Lewis Hamilton crossing the finish line to win with a puncture in the British GP wasn’t just incredibly dramatic, it was also rather unusual. So, from multiple last-lap lead changes to incorrect podiums, here are eight other strange ways in which grands prix have finished.
One of the most famously bananas race finishes in F1 history, multiple drivers had the chance to win the 1982 Monaco GP in the closing laps, only for fate to intervene every time someone looked set to take the lead.
It had been a fairly uneventful Monaco race for much of the distance, with Alain Prost leading most of the way for Renault after teammate Rene Arnoux had crashed out of first earlier on.
Then, coming out of the harbourfront chicane, he crashed out as the combination of a light sprinkling of rain and oil dripping out of the gearbox of Derek Daly’s Williams following a brush with the barriers made areas of the track rather slippery. Riccardo Patrese took over the lead, only to spin and stall at the Loews Hairpin on the very next lap. Didier Pironi took over at the front but, going into the tunnel on the final lap, his Ferrari coasted to a halt, out of fuel. Andrea de Cesaris would have taken the lead, but his Alfa Romeo also ran out of fuel at the same time.
While all this was going on, Patrese had managed to use the hill at the hairpin to roll enough for him to bump start his Brabham and get going again. By this time he’d clearly developed some kind of immunity to the curse of leading and he kept going to take his first win. Despite not finishing, Pironi and de Cesaris were far enough ahead to be classified second and third.
Another race which had a finish in the same vein as Monaco ‘82 was the 1964 Belgian GP, which took place on the old, fearsome, long version of Spa. Dan Gurney had led most of the race for Brabham and looked set to give the team its first win. Behind him there was right old ding-dong between Graham Hill and Jim Clark for second place as they frequently swapped positions around Spa’s 8.7-mile lap, with Bruce McLaren occasionally joining the fray.
Unfortunately for Clark, the frantic battle was taking its toll on the Climax engine in his Lotus 25. It was overheating so with five laps to go, he pitted to have his radiator topped up with water, dropping him to a distant fourth. That left Gurney leading comfortably from Hill and McLaren.
However, Gurney was having problems and slowed down so much that Hill took the lead with just over two laps to go. Gurney pitted and asked for more fuel, suspecting that to be the problem – but the team didn’t have any to hand in the pit garage. They took a look in the tank and figured he probably had enough to get to the end, so sent him back out. Now running third, he was back up to pace and halfway around the final lap was in the process of passing McLaren for second when – predictably – his Brabham ran out of fuel.
McLaren himself was nursing his car around the final lap because his battery was running out of power and the fuel pumps were struggling to do their job, though he had plenty of fuel in the tanks. With Gurney out, McLaren rounded the next corner at Stavelot, only to see leader Hill out of fuel and pushing his car. Like Bruce, he too had the fuel, but his fuel pumps had packed in and dropped him out of the race. Despite his own issues, that left McLaren with a comfortable lead over Clark and he looked set to take the win.
Up at the finish line, officials were wondering where the winner was. The flagman mistakenly waved the flag at two different backmarkers expecting one of them to be the leader, who was apparently nowhere to be seen. Eventually, McLaren rounded the final corner at La Source and rolled towards the finish line. Literally.
Going into the last corner his engine had finally given up and he only had his momentum and the hill to carry him to the line. He could see the flag, but unfortunately, he also saw Clark’s Lotus roar past to snatch victory. Jack Brabham was a distant third.
But the drama wasn’t done with there. Clark hadn’t realised he’d won and carried on to do a lengthy slowing down lap, only to run out of fuel himself at Stavelot – right at the opposite end of the track. Teammate Pete Arundell had to drive off and retrieve him so that he could celebrate the third of what would become four consecutive Spa wins.
A crestfallen Gurney quickly disappeared from the circuit having dominated so much of the race. He wouldn’t have to wait too much longer to remedy the situation, though – two weeks later in the French Grand Prix he secured the first grand prix victory for Brabham.
An incredibly wet race which saw a number of drivers – Antonio Pizzonia, Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button – all spin out of the race thanks to a river of rain going across the track at Turn 3. That was mad enough, but the way the race finished was so mad that the race result was actually wrong, and the true winner wasn’t crowned until days later.
Kimi Raikkonen was up at the front after long-time leader Rubens Barrichello had yet another home race mechanical failure, only for the Jordan of Giancarlo Fisichella to surprisingly pass him for the lead – at the start of the race, he’d filled his tanks right up to the brim with fuel and had yet to pit. Shortly he’d taken the lead, Mark Webber binned his Jaguar in a big way at the top of the hill. Unsighted, Fernando Alonso charged around the corner (perhaps going a little fast for the double-waved yellow flags) and crashed into a stray wheel, making it an even more massive accident which caused the race to be red-flagged – and not restart.
In such a scenario, the race result gets counted back two laps, which meant the results went back to the end of lap 53, making Raikkonen the winner from Fisichella and Alonso. Apart from the fact that Fisichella’s car caught fire in parc ferme, that’s not so weird, right? Wrong.
There had actually been some confusion over exactly when the red flag had been shown, and a few days later it was discovered that Fisichella had just started his 56th lap when the race was stopped. That meant the result should have been taken from the end of lap 54, making Fisichella the winner with Raikkonen second. The matter went to the FIA court of appeal and, five days after the race had finished, the final order was confirmed: Fisichella first – his first win and Jordan’s last – Raikkonen second, and Alonso third, and Fisichella was handed the winner’s trophy in a ceremony at… Imola, the next race.
Since they’d stood on the podium in Brazil in the wrong order and with Alonso absent due to having a trip to the medical centre, it makes the podium for the 2003 Brazilian GP perhaps the most incorrect of all-time.
The first United States Grand Prix was held at Sebring in 1959 and had the honour of being the last race of the season, with the championship battle being a three-way showdown between Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss, and Tony Brooks.
Moss led from the start but his chances ended after just five laps when the gearbox on his Cooper broke. That left Brabham in a comfortable lead which basically assured him of the championship when, coming out of the last corner on the last lap, he ran out of fuel within sight of the line.
Fortunately for Brabham, in order for Brooks to win the championship, he’d have had to win the race – and he’d been delayed several minutes early in the race after being hit by his own Ferrari teammate, Wolfgang von Trips. Instead, Brabham’s teammate Bruce McLaren had been closely following him for much of the race, so he waved him on to take the win – a result which made McLaren the youngest winner in F1, a record he held until Fernando Alonso won the 2003 Hungarian GP. Maurice Trintignant finished second with Brooks third, while Brabham – determined to finish – pushed his car over the line to finish fourth, winning the world championship.
Brabham was involved in another unusual finish at Monaco in 1970, his last season in F1. Despite being 44 years old, ‘Black Jack’ was still a force to be reckoned with and had led most of the race. Jochen Rindt was running second and catching him quickly but heading into the last lap, Brabham had surely had enough of a gap to take the win.
However, going into the last corner (which in 1970 was a simple hairpin), Brabham slithered wide in the braking zone. He locked his brakes on the dusty part of the circuit and slid into the bales, letting Rindt through to take the win. Brabham recovered to finish second, with nothing hurt but his pride.
Ferrari had made a big mess of team orders at the Austrian GP earlier in the year when Rubens Barrichello gave up victory to Michael Schumacher right at the finish, but what happened at Indianapolis during the US GP was arguably even more embarrassing.
Schumacher had led from Barrichello the whole way in Ferrari’s typically dominant fashion when, coming off the banking for the final time, Schumacher suddenly slowed. Barrichello drew alongside and they crossed the line first and second – but when the timing screen came up, it was Barrichello who had won… by just 0.011 seconds.
To this day, the reasons behind what happened aren’t completely clear. Was it just a formation team finish that went wrong? Were the team trying to orchestrate a dead heat? Or – most likely – was Schumacher trying to give Barrichello back the win he should have had in Austria? Either way, it was a really clumsy and slightly farcical way for a race to finish.
By 1991, Ayrton Senna had achieved pretty much everything a driver can achieve in F1, except for one thing: an elusive home victory.
At Interlagos that year, he took pole and led most of the way, fending off Nigel Mansell’s Williams in the process. But, as the race neared its end, his McLaren – still running an old-school H-pattern manual gearbox – developed a problem: it kept jumping out of fourth gear. Mansell started gaining rapidly but, with a dozen laps to go, a gearbox problem of his own caused him to spin out.
That should have eased things for Senna, but instead they got worse. His car lost third and fifth gear as well, and he was forced to drive the remaining laps not only in sixth gear, but by using his hand to physically hold the gear lever in place.
But wait, there’s more. Riccardo Patrese in the other Williams was taking huge chunks out of Senna’s lead as the Brazilian lost as much as six seconds a lap with his problems. Oh year, and as if Senna didn’t need any more things to worry about, it also started to sprinkle with rain.
Then, Senna finally had a bit of luck: Patrese’s pace was slowed by a gearbox glitch of his own, while the other McLaren of Gerhard Berger in third (and within striking distance) lost pace with a sticking throttle. Senna and his car held on to win by just three seconds, screaming in pain as he did so – the effort of having to hold the car in gear for so many laps had cramped his shoulder. He was so exhausted that he had to be helped out of the cockpit and was driven to the podium in the medical car. But it was worth it: clearly still in pain, he mustered up enough strength to lift the trophy and wave the flag in front of the thousands of fans who’d waited so long to finally see him win on home soil.
Lewis Hamilton crossing the line on three tyres is unusual, yes – but how about crossing it on no tyres? Because that’s kinda what happened to Christian Fittipaldi at Monza in 1993.
Coming up to the finish line, he followed Minardi teammate Pierluigi Martini to finish eighth. Martini, perhaps unaware of how close behind Fittipaldi was, lifted off the throttle. Fittipaldi’s front wheel clipped Martini’s rear wheel and did a spectacular backflip across the line – amazingly, he pretty much landed, still pointing in the right direction and skidded to a stop – unhurt, and without losing any positions, in what must be the most spectacular eighth place ever.