Villeneuve triumphs as Schumacher shamed, 1997
Three years after his dramatic showdown with Damon Hill in Adelaide, Michael Schumacher faced another final round ‘winner takes all’ battle for the drivers’ crown, this time with Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez. Once again, the destiny of the title would be settled by contact, only this time Schumacher would come out on the losing end, his deliberate attempt to derail Villeneuve’s Williams earning him widespread condemnation - and disqualification from the final standings.
Last lap drama as Raikkonen crashes out, 2005
"We took a calculated risk and paid the price,” rued McLaren team principal Ron Dennis after Kimi Raikkonen’s dramatic last lap retirement at the Nurburgring in 2005 gifted victory to title rival Fernando Alonso. McLaren had opted to leave Raikkonen out to nurse his car to the flag, despite the Finn struggling badly with vibrations caused by a damaged front wheel. As Raikkonen crossed the line to begin his final lap it looked like the gamble would pay off, only for his suspension to shatter in spectacular fashion under braking for Turn 1.
Winkelhock revels in the rain, 2007
Markus Winkelhock only started one Grand Prix in his brief F1 career – but no one is likely to forget it in a hurry. A late call-up for backmarkers Spyker, the German unsurprisingly qualified dead last on his debut. But on race day, with storm clouds gathering over Castle Nurburg, Winkelhock took the inspired gamble of pitting for wet tyres at the end of the formation lap and swiftly moved to the head of the otherwise slick shod field as the rain began to bucket down. With drivers spearing off left and right at Turn 1, the race was eventually stopped, but Winkelhock would have the honour of starting from pole for the restart.
Team play helps Mansell to victory, 1985
Before the 1985 European Grand Prix, Nigel Mansell had started 71 races without victory - but at Brands Hatch luck was finally on his side. Running fourth in the early stages, Mansell picked up two places when Williams team mate Keke Rosberg spun trying to pass Ayrton Senna for the lead and simultaneously succeeded in eliminating Nelson Piquet. Rosberg, who picked up a puncture in the incident, then did Mansell an even bigger favour by returning from his pit stop just ahead of the Briton’s squabble with Senna. A timely block later and Mansell charged through into the lead, much to the delight of the locals.
Schumacher puts Alesi to the sword, 1995
How someone as obviously talented as Jean Alesi won only once in his 201-start F1 career remains somewhat bewildering, but the presence of Michael Schumacher certainly didn’t help the French-Sicilian’s plight. 22 seconds ahead with just 14 laps to go in a wet-dry race at the Nurburgring in 1995, the Ferrari star was mercilessly pegged back by Schumacher, who was spurred on every step of the way by a very vocal home crowd. The decisive encounter came two laps from the flag when Schumacher threw caution to the wind and launched a brave move around the outside heading into the final chicane. It was tight and risky, but Schumacher eventually slipped ahead, going on to win by 2.6s.
Alonso wins, then fumes, 2007
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa enjoyed a largely cordial relationship during their four years as team mates at Ferrari, but before then there were several occasions when sparks flew between the pair – and never more so than at the Nurburgring in 2007. The cause of the friction came four laps from home when the duo touched as Alonso forced his way past Massa’s Ferrari to take the lead. The Spaniard went on to capture victory, but as he climbed from his car in parc ferme and inspected the tyre mark on the side of his McLaren his anger was evident - and it hadn’t subsided by the time he met up with the Brazilian in the drivers’ room…
Herbert takes his chance, 1999
Even in his wildest dreams, Johnny Herbert couldn’t have imagined winning the 1997 race at the Nurburgring from 14th on the grid. But in a wild, rain-hit Grand Prix that saw Heinz-Harald Frentzen, David Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella all surrender the lead through unreliability or accidents, that’s just what the plucky Briton did - much to team principal Jackie Stewart’s delight.
Montoya and Schumacher battle gets physical, 2003
“A straightforward racing incident” - that’s how a pragmatic Michael Schumacher described his collision with Juan Pablo Montoya at the Nurburgring in 2003, an incident which saw the German temporarily lodged in the gravel and Montoya assume second place. "I thought I gave him plenty of room," said Montoya. "I wasn't going to give him all the track but I gave him enough to go round the corner."
Alboreto and Piquet limp home, 1984
The final lap of 1984 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring saw Michele Alboreto’s Ferrari overhaul Nelson Piquet’s Brabham in the battle for second place. But this was no sprint to the flag - instead it was simply a matter of the Italian having marginally more fuel in his car than the Brazilian. In the end both men ground to a halt metres after crossing the finish line before exchanging sympathetic shrugs.
Webber gets airborne, 2010
It goes down as one of the scariest crashes of recent times - Mark Webber’s Red Bull soaring into the air after launching over Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus, its driver a passenger as the car rotated almost 360 degrees before crashing back to terra firma and smashing into the barriers. “It felt like I was airborne for a long time,” said Webber. “I had time to worry about whether there were any bridges at that point on the track, which, luckily, there weren’t. If there had been one, I would have hit it because I went pretty high...”
Home hero Alonso wins from P11, 2012
“The podium is out of reach,” declared Fernando Alonso after qualifying a disappointing 11th on home soil at Valencia in 2012. But to his - and the local fans’ - amazement, he was celebrating victory (and an increased championship lead) just over 24 hours later thanks to a scintillating drive allied to a large slice of luck. The Spaniard jumped up to eighth off the line, but had climbed to third by the time the safety car was deployed following a crash. A pass on Romain Grosjean then lifted him to second, which became first when longtime leader and title rival Sebastian Vettel coasted to a halt. “Sport always delivers the same lessons," Alonso reflected afterwards. "There are highs and lows and things can change quickly."