A Formula 1 season finale is always a special race. It marks the end of a busy and action-packed year, as well as signalling some time off is fast approaching.
Of course, it makes the races even more memorable when they are title deciders – like this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton battling it out for the championship.
But the Yas Marina Circuit isn’t a great location for the finale. It may be glitzy and glamorous, but the track isn’t particularly inspiring and it lacks the atmosphere and buzz of other finale settings. Here are the best we’ve had so far:
Brazil – Interlagos
The Brazilian Grand Prix was used as F1’s final race of the year pretty recently, until Abu Dhabi came and stole its thunder. The atmosphere at Interlagos is always electric and the fans are passionate, to say the last. So, it’s fair to say the buzz and vibe over the race weekend is always pretty special.
This was made even better by the importance of it being the season finale, as well as meaning we saw some brilliant title deciders – including 2008’s drama as Lewis Hamilton beat Felipe Massa (“IS THAT GLOCK?”), and Sebastian Vettel bouncing back from a first lap crash to claim the 2012 championship.
Japan – Suzuka
The Suzuka circuit is renowned for being one of the best layouts in the world. The figure-of-eight track is unique and has hosted the F1 finale quite a few times, particularly in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Of course, this meant it was the scene of famous title deciders and the Japanese fans are also absolutely crazy and incredibly passionate. They show their support in ways not seen at other races. It was a truly brilliant finale location. Bring it back!
Australia – Adelaide
Ending the F1 season at a street track was something a little different. Whereas now the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne is known for being the season opener, when it was hosted on the streets of Adelaide the race spent a long stint as F1’s curtain-closing scene.
The tricky Adelaide street track was unusual and featured some tricky corners. The bumpy nature caused unpredictable racing and hosted of some incredible title fights, including Nigel Mansell vs Nelson Piquet vs Alain Prost in 1986. Who can forget that?
Portugal – Estoril
Estoril hosted the F1 finale in 1984, an unusual choice considering the trend of ending the season with fly-away races. The Portuguese track was famous for being incredibly quick and challenging, with some tough twisty sections as well.
The final race of 1984 proved to be a title decider too, with Alain Prost winning the race. But his McLaren team-mate and title rival Niki Lauda fought back from 11th on the grid to finish second and claim the championship.
South Africa – Kyalami
Another track that had a short stint as a season finale venue, Kyalami was notoriously fast (before the change in layout). South Africa hosted the final race of the 1983 season, where both Prost and Rene Arnoux dropped out with engine problems and paved the way for Piquet to win the championship.
USA – Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen was a difficult layout to master back in the 60s, 70s and 80s and remains so today. Despite its remote location, grandstands and grass banks would be packed with fans every year when F1 rolled into town and created a wonderful atmosphere.
It was a popular race and hosted the season finale quite a few times, often being the title deciding round due to its position on the calendar. The track produced some brilliant moments and always had a festival-like buzz due to its quiet location, dramatic racing and impressive turn-out.
Canada – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is not only a popular track, but also a well-liked location for an F1 race. Positioned on an island in the St Lawrence river, it’s close to the centre of Montreal and is set in a park, giving it a unique feel. The island literally transforms into an F1 hub for the weekend.
It debuted in F1 back in 1978, as the final round of the season. The race was won by Gilles Villeneuve, who the track was named after following his death in 1982. Now, the Canadian Grand Prix is known for being positioned mid-way through the first half of the calendar.