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Pick your classic grand prix - race four

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Andrew Benson | 06:00 UK time, Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The second year of our classic grand prix series has thrown up some awkward issues around some of the newer races.

The Chinese Grand Prix has only been on the calendar since 2004, and we used all of the previous races at the Shanghai track in this series last year - which leaves us with none for 2010!

Our solution to this, just as it was for the season-opener in Bahrain, is to pick as our selection four races from F1's history as well as last year's Chinese race.

Your job, as regular readers of this blog will know, is to tell us which one of them you would most like to see and why. We will use those views to inform our decision as to which one to highlight next week in the run-up to the Chinese Grand Prix.

'Highlight', in this instance, means offer up for you to view the full 'Grand Prix' programme of the time - if the race was during the era when the BBC last held the TV rights - as well as the shorter highlights we cut for all the races.

And, again just as in Bahrain, we have chosen four races from tracks that are no longer on the F1 calendar to whet your appetites for the forthcoming race at one of F1's newer tracks on 18 April.

We have some really great races for you to enjoy, too.

The first choice is the 1980 Argentine Grand Prix on the brilliant original version of Buenos Aires' F1 track.

The race was won for Williams from pole position by the Australian Alan Jones, who went on to win the world title that year.

Renault's Fernando Alonso holds off Michael Schumacher's Ferrari in the closing laps to win the 2005 San Marino Grand PrixAlonso drove brilliantly to hold off Schumacher at Imola in 2005. Photo: Getty

Jones took the lead from the start but was forced to pit to have a plastic bag removed from his sidepod because it was causing the engine to overheat.

That dropped Jones down to fourth place behind the Ligier of Jacques Laffite, Nelson Piquet's Brabham and the Ferrari of Gilles Villeneuve, but in a typically charging drive he passed them all to regain the lead by lap 30 of 53.

The next choice is the 1983 US Grand Prix West at the lamented Long Beach track, which is now, in revised form, used for an IndyCar race.

This race has gone down in F1 lore for the brilliant performance of McLaren drivers John Watson and Niki Lauda, who finished one-two after starting 22nd and 23rd on the grid.

Struggling in qualifying on Michelin tyres made for the turbo-charged Renaults and Brabhams, and which their less powerful Cosworth-powered cars could not get up to working temperature, Watson and Lauda found their cars in perfect condition during the race, and they worked through the field like the proverbial hot knife through butter.

Their task was aided by Ferrari's Patrick Tambay, who led the race from pole position, holding back a train of cars for 25 laps until Williams's Keke Rosberg - father of current Mercedes driver Nico - misjudged a passing attempt and rammed the Frenchman.

Tambay retired on the spot, but Rosberg rejoined only to be rammed himself soon afterwards by Jean-Pierre Jarier's Ligier, promoting the second Williams of Laffite into the lead.

The delay caused by Tambay had kept Laffite in range of the McLarens, who closed remorselessly in and moved into the lead with 30 laps to go.

For Watson, it was a victory that carried echoes of a similar drive to victory in Detroit the year before - that time from 17th on the grid - and it was also the last win of the Northern Irishman's career.

Our third choice is the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix, which for many of you will need no introduction as the brilliant maiden victory of Ayrton Senna's career.

The Brazilian, then driving for Lotus, laid down a marker for the next decade by utterly dominating in treacherous, soaking wet conditions, eventually beating Michele Alboreto's Ferrari by more than a minute.

Finally, we have chosen the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix, and one of Fernando Alonso's greatest victories - as well, of course, as a race from the ITV era, so no longer highlights programme is available, unfortunately.

The Spaniard assumed the lead in his Renault when Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren retired with driveshaft failure but was closed down in the final stages by Michael Schumacher's Ferrari.

The German's car was clearly faster, but Alonso produced a masterclass of defensive driving to hold Schumacher back.

So, there you have it - Argentina 1980, Long Beach 1983, Portugal 1985, San Marino 2005 and China last year. I look forward to reading your views, and we will make our selection and publish the highlights of all the races on this blog next week.

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