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It ain't over 'til it's over - last-lap wins (and losses) remembered 17 Jun 2011

1959 United States Grand Prix. Sebring, Florida, USA. 10-12 December 1959. Bruce McLaren (Cooper T45 Climax) 1st position. McLaren receives a kiss and the trophy after becoming the youngest ever Grand Prix winner. Race winner Jim Clark (GBR) Lotus 25. Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps, 14 June 1964. Race winner John Surtees (GBR) Honda RA300 (Left), alongside fourth placed Jochen Rindt (AUT) Cooper T86 (Right), gave Honda their second F1 victory. Italian Grand Prix, Rd 9, Monza, 10 September 1967. Bruce McLaren (NZL) McLaren M7A took his first F1 victory in six years and the first victory for his McLaren team. Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps, 9 June 1968. Jack Brabham (AUS) Brabham BT33 finished second, but was set for victory until he crashed on the final corner of the final lap. Monaco Grand prix, Monte Carlo, 10 May 1970 Race winner Mario Andretti (USA) Lotus 78 lies in second position ahead of third placed James Hunt (GBR) McLaren M26 and Gunnar Nilsson (SWE) Lotus 78, who finished in fourth position. French Grand Prix, Rd 9, Dijon-Prenois, France, 3 July 1977. Colin Chapman (GBR) Lotus Team Owner celebrates as Ronnie Peterson (SWE) Lotus 78 crosses the finish line to win the GP. South African Grand Prix, Rd 3, Kyalami, South Africa, 4 March 1978. Nigel Mansell (GBR), Williams, shows his feelings after retiring on the last lap whilst leading, with race engineer David Brown (GBR), Williams, right. Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, 2 June 1991 Damon Hill (GBR) Arrows A17, 2nd place Formula One World Championship, Hungarian Grand Prix, Rd 11, Budapest, Hungary, 10 August 1997 (L to R): Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Jordan and Race winner Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren celebrate on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 6 April 2003 Second placed Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault R25 is passed by race winner Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/20 on the last lap of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, 9 October 2005

Formula One racing is a long game. From the months of preparation that go into building a new car to the slow-burning build-up of a race weekend, the fastest sport in the world certainly likes to take its time. Critically, however, it’s the action on a Sunday that matters most, and as McLaren’s Jenson Button displayed with such finesse last weekend, every second of a Grand Prix counts - and victory is always within someone else’s grasp.

Thrilling it may have been, but Button’s last-lap success in Montreal was far from the first time in F1 history that a driver has waited until the final moments of a race to grab victory. We take a look back at some of his fellow last-gasp winners and relive how they took their eleventh-hour spoils…

1959 United States Grand Prix - Bruce McLaren
Cooper’s Jack Brabham started second on the grid at the inaugural US Grand Prix, the final (and title-deciding) round of the 1959 season, but inherited the lead soon after to take control of the Sebring race. On the very the last lap, however, his luck - or rather his fuel - ran out, and he was passed by team mate McLaren, who thus entered the record books as the first US Grand Prix winner (and at that time the youngest Grand Prix winner). Brabham, meanwhile, managed to push his car over the line for fourth place, having seen title rival tony Brooks go past for third, ensuring he at least had the solace of claiming the first of this three drivers’ championships.

1964 Belgian Grand Prix - Jim Clark
When Graham Hill’s BRM gave up the ghost with fuel-pump problems towards the end of the ‘64 Spa event, Cooper’s Bruce McLaren inherited the lead. But McLaren had problems of his own and his engine gave out just before La Source on the final lap. Although he - and gravity - managed to keep the Cooper moving towards the finish line, McLaren could only sit back and watch as Clark swept past him to take victory for Lotus by a matter of seconds. What the stats don’t show is that Clark ran out of fuel soon after on the slow-down lap.

1967 Italian Grand Prix - John Surtees
Surtees, driving the brand-new Honda, inherited the lead on the last lap of the ‘67 Monza round when Jim Clark’s astounding run through the field for Lotus spluttered to a halt with fuel-pump issues. But a resurgent Jack Brabham wasn’t going to let Surtees have it all his own way and passed the Honda under braking. By the very next corner, however, Surtees managed to regain the lead to take the win by just 0.2 seconds. A real clash of the titans.

1968 Belgian Grand Prix - Bruce McLaren
Spa is still one of the most demanding tracks on the Formula One calendar, but back in the 1960s the Belgian round was always a real race of attrition. This was especially true of the 1968 event, which saw 12 of the 18 runners afflicted by technical calamity. One of the afflicted many was Jackie Stewart, whose Matra ran out of petrol on the penultimate lap. What had been a lead of half a minute swiftly vanished, and at the death it was McLaren who emerged victorious, with Stewart eventually classified fourth.

1970 Monaco Grand Prix - Jochen Rindt
Arguably the most reminiscent of Button’s recent success in Canada is Rindt’s triumph on the streets of Monte Carlo. Jack Brabham looked on course to take a decisive victory, but Rindt was charging in the Lotus and the duo started the last lap nose to tail. With the pressure building, Brabham made a slight mistake whilst lapping a backmarker and slid into the barriers at the final corner. It was all the encouragement Rindt needed and he sashayed into the lead to take his one and only Monaco victory. Brabham made it to the flag for second place, 23 seconds down on the Austrian.

1977 French Grand Prix - Mario Andretti
Jack Watson had been comfortably ahead for quite some time at Dijon when Lotus’s Andretti started to reel himself back into contention. Getting past Watson’s Brabham proved much tougher than catching it, however, and it looked as though Andretti would have to settle for second. But on the very last lap Watson’s car, running out of fuel, started to sputter and Andretti went ahead to win by just 1.5s.

1978 South African Grand Prix - Ronnie Peterson
Towards the end of the 1978 Kyalami event the Tyrrell of race leader Patrick Depailler hit trouble. Although Depailler managed to continue it gave Lotus’s Peterson just enough incentive to try for the win. A dramatic last-lap battle ensued with the pair side-by-side, banging wheels, for much of the lap. At the line, it was Peterson who was ahead by just 0.5s.

1991 Canadian Grand Prix - Nelson Piquet
Twenty years before Button’s last-lap success in Montreal, fellow Briton Nigel Mansell was busily throwing his win away at the very same circuit on the very last lap. Having led from the first corner, Mansell cruised round the Canadian circuit for the final time waving to the crowd and soaking up his imminent victory. The only problem was he hadn’t quite won the race yet - and he wouldn’t. Busy with his premature celebrations, Mansell eased off just a little too much and stalled the car. Unable to get it going again, Mansell was left helpless as he watched his much-amused former team mate Piquet pass by to take an unexpected win for Benetton. Mansell’s Williams was classified sixth. Ouch!

1997 Hungarian Grand Prix - Jacques Villeneuve
He may have been driving one of the slowest cars on the track, but through sheer skill and good fortune Damon Hill had managed to get his Arrows into the lead of the 1997 Budapest round and had stretched out a seemingly unassailable advantage of 35 seconds. But with the Arrows slowed by hydraulic problems, second-placed Villeneuve gradually gained ground on his former Williams team mate and as the last lap began Hill’s lead started to look decidedly tenuous. And in the end, Villeneuve couldn’t help but charge ahead to take the win. Hill came home second.

2003 Brazilian Grand Prix - Giancarlo Fisichella
It may be one of the most recent last-lap victories, but Fisichella’s ’03 success at Interlagos was much less spectacular than Button’s Canada outing. The race had started under the safety car due to wet conditions and after serious crashes for Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso was red flagged. The only problem was in the rainy melee nobody knew for sure who had won. McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen was eventually declared victorious, with Fisichella a confused second for Jordan. Five days later, however, a timing error was confirmed and the Italian was declared the winner. He received his first winning trophy of his F1 career at the next round in Imola. While Fisichella went on to win again with Renault, it would be the Jordan team’s last triumph.

2005 Japanese Grand Prix - Kimi Raikkonen
McLaren’s Raikkonen started the rain-hit Japanese event from only 17th, but in the race he had arguably the best pace and by the last lap was just a tenth behind race leader, Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella. As the duo went into Turn One for the final time they were wheel-to-wheel and Raikkonen managed to go round the outside of the Italian and into the lead to seal his ninth F1 victory in spectacular fashion.

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