F1: Five Classic Australian Grand Prix Moments


Since 1985, the Australian Grand Prix has become a permanent fixture on the Formula One, first at the Adelaide street circuit before moving to Melbourne’s Albert Park in 1996.

Over the years, there have been some memorable moments that have taken place down under and with the 2019 season getting underway this weekend, here are five classic Australian Grand Prix moments.

2016 Australian Grand Prix – Alonso goes airborne

The 2016 Australian Grand Prix saw one biggest crashes in F1 history involving McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Esteban Gutierrez, who was driving for the brand new Haas F1 Team.

On the approach to Turn 3 on Lap 17, Gutierrez braked early which caught out the double world champion and caused the latter hit the back of the Haas at approximately 190mph.

Consequently, Alonso’s car smashed on the wall and barrel-rolled across the gravel with a peak force of 46G, and shared many similarities with the crashes experienced by Martin Brundle and Jacques Villeneuve at the same corner.

Miraculously, Alonso walked away unharmed with minor injuries, who managed to make light of the accident:

“I saw a little space to go out, and I said I go out quickly and my Mum will watch TV, so I want to be out quite quickly and say I’m okay. but yeah, it was quite a big one.”

2002 Australian Grand Prix – Turn 1 carnage and a home hero

The ever dominant 2002 Ferrari took a front row lockout for the season opener in Melbourne, with Rubens Barrichello pipping teammate Michael Schumacher to pole position.

However, it would be the other Schumacher brother, Ralf, who would be making history into turn 1.

Schumacher’s Williams went up the back of pole sitter Barrichello, launching the Williams airborne over the Ferrari and into the runoff area as carnage ensued behind.

The cars of Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan), Felipe Massa, Nick Heidfeld (both Sauber), Jenson Button (Renault), Olivier Panis (BAR-Honda) and Allan McNish (Toyota) were all damaged and out of the race.

However, there was something else for the Australian crowd to get excited about, as their compatriot Mark Webber, fought off Toyota’s Mika Salo in his wounded Minardi to claim 5th place at his home Grand Prix.

After the race, Webber was allowed to the podium alongside Minardi team boss and fellow Aussie Paul Stoddart, to mark the occasion and cement one of F1’s great underdog stories. 

2009 Australian Grand Prix – Brawn’s incredible debut

The 2009 Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne was home for what is probably the most incredible debut in F1 history.

At the end of the 2008 season, Honda pulled out of F1 which leaf hundreds of jobs on the line.

However, Ross Brawn came in and brought out Honda for just £1, as the Japanese manufacturer were eager to pass on their assets to someone who do a good job, and founded Brawn GP team.

Retaining previous Honda drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, Brawn also managed to put together a deal with Mercedes to provide engines for the season.

Brawn managed to exploit a loophole in the rules about the rear diffuser, and to everyone’s surprise, Brawn locked out, with Button taking his first pole in three years and the team being six tenths quicker than their nearest rival of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel in third.

Button led from start to finish and Barrichello recovered from a poor start to finish 2nd as the race finished under Safety Car for only the second time in F1 history.

Brawn GP became the first team and driver combination since Mercedes and Fangio at the 1954 French Grand Prix to win the teams debut race from pole position.

1986 Australian Grand Prix – Mansell’s championship blow

The 1986 Australian Grand Prix held at the Adelaide Street Circuit was the venue for a three-way title fight between the Williams-Honda’s of Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet, and also McLaren of Alain Prost.

Mansell took pole position but slipped to 4th off the start, behind Piquet, the Lotus of Ayrton Senna and Prost’s McLaren team-mate, Keke Rosberg.

Rosberg led most of the race until a puncture on Lap 63 led to the Finn’s retirement, handing the lead to Piquet, but more importantly, elevated Mansell into third which was enough for him to win the World Championship.

However, just a lap later, Mansell suffered a puncture on the main straight, ending his race and with it his championship hopes, leaving it between Piquet and Prost.

After Mansell’s puncture, Williams pitted Piquet for new tyres as a pre-caution, but he was unable to catch and pass Prost for the win.

This left the Frenchman to win the race and claim his second Drivers’ Championship.

1994 Australian Grand Prix – Schumacher and Hill collide in Title Showdown

The 1994 Australian Grand Prix at Adelaide was the final race of the 1994 season, and was the battle ground for the two championship contenders, Williams’ Damon Hill, who had taken the place of the late Ayrton Senna, and Benetton’s Michael Schumacher.

Schumacher took the lead off the start with Hill following in second, and as the race went on, Hill began to put more pressure on Schumacher.

On lap 36, Schumacher went off at the East Terrace corner, hitting the wall and coming back on track.

This had meant Hill closed right up and saw an opportunity for not just the race win, but for the championship, and went up the inside at the following corner.

But the two collided as Schumacher turned in, launching his car off the Williams, into the wall and out of the race.

Hill tried to continue but when he pitted, the team found irreparable damage to the front suspension wishbone, leading to him retiring from the race and giving Schumacher the championship in one of the most controversial championship deciders in F1 history.

Agree with our top 5 or do you think other races should be on the list? Let us know in the comments.