Yes, yes, I know what you thinking – Didn’t I do a Top 5 video on this before? And you’d be right, I did for RaceWorldTV! But I’m going, to be honest, I kinda rushed said list, and looking back, I forgot about two classics that entered my mind from the past that screamed out to me, so I had to do a little adjusting to make this work, but I think a true Top 5 list in my head. Let me know if there are any favourites of yours that didn’t make my list, would love to hear your takes!
Personally, I’m ranking these on the action, plot/historical impact (I know it’s a real sport and not a scripted event like Wrasslin’, but it plays an important part in telling a story), batshit craziness (not a slang term), and overall entertainment value. Enjoy!
#5 – The 2005 San Marino Grand Prix
Okay, given I love Imola unconditionally, I’m shocked I had forgotten about this originally. One of my favourite tracks era, in one of my favourite eras ever, and one of the best 1-on-1 battles in the history of the sport.
This is one of those races where one little thing changed EVERYTHING. It was 2005. The rules had just dramatically changed so that you had to run tyres the entire race, and as a result, Ferrari was crippled. Kimi Raikkonen probably would have cake-walked an easy victory if his car’s driveshaft hadn’t blown in the early going.
Fernando Alonso had an easy lead, but Michael Schumacher had literally jumped EVERYONE after Jarno Trulli pulled his train into the station, and had brought himself into play. What then followed was one of the finest defensive drives I’ve EVER seen from Fernando Alonso to keep Michael at bay. Which was also kind of incredible given that Michael was extra motivated on home soil to give the Tifosi SOMETHING after his car got nerfed.
For 12 laps, Michael was on Nando like a rash, but Nando refused to yield, refused to give Michael an inch. I remember watching this live as a 13-year-old (Annoying fucking ad break included with about 6 to go, missing the best parts of it during the original!), and it was edge of your seat television. Didn’t help I was an angry Schumacher fan back then who suddenly couldn’t believe Michael wasn’t winning so easily anymore.
Watching it again now, it’s still superb seeing tremendous wheel-to-wheel action like that. Sure, it’s not the craziest race ever (There’s a LOT more of those coming), but as a great exhibition of skill in F1, there are few races more captivating than this one.
#4 – The 2007 German Grand Prix
I remember re-watching this on Twitch one time, and it was a TON of fun. It’s a rather underrated little gem from a great 2007 season. Highly recommend Matt Carneiro’s video on it if you haven’t seen it already. Only after reading this, though obviously!
Germany starts off dry, but by the end of the warm-up lap, the heavens had opened. Shoutout to Markus Winkelhock and the Spyker team for switching to the wet tires and starting from the pitlane, as he would go on to lead the first two laps, in one of the biggest early shocks in F1 history… But behind him, all hell had broken loose;
By Lap 3, Kimi Raikkonen had lost the lead due to missing the pit entry, most of the field had switched to Inters, and Turn 1 had literally become a river, and collected a quarter of the runners, including Adrian Sutil, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, and amazingly, Lewis Hamilton – Who had kept his engine running, and was towed back onto the track, a lap down. Soon after, that rule was scrapped.
Anywho, Charlie Whiting pulls out the Red Flag, and sometime later, the race is restarted under the safety car. The field shakes out a fair bit, poor Winkelhock retires due to a hydraulic problem, and some of the action is like simulating an F1 Championship Edition race back to front race on the PS3!
The end picked up some great stuff too. Alex Wurz gambled on the tyres and failed, while Fernando Alonso pulled off one of the overtakes of the year around the outside of Turn 5 to beat Felipe Massa for the win down the stretch. Yeah, a legit race winning pass as a climax. That’s a Unicorn in today’s F1! Also, I loved the post-race drama as Alonso was complaining of contact between him and Massa… AFTER HE HAD WON. One of the pettiest moves I’ve ever seen in a Parc Ferme situation. Partly great, partly terrible. Not sure which.
Still, a pretty great race with a little bit of everything.
#3 – The 2012 European Grand Prix
Valencia never really went over all that well with F1 fans, but it did produce one modern-day classic. Like #5, this probably wouldn’t have shaken out how it did if it wasn’t for Sebastian Vettel blowing an alternator in the early going after having a 20-second lead wiped out by a Safety Car.
This is one of those forgotten races when it came to seeing just how could Romain Grosjean could be. A move around the outside of Turns 12 and 13 on Lewis Hamilton, and him well in contention for the win before he too suffered an alternator failure. On top of that, you had multiple big crashes, such as Vergne and Heikki, as well as Massa and Kobayashi.
The race had Fernando Alonso shake through the chaos to win the race from 11th place (We’ve not had a further back winner since then), as well as a fading Lewis Hamilton in the latter stages of the race opened the door to fights with Raikkonen, and then Pastor Maldonado.
Now I don’t care what you say to me, Pastor was hard done by to have the accident AND have a 20-second time penalty chucked in on top, but it was a great last bit of drama in what was already a completely chaotic race. Subtlely, under the surface, it was great to see Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher go through the back of the field. The latter of which taking his 155th and final F1 podium.
Valencia was the cherry on the cake of a RIDICULOUS 2012 season, and one of those GP’s you had to watch to see if it really happened. Amazing given how much F1 universally dumped on it as a track.
#2 – The 2005 Japanese Grand Prix
No surprises here, but 2005 in Japan is something I’ve always said is the perfect race to get someone into F1. I’m going to cheat a little bit here because I already reviewed this GP at length, but it had just about everything.
It had most of the front runners at the back after a wacky qualifying session. Home hope in Jenson Button. It had the greatest single overtake I’ve EVER seen in F1 from Fernando Alonso. Some incredible driving skill from folks like Kimi Raikkonen and Mark Webber, as well as others up and down the field.
It also had a race that went down to the final lap, one of the greatest comebacks in F1 history, and probably the most legendary single driver of Kimi Raikkonen’s career. It has just about everything you could wish to see in an F1 race. An absolute must watch and an example of the sport at its very best.
#1 – The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix
Japan 2005 was a driving masterclass. Brazil 2003 was an example of unpredictable drama. Abu Dhabi 2012 featured a single magnificent drive. 2011 in Canada was what happens when the damn of Motorsport ridiculousness gets blown wide open.
A Safety Car starts after horrendous rainfall. Lewis Hamilton basically goes apeshit at the start. He tags Mark Webber at the start, then while trying to pass Button, he tags him too, and he hits the pit wall, ending his race. 2nd Safety Car and we’re only 8 laps in.
There was a second rainstorm, forcing the full wets, JB had dropped to 15th after a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane. The race was suspended for over two hours due to the rainfall being so heavy.
We restarted, and Safety Car #3 came as Button accidentally but very accurately tapped Nando into a spin at Turn 3 as cars were switching back to Inters again.
The track was drying up, and Jenson had dropped to 21st after a puncture, but he was picking them off for fun at this point, as the field was switching to slicks. One to watch was seeing him go through the pack of Nick Heidfeld, Michael Schumacher, and Mark Webber.
Button, driving like a man possessed, caught up to within a second of Vettel, before Seb ran wide at Turn 6 on the final lap, gifting Button the win…
…But I’m going to be real with you, nothing I say here will do this spectacle justice. From the rain, the crashes, the 6 Safety Cars, the 6 times Jenson Button had to go through the pits before coming back to win on the final lap… To the TWO HOUR rain delay. It was the kind of race that you may never see again. If you were there for it live, it was an incredible experience and still the maximum passion I had for F1 at that point. It was special. I think it’s the greatest race ever. Go out of your way to find it.