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F1 season review: Top five moments of 2016

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F1 season review: Top five moments of 2016
Dec 20, 2016, 4:01 PM

At 21 races, the 2016 Formula 1 season was the longest in the sport’s history and there were many action-packed events throughout the year.

At 21 races, the 2016 Formula 1 season was the longest in the sport’s history and there were many action-packed events throughout the year.

A new world champion was crowned, the sport’s youngest-ever racer became the youngest-ever driver to win a Grand Prix, the title protagonists collided (again) - and these were just the headlines.

Here, JA on F1 writer Alex Kalinauckas picks his top five most memorable moments from the 2016 season.

Spanish Grand Prix 2016

1 That crash in Barcelona

It’s difficult to see how anyone could leave this one off a list of the most memorable moments of 2016. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg did what had become seemingly inevitable after two-and-a-bit years of bitter rivalry at Mercedes and collided on the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Not only was the crash itself one of the moments of the season, it directly led to another: Max Verstappen’s maiden Grand Prix win.

Daniel Ricciardo

2 Ricciardo roars to Monaco pole

If you’ve got a spare moment during the winter break, take a few moments to watch this lap again. It was a virtuoso effort from Daniel Ricciardo, one that gave the Australian driver his first ever F1 pole at the ultimate track where a driver can make the difference between the barriers: Monaco.

On a weekend when Red Bull had a genuine shot at beating Mercedes, Ricciardo stepped up and delivered when it mattered. If Red Bull had not botched his final pitstop, the race that all drivers want to win would surely have been his.

Daniel Ricciardo Max Verstappen

3 Red Bull battle in Malaysia

Another moment to go and rewatch if you’ve got the time (actually do that with all of them). On lap 39 of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Ricciardo and Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel through three consecutive corners of Sepang’s middle sector in a thrilling battle that ultimately decided which of them would win the race as race-leader Hamilton’s engine failed moments later.

It was hugely exciting and respectful close racing from the teammates and the lack of contact added to the magic. But was it just a brief preview of the fireworks to come between this pair if Red Bull delivers a championship winning car in 2017?

Max Verstappen

4 Verstappen’s wet weather drive in Brazil

This one is less of a single moment of magic and more of an event long master class from F1’s youngest race winner. Verstappen’s move on Kimi Raikkonen on the very first racing lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix was a sign of things to come as he brilliantly carved his way through the field after Red Bull made two bizarre calls to put its drivers on intermediates.

Verstappen’s performance drew well-earned comparisons with some of the best ever F1 wet weather drivers, including the likes of Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, and more of the same is expected from the teenager in the years to come.

Nico Rosberg

5 Rosberg’s pressure pass

Considering the pressure he was under and the reputation of the driver he had to pass, Rosberg’s move on Verstappen was definitely one of the moments of 2016. Mercedes had told the German driver that his title was under threat if he did not get by one of F1’s most fearsome defenders and he duly pulled off the pass on lap 20 in Abu Dhabi.

Rosberg’s emotion and off-the-cuff responses to questions after the race about the pressure to pass Verstappen was refreshing and entertaining, which added to the memory of the moment.

Honourable mentions

XPB.cc Pascal Wehrlein

Pascal makes his point

Pascal Wehrlein’s drive at the Red Bull Ring gave Manor its only point of 2016 and its first since Jules Bianchi finished ninth at Monaco in 2014. It was a great performance from the rookie driver, who also shown in qualifying throughout the year.

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton’s Malaysia malaise

You heard the roar of the crowd before the TV pictures caught up with Hamilton’s Mercedes belting flames from its exhaust. The emotion in the Briton’s voice when he realised that his world title ambitions had probably gone up in smoke added to the drama, which came on a weekend where he had stepped up magnificently from his poor performance in Singapore.

Nico Rosberg

Rosberg’s retirement

It’s hard to think of a more unexpected piece of F1 news than the current world champion announcing his retirement five days after winning the title, but that’s what Rosberg did. The 2016 off-season was already set to be interesting with the new-look cars being unveiled early next year, but the intense speculation on who Mercedes will sign to replace the world champion has added to that and more.

What would be your top five F1 moments of 2016? Leave them in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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