Remember Senna at Donington Park in 1993? Ran away with it in the pouring rain. One of the best drives ever. Yes, but how does it compare with, say, Moss at Monaco in 1961? Check our ratings to find out.
100. Bernd Rosemeyer 1937 Record week
Setting 17 records in just three days 252.45mph for the Flying Mile and 211.80mph for the Flying 10 Miles Auto Union’s star had blown Mercedes away. And all on a two-lane concrete road!
99. Johnny Herbert 1989 Brazilian GP
He hadn’t raced for 10 months, since he’d mangled his feet and ankles at Brands, yet he outqualified and outraced Alessandro Nannini, his Benetton team-mate, to finish fourth on his F1 debut.
98. Erik Carlsson 1963 Spa-Sofia-Liege
‘Mr Saab’ considers this his finest drive. With only a three-cylinder 841cc two-stroke under his right foot, he finished just 15min behind the winning Mercedes after 3300 miles of flat-out motoring.
97. Jim Clark 1962 German GP
This race is remembered for a lead battle between Graham Hill, John Surtees and Dan Gurney. But a delayed Clark (his mistake at the start) was gaining by three seconds a lap. He finished fourth.
96. Pietro Bordino 1923 Italian GP
Racing with a broken arm, one-handing it through the corners while his mechanic changed gear, he led his Fiat colleagues until he could stand the pain no longer and retired at halfway.
95. Stirling Moss 1959 ‘Ring 1000kms
He had to persuade Aston to send a car. They sent the four-year-old DBR1 prototype. Co-driver Jack Fairman put it in a ditch and manhandled it out. Moss charged to victory as only he could.
94. Jjlehto 1995 Le Mans
Co-drivers Masanori Sekiya and Yannick Dalmas were quick in the McLaren F1, butE was the man. His night-time double stint in the rain, lapping 15sec quicker than the rest, was the key to this win.
93. Ivan Capelli 1990 French GP
He had failed to qualify at the previous race, but revised aerodynamics catapulted his Leyton House to the front at Paul Ricard, and Ivan came as close as he would ever come to a GP win.
92. Alan Kulwicki 1992 Hooters 500
Running his own team. Running in only fourth gear. Running out of gas. But running just enough laps in the lead for a five-point bonus, his second place in this finale made him NASCAR champ.
91. Alan Moffat 1970 Bathurst 500
Bracing himself against his Ford Falcon’s door and transmission tunnel because of broken seat mounts, he finished bruised, battered and bloodied and as the event’s first solo winner.
90. Johnny Thomson 1957 Langhorne 100
A championship 100-miler completed in less than an hour was dirt track racing’s four-minute mile’. There seemed an invisible barrier. Until ‘Hurtling’ Johnny Thomson broke it on this hellish track.
89. Allesandro Cagno 1906 Targa Florio
Vincenzo Lancia’s Fiat was favourite to win the first running of this great Sicilian road race, but Cagno’s Itala took seven minutes out of him on the first of three 92-mile laps, and eventually won by 33min.
88. Achille Varzi 1931 Targa Florio
Bugatti chose not to enter, which so annoyed their number one that he entered his own, painted it red and took on the Alfas. Had it not poured down late on, his mudguard-less car would have won.
87. Jim Clark 1966 RAC Rally
Sure, he put his Lotus Cortina through the ringer, eventually bent it like a banana, but not before he’d set three fastest times against the likes of Timo Malcinen and Vic Elford — on his first forest foray.
86. Henri Toivonen 1985 RAC Rally
He’d had just 30 miles of testing before giving the 450bhp Lancia Delta S4 its WRC debut. “Perhaps I will get used to it,” he grumbled. He did, too, surviving two laps of Kielder and a roll to win.
85. Parnelli Jones 1970 Transfam Finale
Leading easily. Title assured. Backmarkers collide and take him off. Miles behind now. Mustang now handling oddly. Smacking kerbs to get it to turn in. Fighting back. And winning. Title secured.
84. Stig Blomqvist 1996 RAC Rally
The Forest Commission does not allow studded tyres on its roads. Its roads are often sheet ice in November. While the 4WDs slipped and slided, the Swede’s 1600cc Skoda skimmed to third.
83. Jim Clark 1962 Nurburgring 1000kms
The Scot’s 103bhp Lotus 23 led the big bangers through the drizzle by 27sec after lap one. After three laps, he was more than a minute ahead. ‘Drunk’ on exhaust fumes, he slid off on lap seven.
82. Juan Montoya 2000 Michigan 500
There’d been 44 lead changes, but it boiled down to Juan’s Reynard and the Lola of Michael Andretti. They passed and repassed eight times. Then Juan caught a backmarker’s tow and won. By 0.04sec.
81. Pat Moss 1960 Liege-Rome-Liege
This was a real iron man enduro, a 96-hour blind across Europe. The Big Healey was the epitome of a hairy-chested British sportscar. And Stirling’s sister, guided by Ann Wisdom, drove it to victory.
80. Jim Clark 1963 Belgian GP
He hated the place. He dominated the place. As lightning scarred the sky and team bosses pleaded to get the race stopped, Clark’s Lotus lapped everybody. He backed off— and won by 5min.
79. John Watson 1982 United States GP
Reinvigorated inner confidence and a good call on compounds meant qualifying 17th was no hindrance to ‘Wattle’ in Detroit His McLaren went from fifth to second in one lap of brilliance.
78. Allan McNish 1998 Le Mans
A perfect Le Mans drive. Running hard, but not overtaxing the Porsche 911 GT1, he soaked up all the pressure, made no mistakes and managed to keep quicker rivals at arm’s length. Flawless.
77. Soheil Ayari 1997 Macau GP
Launched at 160mph and hit the barriers. Had suspension riveted to gearbox before the restart. Crossed line in first heat with fuel pump split in two. Won second heat — and race on aggregate.
76. Walter Rohrl 1987 Pikes Peak
He had never seen the 12.4-mile, 156-corner hillclimb before. No matter. His Satmobile’ Audi Si Sport lowered the record by a cool 21.4sec, and beat An Vatanen’s Peugeot by 15.
75. Jean-Pirre Beltoise 1972 Monaco GP
A rugged racer with restricted movement in one arm, driving a BRM around a wet Monaco. Not an ideal combination, and no match for a Jacky Icicx-mounted Ferrari, surely? This time it was.
74, Tim Birkin 1930 Le Mans
On lap four, having just thrown a tyre tread, his ‘Blower’ Bentley took to the grass at 130mph to frighten the life out of Mercedes’ Ruth Caracciola and take the lead. A futile, but glorious, gesture.
73. Louis Rosier 1950 Le Mans
At the wheel for all but a handful of laps, driven by his son, the canny Frenchman won by a lap. His Lago Talbot had been six laps ahead, but this was lost while he changed a broken rocker.
72. Tony Brooks 1955 Syracuse GP
His first drive in a Connaught. His first Formula One race. And yet the young Manchester man studying for his dentistry exams drove like an old master to defeat Luigi Musso in a works Maserati.
71. Keke Rosberg 1984 United States GP
Williams’ FW09 was a wayward beast, its early Honda turbo an uncivilised monster. But while others in better cars smote the Dallas concrete, Keke’s skill and indomitable spirit won through.
70. Anthony Davidson 2000 FF Festival
Running the second half of the 25-lap final with bent rear suspension, damage caused by an overeager rival, he held his nerve to win at the slowest possible speed not easy in Formula Ford.
69. Michael Vergers 1996 FF Festival
He hadn’t driven a Formula Ford all season. He started with a lOsec penalty. He finished 10.5sec behind the winner, in the pouring rain, after passing about 60 cars in heats, semi and final.
68. Michael Schumacher 1997 Belgian GP
Talent andbrains. An extra reconnaissance lap of a rainsoalced Spa convinced him intermediates were the way to go. Once in front, he stretched his lead by 6sec, 11, 6, and 5 on successive laps. Game over.
67. Tazio Nuvolari 1936 Coppa Ciano
Having retired his 12-cylinder Alfa Romeo with transmission failure on lap one, he jumped into an older 8C and tore lumps from the lap record. The crowd went crazy and Auto Union wilted.
66. Frank Lockhard 1926 Indianapolis 500
This hotshot driver-engineer only got his rookie chance when a rival fell ill. He qualified his Miller 20th, but was leading by lap 60. Not even a long break for rain could put him off his stride.
65. Mika Hakkinen 2000 Belgian GP
At the pinnacle of a late-race charge, Mika closed on Michael Schumacher. At 190mph, approaching a backmarker, he watched his rival commit left, then swept right, passed the pair of them and won.
64. Juan Montoya 2000 Indianapolis 500
The reigning CART champion made light work of a one-race foray into the Indy Racing League. Poleman Greg Ray crashed trying to keep up with Montoya’s G-Force, which led 167 of the 200 laps.
63. Jacques Vi Lleneu’ve 1995 Indy 500
Docked two laps passing the pace car under caution, he charged from 24th, timed his pitstops to perfection, and was second with 10 laps to go. Scott Goodyear goofed the final restart. JV didn’t.
62. Gilles Villeneuve 1976 Trois-Rivieres
Quebec supported its favourite son morally and financially for his FAtlantic race against GP stars James Hunt and Patrick Depailler. He repaid them with a spectacular pole and a consummate win.
61. Juan Fangio 1953 Mille Miglia
He wasn’t keen on the event, so his mood can be imagined when his Alfa lost its steering on one wheel at halfway. In a gruelling effort that recalled his early trans-Andean drives, he finished second.
60. Stirling Moss 1954 Italian GP
Unfazed by dicing with Juan Fangio and Alberto Ascari, the Englishman proved he was ready for a works F1 drive with a cool, calm drive. Had his Maserati not dumped its oil, he would have won.
59. Nicola Larini 1993 ‘Ring DIM’
The last important all-out sprint race on the mighty Nordschleife saw a little Italian weave his magic in an Alfa. Doing his best Nuvolari impression, Larini dominated both 4-lap heats in his 4WD machine.
58. Stirling Moss 1958 Argentine GP
His little Cooper was giving away 600cc to the Ferraris and Maseratis, but he worked his way to the front. The rest waited for his tyre stop. But it never came. The future had arrived.
57. Johnny Herbert 1991 Le Mans
Little Mazda has beaten the might of Peugeot, Jaguar, Porsche and Mercedes. A dehydrated, food-poisoned Herbert falls into his father’s arms after a two-hour final stint. The stuff of legend.
56. Andy Green 1998 Land Speed Record
He had shattered the Sound Barrier two days previously, but had exceeded the mandatory one-hour turnaround by 50sec. So he went out and did it all again. Opposite lock at 770mph!
55. Alex Zanardi 1998 Long Beach GP
First-lap melee bent his suspension and put him a lap down. But he charged. And fresh tyres on his last stop gave him vital impetus. He passed the leader on the penultimate lap.
54. Graham Hill 1965 Monaco GP
‘Mr Monaco’ secured his BRM hat-trick in the absence of Clark (at Indy), but this was no cakewalk a 45sec straight-on saw to that. His fastest lap was eight-tenths quicker than pole.
53. Mario Andretti 1967 Daytona 500
His tail-out technique wasn’t right; it couldn’t last the whole race, said the NASCAR establishment But Mario thrashed his rivals, withstood a fudged final pitstop and ran out a comfortable winner.
52. Stirling Moss 1961 German GP
He had discovered his Lotus could run the softer ‘wet’ Dunlops in the dry and made use of the extra grip to fend off the faster Ferraris. And just when wear was becoming critical it rained.
51. Hamilton/Rolt 1953 Le Mans
Ranged against the might of Ferrari, Alfa and Lancia, this unfancied Jaguar pair put in a superb sustained performance, proving the event was becoming a sprint as opposed to a reliability slog.
50. Rick Mears 1991 Indianapolis 500
He was 15 sec behind Michael Andretti with 20 laps to go. Then a last splash-‘n’-dash for the lead Lola put Michael right behind Rick’s Penske in the queue. On the restart, Andretti shocked everyone by passing Mears round the outside into Turn One. Rick sensationally replicated the move on the very next lap, and some devastating closing laps sealed his fourth Brickyard win.
Michael Jordan: `The greatest pass in Indy 500 history. Rick was driving the car so hard in thosefinal stages that his right-rear tyre was leaving a long arc ofrubber going through the turns.”
49. Tazio Nuvolari 1947 Mille Miglia
He was 54 years old. He looked older. The flying Mantuan was a sick man. But his spirit was still strong.
At the wheel of a tiny 1100cc Cisitalia, he was within sight of victory when his car was swamped by rainwater. He lost 15min in the subsequent delay. And missed the win by 16 — after 16 hours and 1100 miles of driving.
The crowd lifted their exhausted hero from the car.
Ian Marshall: ‘He was way past his best—on his last legs, ahnost —yet he was still capable of such an amazing performance. It’s a shame thatyear’s race was slightly longer than normal.”
48. Juan Fangio 1955 Argentine GP
In what was reckoned to be the hottest condemns of any Grand Prix, only two drivers completed the distance single-handed. Both were Argentinian.
The difference was that Fangio won and Maserati’s Roberto Mieres finished five laps down in fifth.
Fangio explained that he’d imagined himself to be sat waist deep in snow — as opposed to a roasting hot Mercedes.
Peter Higham:Ifyou look at the results,you will see that it took three drivers each to bring the secondand third-placed cars home. Even Froilan Gonzalezfound the going too tough!”
47. Jackie Stewart 1973 Italian GP
The-short-wheelbase Tyrrell 006 was not best suited to the faster tracks, and Stewart was only sixth-fastest in qualifying at Monza. But he starred in the race after a puncture forced him into an early pitstop.
He scythed through the field, recording a fastest lap eight-tenths under his qualifying time, and finished fourth, to secure his third, and last, world title.
Alan Henry: ‘A duplicate ofJimmy Clark’s performance in the Lotus 49 at Monza in 1967 — albeit at the wheel of significandy less competitive car. A terrific performance.”
46. Jim Clark 1965 Indianapolis 500
He was robbed by officialdom, local street smarts and his naivety in 1963. He was let down by Dunlop in 1964. It was, though, only a matter of time before Clark and Lotus won at the Brickyard. It was.
Using the style that served him so well at Spa, he led all but five of the 200 laps. He’d worked harder for less, but this, without doubt, was his most significant victory.
Roger Bell: “Unfazed by two previous unsuccessful missions to tame Indy, hefinally came good in 1965. It signalled the final nail in the coffinfor thefront-engined roadsters.”
45. Bernd Rosemeyer 1935 Eifelrennen it was only his second ever motor race – and it was on a circuit he’d never seen.
Rosemeyer and Auto Union had dared to challenge the might of Rudolf Caracciola and Mercedes-Benz — around the 14-mile Niirburgring. Second place behind the old master was just reward, but not before the youngster had defiantly passed him on the pit straight.
Chris Nixon:Ilisfitst race was at Avis, a track where no great skill was required. His next was at the Niizburgring. He’d never raced there b4are — not even, as a lot of people think, on a motorbike.”
44. Jean Alesi 1990 USA GP
In his ninth Grand Prix, Alesi was still rocking the Establishment. With last year’s Tyrrell 018, he qualified fourth in Phoenix and jumped into the lead at the start.
Ayrton Senna caught and passed him on lap 33, but jean dived past at the very next corner. Senna kept him locked out when retaking the lead a lap later, but Alesi finished in a remarkable second place.
Jim Holder:“What a way to make your mark in Fl. To o4ox Senna, in an inferior car, was sensational. It signalled the start of what should have been something very special indeed.”
43. Damon Hill 1994 Japanese GP
Suzuica’s Monsoon had Michael Schumacher written all over it; this two-part race (it was redflagged after 15 laps) had Ross Brawn masterstroke written all over it. But Hill and Williams matched their every move. And more.
Hill and Schumacher would travel to the Adelaide titledecider separated by a single point And Schumacher now knew his rival was no pushover.
Tom Clarkson:`Tor thefirst time Damon really took thefight to Schumacher. Psychologically, Damon tamed the corner that day — he sill talks about Suzuka ’94 sever, years later.”
42. Peter Gethin 1971 Italian GP
After a classic nose-to-tail battle at Monza (pre-chicanes, remember) the Englishman stuck the nose of his BRM P160 in front by mere inches to win the closest and fastest grand prix in history.
Amazingly, the five-way slipstreamer would have produced a first-time winner whoever crossed the line ahead.
Paul Lawrence:“I grew up on slipstreaming watching 1-litre F3 races during the early 1970s and this particular race has got to be the slipstreamer to end all slipstreamers. An epic.”
41. John Watson 1983 US GP
Detroit the previous season had been but a mere warm-up to this Long Beach extravaganza. The McLarens qualified 22nd and 23rd, but stealthily made their way through the field.
On lap 33, Wattie’ dived past team-mate Nild Lauda at the end of Shoreline Drive, banged wheels and snatched third.
Twelve laps later he was in a lead he’d never cede.
Laurence Foster:“John has always said he was one ofthe best overtaken in the business and, on this evidence, he has a point. Long Beach was not exactly aforgiving circuit. Very impressive.”
40. Hannu Mikkola 1970 World Cup Rally
Arguably the highest-flying Finn of them all, Mikkola must have rung the neck of Ford Escort FEY 1H during this intercontinental marathon.
Living on a diet of warm Coca-Cola and hard boiled eggs, he embarked on a journey four times the length of a typical modem WRC event with gusto, flair and incredible speed.
Russell Bulgin:“Consider thefacts of the Andes section done: 560 miles in 12hr 20min, at altitudes ofup to 15,000fr He had a very basic cal; which he must have driven absolutelyilat-out. Fantastic!”
39. Henri Toivonen 1980 RAC Rally
Nothing could touch Ford’s Escort. It had won every RAC from 1972 to ’79, and Mildcola was clear favourite to secure a hat-trick. He had a trouble-free mn to second place.
He proffered no excuses. He had simply been outpaced by a 22-year-old. This was an RAC of yore five days, through the night yet Toivonen was flawless.
Andrew Golby:‘Henri was theyoungest-ever winner ofpmbably the most unpredictable of rallies. He was finally armed with a good car and showed the old hands how to do it consummately”
38. Nigel Mansell 1989 Hungarian GP
Unable to get his Ferrari to handle on qualifiers, Nigel spent Saturday perfecting a race set-up. Wise move.
From 12th on the grid at the tight, narrow Hungaroring, he passed four cars on lap one, was up to fourth by lap 30, took Alain Prost on lap 41, homed in on Serma, boxed him in behind a tail-ender, passed him — and disappeared.
David Malsher:‘Not renownedfor his tactical acumen, this drive was worthy ofProst. With a perfect set-up, he conserved his tyres, performed dean, precise passing manoeuvres, and made Senna look slow-witted.”
37. Emil Levassor 1895 Paris-Bordeaux-Paris
Widely regarded as the first out-and-out motor race as opposed to a reliability trial, the cars were allowed 100 hours to cover the 750 miles. Levassor’s Panhard-Levassor needed just over 48 of them, averaging 15mph in the process.
He drove the entire distance himself; his co-driver having spent much of it asleep — also a remarkable feat in its own way.
Bill Boddy:‘Anyone who spends nearly 49 hours at the controls of a tiller-steered, solid-yTecl, top-hea7 car, over unmade, potholed roads, gets my vote. Racing at its most primitive.”
36. Ari Vatanen 1985 Monte Carlo Rally
The lanky Finn was the man to beat in the WRC. His GP B Peugeot had swept all before it at the end of 1984. And on the opening event of ’85, the Monte — arguably the calendar’s trickiest event, he prevailed again — by over 5min.
And all this after he had been penalised 8min following an ‘early check-in’ blunder by his co-driver, Terry Harryman.
John Davenport: “This is the sort of drive navigators dream about. It was a nightmare to begin with, when Terry made his mistake, but Ari just set about pulling back the time. He clid it, too. Against Walter Rohr].”
35. Georges Boillot 1914 French GP
Peugeot’s Star faced a well-drilled Mercedes Squad: Max Sailer was the hare, until a rod broke on lap six; Louis Wagner was the hound, harrying the ill-handling Peugeot; Christian Lautenschlager was the fox, sneaking up on the Pug to win.
The heroic Boillot eventually retired because of a broken valve on lap 18 of 20 around the 23-mile Lyon circuit.
Bill Mason:‘Such a dramatic drive — especially whenyou consider the very delicate political situation. Boillot was a great character, and it was apt that his was the last great drive before World War One.”
34. Rudi Carracciola 1931 Mille Miglia
Just one of many remarkable performances ‘Caratsch’ put up in a Mercedes SSK— a real he-man’s car.
He refused to be drawn into a dogfight with a bevy of Alfas, but his irresistible pace forced Nuvolari to drive harder than he wanted to given his tyre problems.
The big Mere proved the immovable obstacle and won at 62.84mph.The Mille Miglia’s first ‘foreign’ conqueror.
Paul Frere:“Yes, the new Alfa Romeos 8Cs had ryre troubles, but anyone who has ever driven a Mercedes of the SS/SSK series will know just what an heroic drive this was.”
33. Fernand Gabriel 1903 Paris-Madrid
If tomorrow you averaged 65mph for the 342 miles from Paris to Bordeaux, you would consider the trip to be a success. Gabriel’s Mors achieved this 98 years ago.
This race — and the town-to-town era — came to an end at its halfway point because of a series of devastating fatal accidents. But not before the gladiatorial Gabriel had laid it on the line one more time.
Rob Walker:“Afantastic p4Ormance. I know little about this driver, but he must have been quite something. I think this was the race they steered b y looking up at the treetops, so thick was the dust!”
32. Jochen Rindt 1970 Monaco GP
The Lotus 49 had had its day, but he was heartily sick of its successor. So he qualified the ‘old nail’ eighth. And sulked. A sniff of victory, though, snapped him out of it
He was still 1.5sec behind Jack Brabham entering the final lap. But when your pursuer sets the fastest lap on the last lap, with a time eight-tenths quicker than pole, in a two-year-old car, anything, clearly, can happen. And it did.
Paul Fearnley:“I love the almost disinterested start to this drive. And then that stunning climax. The sheer twofacedness of it! Its a peribrmance that oozes charisma.”
31. Keke Rosberg 1985 British GP Qualifying
The Williams FW10B-Honda was just beginning to show its teeth, and Keke was in a special kind of mood at Silverstone. He stubbed out his cigarette, climbed in and put his foot down. Two laps later, he had bagged pole with what remains F1 ‘s quickest lap: 160.925mph.
Back at the pits, the team discovered one of his front tyres had a slow puncture. Keke simply lit another cigarette.
David Addison:“When that car came past,you could tell it was travelling at a different speed to the others. The car’s poise was so chamatic; it looked so animate. Incredible. As was Keke’s lap time.”
30. Timo Makinen 1965 Monte Carlo
The original flying Finn vanquished all before him on one of the world’s toughest events.
People recall with affection the ’64 event, when Paddy Hopkirk gave the Mini its first win, yet Maldnen’s drive was against stiffer opposition and without the handicapping format that had benefited Hoplcirk. He simply blew them all away in a car that seemed, on paper, totally unsuitable.
Stuart Turner: “He demolished theffeld. My most cherished motorsport memory is ofseeing him plough through the snow into a service point, and then waiting, and waiting,for the next car to turn up.”
29. Pierre Levegh 1952 Le Mans
This 42-year-old Paris garage owner took first stint, while co-driver Marchand awaited his turn. He was still waiting 23 hours later.
Levegh felt unable to hand over the Talbot to his partner because its rev-counter wasn’t worlcing. On the verge of a memorable victory, however, an earlier over-rev caught up with him when the engine ran a big-end.
Duncan Rabagliati:“I suppose he could be blamedfor losing the victory through tiredness, but you would need a hard heart to criticise himfor thinking he could complete that last half-hour.”
28. Gilles Villeneuve 1981 Monaco GP
Gills’ qualified his powerful but turbo-lagged and unwieldy Ferrari 126CK second behind an underweight Brabham. Team-mate Didier Pironi was 17th.
Having let Jones’ far quicker Williams through in the race, Gilles was repaid the compliment when AJ hit fuel vaporisation trouble in the dosing stages and left just enough room for the Ferrari to pass for an unfeasible win.
Roger Stansfield:‘M typically ballsy Villeneuve performance in a car that simpfr shouldn’t have allowed it. He was super-quick and precise despite the shortcomings of the tractoresque Ferrari.”
27. Stefan Bellof 1984 Monaco GP
Senna’s solemn catching the McLaren of Prost stole all the headlines. But people now recognise Belles third place as a work of genius, too.
Yes, he had a Cosworth in his Tyrrell, easier to manage in the teeming conditions than a turbo, but his Goodyears were no match for the Michelins worn by Prost and Senna. And Stefan was catching them both.
Matt James:“Bellofs drive is overlooked even now. He was a special talent, blessed with immense air control, and it would have beenfascinating to see the outcome had the race not been stopped.”
26. Michael Schumacher 1996 Spanish GP
Ferrari’s F310 was not as good as the Benetton-Renault Schumacher had driven in 1995, and not on the same planet as the 1996 Williams-Renaults. But in Barcelona, it rained.
Despite nearly stalling at the start, Schuey clawed back to third by lap five, outbraked Alesi’s Benetton, sat it out with Jacques Villeneuve’s Williams and was leading by lap 13. Fin.
Matt Bishop:“It’s not often that one man makes the task that all his rivals are struggling over look hugely easy. But that’s what Michael did. He won by more than a mile and we knew we had a genius on our hands.”
25. Michael Schumacher 1995 Belgian GP
From 16th on the grid, he was second by lap 15. Leader Damon Hill’s Williams pitted for dry tyres. So did Schuey. But when the rain returned to Spa, Damon pitted for wets, while Michael’s Benetton stayed out — and found grip even on slicks.
A wheel-banging battle ensued. Then the track dried and Michael’s gamble was vindicated. He’d humiliated his rivals.
Jaimes Baker: “Typical Schumacher performance, this one, where he out-thought and outdrove everybody. His speed on dry ryres in the wet was staggering, and to movefivm 16th tofirst was aftting reward.”
24. Mike Hawthorn 1953 French GP
MIKE HAWTHORN 1953 FRENCH GP IN HIS FIRST THREE STARTS FOR SCUDERIA FERRARI, HAWTHORN,
In his first three starts for Scuderia Ferrari, Hawthorn, a young, bow-tied Englishman, twice finished fourth and once just out of a then-points finish in sixth.
Then came the switchback, flat-out rush at Reims — a chance to show what he was really made of. He beat Fangio by a few feet in a slipstreaming thriller.
Michael Turner:“A terrific performancefor a young manfeeling his way into Formula One — and Ferrari. The tenacity and opportunism Mike showed in such company as Fangio, Gonzalez, Ascari et al was great.”
23. Michael Schumacher 1998 Hungarian GP
Running third behind the McLarens, Michael put in some stunning laps after his first stop, to get ahead of David Coulthard.
Ferrari had switched strategies, and he repeated the process after his second stop to jump the other McLaren of Haldcinen.
Brawn then asked him for 25sec in 19 laps before his third stop. He replied with a 29sec lead — despite a half-spin!
James Allen:“One of the most staggering performances in re,centyears. The perfect modern-style Formula One race. 1 have never seen Michael look happier after a race. The best Schuey/Ferrari win ,for sure.”
22. Dave Coyne 1990 Formula Ford Festival
A yellow flag infringement meant the man from Camberly started his heat from the back — and with a lOsec penalty. He finished seventh. He then finished ninth in his quarter-final.
His Brands Hatch weekend ignited during a 14-lap semifinal, which his Swift won from 18th. This thrilling effort even outshone his brilliant defensive victory drive in the final.
Simon Arron:“One of the greatest pieces of ddensive and strategic race car driving ever. Third placed Jean-Christophe Boullion was still fuming about it when he reached the dizzy heights of F1 in 1995.”
21. Johnny Herbert 1985 Ford Festival
His weekend started badly, a practice accident demoting his Quest to the rear of the grid for its heat. But matters got progressively better thereafter.
A sixth in that heat, a fourth in his quarter-final and a second in his semiput him on the front row for the final. Despite the presence of Damon Hill and Mark Blundell, he led all the way.
Richard Heseltine:“Johnny’s drive in the unfanded (-.est was the best ever perfirmance at the Festival. His charge marked him out as afitture world champion, which sadly wasn’t to be. But this was his day ofdays.”
20. Ayrton Senna 1988 Japanese GP
After stalling at the start, he bump-started the engine on Suzuka’s downsloping grid, and sliced through the field in incisive but absolutely fair fashion to reach second place.
Then, as drizzle fell, he homed in on McLaren team-mate Prost, pressured him into missing a gearshift, nipped past and headed for his eighth win of the year — and the championship.
Peter Innes:“At the time I was at my most impressionable (mid teens.) and craved a new hero. Well, I got one that day. An incrediblefightback from 14th tofirst in tricky conditions. And under massive pressure, too.”
19. Colling McRae 1995 RAC Rally
The battle for World Rally honours between McRae and his Subaru team-mate Carlos Sainz had raged all season long.
At the final event, the RAC, McRae knew that nothing short of victory at home would do. He blew the Spaniard away.
It was the Scot’s second straight win on an event so tough that, until he came along, no Brit had won it for 18 years.
Martin Sharp:“I remember seeing Carlos on the Yorkshire leg. Those dark ges of his are very expressive, and you could tell that he knew he was: fighting against something he couldn’t reallyfight against.”
18. Niki Lauda 1976 Italian GP
He shouldn’t have been there. He shouldn’t have even been alive. Enzo Ferrari had ‘replaced’ him with Carlos Reutemann. But a month after receiving the last rites, Niki was at Monza, outqualifying Clay Regazzoni and Carlos, and racing his Ferrari to fourth place.
As he peeled the balaclava from his raw, bleeding face, Lauda became a deserving legend.
John Zimmerman:“He came backfrom the dead, basically, didn’t he. This has surely got to be the bravest drive in the history of motorsport. The determination of the man!”
17. Michael Schumacher 1994 Spanish GP
As can be seen from the picture, Schumacher was going to walk this race. His lead grew by 1.5sec per lap, until lap 23, when his gearbox got stuck in fifth.
After investigating several new lines, especially through Barcelona’s absurdly tight post-Imola chicanes, he lost only 2sec per lap, and even managed to pull away from a pitstop without stalling. Fl ‘s most glorious second place.
Steve Sutcliffe:“This was thefirst time I looked at Michael and thought he was really special. How many people could make a car do what he did with it stuck in fifth? It just shouldn’t have happened.”
16. Bernd Rosemeyer 1936 Eifelrennen
Nuvolari was hell-bent on repeating his German GP success of 1935. It was raining and his nimble Alfa Romeo was leading. But Rosemeyer was catching and, on lap six of 10, his Auto Union took the lead.
It was now that the fog descended, so thickly that the pits couldn’t be seen from the stands. Yet Rosemeyer’s pace never slackened, lapping 40sec faster than even Nuvolari.
Adriano Cimarosti:“I am sure he took some risks to be sofast, but I have spoken to Mercedes driver Manfred von Brauchitsch about it, and he reckons that Rosem9Ter seemed to have an extra sense.”
15. Jacky Ickx 1969 Le Mans
He walked across the track in protest of the dangers inherent with the race’s traditional run-and-jump start. Plus, there was no rush, the Porsches and Matras were much quicker than his old Ford GT40.
Twenty-three hours later, he was involved in the most famous dice in Le Mans history, passing and repassing Hans Herrmann’s Porsche, before winning by 0.07 of a mile.
Michael Cotton:“To be on the tips ofyour toes, straining every nerve, as you’re waitingfor them to come round on the next lap is not something that’s supposed to happen iter 24 hours. But it did.”
14. Ayrton Senna 1984 Monaco GP
The signs of superstardom were there, but Monaco was the race where Senna proved to every F1 follower that one day he would be The Man.
As rain fell, he dispensed with the established stars and left mere mortals in his wake. In a Toleman, he was catching Prost in a McLaren. Had the race been halted two laps later, he would have won in only his fifth GP.
Henry Hope-Frost:” I am a 137year-old with morefever than sense, 3 June 1984 was a great day. It still irritates that Ickx (another hero.) stopped it. I pretend that Senna won and Bellofwas second.”
13. Ayrton Senna 1985 Portugal GP
Senna’s first GP win was always likely to be in the rain. Turbo cars were sods to drive on a wet track, but you would never have guessed it had you watched Ayrton that day in Estoril. He was near perfection.
From the first of his 65 pole positions, he left everyone behind, lapping all but Michele Alboreto’s Ferrari. Those in equal and better cars had been thrashed.
Bruce Jones:“He was the first special talent I’d seen in Formula Ford. He looked so calm that day while the stars screwed up. You felt sure he’d make a mistake, but instead he just got stronger.”
12. Pedro Rodriguez 1970 Boac 1000
The little Mexican’s performance in Porsche’s beautiful and dominant 917K was simply out of this world that day.
In horrendous conditions at Brands, Pedro lapped what seemed like days quicker than anyone else. His winning margin was five laps. Consider that at one point he was black-flagged and given a ticking-off for overdriving, and the margin seems even more ridiculous.
Maurice Hamilton:” He was such a gutsy driver and, on that day, he was head and shoulders better than the rest. It also helps that he was driving a 917, which was such a wonderful car.”
11. Rene Arnoux 1979 French GP
It takes two to tango. And any driver who can go toe-to-toe with Gilles Villeneuve must be a bit tasty.
Rene fluffed his front-row start and dropped to 14th, but was ninth at the end of that lap. He gradually worked his way through the field and eventually passed Gilles for second. We should all be thankful that his V6 turbo chose this precise moment to play up…
Gordon Cruickshank:“The careless abandon and disregardfor anyfonn ofsafetyfrom thesefeuding aces was almost medieval To see it played out on television was,for me, utterly spectacular.”
10. Gilles Villeneuve 1979 French GP
When Villeneuve burst between the front-row Renaults at the start, no-one expected his lead to last for long. Yet it took pole-sitter Jean-Pierre Jabouille until lap 46 to pass the sliding Ferrari.
His team-mate Arnoux, now homed in on Villeneuve at 1.5sec per lap, having dropped to midfield at the start.
With five laps to go, Rene set fastest lap, a second quicker than anyone else, and passed Villeneuve for second at the start of the penultimate lap.
But an intermittent fuel metering problem kept his Renault within range of Gilles — who went for it.
A sidepod-thumping, wheel-banging, heart-in-mouth automotive fist fight ensued over those final two laps.
Gilles prevailed, by 0.24sec. But it was we spectators who were the real winners.
Eric Verdon-Roe:“The most gripping few minutes ofmotor racing 1 have ever witnessed. To see racing that dose, at that level, at that speed, was absolutely staggering.”
9. Gilles Villeneuve 1981 Spanish GP
At this stratosphere of great drives, we find ones only three or four men in the sport’s history could have done — in that car, on that day. Gilles’ performance in Spain is one such.
More remarkable than his charge from eighth to third at the opening corner was the pass he pulled on Reutemann’s far superior Williams around the outside of the same corner at the start of lap two.
This meant Gilles was in prime position to inherit the lead when Jones threw his Williams off the track.
How the Ferrari star staved off the remaining aces, driving much quicker cars, without making a race-losing error in a lurching 126CK on wrecked Michelins is beyond many people’s comprehension.
How far ahead might he have been in a Williams or Ligier? It’s a scary thought.
Anthony Rowlinson:“This race defied some people’s view that Villeneuve was a rock ape. He made no mistakes, and exploited to pe4ection his car’s only strength — siraighdine speed.”
8. Stirling Moss 1961 Monaco GP
Examples of Moss charging through to victory following an early delay are 10 a penny. He could reel them off with a bewitching insouciance. He revelled in adversity. But this did not mean he was averse to leading from start to finish.
He didn’t manage the latter in this race — Richie Ginther’s Ferrari, with its 30bhp advantage, set the pace for 14 laps — but the pressure the American and his teammates exerted for the remaining 86 laps means Moss reckons this his greatest drive.
He was at the peak of his powers. Outof-date cars with bhp deficits were hurdles to be cleared — with relish. His old Lotus lined up on pole position, but he was worried about Ferrari race pace. And with good reason. An inspired Ginther set fastest lap on lap 84 to close within a second. Stirling matched it next time around.
It was that sort of performance.
Nigel Roebuck:“Fantastic concentration and sustained dint. From lap 66 to thefinish, his every lap wasfaster than his pole time.”
7. Tazio Nuvolari 1935 German GP
Alfa Romeo stunned the Racing World with its svelte monoposto Tipo B in 1932. Three years later it had middle-aged spread and was no match for its German rivals. Yet its talismanic driver conjured out of it one more stunning performance.
He ran third initially. But dropped back to sixth. On lap nine of 22, he upped his pace and passed Mercedes’ Luigi Fagioli and Manfred von Brauchitsch to be second. Then, just before the half-distance fueland-tyre halt, he passed Caracciola to lead.
This incredible effort was squandered by a chaotic two-minute pitstop — and he re-emerged fifth. But still inspired.
Fagioli, Rosemeyer and Caracciola fell under his spell. As did von Brauchitsch — even though he was holding a big lead.
Nuvolari closed. The pressure built. And a Mercedes rear tyre burst. On the last lap. The unimaginable was now fact.
Mark Hughes:“To beat just one ofthose top guys in the German machines would have been ‘rabbit out Ole hat’ stuf He beat nine Oiem.”
6. Jim Clark 1967 Italian GP
It was the usual slipstreaming battle the Brabhams of Brabham and Denny Hulme tenaciously clinging to the faster Lotuses of Graham Hill and Clark.
On lap 13, though, Clark pitted with a punctured rear tyre. He lost a lap, the tow, and any chance of victory.
He didn’t seem to think so. The prechicane Monza was not exactly the biggest challenge, and his DFV meant Clark had the most powerful engine, but his progress without the aid of a tow was miraculous.
Leader Hill’s DFV let go with nine laps to go, which meant Brabham and Surtees’ Honda were battling for the victory. As was Clark! He took the lead, too, on lap 61 of lap 67, having regained almost two minutes in 45 laps.
It would’ve been his most memorable win had not fuel starvation let Surtees and Brabham to sweep by — on lap 67.
Eric Dymock:“It was a demonstration of how one driver can overwhelm the others by dint of his sheer virtuosity. He summoned a reserve of skill that astounded even him.”
5. Nigel Mansell 1986 British GP
Nelson Piquet leads. Serenely. Having been overshadowed by his team-mate so far this season, Nelson beat him to pole yesterday, and is now heading for his first win of ’87 — in Nigel’s backyard.
After 35 laps, ‘Red Five’ disappears from his mirrors and heads into the pits. ‘Why? These tyres are fine.’
His crew hang out a board showing ‘Nigel 3d. Easy New lap record from Nigel on lap 37? ‘Okay: here’s another. Beat that!’
Nigel does. Again and again. The board shows Nelson’s lead is being gobbled up at a second — sometimes two — per lap.
Ten laps to go. Suddenly there’s a blueand-yellow Williams in the mirror.
Two laps to go. Down Hangar Straight He’s in the left mirror. ‘No way!’ But he’s on the right! He’s alongside. Big, hard squeeze into Stowe. But he’s gone.
Marcus Simmons:“My dad and I were the only ones at Club cheering on Nelson. But there was no denying that Nigel overcame impossible odds. It was the most exciting race I’ve ever seen.”
4. Jackie Stewart 1968 German GP
It is one of racing’s bigger dichotomies: Jackie Stewart, safety crusaderdacltie Stewart, conqueror of Clermont-Ferrand, Montjuich Park and the Ninburgring. Even his most vehement of detractors could not take anything away from his on-tack performances.
He arrived in Germany nursing one of the few injuries of his racing career, a fractured wrist (right), and there was some suggestion he might not even drive the Matra in this race.
His practice was limited and he started from the inside of the third row, once the organisers had reverted to a 3-2-3 grid as opposed to the track’s more usual 43-4 a sop to the horrendous conditions.
Stewart, who had the wrist-sparing steering damper removed moments before the start so he would have better feel for locking brakes, knew he had to be leading before entering the long, lap-ending straight. He was third into the first corner, picked off Chris Amon’s Fen-an at Adenau, and Graham Hill’s Lotus exiting the Karussell. And that was the last anyone saw of him, his blue car enveloped in a ball of spray that was cloaked by thick mountain mist
The Scot had been expected to do well in the conditions given that he and the impressive Dunlop 226 compound had dominated the wet Dutch GP at Zandvoort six weeks earlier. But nobody had expected him to win by over four minutes. At the finish, he declared himself a coward in the wet
A very brave, supremely talented coward.
John Blunsden:“It was just a supreme display of application especially when you remember thatJackie was a reluctant starter in that race k was terrifying waitingfor him to come round each time. He liould come past us and there would be silence. Nothing. The rest were sofar behind that it was eerie.Jackie was just so smooth in the car and that was the basis ofhis genius.”
Tony Jardine:“He pulverised the opposition in disgusting conditions that not even a rally driver would have contemplated. Howfar behind was Graham Hill? Absolutely incredible!”
3. Stirling Moss 1955 Mille Miglia
Foreigners didn’t win the Mille Miglia. Local knowledge was too vital a factor in this 1000-mile Italian road race.
But Moss not only won it, he set a record average speed in the process — a staggering 97.95mph. He did so thanks to months of assiduous practice, the fabulously fast and rock-solid reliable Mercedes-Benz 300S LR, Jenks’ assiduous, ground-breaking 15ft 6th goo’ roll of pace notes — and his God-given ability.
He led at Rome, the midway point, a position, legend had it, that was a guarantee of ultimate failure. He crossed the sinuous Raticosa and Futa Passes in an hour (a personal goal), and won the prize for the fastest time between Cremona and Brescia, the final leg of the race. He never let up for a second.
He thumped a straw bale in Verona, flew for 300ft over a mischarted 170mph brow on the Adriatic coast, almost hit some petrol pumps entering Pescara and burst through straw bales exiting the same town. He spun, too, on the Radicofani Pass.
He had not expected to win. He hadn’t even expected to be the leading Mercedes. And his performance verged on the carefree. This was not the measured, rounded Moss of Monaco 1961; this was the young Moss, giving it his all, revelling in his own reactions. The lessons in the wheel tracks of Fangio had only just begun, don’t forget.
But even Fangio was no match for his precocious team-mate on this late-April day. There had been lots of indicatois of Moss’ immense talent, but this was the day it was cast-iron confirmed.
Simon Taylor:“I was lucky enough to be thiven around the route by Stirling in a 300SLR in 1995, and it was only then that the sheer enormity of the task struck me. It was a race that required much more versatility than did a grand prix, and it’s significant that he should be able to outdrive Fangio so conclusively.”
James Elliott:“Every time I see thefacts andfigures ofthis race, what strikes me is the ti,irming average speed — it’s astounding given the length ofthe race and the conditions. The only other sportingfigure that stands comparison is Donald Bradman’s test batting average.”
2. Ayrton Senna 1993 European GP
A robust Michael Schumacher elbowed him wide onto a kerb and he slipped to fifth. His McLaren-Ford lacked power compared with the Williams-Renault — he simply had to make the most of the torrential conditions.
He simply did.
Schumacher’s Benetton was dispatched on the exit of Redgate, and Sauber’s Karl Wendlinger could only watch agape as Senna ran around the outside down through Craner Curves, cleaving a torrent in the process. Damon Hill was monstered, then slain, at McLeans. Prost survived until Melbourne Hairpin.
It’s little surprise that Senna’s mesmerising opening lap at a rainswept Donington Park grabbed the headlines. But there were 76 laps that day — and he shone on every one of them.
It was a crazy, maybe the craziest, wet-dry-wet day of pitstops — Senna made five (one aborted because of an unready crew) to Hill’s six and Prost’s seven — yet the Brazilian always appeared to make the right call.
He didn’t, but his awesome talent, at one stage lapping faster on slicks in the rain than Prost on wets, made it seem that way.
The opposition could have been stronger: Prost, increasingly cautious in the wet, was struggling with a ‘sticky’ downshift; Hill was finding his feet in a front-line team; Schumacher’s Benetton, admittedly without traction control, beached itself early on. But no-one would have beaten Senna that day.
Everyone else looked pedestrian while he drove off with it.
Rob Aherne:“I watched the race on television and the cameras took a long time to pick up on what Senna was doing on that opening lap. All you could see was this red-and-white blur in the background. And I can remember him getting on the power so eady, and the car getting bent out of shape like it wasn’t supposed to with traction control.”
Andrew Benson:“It had everything: a great driver in a car not the best humiliating his rivals in unpredictable conditions. It’s almost worth being number one justfor his move on Wendlinger. To then pass both Williams and go on to lap thefeld, well, what can you say?”
1. Juan Manuel Fang 10 1957 German GP
It had all the makings of a great race: a proud old master threatened by a pride of young lions; the world’s most fantastic circuit; divergent strategies. It was boxer versus puncher, volleyer versus baseliner.
At 46 years of age, Fangio was on the verge of a fifth world title, having won in Argentina, Monaco and France. The latter performance, at Rouen, had been a masterclass of oversteer, a rebuking reminder to the pretenders that he was still the real deal.
The modest man from Balcarce, as always, appeared peerless, appeared calm. He was, though, working harder than at any other time in his career — Moss, Peter Collins, Hawthorn, Brooks and Musso saw to that.
The signs were there from the start of the year. Moss, in a sister Maserati 250F, led and set fastest lap in Argentina. Moss, Collins and Hawthorn burst to the front in Monaco, only to trip over themselves early on, leaving Brooks to keep Fangio honest to the 100-lap end. Musso set fastest lap at Rouen, and then won the non-championship Reims GP in a year-old car, while Fangio spun off in pursuit At Aintree, Fangio was off colour, was never in the hunt, and was forced out mid-race with engine trouble.
That British GP had seen Anthony Vanwall’s bottleshaped, bottle-green racers finally defeat those “bloody red cars!” But they were nowhere at the Niirburgring, toostiff springs pounding their drivers into double vision and nausea, if not outright submission.
This race would be Maserati versus Ferrari.
Fangio put the lissome 250F on pole, chopping 16sec off his 1956 mark. He knew, however, that the Maser did not have the fuel capacity to run non-stop for 300 miles, and that its Purls were not as durable as Ferrari’s Engleberts. And so he set off on half tanks. As he had in Monaco, he let the Brit pack squabble among themselves in the early stages, before moving ahead on the third lap. He then tried all he knew, at least all he thought he knew, and had eked out a 28sec gap by the time he pitted on lap 11. Hawthorn and Collins flashed past into a 30sec lead.
According to Fangio’s friend Marcello Giambertone, who was in the pits that day, the plan was to take the next two laps easy in order to lull the leaders into a false sense of security. Can this be true? Did Fangio have so much performance to spare? The rival cars were now on the same fuel load, and Collins had bettered Fangio’s lap record while the Argentinian was on his out-lap.
Had he underestimated the Englishmen?
Perhaps. What is certain is that he had underestimated his own capabilities. By his own admission, over the next 10 laps, Fangio reached within himself and discovered an untapped reserve. By staying up a gear, he ripped shreds from the lap record and tore into the leaders’ advantage. On lap 18, he was three-tenths under his stunning pole time. On lap 20, he was eight seconds under it! And on the penultimate lap, 21, he was in among them.
Still they refused to give up, he and Collins passing and repassing (above). But by Hatzenbach, Fangio had reassumed a lead he would hold to the end. His last championship GP win had been his greatest
Andrew Frankel:“What gets me about this drive is that Fangio dearly used the length of the circuit, the long gap between the pit signals, to his advantage. It took a long dmefor Hawthorn and Collins to realise he was a threat. He timed everything perfecdy.”
Preston Lerner:‘Talk about balls-out: 10 lap records in 22 laps, induding one that absolutely smashed his pole position time. And all on the mostfearsome circuit ever built.”
Paul Frere:“A dream of a lap record.”