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Hamilton vs Verstappen, hybrid power and Ferrari returns to winning ways at Le Mans

Sebastian Vettel kissing trophy

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With one eye on Mark Webber, the other on Vitaly Petrov’s Renault gearbox for 40 laps, Fernando Alonso and Ferrari contrive to lose the world championship in Abu Dhabi. Sebastian Vettel wins and takes the points lead for the first time, just when it matters most. It’s the start of the first Red Bull era, as Vettel goes on a four-year title run.


Hybrid sports prototype wins Le Mans

A hybrid sports prototype wins Le Mans for the first time – allegedly. Audi’s R18 has a flywheel accumulator system and one of its two e-tron quattros wins in the hands of André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler. Except the hybrid system isn’t working for most of the duration. “Our hybrid went one hour into the race, yet we still won,” engineer Leena Gade later says.


Lewis Hamilton and Niki Lauda talk

Niki Lauda courts Lewis Hamilton in his hotel room at the Singapore GP in an attempt to lure the unsettled driver from McLaren to Mercedes. Lauda succeeds, Hamilton joins Mercedes for 2013 and the foundations are laid for years of F1 domination. “Without his support I probably wouldn’t have made the switch to come to this team,” Hamilton later admits.


WRC LSebastien Loeb in Citreon

A turning of the tide occurs in the World Rally Championship’s tale of two Sebs. Sébastien Loeb clinches his ninth consecutive title for Citroën, and what turns out to be his last. The following year, Sébastien Ogier succeeds him with the first of eight in nine years. Ogier claims titles for three manufacturers, Volkswagen, Ford and Toyota – a unique achievement.


Lewis Hamilton waves to the fans

F1 adopts hybrid power, and Mercedes steals a march. Its 1.6-litre V6 with MGU-h and MGU-k is perfectly mated to the W05, and Hamilton and Nico Rosberg carve up 16 of the 19 races between them. Hamilton will win six titles in seven years (Rosberg claims the other) to match Michael Schumacher on seven titles and surpass his 91 victories – 103 to date.


Max Verstappen in F1 debut

Max Verstappen replaces Daniil Kvyat – and sensationally wins on his Red Bull debut at the Spanish GP. At 18 years, seven months and 15 days, he is comfortably F1’s youngest winner. Verstappen’s cause is aided by team-mates Hamilton and Rosberg taking each other out. But how the teenager fends off 36-year-old Kimi Räikkönen is a sign of things to come.


Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton at Abu Dhabi

F1 race director Michael Masi breaks the FIA’s own regulations on safety car restarts at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which allows Verstappen to snatch victory and the world championship from a stunned Hamilton on the last lap. The controversy undermines a season of intense rivalry between the pair. In Milton Keynes, Adrian Newey and his engineers are nailing F1’s new aero regs.


Kalle Rovanperä behind the wheel

Already the youngest driver to win a round of the WRC, Kalle Rovanperä smashes the record for youngest world champion. At 22, he is five years younger than Colin McRae in 1995 when he scores his sixth victory of a remarkable season in New Zealand for Toyota. Rovanperä claims a second consecutive crown in 2023 before choosing to only rally part-time this year.


Starting grid for 100th Le Mans Anniversary

The Le Mans 24 Hours celebrates its 100th anniversary with a classic edition as manufacturers flock back to compete under the new Hypercar regulations. Ferrari returns for its first factory assault in 50 years, and scores its 10th Le Mans win. The last was in 1965. Its 499P ends Toyota’s five-year winning streak (with help from Balance of Performance).