From Mansell mania to Senna in Sao Paulo – The most emotional home wins in F1

Special Contributor

Phillip Horton
Ayrton Senna, McLaren-Honda MP4/6, Grand Prix of Brazil, Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos,

Charles Leclerc delivered an emotional home victory in Monaco on Sunday, becoming the first Monegasque to triumph in Monaco in the world championship era, much to the delight of the teary locals.

Not every driver is fortunate to have a home Grand Prix – even fewer the chance to win it – but throughout history there have been plenty of occasions where fans have witnessed one of their own savour a famous triumph on home turf...

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Juan Manuel Fangio, Argentine Grand Prix, 1955

The opening round of the 1955 season was held in Juan Manuel Fangio’s native Argentina, and he strived to replicate the success he achieved in 1954.

The 96-lap race took place in extremely hot and stifling conditions to the extent that, as was permitted in the era, the majority of the competitors handed their cars to another driver for a spell. But Fangio persevered and remained behind the wheel of the Silver Arrows’ Mercedes W196 for the entirety of the race.

That was despite a hot chassis tube rubbing against his leg, causing burns that left him with a permanent scar, and after a gruelling three hours Fangio was rewarded with victory.

The Argentine crowd erupted to celebrate their hero, who went on to win his home Grand Prix again in 1956 and 1957.

TOPSHOT - Argentine driver Juan Manuel Fangio, steering his Mercedes, salutes as he crosses the

Fangio takes the flag at his home Grand Prix in 1955

Gilles Villeneuve, Canadian Grand Prix, 1978

Formula 1 relocated its Canadian Grand Prix to Montreal’s Ile Notre Dame on a permanent basis from 1978, installed that year as the final round of the season in October, held in very chilly autumnal conditions.

Jean-Pierre Jarier claimed an unexpected pole position for Lotus and controlled the opening stages of the race while Gilles Villeneuve – still in only his first full season in Formula 1 – held fourth.

READ MORE > F1 ICONS: Melanie Villeneuve on her father Gilles, the legendary Ferrari racer

Villeneuve worked his way past Alan Jones and then overhauled future Ferrari team-mate Jody Scheckter to run second. Jarier dominated but a loss of oil pressure after 47 laps halted his Lotus, promoting Villeneuve into the lead, which he retained through to the chequered flag.

It was a fairytale finish: Villeneuve sealed his maiden F1 win on home soil, becoming Canada’s first race victor in the process, much to the delight of the local spectators. The circuit where he pulled off that dream triumph was later renamed in his honour.

CANADA - OCTOBER 08:  Beer flows like champagne as Gilles Villeneuve uncorks his jubilation at

Gilles Villeneuve took his first ever F1 victory on home soil, at the circuit that now bears his name

Niki Lauda, Austrian Grand Prix, 1984

Victory at the fast and flowing Osterreichring evaded Niki Lauda during the first chapter of his career, despite thrice claiming pole position for the event, but in 1984 the stars finally aligned.

Lauda started only fourth, but benefited when McLaren team-mate and title rival Alain Prost spun out on oil deposited by the Lotus of Elio de Angelis. Lauda moved into second and swept around Nelson Piquet for the lead, before suffering a gearbox problem that threatened to be terminal.

READ MORE: ‘He was like a ghost’ – Remembering Niki Lauda’s comeback from fiery Nurburgring crash

Because it was a long walk back to the pits Lauda strived to find a gear, discovered that third and fifth were still operational, and went on to claim victory in his hobbled car. Victory on home soil at last.

Lauda went on to win that year’s title, his third, by just half a point from Prost.

Niki Lauda, McLaren-TAG MP4/2, Grand Prix of Austria, Osterreichring, 19 August 1984. Niki Lauda

Niki Lauda had to wait until his second F1 spell to secure a home win

Nigel Mansell, British Grand Prix, 1987

Nigel Mansell had already twice won in Britain, in 1985 and 1986, at the final Grands Prix held at Brands Hatch. From 1987 Britain’s Grand Prix was permanently held at Silverstone, and the fans surrounding the former airfield were expectant of another victory for the moustachioed maestro.

But on race day it was Mansell’s Williams team mate Nelson Piquet out in the lead, the Brazilian running a no-stop strategy. At mid-distance, Mansell decided to pit for fresh tyres and came back out trailing Piquet by half a minute.

READ MORE: ‘He had to fight for it all’ – David Tremayne on how ‘people’s champion’ Nigel Mansell finally tasted F1 title glory

Undeterred, Mansell got the hammer down and repeatedly broke the lap record as he hunted Piquet down, before pulling off one of the greatest moves in history on his rival into Stowe.

Mansell triumphed, Silverstone erupted, and fans invaded the track before surrounding Mansell and his Williams, forcing him to come to a halt on the cooldown lap. By the time he hung up his helmet, Mansell had five victories in front of his home fans. As Murray Walker famously said after his 1992 triumph, “they love him, and he loves them!”

Britain Classic Moments - 1987 Mansell and Piquet

Ayrton Senna, Brazilian Grand Prix, 1991

Ayrton Senna never managed to win in his six starts at Rio de Janeiro’s Jacarepagua circuit, and while he started from pole position for Interlagos’ 1990 comeback, a clash while lapping Satoru Nakajima thwarted his chances.

In 1991 Senna controlled the race from pole position but a gearbox problem as the race wore on slowed his efforts, requiring him to coax his ailing McLaren MP4/6 around Interlagos as the gears gradually packed up. With just sixth gear remaining for the final laps, and Williams’ Riccardo Patrese closing in, it looked like fate was about to rob him yet again of the victory he craved more than any other.

READ MORE: From his first win to that magical Monaco pole lap – 10 moments of Ayrton Senna brilliance

He desperately kept the McLaren machine moving, Senna’s 40-second lead was whittled away, and a rain shower across the final couple of laps added to the drama, but somehow he held on to win by 2.9 seconds, before crying out in elation after crossing the line, in one of the most iconic radio messages in history.

Having given everything, an exhausted Senna needed help climbing out of the McLaren, before emotionally hoisting aloft the Brazilian flag – and trophy – on the podium as his home fans went wild.

Top 10 Moments of Senna Brilliance - 2 - Brazil 1991

Michael Schumacher, European Grand Prix, 1995

Michael Schumacher took a record nine victories in Formula 1 on German soil, with his prospects bolstered by the addition of the Nurburgring race, labelled as either the European or Luxembourg Grand Prix, to complement Germany’s round at Hockenheim.

Schumacher took four wins at Hockenheim, and five at the Nurburgring, and it was his first in the Eifel mountains that was the most spectacular.

READ MORE > F1 ICONS: Alpine's Esteban Ocon on his racing inspiration, Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher

Then racing for Benetton, Schumacher trailed long-time race leader Jean Alesi in slippery conditions but honed in on the Ferrari driver during the closing stages, helped by a mistake from Alesi.

On the 65th of 67 laps Schumacher made a bold move around the outside of the chicane to snatch the lead, much to the delight of the home fans, all but sealing his second world title in the process.

Michael Schumacher of Germany, driver of the #1 Mild Seven Benetton Ford Benetton B195 Renault V10

A jubilant Michael Schumacher celebrates on the podium after winning at the Nurburgring

Lewis Hamilton, British Grand Prix, 2008

In 1994 Damon Hill delivered on home soil for the beleaguered Williams team still reeling from the death of Ayrton Senna, while in 1995 the ebullient Johnny Herbert was a popular winner at Silverstone.

David Coulthard twice triumphed at Silverstone, in 1999 and 2000, but 2008 marked a new era for home success in Britain. Lewis Hamilton arrived at his first home Grand Prix under pressure, having failed to score across the previous two races, and qualified only fourth.

READ MORE: ‘He was determined to be the best that day’ – Hamilton’s mesmerising first home win remembered by team mate Kovalainen

But wet weather on race day inspired the 23-year-old in just his second season, and he stormed into an early lead, avoided the drama that befell most of his rivals, and was cheered across the line over a minute clear of second-placed Nick Heidfeld after one of the greatest wet weather displays ever seen in the sport.

The victory reignited Hamilton’s title charge, and it was the first of a record eight wins at Silverstone (and counting) for Hamilton.

NORTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 06:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes

The moment Lewis Hamilton sealed his first home win with a virtuoso drive in the Silverstone rain

Fernando Alonso, European Grand Prix, 2012

Fernando Alonso has claimed two victories at the Spanish Grand Prix, in 2006 and 2013, but it was perhaps his sole win in the short-lived Valencian round that provoked the greatest reaction.

In the topsy turvy 2012 season Alonso was knocked out in Q2 despite being within three-tenths of a second of the best time, and he swiftly made up lost ground in the race. He worked his way into the podium positions, passed Romain Grosjean, and then profited when leader Sebastian Vettel suffered an alternator failure.

READ MORE: ‘If we repeated it 100 times, 99 of them we wouldn’t win’ – Alonso singles out his favourite F1 race

Alonso reeled off the laps to claim a victory that had seemed improbable 24 hours beforehand, and stopped his Ferrari in the final sector, climbed from his car, and celebrated with marshals.

A popular podium featured an emotional Alonso alongside Kimi Raikkonen and, for the final time in Formula 1, Michael Schumacher.

Europe classic moments - 2012 Alonso

Max Verstappen, Dutch Grand Prix, 2021

Formula 1 returned to the Netherlands in 2021 at the renovated Zandvoort Circuit, after a 36-year absence, with the event’s comeback largely fuelled by the presence – and popularity – of the country’s first race winner, Max Verstappen.

In 2021 Verstappen was locked in an epic title tussle with Lewis Hamilton, and the thousands of orange-clad spectators flocked to the seaside venue in anticipation of a home victory.

Verstappen duly delivered on expectations as he followed up pole position with a controlled win, becoming the first Dutch driver to win the Dutch Grand Prix.

Verstappen is yet to be beaten at Zandvoort, having added to his triumph in 2021 with another measured display in 2022, before mastering changeable weather conditions to win again in 2023. Will he make it four from four this year…?

ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 05: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull

The grandstands were packed for Max Verstappen's first home win at Zandvoort


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