The closest championship battles of the last 20 years
Ashwin Menon, Undergraduate batch of 2022
Over the years, the sport of Formula 1 has witnessed amazing battles. Whether it was, Michael Schumacher’s glory days or the Senna vs Prost era, there has always been some eye-catching and intense racing. Over the last two decades, unfortunately, there has been a misconception that formula 1 is a sport that is easily dominated by one or two drivers. To debunk that theory, here are four of the closest championship battles of the last decade.
2010: Vettel edges past Alonso by 4
2010, an eventful year for Ferrari. The Prancing horses had just replaced Kimi Räikkönen with another star name, Fernando Alonso. They also were completely trounced the previous season by Red bull and the vastly superior RB10 and a resolute Sebastian Vettel who took full advantage of his machine. The dominance seemed to continue into the new season as he won 5 races only to be answered by the Spaniard with some brilliant drives. Alonso eventually managed to claw his way into a spot of real contention for the championship. Eventually, he would end up with 252 points to Vettel’s 256, a mere 4 point gap which meant the German was once again, the world champion.
2016: The battle of the Silver Arrows
2016 could be argued as one of the best years of Nico Rosberg’s career. The almost underrated German had a brilliant year, with 9 race wins and 8 pole positions which meant he was toe to toe with teammate and then 4-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton. He claimed some brilliant victories at Bahrain, China, Russia and Australia and on the final day of the championship, an eventful day at Abu Dhabi, which saw him come second behind Hamilton who had also taken pole position and somehow managed to stay ahead of championship rivals Vettel of Ferrari and Max Verstappen of Red Bull whose late charge proved to be a scare for the title hopefuls. In the end, the result confirmed the Germans World champion status with the narrow margin of 5 points over his British teammate.
2007: Räikkönen vs Alonso vs Hamilton
The 2007 season saw the Iceman Kimi Räikkönen compete against the McLaren teammates Fernando Alonso and rookie Lewis Hamilton. The final race at Brazil would prove all-important for the title and Hamilton was favourite to be the first rookie world champion. McLaren looked set for a one-two finish but then it turned out to a nightmare of an outing for the Brit. A gearbox problem while on a podium position, sent him straight to the back of the pack, putting an end to the dream of being the first rookie ever to achieve the feat. Hamilton’s nightmare turned out to be the Iceman’s shining light as he completed arguably the best and most important drive of his career, winning the Brazilian Grand Prix and taking home the Championship.
2008: The half-minute ecstasy
In 2008, Lewis Hamilton was once again amidst a final race thriller at Brazil with this time his opponent being Felipe Massa of Ferrari. Massa, determined to “show up” at his home Grand Prix, led the race from the start. Hamilton meanwhile stayed in a comfortable fifth position which would secure his title victory. But then crucially it started to rain and some teams including McLaren, gambled to not use wet tyres and continue on slicks. Hamilton, struggling for grip, suddenly lost his place to a faster Sebastian Vettel which meant Massa was on his way to an amazing win. Massa finished first and team Ferrari celebrated for almost half a minute when the Toyota of Timo Glock moving at a seeming snail’s pace with no grip whatsoever appeared in front of Hamilton with a few meters to go, giving Hamilton (now on inters after a quick switch) an easy overtake to steal back the 5th position which meant he was the world champion for the first time over a distraught Felipe Massa.