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7 Formula 1 drivers who fell short of the championship

Date: April 15, 2024 Time: 18:37:42

One of the main stories of this year in Formula 1, unexpectedly, was Felipe Massa’s invasion of the 2008 season championship. The Brazilian demands that the results of the scandalous Singapore Grand Prix be canceled, after which Lewis Hamilton will lose six points in the individual competition and the former Ferrari driver will surely become the title holder. We have yet to see the outcome of this story, but for now we will remember seven drivers who came as close as possible to winning the title, but who never became Formula 1 champions.

Felipe Massa (Ferrari) – 2008

On the eve of the 2008 season, two big favorites could be identified: the current champion Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton, thirsty for revenge. And at first the 2008 championship really seemed like a continuation of last season. The only thing that differentiated the new campaign from the previous one (in the context of the fight for the title) was the unexpected presence of Felipe Massa in the race for the championship.

According to the results of the first six stages, each of the three contenders had two victories to their credit. In the following Grands Prix, Massa and Hamilton exchanged victories and frankly disastrous races. Raikkonen, although he did not win in all this time, remained close to Felipe and Lewis in the individual competition. The key races for Kimi were those in Valencia and Spa, so he did not score a single point. Thus, five stages before the end of the season, there were two contenders for the title.

Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton

Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Both Massa and Hamilton did not spend the final part of the season in the best way, scoring almost the same number of points. In the end, Hamilton was proclaimed champion, ahead of Felipe by just one point; Not even a home win at Interlagos in the final race of the season helped the Brazilian.

In 2023, Massa harshly recalled the unfair (according to the Brazilian) result of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Felipe believes that it was in that race where he missed the championship title. He is absolutely right, but there is one thing: the Brazilian could not win the championship because of the team, in the episode in which, due to an incorrect traffic light signal, he tore off the filling hose during a pit stop. . It can also be said that Massa’s title was cost him by his elimination at Sepang or his endless laps at Silverstone. In general, Felipe does not look there for the reasons for the defeat.

What Massa is counting on in the “fight” for the title:

“Righteous F1 champion 2008”. Will Massa be able to fight for the title after 15 years?

Eddie Irvine (Ferrari) – 1999

In fact, Irvine should not have fought for the title. The 1999 season initially followed the same scenario as the previous one: Hakkinen rushed to get the title, Schumacher forced him to fight as best he could. On the eve of the eighth stage, the Red Baron was eight points behind Häkkinen, who led the personal standings. It was only the halfway point of the season: it seemed that all the fight was ahead, but on the first lap of the race at Silverstone, Michael had an accident, as a result of which he suffered serious injuries to his leg; recovery would take four months. .

The retired Schumacher’s place in the Ferrari cockpit was taken by Mika Salo, and team leader status naturally migrated to Irvine. After the Silverstone stage, the difference between the Briton and Häkkinen was eight points. This situation allowed the Reds to have the title in the individual competition. The question was whether Irvine could make the championship run. Smog.

Eddie Irvine wins the Austrian Grand Prix

Photo: Tobias Heyer/Bongarts/Getty Images

In the next two stages, held in Austria and Germany, Eddie took two victories, after which he led the personal standings, eight points ahead of Häkkinen. After two races, the Finn will regain the first place in the personal classification, but after winning the penultimate Grand Prix of the season, held in Sepang, Irvine will regain the lead in the championship.

The fate of the title was decided in the final race at Suzuka. Hakkinen won, Eddie finished third. The McLaren leader defended the championship title, two points ahead of Irvine. Schumacher, who had returned to his duties, could have saved the Irishman (in fact, he gave his teammate first place in Malaysia), but the German was unable to overtake Mika.

Not everyone loved Irvine:

Schumacher and 6 more of the most hated drivers in the history of Formula 1

Didier Pironi (Ferrari) – 1982

In 1982, the best car in the peloton in terms of speed and reliability was built in Maranello. In theory, with such performances, Ferrari leader Gilles Villeneuve should have become the main favorite of the season, but at the San Marino Grand Prix, Didier Pironi challenged his teammate, essentially starting a war with his teammate. Unfortunately, this duel lasted only two weeks: during qualifying in Zolder, Gilles Villeneuve crashed.

After the death of the Canadian driver, Didier Pironi became the main contender for the title. On the eve of the German Grand Prix, with five stages left in the season, he was leading the personal standings, nine points ahead of his closest pursuer (within a distance of victory). The Frenchman won pole position at the Hockenheimring, but did not participate in the race: during qualifying he suffered an accident that ended his formula career.

At the end of the 1982 season, Keke Rosberg became champion. As for Pironi, the Frenchman finished the championship in second position, losing five points to the Williams driver. If it weren’t for that unfortunate accident in Germany, Pironi probably would have taken the championship title; in five races he probably would have scored those same five points.

The 1982 season was the most chaotic in history:

The craziest season in F1 history: 11 winners and a sensational champion

Carlos Reutemann (Williams) – 1981

On the eve of the 1981 season, reigning champion Alan Jones was seen as Williams’ leader, but that hierarchy at Grove did not last long. During the second race of the championship, held in Brazil, Reutemann ignored the captain’s order from the bridge, refusing to give the victory to his teammate. This is how the Argentine began his only campaign for the championship title.

In the next three races, Carlos would be on the podium three times (win, second and third place), thus consolidating himself as Williams’ leader. It was Reutemann who represented Grove in the championship battle with Nelson Piquet. And at some point the Argentine’s chances for the title seemed very convincing: after the ninth stage he was 17 points ahead of Piquet.

Unfortunately, Reutemann failed in the final part of the championship: in the last six races of the season he scored only six points. Piquet showed much more impressive results in the same segment: three podiums, including one victory. On the eve of the last Grand Prix of the season, Nelson was just one point behind Carlos; the outcome of the entire season would be decided in Las Vegas. Reutemann won pole position, but suffered gearbox problems in the race and failed to finish in the points. As for Piquet, the Brazilian finished the race fifth, which allowed him to score two points and place himself one point ahead of Reutemann in the individual classification.

Other comebacks in the fight for the title:

5 incredible comebacks in the fight for the Formula 1 title. Including a Raikkonen miracle

Regazzoni Clay (Ferrari) – 1974

In the history of Formula 1, only twice have title contenders had the same number of points before the final race: Verstappen and Hamilton in 2021 and Regazzoni and Fittipaldi in 1974.

For the 1974 season, for the first time in 10 years, Maranello built a car capable of truly challenging for the title. In addition, two representatives of the Scuderia fought for the championship at once: Lauda and Regazzoni opposed Fittipaldi at McLaren. For a long time, the aforementioned trio moved almost on par in the standings: Lauda and Fittipaldi performed a little better than Regazzoni, but the Swiss gained stability. At some point, Tyrrell driver Jody Scheckter broke into the championship race, and then everything became really funny: five stages before the end of the season, personal classification leader Lauda was alone three points ahead of Regazzoni, who came in fourth place.

Clay Regazzoni in Ferrari

Photo: Tony Duffy/Getty Images

The first to abandon the championship race was Lauda, ​​who, although he took three pole positions in a row, was unable to finish any of the remaining five races. But his teammate, on the contrary, strengthened his position in the championship, leading the personal standings after winning the Nordschleife. After Scheckter retired from the race in the penultimate race of the season, two contenders for the title remained: Regazzoni and Fittipaldi. Furthermore, after Emerson’s victory at Monza, a double power in the championship was established.

The fate of the title was decided on the American track of Watkins Glen. It so happened that the outcome of the championship race was predetermined even before the start of combat races: during training, Regazzoni wrecked his Ferrari to zero: a spare car had to be urgently brought from Italy. On an untested chassis, Clay showed himself to be absolutely uncompetitive: having started eighth, from the beginning of the race he began to lose one position after another, finishing the race four laps behind the winner. As for Fittipaldi, finishing in fourth place (3 points) was enough for the Brazilian to secure the championship.

Regazzoni is an undeservedly forgotten hero of Ferrari:

6 famous Ferrari drivers who are not remembered often enough

Wolfgang von Trips (Ferrari) – 1961

In 1961, the Scuderia was best prepared for the updated engine regulations, which became the key to the Reds’ dominance. Two Ferrari drivers competed for the title that season: Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips. The German driver was a little faster and more stable: he arrived at the penultimate Grand Prix of the season as the leader of the championship, four points ahead of his teammate.

On Saturday, von Trips made a strong bid for the championship by taking pole position, while Hill qualified only fourth. If the drivers had maintained the same order at the finish line, Wolfgang would have secured the championship ahead of schedule. But, unfortunately, von Trips will never reach the finish line…

On the second lap of the race, the German’s Ferrari locked the wheels of Clark’s Lotus, causing the red car to fly into the air and crash straight into the crowd of spectators. The terrible accident claimed the lives of 15 people, including the life of the pilot himself. Phil Hill won that tragic race, allowing him to claim the championship. For obvious reasons, such a triumph did not bring any joy to the American.

More on von Trips’ career:

The gypsy predicted a terrible death for him. Count Accident died when the Ferrari flew into the crowd

Stirling Moss (Cooper, from the second stage – Onewall) – 1958

Famous story. And the case in which decency cost the driver his title. In 1958, two Britons battled for the championship crown: Ferrari driver Mike Hawthorne and Stirling Moss, who replaced Cooper with Onewall at the start of the season. The latter won more often than his compatriot, but his technique lacked stability, which allowed Hawthorne to remain in the championship race.

The key event of the 1958 season was the Portuguese Grand Prix. Moss took the win, while his main competitor finished second. However, immediately after the finish, Hawthorne was disqualified. In an attempt to start the stationary car, Mike abandoned his Ferrari and began pushing it down the hill (against the direction of travel).

Michael Schumacher and Stirling Moss in 2006

Photo: FIA/Getty Images

It would seem like a disqualification and that’s it, but Mr. Moss stood up for his main rival. Stirling told the judges that he saw Hawthorne pushing his car off the track. The race management was satisfied with this argument: the Ferrari driver received seven points (six for second place and one more for the fastest lap).

Unfortunately, fate did not appreciate the extent of Moss’s gesture: in the next race, the gearbox in Stirling’s car would fail. The last Grand Prix of the season will still be in the hands of the Onewall driver, but if Hawthorne finishes in second place, the champion will be Mike, who will be just one point ahead of his compatriot.

Moss is one of the unluckiest runners:

200 races without a win and a terrible contractual error. The 7 unluckiest drivers in F1 history

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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