There is a reason why the Formula 1 racing is considered to be the crown jewel of motor racing world, for no other motorsport category has been able to captivate generations after generations of people like the way this sport has. Another thing that makes Formula 1 so special is its global appeal, and viewership, no other motor sporting event comes close to the global status that the Formula 1 enjoys. With the overall viewership of Formula 1 only falling behind the Football World Cup meaning the Sport has a grand hold over its other motorsport siblings and also on the world of sports too. We get many people who are unsure and confused why Formula 1 or any racing a matter of fact is so very famous throughout the globe, we generally tell them about the legacy and the legends of the sport, the stories that defined era’s and technologies that came through the sport for use in mass and personal transport. However, the best way to make people who are oblivious to the sheer thrill of Formula 1 along with the speed and adrenalin the sport has in abundance, all you need to show them are some of the greatest battles on circuit the sport has ever seen and they will end up becoming believers. Just like we brought you the 6 Most Thrilling MotoGP Races of Recent Times few days ago to show to the world what MotoGP has in store, we bring you Top 5 Formula One Battles that have defined the sheer thrill of Formula 1 for generations to come. Fasten your seat belts and read on.
5. Ayrton Senna Vs Nigel Mansell, 1992 Monaco Grand Prix –
The Sixth round of the 1992 Formula One season at Monaco had to figure in our list of Top 5 Formula One Battles just for the sheer breathtaking display of dominant driving by Nigel Mansell in this 78 lap race. As Nigel started from pole and led the race for 71 laps in his Williams machine, it looked imminent that Mansell will win his sixth consecutive race in the season, having already won the first five races back to back. However, Nigel suffered a suspected puncture in his left rear tire and had to pit for a new set on lap 71, meaning the race lead going to Senna. Mansell came out of the pits behind Senna in his McLaren who had gained a 5.2 seconds advantage. However, Mansell driving with a new set of tires started setting a blistering pace that saw him close the gap to just 1.9 seconds in only two laps followed by a lap record that was almost 2 seconds faster than the times of the race leader Senna. What followed was an incredible lap three lap battle for win between Mansell and Senna, as both fought hard to end up on the highest place on the podium; the crowd was brought to an edge of a seat thriller. However, even though being faster than Senna, Mansell could not find enough space to overtake Senna in the final laps and this resulted in a very closely fought battle that Senna ended up winning by a margin of just two-tenths of a second.
4. Nigel Mansell Vs Nelson Piquet, 1987 British Grand Prix –
For our next epic race in the Top 5 Formula One Battles, we go to the 1987 British Grand Prix that saw a scintillating battle between Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet that is worth talking about over and over again. Held at Silverstone, a circuit that has historically seen a huge number of iconic races, spread through a large number of motorsport classes including MotoGP, the 1987 British Grand Prix is remembered for the great battle that the two Williams teammates had that day. Piquet had been the pick of the lot during the race as he led while around lap 12 his team mate Mansell suffered from vibration caused by a missing wheel weight, which had become detached and fallen from the car. Mansell had to pit and by the time he rejoined the race he was 29 seconds behind Piquet with 28 laps to go, and that is where one of the greatest relentless charges any motor sporting event has witnessed till date. With a new set of rubber, Mansell took upon himself to make quite a lot of changes to the history books as he broke the lap record 11 times during the same race. On lap 62 Mansell had almost caught Piquet as their cars were nose to tail, and on lap 63 Mansell performed what is now become an iconic move called as the ‘Silverstone Two Step’ move that brought Mansell’s third victory of the season as he sell Piquet a dummy on the Hangar Straight and then diving down the inside into Stowe Corner. This is a race craft and a drive that should be talked about over and over again for its sheer intensity and awe.
3. Mika Häkkinen Vs Michael Schumacher, 2000 Belgian Grand Prix –
The Belgian Grand Prix, which was the 13th race of the 2000 Formula One season, is our next race in the list of Top 5 Formula One Battles for the very fact that Mika Häkkinen who had won consecutive world titles in 1998 and 1999 was facing the incredible Michael Schumacher who was close second in the world championship listings and trailed Häkkinen by just 2 points. The semi-wet rack promised a thrilling race and that was exactly what we got, Schumacher’s wet setup car suited the conditions well against the dry setup car of Häkkinen, and that helped Schumacher take the lead in the middle of the race. However, Häkkinen was not letting it go that easily and he used his straight line speed to get closer to the leading German. During one of the moments in the tough battle between the two, Schumacher almost pushed Häkkinen onto the grass while both were doing speeds in excess of 320kms an hour. However, the Finn got his revenge on just the next lap as he overtook Schumacher on the same spot while Schumacher tried to grab his lead back as both lapped across the Ricardo Zonta by going around Häkkinen to the left but the Finn made a smart move to go around Zonta’s right and outbraked Schumacher. Beyond it, no matter how good a drive Schumacher got out of his car, he could not beat Häkkinen that day.
2. Juan Manuel Fangio Vs Mike Hawthorn & Peter Collins, 1957 German Grand Prix –
We go way back to 1957 for our next race in the list of Top 5 Formula One Battles when the battle between Juan Manuel Fangio and Mike Hawthorn V Peter Collins ended up setting a great example of exemplary racing and epic driving in the history books and the hearts of the Formula One followers. During the 1957 German Grand Prix, Fangio needed to win the race and extend his lead to six points in order to win the 1957 Formula One Championship, but for that he needed to beat the Ferrari duo of Mike Hawthorn & Peter Collins. Working ona plan to pit stop early, Fangio had started the race with half full tanks, and by the time he pitted he had already amassed a 30 second lead from his rivals. However, a disastrous pit stop saw Fangio relegated to third position, behind the Ferrari’s of Mike Hawthorn & Peter Collins. Not in any mood to let this opportunity go from his hands, Fangio set himself up for an epic drive which is widely considered as the greatest drive the Formula One series has ever seen. As Fangio started setting one fastest lap after another and during the lap 20 he already was going 11 seconds a lap faster than the Ferrari’s. Fangio, took the race during the penultimate lap of the race as he overtook both Collins and Hawthorn and ended up winning the race by just over a three second gap. This was Fangio’s last ever race win and what a way it was to get himself a place in the history books and the legends of Formula One than that.
1. Gilles Villeneuve Vs Rene Arnoux, 1979 French Grand Prix –
Now this is one race that is going to be a tough one to beat in terms of the greatest Formula One battles of all times and this is just why it is on the top of our Top 5 Formula One Battles list. Adding to the intrigue of this battle is the fact that this battle was not for the win, but for the second place at the 1979 French Grand Prix. As Jean-Pierre Jabouille was on his way to take the victory, he was unknown to the epic battle that was been fought behind him for second position in the race. This battle between Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux is remembered as the greatest battle ever for second position in the history of Formula One. The crowd was cheering more for the racers racing for second than the one who was set to race makes it evident that this battle was keeping the spectators on the edge of their seats. Both Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux exchanged positions more than 5 times in a matter of just two laps, until Villeneuve eventually got the better of Arnoux, to take the chequered flag in second position. The intensity of this battle is so legendary that people still talk about it with the same enthusiasm as they did 30 years ago and that speaks for itself.