F1 1000: Our Favourite Formula One Races

A homage to every driver who has won a Formula One Championship Race. Image copyright - F1.

This weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix will be the 1000th race held in the long and illustrious history of Formula One.

To mark the occasion, the writers at Essaar Motorsport have come together to discuss some of their favourite F1 races.

So sit back, relax and enjoyed an emotional and dramatic trip down memory lane!

Simon Wright – 1998 Belgian Grand Prix (Twitter: @Siwri88)

The Belgian Grand Prix is one of my favourite races on the calendar and for me, Spa-Francorchamps is my favourite circuit.

It is a unique challenge and one where the driver can often make the difference and has produced some epic races over the years, none more so than in 1998.

It began with a horrific 13-car pile-up triggered when David Coulthard lost control of his McLaren exiting La Source in appalling weather conditions. I was only nine at the time and felt super scared witnessing this accident, but thankfully, there were no injuries.

Then, there was the accident between Coulthard and the Ferrari of race leader Michael Schumacher. Schumacher was coming up to lap the Scot who was struggling near the back of the field.

Michael didn’t see him in the spray and ploughed into the back of the McLaren, ripping off his front suspension and throwing away his handsome lead. I was impressed he could skilfully drive his three-wheeled Ferrari back to the pit lane.

Not so impressive was his amazing outburst in the pits which saw him lose his temper and accuse Coulthard of trying to kill him.

We then had the Benetton of Giancarlo Fisichella resemble a torpedo when it smashed into the back of Shinji Nakano’s Minardi. I will always remember Jim Rosenthal saying in his opening link to the ITV F1 highlights programme that evening: “Staying intact was a huge achievement!

Lastly, we had Damon Hill achieving his 22nd and ultimately, final Grand Prix victory and the first-ever for the Jordan team. Damon was my favourite driver at the time and I was delighted to see him win and prove the doubters wrong that he could win in another car that wasn’t a Williams.

For me, this is one of the most sensational days in Formula One history and my favourite all-time Grand Prix.

Aaron Collins – 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix (@AaronLCollins97)

One of my earliest memories of Formula One was watching the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix on a Sunday evening.

In difficult conditions, the raced started behind the safety car and when it finally got underway, no one could’ve predicted what was about to unfold.

When the safety car pitted at the end of Lap 8, pole sitter and home favourite Rubens Barrichello mistimed the start and dropped down the field as David Coulthard took the race lead.

In changeable conditions, there was overtaking across the whole circuit as the drivers tried to develop a rhythm.

Several drivers fell victim to the river that developed at Turn 3 and would on go caused six retirements – including the Ferrari of ‘Der Reganmeister’ Michael Schumacher – whilst the Jordan of Ralph Firman suffered suspension failure, crashing into Toyota’s Olivier Panis Turn 1 and narrowly avoided team-mate, Giancarlo Fisichella.

On the beginning of Lap 45 Coulthard’s McLaren ran wide, which allowed Barrichello through to take the lead and caused the fans in the grandstands to go absolutely berserk. However, two laps later, his Ferrari slowed to a halt and was out of the race.

After Coulthard pitted for a routine stop, the second McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen led from Jordan’s Fisichella. The plucky Italian then took advantage of an error made by Raikkonen on the approached to Turn 12 to move into first place.

The race then was then stopped after Mark Webber’s Jaguar smashed into the tyre barrier at Turn 14 and was followed by the Renault of third placed Fernando Alonso to collect the subsequent debris and crash heavily.

In the pits, Fisichella’s car caught fire and was a lot of confusion as to who won and was eventually awarded to Raikkonen.

However, after an appeal from the Jordan team, the FIA released the timekeepers made a miscalculation and gave Fisichella the race win ahead of the following race in San Marino.

As a six-year-old at the time, the unpredictably of the race took me on an emotional roller-coaster that I hadn’t experienced and is the race I look back on as the one that got me hooked on Formula One.

Craig Brewer – 2011 Canadian Grand Prix (@craigbrewer5)

I’m sure this race is still fresh on the minds of many an F1 fan. The race – which was the longest in the sport’s history, thanks to a two hour suspension – had it all!

Starting in heavily wet conditions, within the first eight laps we had seen collisions between team mates, drivers fall down the order due to the treacherous conditions, ambitious overtakes and some incredible displays of driving.

Jenson Button’s drive stood out in particular, as he was involved in two collisions, one of which caused suspension damage for McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

On top of this, Button had six visits to the pits, one of which was to serve a drive through penalty for speeding under the safety car, and was dead last on Lap 40.

An immense charge through the field put him in second place behind the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel and on the last lap, a mistake from the German gave Button the opportunity to sweep past and take the win.

This set the record for slowest average speed and most pit stops from an F1 race winner.

So a record breaking race, drama aplenty and an immense drive last to first with a tense final lap; what more could we ask for?

Being a casual follower of the sport in 2010, this was the race that made me pay more attention to the sport and played its part in making me the fan I am now.

Rhonan Cloquhoun – 2012 Spanish Grand Prix (@rhonansf1blog)

My favourite Formula One race has to be the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.

It was a race that gave a historic team an overdue win and for their driver a their only Grand Prix victory. The start of the 2012 F1 season produced five winners from the first five races.

The most surprising race of 2012 came in Spain where Williams’ Pastor Maldonado was promoted to Pole Position after Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren was excluded for a technical infringement.

Come race day, Maldonado had the two-time world Champion and home favourite, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso behind him on the grid.

Although the Spaniard took the lead of the race at the start, it was until the second round of pit-stops, where the undercut and a blistering out-lap by Maldonado, saw the Venezuelan to regain the lead.

The Williams driver recieved relentless pressure from Alonso, but hung onto the lead of the race right until the chequered flag by winning by 3.1 seconds over the superior car. Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the podium with team-mate Romain Grosjean in fourth.

It was first win for Williams in nearly eight years, and to date, their last in the sport.

Brandon Dawe – 2012 European Grand Prix (@BrandonDawe_)

We have seen some great races over the years, but the one that still sticks in my mind is the 2012 European Grand Prix which took place at the Valencia Street Circuit in Spain.

In the opening parts of the race it seemed no-one could catch Sebastian Vettel. The Red Bull driver converted pole position into a huge lead with ease, and by Lap 8 Vettel was already nine seconds clear of the pack.

After a dominating the first half of the race, Vettel then retired with an alternator failure.

This race had it all, crashes, shock retirements, safety cars, strategy all made for a thrilling race which seen home hero Fernando Alonso clinch victory having started 11th. Alonso then celebrated by parking his Ferrari and waving a Spanish flag by one of the grandstand.
It’s was his second F1 victory in Spain, along with his triumph at the Circuit de Catalunya in the 2006 Spanish Grand Prix.

The race also saw Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher make a late surge to claim his first podium since his F1 comeback, after Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado crashed on the final lap.

This meant that three world champions finished on the podium, after Kimi Raikkonen ended the race second for Lotus, with a combined ten titles between them.

The race is memorable to me as is it was the first time I ever watched Schumacher stand on an F1 podium which is a moment I’ll never forget.

Daniel Harris – 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix (@TsunamiQuiff)

Having watched Formula for just over ten years, my favourite Grand Prix is the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.

The 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix was the season finale to one of the most competitive seasons in recent F1 history, and was the battle ground for the World Championship between Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.
This race had everything and was everything a season finale should be.
Unpredictable weather, a protagonist received early car damage and led to a remarkable comeback.
There was also a huge fight for the lead, and even Kimi Raikkonen took an adventure down an escape road, only to find the gate closed!
Jenson Button would go on to win the race under the safety car – his last in F1 and the last to date for McLaren – while Vettel won his third world title by just three points, which led to that iconic shot of a inconsolable Alonso after the race in disbelief.
It will take quite a race to top this, and also shows how good Brazil was for season finales.
Maybe this is a good reason it should be reinstated for the final race of the year.
Luke Etheridge – 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix (@LukeEtheridge95)

The Hungaroring circuit isn’t traditionally known for lots of overtaking, but a glut of incidents meant the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix was one to remember.

This was an extremely emotionally charged race, being the first one after the death of Jules Bianchi, who had sadly succumbed to the injuries sustained in the previous year’s Japanese Grand Prix.

The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg started poorly, allowing the Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen to jump them before turn one.

Things got worse for Hamilton, as he nearly collided with his team-mate at the chicane, which dropped the Brit down to tenth.

Just before the midpoint of the race, Nico Hulkenberg’s front wing detached itself, sent the Force India driver into the barrier and brought out the safety car.

This bunched up the pack, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo attempting to overtake Hamilton straight after the restart. The two touched and Hamilton was given a drive-through penalty.

Second placed Raikkonen suffered power unit trouble and retired, which benefited Rosberg and Ricciardo respectively.

The Australian then tried to overtake Rosberg in the final stages, with the front wing of the Red Bull puncturing the rear-left of the Mercedes, and allowed Riccardo’s team-mate Daniil Kvyat to pass both of them.

Amongst all of the mayhem, Sebastian Vettel claimed victory, with Kvyat and Ricciardo completing the podium; the first time a Mercedes was absent in the hybrid era.

Vettel dedicated his victory to Bianchi, who was expected to be a future driver with the Scuderia, with the action-packed race being a fitting tribute to the Frenchman.