Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Top 10 Formula One Grand Prix of the decade

With the decade coming to an end we decided to take a look at the top 10 Formula One Grands Prix of the last decade. There have been some absolutely insane races over the past 10 years and it was hard to narrow the list down to just 10, even in the past two seasons we have seen a vast number of races that can make this list.

Looking back over the list really shows how much the sport has changed in the last 10 years, but I think the number of races in this list that have come within the past two or three years only works towards proving that the sport is once again returning to being one of the most entertaining spectacles on the planet.

10) 2017 Singapore Grand Prix

Well, this was possibly one of the most insane starts to a race we’ve seen in a long time. Not just down to what actually happened on the grid, but also what the collisions meant for the world championship.

Hamilton was heading into the weekend with just a three point margin over Sebastian Vettel in the championship and after only managing to put his car into fifth place on the grid for the race, admitted that he needed a miracle.

Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel had qualified on pole, a position from which he truly thrives, how many times in the early 2010’s did we see Vettel take off from the front of the grid, never to be seen again?

It seems like Hamilton got his miracle, with rain pounding the track, leading to the first wet night race in Singapore. Little did we know that the rain would just be the start of Hamilton’s luck.

Both Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen would get a fantastic start, with Vettel coming across to close off his teammate, he wouldn’t notice Verstappen between the pair. With Raikkonen turning right and Vettel turning left, Verstappen would be sandwiched between the two and all three would collide, dropping out of the race before the end of the first lap, with Hamilton taking a lead that he wouldn’t release. This would be a turning point in the championship as it would hand Hamilton a 28 point lead in the championship.

9) 2018 German Grand Prix

Germany has been a hotbed for fantastic races in the past couple of years and the 2018 Grand Prix was no exception. With Sebastian Vettel qualifying on pole and championship rival Lewis Hamilton down in 14th, the German had a chance to really extend his championship lead at his home race.

For the majority of the race it seemed like that’s exactly would be happening, however an excellent strategy from Mercedes and some brilliant driving from Hamilton would throw a spanner into the works for Ferrari.

Hamilton would go long into the race before switching onto a set of fresh ultrasoft tyres on lap 43, just as the teams were expecting some light rain to fall on parts of the track. The rain would cause utter chaos throughout the grid with cars spinning left and right, somehow Pierre Gasly ended up with full wets despite driving on a mostly dry track. Lewis Hamilton was able to push himself up into second on his new tyres, before Sebastian Vettel would misjudge the Sachs Curve and find himself sliding into the barriers and out of the race, little did we know at the time but his championship aspirations would head out with him.

There would be further drama as the safety car was called out, Hamilton would begin heading down the pit entry before pulling out at the last moment, Bottas would pit but the crew wouldn’t have the correct tyres and he would lose time, but the safety car would allow him to rejoin behind Hamilton and hassle him at the restart, almost getting past before being asked to hold station. What a race.

8) 2018 Chinese Grand Prix

Another one from 2018 up next, with one of the most entertaining Chinese Grands Prix we’ve seen in a long time. We would see a race for the lead between Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas off the line, with both Hamilton and Raikkonen dropping back after being squeezed on the inside of turn one. Verstappen would take advantage of this and work his way up into third place.

Bottas would attempt a successful undercut on Vettel, passing the German coming out of the pits on lap 21 before going on to overtake Raikkonen around the outside of turn one six laps later. Meanwhile on lap 30 Pierre Gasly would launch from way back to try and overtake his teammate into the hairpin at the end of the main straight, only to misjudge and crash into Brendon Hartley.

The debris left behind from that collision would lead to the safety car being deployed, which happened to be at exactly the wrong time for the top three, as they would all pass the pit entry just before the safety car was announced. It was the perfect opportunity for both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen as they would both pit for fresh tyres.

Once the race was back underway we would see a number of Ricciardo’s trademark daredevil moves, picking his way through the grid lap by lap. Meanwhile up the road Verstappen would attempt to overtake Hamilton, misjudging and running wide, falling behind his teammate.

Verstappen would eventually make his way past Hamilton and begin eyeing up Sebastian Vettel, whom Ricciardo had already passed. Max would completely misjudge his overtake in the same place Pierre Gasly had earlier on and would slam into the Ferrari, with both cars spinning, for which Verstappen would receive a 10 second penalty. From this point on Vettel would drop down the grid, finishing the race down in eighth.

Ricciardo would execute a fantastically tight overtake on Valtteri Bottas to take the lead of the race, which he would not relinquish, crossing the line for yet another fantastic victory.

7) 2019 Brazillian Grand Prix

Well this race was just utter chaos.

Straight off the line there were overtakes galore. Hamilton would make his way past Vettel into turn one for second place, Charles Leclerc would fight his way up from the back of the grid, making his way past a Renault before trying to swoop around the outside of Lando Norris towards the end of the lap. Norris would fight back excellently, managing to retain the position before Leclerc would make his way past down the straight, with Daniel Ricciardo following him through. Norris would manage to claim the place back down the second straight, just pushing the Australian onto the grass slightly.

Ricciardo would then attempt to overtake the Haas of Kevin Mangussen however the two would collide, for which the Renault was given a five second time penalty to go with a broken front wing. Lewis Hamilton would attempt an undercut on Verstappen, which would be successful thanks to a somewhat shady pit release from Williams, as they would let Robert Kubcia go into the path of the Dutch driver. Not that it mattered however as Verstappen wouldn’t be held back for long, making his way back past Hamilton at turn one just two laps later.

We would then see a full safety car on lap 54 due to Valtteri Bottas suffering from an engine failure. Hamilton’s engineer would instruct the Brit to do the opposite of whatever Max Verstappen did, with the race leader coming into the pits for a fresh set of tyres, while Hamilton would inherit first place.

At the restart we would see Albon fly past Sebastian Vettel, rising up into third place, while his teammate would make yet another move on Hamilton for the lead of the race. Hamilton and Verstappen would continue to battle down the second straight and into the corner, with Verstappen just coming out on top.

Lap 66 would see Leclerc dive down the inside of his teammate into turn one, however Vettel would come back at the younger driver down the second straight, using DRS to pull alongside. In utterly dramatic fashion the two cars would touch, giving Leclerc a front right puncture and Vettel a rear left puncture, with the safety car being deployed once more and both Ferrari’s out of the race.

At the restart Albon would make his way past Lewis Hamilton, however later in the lap the six time champion would make a fairly rookie error as he attempted to dive down the inside of the youngster, colliding and both drivers spinning, costing Albon his first chance at a podium.

Pierre Gasly would make his way into second following the collision, with Hamilton fighting him to the line at the end of the race, however Gasly would finish the race in the second and gain his first podium in F1. But the drama didn’t stop there.

A post race penalty handed to Hamilton would lead to Carlos Sainz being promoted onto the podium, his first in F1. What a race.

6) 2016 Spanish Grand Prix

This was comfortably one of the most dramatic Grands Prix of the decade, I still remember the complete shock felt watching everything unfold at the time.

Nico Rosberg would manage to get ahead of Hamilton into turn one, sweeping around the outside to take the lead of the race, however his teammate would come back at him heading towards turn four, after the Brit got a better exit out of turn three.

Rosberg would move to the right, attempting to defend against Hamilton, however he would end up running his teammate off the road and onto the grass, where Hamilton would lose control of his car and go spinning, slamming into Rosberg as he attempted to take the corner and taking both cars out of the race at the same time. It was huge. It was the first time that neither Mercedes car would finish a race in the turbo hybrid era.

It would completely open up the race. For the first time in two years we had no idea which team was going to win a Grand Prix. Ricciardo would inherit the lead, battling with Vettel in the race. While attempting to regain the lead from the German the former teammates would have some slight contact, giving Ricciardo a puncture and relegating him from the battle for the lead.

An overcutting Max Verstappen would pick up the lead after running longer in the race than the rest of the top drivers, in his first race for Red Bull following the demotion of Daniil Kvyat back to Toro Rosso.

Verstappen would have to defend hard against Kimi Raikkonen as the Finn would chase him down during the closing laps of the race, however the Dutchman would manage to hold onto the lead and win his first race in F1 at just 18 years old.

5) 2012 Brazillian Grand Prix

We all love a good last race title decider and this one had absolutely everything that you could ask for. Heading into the race championship leader Sebastian Vettel had a 13 point lead over his rival Fernando Alonso. The German would be starting the race up in fourth place, while the Spaniard would only be starting from eighth on the grid, it seemed as though it should be a fairly straightforward afternoon for Vettel en route to the title. Boy was that not the case.

With mixed conditions throughout the race playing a factor, as they always do, Vettel would get a poor start that saw his Red Bull drop down to seventh place, but things would only go from bad to worse for the German as he would be collected by a spinning Bruno Senna at turn four, finding himself facing the wrong way and in last place with a damaged car.

What could have been for Nico Hulkenberg as he found himself leading the race for Force India, staying out on dry tyres as a light rain began to fall. A slight spin would allow Lewis Hamilton to take the lead, however Hulkenberg would take them both out of contention with a collision trying to retake the lead on lap 54. From there Jenson Button would inherit the race lead, going on to claim what would be his final victory in F1 (I’m not crying, you are).

Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel was beginning what would be one of the best comeback drives we have seen in a long time. Managing to fight his way back up to sixth place, which was enough to hand him the title by just three points. A late pass on legend Michael Schumacher, who would retire after this race, would be enough for Vettel to snatch the title away from Alonso in what will go down as one of the greatest title deciders in recent history.

4) 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix

The Duel in the Desert. One of the first races of the Mercedes era would see their two drivers battle it out in one of the best wheel to wheel duels for a title we’ve seen in some time.

Rosberg would start the race on pole, but Hamilton would get the better start, managing to dive down the inside into turn one and come out with the lead. Rosberg would immediately be on the attack, managing to get back past his teammate on lap 18, though it wouldn’t last for long as Hamilton would battle back with a beautiful switchback at turn four, regaining the lead.

The two would then split strategies, with Rosberg taking the prime tyres before switching onto the options for the end of the race. Hamilton would take the option tyres for his middle stint before moving onto the slower prime tyres for the end of the race.

An insane collision between Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez would lead to a safety car, as fans watched the Mexican’s Sauber barrel roll across the track. By this point Hamilton had amassed a 10 second lead, which was immediately cancelled by the safety car. With Rosberg on the quicker soft tyres Hamilton was at a disadvantage however the Brit would manage to hold his teammate at bay despite a number of very close attempts by Rosberg to pass him. What a battle.

3) 2017 Baku Grand Prix

I love Baku. I love the track, I love the drama that it brings, I love everything about this race (if we ignore the 2016 Grand Prix). The 2017 Grand Prix was one of the best I have ever seen and here’s why.

The start of the race was chaotic, with Valtteri Bottas clipping the kerb at turn two and bouncing straight into the side of Kimi Raikkonen. Bottas would suffer a puncture from the collision as well as some damage to his front wing, a pit stop would drop him down to the back of the grid. Meanwhile Raikkonen would press on despite having some damage, with Sergio Perez managing to sneak up into third place.

Carlos Sainz would spin coming out of the first corner as his teammate Daniil Kvyat would rejoin the track dangerously. We would then see an early pit stop from Daniel Ricciardo as he would get some debris stuck in his brake duct. The Australian would begin making his way back through the field in his trademark style.

Kvyat and Verstappen would retire from the race within the first 15 laps, with a safety car being deployed to allow recovery of Kvyat’s car, leading to a flurry of activity in the pit lane. Following that, we’d hear complaints from Hamilton on the radio that the safety car was running too slow, as he would brake hard, causing Vettel to clip the back of his car, something the German was non too happy about. Vettel would pull alongside Hamilton and nudge the Mercedes, banging tyres, something which sent fans up in arms watching the race.

On the restart Felipe Massa got past Perez and almost Sebastian Vettel, before the two Force India cars would collide coming out of turn three, with Sergio Perez losing most of his front wing, bringing out another safety car followed by a red flag due to the amount of debris on the track.

This restart would see Daniel Ricciardo overtake three cars into turn one, with yet another fantastic move, getting himself up into third place. Bear in mind that this race isn’t even at half distance yet.

Felipe Massa, who had been running in third at one point, would have to retire from the race due to a broken rear damper, while Hulkenberg would make contact with the wall and break his right front suspension.

Just a few laps later Lewis Hamilton’s headrest began to come loose, a number of attempts to shove it back into place by the driver while going down the straight were unsuccessful, meaning he was forced to pit so the issue could be fixed properly. At the same time Sebastian Vettel would be handed a 10 second stop-go penalty for dangerous driving, following his clash with Hamilton earlier in the race.

Despite this, Vettel would still come out ahead of Vettel following the two getting back into the race, down in fifth and sixth. On lap 40 Valtteri Bottas would make his way past Esteban Ocon to get back into the podium positions for the first time since he tangled with Raikkonen on the very first lap of the race.

Bottas would then begin to chase down LANCE STROLL who was up in SECOND PLACE. The Finn would just find his way by, with Stroll eventually finishing in third place and securing his first F1 podium.

2) 2019 German Grand Prix

After Baku, you wouldn’t think it was possible to have another race this decade that was more dramatic, yet somehow there were two. Let me introduce you to the 2019 German Grand Prix.

Following on from the insanity of the 2018 race, Hockenheim delivered once again in 2019. With Mercedes taking first and third in qualifying, donning their special 125 year anniversary livery, they would jump out to an early 1-2 following a poor start from Max Verstappen.

The start of the race had been delayed due to heavy rain and all drivers were starting on full wet tyres. Kimi Raikkonen would make his way up into second in his Alfa Romeo, momentarily challenging Bottas as his compatriot ran wide at turn one. On the second lap of the race Sergio Perez would spin out and hit the wall, leading to the safety car being deployed. As the track began to dry out a number of drivers would make the switch to intermediate tyres, however Carlos Sainz was one of the first men caught out, at the last corner. He would run wide and out onto the slippery drag strip, gliding into the barriers, luckily for him it was just a soft nudge and he was able to get back into the race.

Around lap 26 a number of drivers began to pit for slick tyres, before realising that this was a colossal mistake. Verstappen would spin towards the end of his first lap with slicks, bouncing over the kerb. Lance Stroll would go on to have his own moment, before Charles Leclerc would find his way into the barriers on lap 29, the same place that Sainz had run off earlier in the race, which would lead to the safety car being deployed.

Hamilton would go off in almost exactly the same place as Leclerc just moments later, damaging his front wing and coming in for an unplanned pit stop, the Mercedes pit crew were caught in an utter panic and a flap, rushing around trying to figure out what tyres to put onto the car and trying to get a new front wing on. Hamilton was then given a five second tme penalty due to not correctly going around the bollard at the entry of the pit straight.

As the rain would begin to fall once more, Nico Hulkenberg would agonisingly find himself in the barrier, at the same place Hamilton, Sainz and Leclerc all had earlier in the race. It was devastating for Hulkenberg who crashed out of a podium position. On lap 47 a number of drivers would make the change onto slick tyres once again, however Lewis Hamilton decided to stay out on track – it was a mistake.

Lance Stroll would find himself in the lead of the race following his early stop onto the slick tyres, chased down by Max Verstappen and eventually giving up the position before falling behind a high flying Daniil Kvyat, dropping Stroll to third.

On lap 57 Valtteri Bottas would lose control of his car at turn one and go sliding into the barriers, eliminating himself from the race. Sebastian Vettel would get up into third place, to a huge roar from the home crowd, before Pierre Gasly would clash with Alex Albon and have to retire from the race. On the penultimate lap Vettel would make his way into second place after being back in 20th, to a huge ovation from the German crowd.

1) 2011 Canadian Grand Prix

Here we are, the best race of the decade, I still remember it like it was yesterday. Definitely not because Jenson Button was my favourite driver… not at all…

The race actually began under the safety car following a deluge of rain at Circuit Giles Villeneuve, with Sebastian Vettel being forced to defend his lead by Fernando Alonso. Mark Webber was spun following a tap by Lewis Hamilton, who would fall behind teammate Jenson Button after running wide and leaving the track for a second time.

in what has become one of the more dramatic moments of this race, the two McLaren’s would touch coming down the main straight. Hamilton would be puched into the pit wall, breaking his suspension. At this point Button had already pitted for the intermediate tyres, but following the collision he was handed a stop-go penalty for making up ground too quickly under the safety car, which would drop him down to 15th place.

The race would be stopped for over two hours on lap 26 due to another downpour and some thunderstorms. Vettel would once again lead the pack from the restart, however Jenson Button fell to the back of the grid after suffering a puncture in a collision with Fernando Alonso.

A perfectly timed switch onto slick tyres would be yet another demonstration of why Button is F1’s rainmaster, storming his way back through the grid in the last throes of the race. Button would overtake Webber and Schumacher to move up to second place, before chasing down race leader Sebastian Vettel.

Going into the last lap of the race, fans were on the edge of their seats. Button was closing in on Vettel, but it didn’t look as though he would be able to get close enough to make a pass. But then, going into turn six, Vettel made a mistake.

I have never celebrated a moment in Formula One as much as that moment. Watching Vettel’s car skid to the side and Button swoop past was one of the greatest things I have ever seen and it capped off what was one of the most sensational and ridiculous races I have ever seen.

It is still the longest race in Formula one history, with a total time of four hours, four minutes and 39 seconds. Button set the record for most pit stops en route to a race victory with six and the race also set a record for the most safety car outings, again with six.

This is a race I can watch time and time again and never get bored, it is by far and away the greatest race of the decade.

If you’re looking for more F1 content, why not check out our 2019 season review.

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