Your classic F1 season finale
We have a little end-of-season treat for all those of you who have been following our classic grand prix series this year.
Our final selection was of great season finales - four of them title deciders at the final race of the season, a title decider at the penultimate race, and one, like this weekend's inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a last race held after the championship had been won.
Our normal practice has been to select one race to highlight - a choice that is informed by respondents on this blog - and to show the full 'Grand Prix' highlights programme that was broadcast at the time for that as well as the shorter clips we cut for all the races.
But this time we have decided to give you a two-for-one offer, and we will show the 'Grand Prix' programme for two of the races.
Partly this is because, although there was one race that was clearly the most popular, two dominated your preferences to such an extent that even the one that came second in terms of your selection got three times the 'votes' of the next choice.
I was actually quite surprised that the 1980 US Grand Prix East was the most popular choice, for which the 'Grand Prix' programme is here:
It was a late pick after we discovered that we did not have a complete tape of the 1997 title decider at Jerez in Spain between Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher - which I suspected might have proved the 'winner' had we been able to use it. And I have to admit that, without that race in the selection, I thought the 1988 Japanese Grand Prix would be the runaway choice among respondents here.
That race at Suzuka was one of Ayrton Senna's greatest drives, the one which clinched his first world title, and I thought admiration for the late, great Brazilian would win the day. In the end, it was the second most popular choice among respondents.
Watch short highlights of the 1980 US Grand Prix East
Watch short highlights of the 1981 Las Vegas Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1983 South African Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1984 Portuguese Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1988 Japanese Grand Prix
It seems that the enticing prospect of seeing some action from the little-talked-about 1980 season swung it, so we have the new world champion Alan Jones's stirring drive to victory at Watkins Glen after his Williams had slipped down to 14th place at the end of the first lap.
The highlights will be on satellite and cable in the UK from 0900 GMT on Thursday 29 October until 0800 on Friday 30 October. Because of a lack of bandwidth, they will be only be available on Freeview channel 301 from 1040 GMT on Friday 30 October until 1230 GMT, which is in between the first two practice sessions from Abu Dhabi.
This was the last year of F1 cars with the famous 'sliding skirts', which provided a seal between the sidepods and the track. These allowed a full 'venturi effect' to be created under the cars, producing immense ground effect and, by extension, enormous cornering speeds.
These 'skirts' were at the heart of one of the bitterest political rows ever to hit F1. Concern about rapidly escalating cornering speeds had been rising all year, and the death of Alfa Romeo driver Patrick Depailler in a test at Hockenheim intensified it. Deciding that skirts were making the cars too dangerous and rendering the tracks obsolete, the powers that be banned them for 1981.
This led to one of the most ludicrous seasons in F1 history. The rules dictated that the cars should have a 6cm ground clearance. But this was only measurable in the pits, so the engineers soon followed Brabham's lead in fitting suspension which lowered them as soon as they were out on the track. So, after the first couple of races, every car that year was illegal...
After this farce, skirts were allowed again in 1982, but they were not allowed to slide. That meant that cars had to be fitted with rock-hard suspension, a contributing factor to one of F1's more lethal seasons of the modern age. It cost the lives of the Ferrari legend Gilles Villeneuve and Italian novice Riccardo Paletti, while the career of Villeneuve's team-mate Didier Pironi was ended in a horrific accident.
The other choices, of which we have shorter highlights packages, are the 1981 Las Vegas Grand Prix, held in a car park of the Caesars Palace Hotel, the 1983 South African Grand Prix, and the 1984 Portuguese Grand Prix - one of Murray Walker's choices for his five favourite races at the start of the year.
I went into detail about the circumstances surrounding those races in my blog last week.
I hope you enjoy the videos. Now, to round off, I will address just a couple of issues some of you raised in your responses.
First, why did we not choose the 1986 Australian Grand Prix in a selection of classic title deciders/season finales? As several of you pointed out, we included this in our classic Australia selection in March.
Second, why not Japan 1976? Again, this was in our Japanese Grand Prix selection.
Thanks for your offer of sending in your VHS copies of the 1997 European GP, but I'm afraid the quality of the resulting file would not be of high enough quality for broadcast.
Finally, I'd like to thank you for all the support you have given this series this year. We are delighted you like it so much - yes, even those of you who have taken us to task for the way we have operated it! - and we give you our guarantee that it will be back on the eve of the 2010 season.