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Top 10: Last-lap heartbreaks in Formula 1

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Top 10: Last-lap heartbreaks in Formula 1
By:
Apr 29, 2020, 12:15 PM

On April 29, 2001 Mika Hakkinen suffered one of the most dramatic retirements in Formula 1. Leading the Spanish Grand Prix, the Finn retired on the last lap of the Barcelona race. We revisit ten last-lap heartbreaks in F1.

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1. Jim Clark - 1967 Italian Grand Prix

1. Jim Clark - 1967 Italian Grand Prix
1/10

Photo by: Motorsport Images

The 1967 Italian Grand Prix produced one of the closest finishes in history, which we documented here. The grandstand finish between John Surtees and Jack Brabham actually overshadowed a dominant performance by Jim Clark. The Scot led the way until he lost a lap with a flat tyre on his Lotus.

Clark somehow returned to the front and regained the lead. On the last lap however, Clark would be denied a sensational comeback win when he slowed down with a faulty fuel pump.

2. Jackie Stewart - 1968 Belgian Grand Prix

2. Jackie Stewart - 1968 Belgian Grand Prix
2/10

Photo by: David Phipps

In the old days, running out of fuel on the last lap was not too uncommon. Jackie Stewart lost the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix on the original Spa-Francorchamps circuit when his dry Matra ground to a halt.

Bruce McLaren took the win. Stewart was still classified as fourth, ahead of a few cars who finished two laps down.

3. Jack Brabham, 1970 British Grand Prix

3. Jack Brabham, 1970 British Grand Prix
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Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

Jack Brabham was comfortably leading the 1970 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in his own car, the blue and yellow Brabham BT33, until he too ran out of fuel. In Stirling's Bend, the penultimate corner, his Brabham started spluttering after which Brabham tried to coast home to the chequered flag.

Brabham did manage to limp home, but not before Lotus driver Jochen Rindt snatched the lead from the Australian.

It would prove to be Brabham's last podium in F1, and Rindt's penultimate win. Rindt was originally disqualified for an allegedly illegal rear wing, but was reinstated after a three-hour wait.

4. Patrick Depailler, 1978 South African Grand Prix

4. Patrick Depailler, 1978 South African Grand Prix
4/10

Photo by: David Phipps

After an engine problem for long-time leader Riccardo Patrese, Patrick Depailler looked set to with the 1978 South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. Unfortunately for Depailler, his Tyrrell's Ford engine also appeared to be struggling.

That gave the chasing Ronnie Peterson a chance to snatch the victory. Following a brilliant last-lap duel Peterson took the lead and the win.

5. 1982 Monaco Grand Prix

5. 1982 Monaco Grand Prix
5/10

Photo by: Motorsport Images

It seemed like nobody wanted to win the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix. The scenario that unfolded in the Monte Carlo harbour was one that even a child playing with toy cars couldn't have conjured up.

Alain Prost was leading until it started raining at the Cote d'Azur. Prost lost control of his Renault on the run between the chicane and Tabac, handing the lead to Riccardo Patrese. The Brabham driver spun at the hairpin, which then handed the lead to Ferrari's Didier Pironi, followed by Andrea de Cesaris in the Alfa Romeo.

On the final lap both Pironi and De Cesaris ran out of fuel. That could have handed an unlikely win to Derek Daly in the Williams. But Daly, who was missing a rear wing and half a front wing after an earlier accident, had to park his ailing car with gearbox problems.

In the end someone did actually bother to cross the line. Patrese managed to get his Brabham going again after his spin and limped home to take his first ever grand prix win.

Pironi and De Cesaris were still classified second and third, because the remaining four cars were down one lap or more.

6. Nigel Mansell, 1991 Canadian Grand Prix

6. Nigel Mansell, 1991 Canadian Grand Prix
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

What's worse than a heartbreak? Perhaps a self-inflicted one. On the last lap of the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix, Mansell was cruising around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, certain the race was won.

As he started waving to the crowd, his Williams ground to a halt at the hairpin. Williams claimed Mansell had suffered electrical problems, but after the race the car appeared to work just fine.

It turned out Mansell had allowed the revs to drop too low on his premature parade lap and stalled the car. Nelson Piquet took his last-ever grand prix win instead.

7. Damon Hill, 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix

7. Damon Hill, 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix
7/10

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Mansell's one-time teammate Damon Hill suffer a few heartbreaks in his time in F1, but none were more cruel than the 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix. Driving for the modest Arrows outfit after being shuffled out at Williams, the reigning world champion mounted an unlikely challenge on the Hungaroring.

Hill qualified third and overtook Jacques Villeneuve at the start. A few laps later he passed leader Michael Schumacher and started building a lead, his Bridgestone tyres clearly coping better with the hot circumstances than Ferrari's blistering Goodyears.

None would begrudge Hill a fairytale victory after his Williams exit, but what was supposed to an unlikely triumph turned into another Arrows heartbreak. With three laps to go Hill began reporting throttle issues, which gradually worsened. Hill had to slow down so much that Villeneuve managed to close the gap and get past on the final lap.

Hill was a disappointed second, but showed grace in defeat and ultimately delivered Arrows' best ever result.

8. Mika Hakkinen, 2001 Spanish Grand Prix

 8. Mika Hakkinen, 2001 Spanish Grand Prix
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

After being beaten by Michael Schumacher in 2000, Mika Hakkinen and McLaren were hoping to bounce back in 2001 with the new MP4-16. Hakkinen's season got off to a bad start however, retiring from the opening Australian Grand Prix and stalling on the grid in Brazil.

In Spain, Hakkinen returned to form with a dominant performance. He looked set to take his first season win, leading Michael Schumacher by 40 seconds, until his engine broke down on the final lap of the race.

A crestfallen Hakkinen got a ride back to the pitlane from teammate David Coulthard. Schumacher took his third win in five races, cementing the path for a dominant title defence.

9. Kimi Raikkonen, 2005 European Grand Prix

9. Kimi Raikkonen, 2005 European Grand Prix
9/10

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Four years later, McLaren was the centre of last lap drama once again. Kimi Raikkonen was leading the 2005 European Grand Prix on the Nurburgring, but Renault's Fernando Alonso was rapidly closing in on the Finn.

Earlier on, Raikkonen had flat spotted his right front tyre while lapping Jacques Villeneuve. Because of the 2005 regulations, which forced drivers to qualify and race on the same tyre set, Raikkonen wasn't able to change the damaged tyre. Instead, he had to carry on for half a race with worsening vibrations, which cost the McLaren driver lots of time.

Alonso closed in on the final lap of the race, but didn't even need to make a move on Raikkonen. Under braking into turn one, Raikkonen's front suspension finally collapsed after withstanding 30 laps of vibrations.

As a consequence of Raikkonen's high-profile retirement, the FIA tweaked the rules so drivers were allowed to change one damaged tyre per race.

10. Felipe Massa, 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix

10. Felipe Massa, 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix
10/10

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Felipe Massa's heartbreak at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix is the most recent entry on this list. And it's arguably also the most iconic one.

In an unforgettable title showdown in Sao Paulo, Massa didn't put a foot wrong all weekend, despite the home crowd's pressure and expectations. The Ferrari driver led from pole to flag, while title rival Lewis Hamilton had a tough race from fourth on the grid.

With Hamilton down in sixth, Massa looked set to give the Brazilian fans a world title to celebrate, but on the last corner of the last lap Hamilton passed Timo Glock - who was struggling with dry tyres on a wet track - to take fifth and win his first world championship by a single point.

Massa's heartbreak was clear for all to see, but he remained dignified in defeat, earning him a lot of respect around the paddock.

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Series Formula 1
Author Filip Cleeren