Snatched defeat from the jaws of victory


Podium Finisher
... the lead changed hands on the last lap of a GP? How many times has it happened? Obviously Monaco 1970, Monaco 1982 and Canada 1991 are three of the really famous occasions - when else has it happened?
I'm wondering if we can compile a list of top drivers who lost a Grand Prix via a mistake when leading.

Just as a starter, I can immediately think of three and they're effectively 11-and-a-half seasons apart. Roughly:

1. Senna - Monaco 1988: Hitting the guardrail at Portier while well out in front of Prost. He walked away ... straight to his flat (as opposed to the McLaren garage).

2. Hakkinen - Monza 1999. Famous helicopter shot of the Finn weeping behind the hedges of the Royal Park. Mika said he wouldn't make that mistake again.

3. Vettel - Montreal 2011. Under pressure to keep ahead of the 1 second detection point lest he fall within the grasp of Button's potent McLaren/DRS combo. Took it hard on himself...but still finished 2nd to increase his lead in the Championship.

They (at least the first two) learnt from their gaffs and it was probably a good thing because it either humbled them for the time being or made them more introspective to their approach.

Do we have a list of others? Does Hamilton in China, 2007 count? Or was that far too early in the race to count?
This could be quite an interesting thread, maybe you could add some video footage of the incidents. As for Hamilton 2007, there was a lot of overtaking during that race so I'd say there was no guarantee that he would have kept that place if he had stayed on the road.
This should really be limited to the last few laps.

Here's just a few.

France 1977 at Dijon. John Watson lost in the Brabham on the final lap to Mario Andretti's Lotus who had been hounding him for most of the race.

San Marino 1982 at Imola. I think most people know the story behind this one.

Belgium 1982 at Zolder. Keke Rosberg made a slight mistake under braking on the penultimate lap, allowing John Watson to sneak through and take the victory. You can see it at 4:44 here;

Italy 1987 at Monza. Senna went off at Parabolica while lapping a backmarker on Lap 43 and Nelson Piquet went on to capture the GP


Portugal 1987 at Estoril. Gerhard Berger spun the Ferrari in the closing stages, allowing Alain Prost through to collect the win.

Canada 1991 - Waving to the crowd, Nigel Mansell cruising on to victory..........or not. At least his good buddy Nelson Piquet inherited the victory. :rolleyes:

Prost binned it at Monaco 82 with a commanding lead. Mayhem ensued.
O ya...I remember Mansell waving to the crowd at the far hairpin on the last lap leading to an electronics/hydraulic/gear problem (i can't recall exactly what it was). Williams were pissed!


By the way, Keke, that 1982 race at Imola wasn't a Villeneuve mistake or a driver error. We all know that, right?

The Finns! Mika at Barcelona in 2001. Kimi (sort of) at Brazil in 2003.

In addition, Senna's perfect record breaker in 1988 at Monza and Jim Clark losing the Championship on the final lap in 1964 in Mexico.

And Kimi did get his revenge on Fisichella in Japan a couple of years later... (but I thought this was about the greats!)
Yeah I'm not sure my suggestion counts. Barrichello can't be considered a "great" really. It was just a joke comment anyway.

BTW I need to ask, how do you create an article on here? :thinking:
I think Senna, Hakkinen, Vettel, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Mansell can be considered 'Greats'...but I can't put Barrichello, Watson and some others (like Fisichella) on that kind of list.
And not Clark :(

Well, Clark is likely ahead of most, if not all, of them! Only Senna - from on that list - is in the same class as Clark.

I didn't mention Clark because he's not a subject of this thread so far. Did Jimmy make an error while leading and throw away a Grand Prix?

(I don't that's why i'm asking).
Ya, Clark could have been an 8 times World Champion had everything gone well (in terms of reliability) and had he not been killed. Look at how Lotus was able to go on to win WDCs with drivers who weren't at Clark's level and you can see him winning the '68, '70 titles...and, had he continued, even the '72 and (perhaps) the '73 titles.
Raikkonen at the 2005 German GP was another one he was leading by 30 seconds and his Mercedes engine blow up on him about half-way through the race.
Also Raikkonen at the European GP with one lap to go i think it was his front left wheel went on his Mclaren Mercedes that happened in the same year i think.

Really hope these count aswell.
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