didn't compete, no points were awarded. Reutemann retired two rounds into 1982 and Piquet went on to two more titles.

Before Final Round: Prost 57 pts - Piquet 55 pts
After Final Round: Piquet 59 pts - Prost 57 pts

Kyalami, South Africa - Starting from P2, Nelson Piquet rocketed into the lead and into Championship clinching position. Prost had qualified fifth and though he ran in third from laps 9-17, he was never in a position to win the title during the race. His retirement on Lap 36 meant that Piquet needed just 4th to secure the crown. After leading for 59 Laps his teammate took over the lead and went on to win. Nelson's eventual 3rd place gave him the necessary points and for the second time in three years he had won the WDC in come from behind fashion.

Before Final Round: Mansell 70 pts - Prost 64 pts - Piquet 63 pts
After Final Round: Prost 72 pts - Mansell 70 pts - Piquet 69 pts

Adelaide, Australia - With the Williams' battling all year, the steady and consistent Alain Prost laid in wait. From laps 7-63 it was Mansell in the driver's seat though. Keke Rosberg was running away with the race while the 3 Championship contenders occupied the places directly behind him. On Lap 63 the race was turned on its head when Rosberg suffered a tire failure. Lap 64 saw Champion-elect Nigel suffer the same fate in a far more dramatic manner. Piquet briefly stood to capitalize on these blowouts, but his team had really no other option than to call him in to avoid another catastrophe. The victory for Prost gave him F1's first back-to-back Championships in nearly 30 years.

Before Final Round: Schumacher 78 pts - Villeneuve 77 pts
After Final Round: Villeneuve 81 pts - Schumacher 78 pts*

Jerez, Spain - In his first Ferrari title charge, Michael Schumacher found himself leading the superior Williams by 1 into the Season closing European GP, which had recently replaced Portugal on the calendar. In a "wild" qualifying climax, three cars shared the exact same time, but it was Villeneuve who would start on Pole ahead of Schumacher. That was short lived however when Michael surged into the lead immediately at the lights. Still running 1-2 on Lap 48, Jacques went for it, and when Schumi's efforts to block him failed, sending his own car into retirement, the title was all but secured for the Williams driver. Several swaps in the final laps saw Mika Hakkinen collect his first career victory, with JV's third place being plenty, especially after Schumacher was thrown out of the Championship for his deliberate acts.

Before Final Round: Irvine 70 pts - Hakkinen 66 pts
After Final Round: Hakkinen 76 pts - Irvine 74 pts

Suzuka, Japan - In just his second race back following a mid-season broken leg, Michael Schumacher could have gone a long way to help Irvine win the title after taking Pole Position. Instead, Hakkinen jumped into the lead straight away and led all but 3 laps. Victory alone was enough to win the Championship and Mika became the 7th man in history to win titles in successive years.

Before Final Round: Hamilton 107 pts - Alonso 103 pts - Raikkonen 100 pts
After Final Round: Raikkonen 110 pts - Hamilton 109 pts - Alonso 109 pts

Sao Paulo, Brazil - After McLaren's season had descended into acrimony and allegations, Hamilton still found himself in a good position heading to Interlagos. A poor start and another squeeze from Alonso put him on the back foot immediately however. The race unraveled completely on Lap 9 though when his ECU cut out, dropping him from 6th to 18th. At the front Felipe Massa was leading Raikkonen but there was no doubt the order would be switched eventually. Lewis was making up positions nearly every lap and had reached P10 before his first pit stop. Fernando was driving a fairly anonymous race and never seriously threatened a title charge. Hamilton would eventually claw his way up to 7th for good, but bizarre pits strategy ensured that he would not challenge the BMW's ahead. Kimi Raikkonen's victory gave him a popular Championship Crown, becoming the third Finn to do so, while remaining Ferrari's final WDC.

Before Final Round: Alonso 246 pts - Webber 238 pts - Vettel 231 pts - Hamilton 222 pts
After Final Round: Vettel 256 pts - Alonso 252 pts - Webber 242 pts - Hamilton 240 pts

Abu Dhabi, UAB - A remarkable season had seen 4 drivers battle from start to finish, with Mark Webber holding the Championship lead before clouting the wall at a wet Korea. His teammate's engine blowup then put Alonso in the pound seats for final two races. It was Vettel who seized the initiative in Brazil however, setting up a showdown in the desert. Locking down Pole Position and setting the pace at the front, Vettel was looking good, and when Fernando pitted early from P4, things got even better for the young German. Having stopped on Lap 2 after the Safety Car deployment, Renault driver Vitaly Petrov found himself ahead of Alonso on Lap 16, and despite repeated attempts and off-track excursions by the Spaniard to find a way by, Petrov would stay there for the rest of the race, ensuring that Nando would not win the title. Sebastian's 5th win of the season saw him take the Championship lead for the very first time. Mark Webber would never be the same driver again, and the stage was set for Vettel's run of dominance.

So there you have it. Nine different come from behind winners at Ten different circuits. Will Abu Dhabi become the very first venue to witness this phenomenon more than once? We'll know soon enough. I hope this thread can help pass the time quicker until we get underway in the Emirates.
With the rules in place this year, it would seem that this would be the best chance to beat the odds, no margin for error for either driver.​
If Lewis is smart, he will let Nico win and ride around in 2nd all day. Theres no reason to take any risk. Nothing would make me happier than to see someone take out Lewis in turn 1 though. ;)
As discussed in a recent Motorsport Magazine article, Graham Hill was taken out of the race by Bandini. Can you imagine the internet / fanboy reaction if that had happened in this day and age ??

Hill's reaction? He sent Bandini an album of advanced driving instructions for Christmas. It really was a different era back then.
There are some great old threads around here and our resident boffin Galahad provided some inspiration for me when I saw this one last night;

Here's the outstanding race report,

Clark duly came out of the blocks explosively, setting an unbeatable pace in qualifying to take pole position by almost a second from Dan Gurney's Brabham in second. Championship leader Hill could do no better than sixth, while the Ferraris lined up in third and fourth - Bandini running the V12 engine this weekend and benefitting from a slight power advantage on the long straights over his V8-powered team leader behind.

Immediately from the start Clark's chances took a major boost as both rivals hit problems. Hill was hampered at the start by damage to his goggles and dropped four places to tenth on the opening lap. Surtees' problems seemed even more grave, his V8 spluttering ineffectually off the grid and leaving John back in thirteenth position. Both were able to continue, however, the Ferrari coming on more strongly as the laps reeled off, and with no scheduled pitstops gradually picked off the runners in front. Clark, however, was asserting a position of dominance at the front, and this meant Hill needed a finish of at least third to become champion; Surtees second.

On lap 12 Hill eased past the Ferrari of Bandini to take the third position he needed. At this stage Surtees was back in the pack in sixth and though he passed Jack Brabham on lap 18, looked unlikely to trouble leaders Clark and Gurney. Meantime Hill appeared to lack the pace, or inclination, to make a break from Bandini's Ferrari in fourth. As the laps went by the gap closed and on lap 31 Bandini made his move. The two cars collided and both spun. Though they were able to rejoin, the BRM had sustained damage to the exhaust, necessitating a lengthy pitstop for repairs that dropped Hill to 13th and out of contention. After the controversial collision with the number two Ferrari, Graham now needed misfortune to strike his title rivals.

Surtees had inherited third with Bandini's spin, but with Clark looking uncatchable, the Englishman needed to relieve Gurney of second place to take the championship. The recovering Bandini quickly closed up on his team leader, and Surtees elected to let him pass and carry the fight to the Brabham ahead. Even with a straightline speed advantage, however, Bandini could not close sufficiently over the entire lap to put Gurney under pressure, and with the race now looking set it seemed Clark would retain his crown.

It was very unusual, though, for a Lotus to run trouble-free from flag to flag, and so it proved again on this occasion. With only seven laps remaining, a loss of pressure alerted Clark to an oil leak. He continued to press on as best he could, and crossing the line with one lap to go he remained at the head of the pack and on course for the championship. Tragically, however, it was on the very last lap that the Climax engine cried 'enough' and the Lotus rolled to a sickening halt. Gurney flashed past to head for the chequered flag and victory, pursued by the two Ferraris. With no time for a pit signal, Surtees was relying on Bandini moving aside to give him the second place he needed to become champion. Fortunately, Bandini had seen Clark expire and duly moved aside before the line, giving his team mate the six points needed to overhaul Hill at the top and add a four-wheeled world championship to his many motorcycle titles.
It was relief as much as anything else. I think I remember reading of how his onboard computer was faulty, telling he'd run out of fuel 5 laps from the end. He expected the engine to die any moment but it never did.
Another interesting fact about Surtees and Hunt, neither driver had lead the championship at any stage of the season until the last few laps of the last race of the season.
Conversely, Carlos Reutemann led nearly the entire 1981 Championship. After his contentious win ahead of Alan Jones in round 2 he sat at the top of the table until Las Vegas.
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