Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

The greatest Formula One championship battles

Alberto Ascari v Juan Manuel Fangio, 1953 Two of the greats of Formula One. The pair dominated the first decade of the sport before Ascari tragically died racing at Monza in 1955 - both drivers still occupy the top two places in the race entry to race win table. One of their closest championship battles came in 1953. The championship consisted of just nine races and Alberto Ascari won five of them in a very powerful Ferrari. But after a poor start to the season that saw several retirements, a rise in Fangio's form as the season progressed and a few non-finishes from Ascari ensured a tight finish. When the penultimate race of the season arrived in Switzerland the Italian driver knew he could claim the title with a victory. It proved to be anything but easy, Ascari (car no. 4 in picture) trailed Fangio (car No. 50 in picture) but the Argentine was forced to retire. It seemed the title would go to the Ferrari driver before he begun to struggle with engine problems, dropping back to 4th. However, he dramatically forced his way back to the front of the grid to win his second title in a row by six points.
Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill, 1965 With four world championship titles between them, Jim Clark (right) and Graham Hill (left) had been battling for years when Jackie Stewart arrived on the scene for his debut season in 1965. Like all great champions, the Scot did not need a settling-in period. He fought his new BRM team-mate, Graham Hill, and fellow championship contender Jim Clark hard from the start. By the eighth race of the season, the future three-time champion Jackie Stewart had won his first Grand Prix. In a thrilling race at Monza, Jim Clark tussled for the lead in an astonishing four-way battle that also included John Surtees. However, both Surtees and Clark had to retire, leaving Stewart and Hill to duel for the lead in the final twelve laps. The pair raced wheel to wheel in a thrilling finale before Hill lost grip on the final corner and ran wide, leaving the Scot to claim the chequered flag. However, it was Clark who claimed the title with 54 points to Hill's 40 and Stewart's 33.
Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button, 2010 This season's 2010 World Championship has got pundits purring and labelling it, 'the best ever'. With just four races remaining, five drivers are still contending for the title. The addition of a new point scoring system at the start of the season has meant drivers are forced to race for a victory as opposed to the more pragmatic approach of settling for second place that was seen in previous seasons. The story of the season has contained many exiting mini-narratives with the most personal battle coming from an old resentment between Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso (centre). During their time at McLaren in 2007, Alonso accused his bosses of favouring the British driver and their relationship has been frosty ever since. After Hamilton came second at this year's European Grand Prix in Valencia the pair's enmity re-ignited, Alonso claimed that the British driver benefited greatly from the steward's delay in announcing his penalty, Hamilton quipped back, "sour grapes". Meanwhile another rivalry brewed; following a collision between team-mates Webber (right) and Vettel (left) at Turkey, an incident that saw the pair retire, a full-scale 'Red Bull Civil War' Broke out at Silverstone. Webber was outraged at his team boss' decision to remove part of his front wing to put on his team mate, Vettel's car. As if almost to prove a point the Australian went on to win the race while Vettel finished back in seventh place. Controversy also surrounded the German Grand Prix when Alonso benefited from Ferrari illegally using team orders. These dramatic events, along with great individual driver performances such as Hamilton's in the difficult conditions of Belgium, have ensured that this season will go down in Formula One folk-law.

The title race goes down to the wire in Brazil on Sunday after Sebastian Vettel failed to finish 15 points ahead of rival Fernando Alonso at the US Grand Prix.

There have been some great battles over the years from Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill in 1965 to Ayrton Senna against Alain Prost in 1989.

We look back at some classic Formula One tussles that saw competitive rivalry turn into fierce battle.

^^Click 'More Pictures' to launch our guide^^

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