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Your classic Japanese Grand Prix

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Andrew Benson | 06:00 UK time, Wednesday, 30 September 2009

If Bernie Ecclestone ever wants to know why he needs to protect Formula 1's heritage and not abandon classic tracks for lucrative but boring modern autodromes, he could do worse than read the views of the readers of the BBC's classic grand prix series.

It has been immensely rewarding to see how enthusiastic and energised all the respondents on this blog have been for the last few editions, which have featured some of the greatest circuits in F1.

This latest edition is no exception.

Japan's Suzuka is an amazing place. It vies with Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps for the title of best race track in the world, and it has also hosted some of the finest races in F1 history.

All five of our selection for classic Japanese Grands Prix fully live up to that title, but 1994 is our worthy winner.

The full Grand Prix highlights programme of the time is embedded below, along with shorter highlights of that race and other four choices - James Hunt's dramatic title win in 1976, the title-deciding collision between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna in 1989, the all-out duel between Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen in 2000 that ended Ferrari's 21-year wait for a drivers' championship and the stunning 2005 race.

The highlights will be on satellite and cable in the UK from 1200 BST on Wednesday 30 September until 1800 on Friday 2 October. Because of a lack of bandwidth, they will be only be available on Freeview channel 301 from 0300 on Friday 2 October until 0600, which is in between the first two practice sessions from Japan.

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All are brilliant races in their different ways, but my personal favourite is 2005, details of which I went into in my last classic races blog.

In fact, I think there is a strong argument for it being the greatest race of all time. It didn't get much support from you lot, and I suspect that was partly to do with the fact that it is very recent, and partly to do with a bit of tactical voting - you knew you were not going to get long highlights if it 'won'.

The 1994 race, though, was indeed a great event. Damon Hill drove his greatest race to beat Michael Schumacher in the wet on aggregated time after a mid-race stoppage.

The grand prix, held in torrential rain, was in two parts after a stoppage called when Martin Brundle's spinning McLaren hit a marshal who was moving another car and broke his leg.

In those days, unlike now, a drivers' times from the two parts of the race were added together to make his total race time. Schumacher was leading when the race was stopped, but Hill drove brilliantly in the second part to build a bigger advantage, and he won by just over three seconds on aggregate.

Williams co-owner Patrick Head told me last year: "Damon simply outdrove Michael in the wet. And not many people do that."

It was, Hill acknowledges, his greatest ever drive. Last year, I did a long interview with him on his time at Williams, and he talked extensively about that race.

"Something came out of me," he said, "which I'd been trying to get out, which needed the right circumstances, and I think I battled through. I never got to the height I did in Suzuka before, or perhaps even since."

Hill is remarkably introspective, thoughtful and self-analytical for a racing driver - and in the right mood, he is prepared to share that analysis with interviewers. This was one of those moments, and rather than have me bang on about what happened, I'll simply hand over to him. It makes fascinating reading.

"Nigel [Mansell] was there [as Hill's Williams team-mate]," Hill said. "I was supposed to be the team leader but for some reason I just could not seem to get that indication from the team, not from the team, but from [boss] Frank [Williams].

"I have to say it wasn't the team. The guys I worked with were always terrific. But I think Frank and Patrick never regarded me, at that stage, as being their front-line guy. And that's why they had Nigel there. So I constantly felt they were looking for someone else to deliver. I felt that was really demoralising. I thought that there was obviously something about me which made them doubtful of me.

"And I doubt myself. I constantly doubt myself. I'm constantly giving it out. I don't think I can blame them for that. I wasn't someone who can walk in and have 100% confidence and give off that vibe. Like, say, Michael Schumacher does. So I don't think that was helpful in that situation. I was very internal and introspective. And eventually at Suzuka Patrick gave me a bit of talking to.

"I was getting very intense about the whole thing and I was in a bit of a strop because they were all over Nigel and I thought: 'He can't win the championship! OK, he won it before, but he can't win it now. I can. Why are they making such a big deal about Nigel?' And eventually you just go: 'I don't get it. I don't care. I'm just going to drive.' And I think I released myself from something."

Indeed he did. It was a quite remarkable drive - as were so many of the others in this selection. Enjoy.


  • Comment number 1.

    I think all these street races except for monaco are waste of time its. Tracks like spa and japan that are the thrilling races

  • Comment number 2.

    At last a race from the 70's, superb, hope there is more like this next year, good job BBC

  • Comment number 3.

    Brilliant feature but those of us watching on the red button are horribly undersold, it's not like the two or three channels are rammed full of programming, there's nothing on them most of the time.

    The highlights shown in the run up to Singapore were one of the most enjoyable evenings of tv for ages, this time it seems to have been scheduled for F1 addicted owls.

  • Comment number 4.

    I don't understand all the fuss about Alonso's overtaking move at 130R. Schumacher's Bridgestone-shod Ferrari was a lamb to the slaughter for the Michelin-shod Renault. Schumacher knew this and backed off. It looks like Alonso is lapping him.

    Raikkonen's move on Fisichella was impressive, but again you're looking at a big mismatch in raw speed.

    Surely great races have to involve great drivers battling in *equal* machinery. Prost vs Senna, for example.

  • Comment number 5.

    Thank you! For once a race I actually voted for won!!

    Looking forward to watching these when I get home this evening. I pity those on freeview, but hey, at least they are actually ON the TV!

    Andrew's actually got it spot on, if 2005 had been available in full, I would have seriously considered voting for it. Ah well, thats just how things are i'm afraid. I've a feeling it will be the same for Brazil - 2003 was one of the very best (surely you can't leave it out Andrew??) but i'll end up voting for something pre-97 lol

  • Comment number 6.

    Watching these highlights with all these overtaking moves makes me wonder what has happened to the cars since?

    I know that the changes this year were supposed to allow for closer running, but even watching 2005, they were much closer then than the cars are today.

    Some people will probably say it's the track but look back to the classic tracks this year (Silverstone or Monza for example) and we have hadly seen a slipstream move all year. How can we get back to the cars making a hole in the air rather than a hurricane?

  • Comment number 7.

    'I don't understand all the fuss about Alonso's overtaking move at 130R'

    Flat out on the outside of the corner, and your not impressed...riiiiiight!

  • Comment number 8.

    Andrew, thanks again for another excellent selection of classic grand prix. As we approach the climax of an exciting title battle I wondered if you considered making the last edition of Classic Grand Prix a selection of classic title deciders. This is going on the presumption that the title is still up for grabs in Abu Dhabi but it's certainly a possibility.

    If so, a possible selection could be:

    Australia '94 - a cracking race between Hill and 'Darth Vader' himself with no lack of controversy in the way the title was decided!

    Japan '89 - another great race between the ultimate F1 rivals again ending in controversy. Did Prost turn in deliberately and should Senna have been disqualified for missing the chicane?

    Portugal '84 - Prost did all he could to become the first Frenchman to win the title but 'King Rat' never gave up and having started 11th on the grid battled his way to second to take the title by half a point.

    Mexico '64 - it is unlikely that we will ever see three Britons in with a chance of winning the world title at the last race of the season but Clark, Hill and Surtees all could have won it in Mexico. Clark came within an ace of his second title but engine failure on the last lap gave the title to Surtees.

    Morocco '58 - again two Britons went head to head, Moss and Hawthorn. Stirling needed to win and set the fastest lap with Hawthorn third or lower. Stirling drove brilliantly to win and set fastest lap but at the end Hawthorn was in second and Moss was destined never to win the championship. (I appreciate this may not be an acceptable selection given the tragic fatal accident of Stuart Lewis-Evans in the Vanwall.)

    The BBC may not have enough useable footage for these but I'm sure my fellow bloggers can think of many others!

  • Comment number 9.

    Glad to see a race I voted for won. Can anybody think about how we can persuade more people to vote in the Classic F1 Series. Because it is a bit annoying that only 121 people voted. We need more people to vote in the Classic F1 Series.

    For Brazil how about 1989,1993,1995,2001,2003. What do you think? Andrew how do you think you can get more people to vote? Also please can you get the races on Freeview. Please. You are the best. Anybody got any F1 Questions you can ask me.

  • Comment number 10.

    "Flat out on the outside of the corner, and your not impressed...riiiiiight!"

    Would there be the same fuss if Alonso had lapped a Minardi round the outside of 130R? I doubt it.

    Yet Schumacher backed off as though he was being lapped, and his Ferrari on the Bridgestones was about as competitive as a Minardi.

  • Comment number 11.

    If we are only getting the inferiour highlights for 2005 then my vote goes for Damon Hill's supreme drive in the wet in 1994.

    @jonathan_189 I could not agree more!


  • Comment number 12.

    The BBC really need to sort out the freeview issue. I bet if I go on 301 on Thursday there will be nothing but rubbish on or the sports loop that has 5 mins of news repeated over and over. The BBC F1 coverage has been impressive this year but I feel this lets it down. Seems to me to be a case of 'if somethings worth doing then it's worth doing properly or not at all!' It is probably just my view but it's how I feel.

  • Comment number 13.

    @12@. I agree. What do you think we should do to get more people to vote in the Classic F1 Series? Does anybody have any idea? How we can do this.

  • Comment number 14.

    "If Bernie Ecclestone ever wants to know why he needs to protect Formula 1's heritage and not abandon classic tracks for lucrative but boring modern autodromes, he could do worse than read the views of the readers of the BBC's classic grand prix series."

    Couldn't agree more. But then Bernie only listens to Benjamin...

    I would have picked 1990 over 1989 but that's because I like the comedy at the start. :lol:

    @12 - Not just the freeview issue, the BBC clearly have access to the full coverage so what's wrong with showing each and every classic race in full.

    @13 - have a phone vote.

  • Comment number 15.

    @12 - Completely agreed - The Freeview service has been so inconsistent this year! For instance the other day there was the Singapore Qualifying Session being replayed for hour on end. My EPG said that it was "recorded coverage with 5live Commentary", and I assumed they did it because you couldn't use the red button to get the commentary while the session was live!

    But it wasn't 5 live commentary at all - it was Legard!!

  • Comment number 16.

    Thanks Andrew for sharing the Hill interview. A shame Hill could never replicate those sort of performances in 1995 and quite rightly Williams looked at other options ie. signing Frentzen that year. Another good insight into the cold working methods of Williams - can't wait for Maurice Hamilton's Williams book to come out on paperback!


    Passing on the outside is harder. Textbook pass is to use the inside line. And it doesn't come any harder than Schumacher - at 2003 British GP Schumi put Alonso onto the grass on the Hangar Straight.

    Whilst I agree with Fisi/Kimi there was a big speed differential, it was still a terrific battle. The best and spectacular manoeuvres are when cars go wheel to wheel.

    #6. jpenston

    In 2005, quali was in the wet which gave us a topsy turvy grid. Not that I advocate reverse grids a la touring cars.

  • Comment number 17.

    Stick a dirty great voting link on the main pages for F1 and Motorsport in general (Alex Zanardi is courageous and inspiring but I'm sure he won't mind moving over a little after more than a week as the top story) and get it there on Monday morning.

    Easy voting is easy!!

  • Comment number 18.

    I thought the onboard feature is great, but the screen that shows the main action is way too small. Also, why can't they have the ticker-tape update of driver's positions and the gap in lap times on the main Red Button, coverage, i.e. what you get when you press 1 on the satellite interactive, where you can choose which commentary you want. As the race progresses, the FOM coverage stops showing laptimes and only pit-stops.

  • Comment number 19.

    Good morning to you all!
    I am a blog virgin, so be gentle with me:
    My question is this:
    Are the Classic Grand Prix highlights on Freeview EVERY time, or just some of the time? If not, why not and if they are, where are they for this coming Grand prix?
    From reading some of the comments, it seems that they should be there..... but I don't see them on the schedules.
    I realise that I am probably ignorant of facts everyone already knows, but I would appreciate some helpful info.
    Many thanks indeed!

  • Comment number 20.


    I'm not saying Alonso's pass wasn't hard, but it was hardly "among the greatest overtaking manoeuvres in the history of F1".

  • Comment number 21.

    @ 19 :

    "Because of a lack of bandwidth, they will be only be available on Freeview channel 301 from 0300 on Friday 2 October until 0600, which is in between the first two practice sessions from Japan."

    So you have to get up for FP1 (that's ok) then watch the classic GP's, then watch FP2. Fun.

  • Comment number 22.

    @ 21

    Thank you, FreddyOfGreggs.
    Can I ask you... how did you come by this grail of information?

  • Comment number 23.

    Gotta agree with you there. This was one of the best grand prix's Damon ever drove, maybe being beaten just by Spa 98. At the time a little 12 year old boy thought that Damon was going to win the title. Just a shame that we were robbed of a proper showdown a week later. Lets relive the moment though. Williams have lost Ayrton, and the new boy is racing, for the title, and beating Schumacher, in the wet. GO DAMON!


  • Comment number 24.

    Given the current Briatore/Renault incidents, it's a shame we didn't get to see an equally great feat of cheating by Prost in 1989...

    Still, can't complain about 1994, it really was a stunning drive by Damon. Speaking of cheating, we all know what happened next...

  • Comment number 25.

    Great to see 1994 win. I think do get more people to vote. Why have Classic F1 on the main BBC website page? What does anybody think? I mesn we are F1 fans.
    2005 was a classic drive by Alonso and Raikkonen.

  • Comment number 26.

    Number 9, surely you have got to include last years Brazilian GP in there!!!! The best finish to a championship ever, ever, ever!

  • Comment number 27.

    Your comments about classic tracks are spot on Andrew.

    Its easy to forget that the track itself is an essential element in making F1 entertaining. Its true that many of the older tracks were dangerous, but money could have surely been invested by F1 to upgrade some of these tracks to make them safer and keep them on the Calender.
    Last weeks highlights of the Osterreichring were fantastic - the gradient changes, the speed, the length of the lap, the scenary, and the thing i noticed most... The place was absolutely rammed full of people.
    Compare that to some of the modern tracks located in countries where people couldn't care less nowadays.

    I also like the fact that these older tracks provide maybe one overtaking opportunity per lap. This has the effect of prolonging a battle and making it easier for a slower car to defend lap after lap. Compare that to the wide, stop/start circuits such as Bahrain, Sepang, China and the new Hockenheim. Its so easy for a driver to slip stream and out brake a slower car into the hair pins at the end of long, very wide straights on these tracks, that even overtaking becomes boring and predictable and the 'battle' never lasts more than 2 corners.

    True, the cars have an effect on all of the above, but the circuit is still a factor in terms of over taking and creating a thrilling spectacle.

    As for Suzuka, you said it all. Great Track. A variety of corners, Gradient, slim enough to allow drivers to defend, a passionate crowd, an unpredictable climate and 1 or 2 overtaking opportunities per lap.

    I simply cannot wait for Bahrain, Sepang and China next year..zzzzzzz. Still, as James Allen and Steve Rider used to say on ITV.. "What a marvellous facility"... yawn

  • Comment number 28.

    @ 22 : It's in the article! Just above the clip in Andrew's article. :-)

  • Comment number 29.

    Japan - can't argue with the selection, although 1988 might also have been included.

    For Brazil, I'd like to see the 1979 old full length Interlagos circuit when it was a monster!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    For me, being considerably new to F1 (about 5 years as a serious fan), Sazuka 2005 was the best race i have ever seen. Nothing has even remotely come close to it in recent years. As for the earlier ones in the 90's, 80's and 70's I would never comment on.

    There was plenty of action and enough overtaking. But for Raikkonen to come from pretty much the back of the grid to win is a phenomenal achievement. I would expect Alonso may have taken the victory if he had not been told to back off (judging by the highlights, as my memory is not as great on how far back he actually finished).

    I am however a Mclaren fan, and with Kimi making his way through the field in the way he did, this race will always be my absolute favourite race.

    I wish there was somewhere I could actually get a copy of the entire race...

  • Comment number 31.

    1994 deserves to win just for Murray Walker's spine-tingling exclamation '3.36 SECONDS!' when Schumacher comes through at the end.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Andrew,
    Is it possible to have extended highlights for the 1989 race too? I think both '89 and '94 stand up as two of the greatest races ever and I don't think the short highlights of '89 (although welcome) don't really do the race justice.


  • Comment number 33.

    Totally agreed with the 5 choices for Japan. I personally would of liked to of seen 2007 again because i think that was so far, Lewis Hamilton's best ever win.

    But none the less seeing these 5 classics again will be a blast. Also very happy you've given extended highlights for the 1994 race. I can vidly remember waking up early for that one and being totally staggered by how bad the weather was. The race also features that awesome sight from the camera on Jean Alesi's Ferrari facing backwards as Nigel Mansell slipstreamed along side him !!!

    What was also unique was that this was the last race to be decided by aggregate timing. And most of all for Murray Walkers reaction when Damon Hill had won by "3.36 SECONDS!!!!" and Mansell finally overtaking Alesi on the final corner, but sadly he was still classified behind him on aggregate !!!

  • Comment number 34.

    Again, thanks and in some way I don't mind not having opinion on my side when the choice is so good. I do have sympathy with those on Freeview. Though I hoped for 89. I'll enjoy what comes later on.

    Thanks again (is 90 penciled in for the end of the season?). Would like to see Kyalami too.

    Thanks for this, again.

  • Comment number 35.

    @ 28
    Thanks again (doh!).
    I do normally 'read all instrustions before assembly'.

  • Comment number 36.

    Shame there's not a boobie prize for funniest GP: my vote would go with 1990. Accident at the start deciding the world championship not so much dampening as drowning whatever squib was still knocking about, Berger spins off next lap much to my then amusement and of course, Mansell's comedy drag race irretrievably knackering the gearbox as he made his getaway from his pitstop. Through all the mayhem and controversy some Brazilian chap won...can't remember what his name was though.

  • Comment number 37.

    "I also like the fact that these older tracks provide maybe one overtaking opportunity per lap. This has the effect of prolonging a battle and making it easier for a slower car to defend lap after lap. Compare that to the wide, stop/start circuits such as Bahrain, Sepang, China and the new Hockenheim. Its so easy for a driver to slip stream and out brake a slower car into the hair pins at the end of long, very wide straights on these tracks, that even overtaking becomes boring and predictable and the 'battle' never lasts more than 2 corners."


    You must have loved Singapore, then - no overtaking at all, and no hint of it. You could lap 10s off the pace and never be passed. Next year, I'll watch the start, then take a 2-hour nap. Overtaking is a part of racing, and a good track will provide several opportunities to pass as well as technically demanding sections. Bahrain, Istanbul, Sepang, Shanghai and even the revised Hockenheim are all good examples of this, but overtaking's hardly straightforward at any of them.

    The great tragedy in all of this is that these new Tilke tracks have the right blend of straights and corners to be classic circuits, but the local support is absent, making them feel soulless. Meanwhile, the historic, well-supported tracks with the best balance (Spa, Silverstone, possibly Montreal) are generally out of favour for various reasons. In a few years, I wouldn't be surprised to see Interlagos as the only track with good crowds and a circuit which balances twisty sections, fast straights and overtaking opportunities.

  • Comment number 38.

    Wow it was so nice to see the 2005 race highlights, probably my favourite ever race since I started watching F1 in 1998.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think pitflaps at #36 has hit upon a winter filler idea- funniest F1 moments.
    Eddie Jordan's run/gallop down the pit lane after a 1-2 at Spa 98?
    DC crashing entering the pitlane Adelaide 95?
    Any outrageous comment from james hunt (e.g the B-S one, or enjoying the sponsors products plentifully at the Aus GP (well known 'aussie' beer).
    Murray poking mansell in the head, or trying to do an opening link in the company of Piquet and Mansell?
    I've read a story about the 'Grand Prix' programmes 10th birthday, when on Murray's cue all the drivers were meant to shout "Happy Birthday Grand Prix." Unfortunately Bernie had had a cheeky word first... is that outtake in the archives somewhere Andrew?

  • Comment number 40.

    Sorry for double post here, but why is Bernie looking at a USA street race in New York, with Watkins Glen in upstate New York, a stunning track that, with a little extra run-off would be awesome? the US has so many other great road circuits (Elkhart Lake, Road Atlanta, Mid-ohio, Sebring etc) it seems a shame to shove F1 on another street track.

    The only truly great new track, probably of this decade is the Argentine one that the FIA GT raced on last season. Search "Potrero de los funes" on YT and you'll see what I mean- I'd put it on a par with Suzuka.

  • Comment number 41.

    For next year please could we have 1996? I'd like to thank the BBC for fantastic coverage this year and I really hope it continues for 2010.

  • Comment number 42.

    I havent been voting for the last few races primarily because the wining races were always going to be a forgone conclusion. Anyway, just wanted to say that the 1994 race was indeed a classic. I think 1988 and 1989 especially were just as dramatic. For sheer tension, I think 1989 can not be matched.

    Though its unlikely to happen, for Brazil, I would love to see coverage of the old and complete Interlagos circuit.

    And if the final race is going to have the theme on title deciders, my request is simply 'older the better'.

    I hope for next year the BBC can perhaps begin to show races in full in chronological order...perhaps track down races that are missing in the archives from foreign TV stations or FOCA. Would love to see races from the 1970's and 1960's. ORF in Austria have an extraordianry archive going way back.

    Also, as I suggested earlier, maybe some rare bits that are not actual races such as Keke Rosberg's 1985 Silverston pole position lap and some of the F3 races that featured Brundle and Senna.

  • Comment number 43.

    Good to see that '94 race (Damon could only have 3 tyres changed at his pit stop too if I remember.) It's a shame we didnt get to see full highlights of the '76 race. (#36 what about Taki Inoue getting hit by a course car at Hungary in 1995?) I also remember there was a programme on BBC 2 14 or 15 years ago about the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt during the 1976 season I would love to see that again and the McLaren documentary from 1993 as well and other tidbits as well if you can trawl through the archives Andrew.

  • Comment number 44.

    My vote counted and 1994 won - brilliant!.
    Also happy as the races will be shown on Freeview.
    Us F1 race fans are used to getting up at funny hours to feed our passion, so having the highlights on at a un-Godly hour is much appreciated.
    (PS - I am happy, not being ironic)

  • Comment number 45.

    All 5 selections were classic Japanese GP's but for me the 1988 race pips the lot. Senna stalling on the grid and taking the lead from 14th by lap 28?, and going on to win his first WC. What a drive! Also, it was a pleasure to see Capelli in a non-turbo March lead a GP, the first driver to do so for nearly 5 years. What a race!

  • Comment number 46.

    Disappointed not to get full highlights of 1989 and 1976, I hope we will have the chance to vote for these 2 races again next year.Good to see it will be on freeview this time though.

  • Comment number 47.

    As much as I liked James Hunt's commentary, It was obvious that he let pure bias for Prost affect his judgement, during Suzuka '89.
    If you jumpt to 5:20 in the highlights there, Hunt says "Prost had every right to turn into him there". He basically blamed Senna for the incident, which was virtually identical to Jerez '97.

  • Comment number 48.

    Boy was I jumping and cheering when I heared Murray say that, back in '94!

  • Comment number 49.

    Gotta love Murray's reaction when Mansell passes Alesi at the last corner!

    Keep up the great work Andrew. Can't wait for the final two selections.

    Re: #43 Scott_Thomson_1980;

    The Hunt vs Lauda documentary was part for the 'Clash of the Titans' series. A really thorough analysis of the 1976 season as I have a copy somewhere. I'll have to dig it out now you've mentioned it to watch it again! I can't remember what other sporting rivals they did. I seem to remember Coe vs Ovett but not the others. Was probably too young at the time.


  • Comment number 50.


    There's a big difference between Prost/Senna 1989 and Schumacher/Villeneuve 1997... Prost was ahead going into the corner! Senna misjudged the move and tried to squeeze through a gap that was never there.

    By contrast, Villeneuve already had his nose in front when Schumacher turned in, resulting in Schumacher comically bashing his sidepod.

  • Comment number 51.

    @ 40. At 5:07pm on 30 Sep 2009, CNW0429 wrote:
    "Sorry for double post here, but why is Bernie looking at a USA street race in New York, with Watkins Glen in upstate New York, a stunning track that, with a little extra run-off would be awesome? the US has so many other great road circuits (Elkhart Lake, Road Atlanta, Mid-ohio, Sebring etc) it seems a shame to shove F1 on another street track."


    My pure guess is that all classic US road courses are (a) unfashionable (b) too dangerous for F1.

    The reason why America has so many good tracks is cause they are a bit similar to F1 tracks of old - no wide tarmac run off areas, no mickey mouse chicanes... in fact, they hardly resemble proper race tracks at all (sorry i'm being too cynical perhaps)

    The other thing to mention is that despite these magnificent venues, they appear to have a track record of not appealing to US single seater fans. It said a lot when Laguna Seca and Elkhart Lake fell off the Champ Car schedule (towards its demise) and were replaced by more and more obscure street races (San Jose, anyone??). Thankfully, Watkins Glen and Mid Ohio have both made their way back onto the IRL schedule.

    With these points in mind, the chances of one of these tracks (in current configuration) making its way onto an F1 schedule? - none whatsoever :(

  • Comment number 52.

    Oh and I forgot to say, I agree, the San Luis track in Argentina would be a mega venue for F1. The FIA must think its safe enough if they let GT racing at it...

  • Comment number 53.

    Great selecetion, and definiely agree that this is one of the best tracks in he world!

    I don't know if it was discussed beforehand on here, but the 2003 race has always stood out for me: Schumacher needed a point to win the title and that's all he got coming 8th! And at the front Barrichello did a perfect race, held off Raikonnen, who needed the victory to stand any chance. that was awesome. still, well happy here =)

  • Comment number 54.

    I take your point regarding Singapore, but i'd maybe even rather watch that than Bahrain, China and the New Hockenheim any day of the week. At least it wasn't like looking at an airport runway on the Telly and it appeared loads of people turned up to watch.

    I'd rather watch that, than watch 2 cars drive out of a medium fast corner, along a totally flat, smooth piece of track the width of a motorway and the car behind perform an outbraking manouvre into the inevitable hairpin, with the car in front having no chance to defend his position at that corner or beyond due to the huge width of the entire track. The 15 people in the 10,000 capacity Grandstand cheer with excitment as the 'battle'(??) lasts 2 seconds never to be repeated.

    My point was more that a lot of the historic tracks would allow the driver in front to defend that time, and make the driver behind have to stick with the driver in front and try the next lap, and the next lap, and maybe on his 4th attempt he could get through. The crowd would cheer as they'd be able to watch this at that corner lap after lap, and the grandstand would be full because the track would be known to provide atmosphere and excitement and would be in a country with a motorsport heritage. Take the last lap of Osterreichring in last weeks Classic GP series, the car in front was able to defend on the last corner of the last lap (infact the last couple of corners) and take victory. If this had been into the hairpin at China or Malaysia, it would be a done deal for the chasing car most of the time.

    Granted, Street Circuits are different to 'normal' tracks and can be boring, but i still think it is essential to have a couple on the calender to test the drivers in terms of concentration and the ability to set the car up for these unique sorts of venues.

    I also acknowledge that the car design has a huge infuence on the above, allowing cars to follow closely and increasing braking distances would have a positive impact.

    Maybe i'm looking back with Rose Tinted spectacles, as this Classic GP series does and i know that its easy to think every race was exciting, which it definetly wasn't, but when you've grown up watching F1 go to Imola, Spa ,Osterriechring, The Old Hockenheim, Monza and Brands Hatch to name but a few, it sort of makes you less impressed by some of the new tracks, even though i know they allow (easy) overtaking for faster cars and are built where the money is.

  • Comment number 55.

    2005 - undoubtedly Kimi's finest hour

  • Comment number 56.

    Great race selection again. Interesting to read the Damon Hill interview. He was certainly in the correct mindset for that race. I remember during the red flag period Damon remained in his car whilst many of the other drivers got involved in the restart debate. During that time he looked fully focused and at times appeared to be meditating.
    Good commentary from Jonathon Palmer. His analysis of the aggregate timings was invaluable to the excitement over the last 10 laps. It was a good swift decision from the Williams team during Hill's last pitstop when the right rear wheel failed to come off the car. Just leave it on!

    Whilst the 1994 race was probably the best of the bunch my vote went to 1989 as this was the race that really fired my enthusiasm for this sport. I remember many people suggesting that Prost could win the title by crashing into Senna but I couldn't beleive it when it actually happened. "Oh my goodness, this is fantastic!"

    Andrew - I would also include Laguna Seca as one of the best circuits in the world, but I hope that the F1 circus never goes there as they would sanitise the place.

    Post #54 - I agree with your sentiments regarding "historic tracks" over modern facilities.

    Post #36 - As for the idea of funny grand Prix momments what about Johnny Herbert leaving the pitlane in Barcelona in 1995 with the rear jack still attached to the car.

  • Comment number 57.

    Great choices, but again us Freeview people are let down. 301 has some kids scienc thing on right now which I believe has been played all of yesterday as well, and 302 has just had the how to update your freeview box thing on it. Please sort it out!

  • Comment number 58.

    #51 and #52 swrcsky

    Good point about the spectator numbers, infact you could probably argue no American road racing has particularly impressive crowds, or even TV viewing figures. Of course a fail-safe way off getting the crowds in is to stick a NASCAR race on the same day. But you won't find many venues which can house 26 F1 cars and 43 Nascars (Maybe make the Nascar race an invitational non-championship affair, like the All Star or the Budweiser shoot-out?)
    I suppose another problem is that not many of these road courses have proper pit garages, and they all have the daft little wall between the garage and the pit bay. I know Miller motorsports Park is well-equipped, but again, does anyone actually go there?

    It annoys that Pukekohe in New Zealand will never hold an f1 race; its less than 2 miles long, not that safe, and even Aussie v8s have abandoned it now. But is has a super fast sweep for turn 1, an 1100 metre back straight, with ultra tight hairpin at the end, and some sweeping downhill esses to end the lap. It's just a track that would work, for any racing.

    Re: San Luis, it's FIA grade 2, which is apparently the same grade as the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, and Zandvoort, and probably Bathurst? It looked safer than that to me, all the run-off are decent and most are tarmac.

  • Comment number 59.

    I agree that classic tracks such as Imola and the Osterriechring are much better than say bahrain or china, but, with the modern cars as they are, I doubt there would be much overtaking on them: There would be no 'fight' as the cars cannot get close enough to have one - They struggle even on the wide straights of the the new boring circuits. Until the aerodynamic regulations are changed, even to match those of a decade ago, to allow overtaking, races at classic tracks will be as dull as a race at the wide straights of china, maybe even duller as there is simply no way to overtake: Look at Spa - Fischichella was faster than Raikkonen - couldnt overtake him, Monza - Hamilton closing on Button but couldnt get close enough and crashed trying. Until the regulations change, there will be no future isolated (without a championship battle) dry races to fill this classic F1 feature as the sport is becoming increasingly processional.

  • Comment number 60.

    This isn't specific to this blog or even this series, but the BBC in general I guess, but here's as good a place as any to mention it. Why do none of the BBC's videos support buffering (like YouTube does for instance)? I want to be able to pause the video so it can buffer and run smoothly, instead of stopping every 3 or 4 seconds as it currently does :(

  • Comment number 61.

    Japan '94: Talk about the definition of a classic. Must have taped this on VHS first time around and watched it later that morning because I certainly do remember the half hour between the two parts of the race.

    Looking back, the whole "aggregate time" thing was completely insane but damn if it didn't make for an exciting race with Damon beating Schumacher in the classiest way possible.

    Mansell vs Alesi is also unforgettable. Bear in mind that at 12 I stil saw Mansell as a grade above Hill given that he had won the world championship previously(heck even now I reckon Mansell was probably the better driver overall) so I was wondering why the hell Mansell couldn't get past Alesi.

    Also, completely forgot that DC had anything to do with the BBC's coverage of this race.

  • Comment number 62.

    Just a note about comment No. 1 "all street circuits apart from Monaco are a waste of time"...

    ...well, assuming you have tuned into this season, I'm surprised you haven't realised that this year's European and Singapore GPs were a lot better than this year's Monaco GP, which so far, holds the trophy for being the dullest race of the year.


    Fantastic selection Andrew, some great and historic F1 moments included here, but 2005 I think was the best. Some people dismiss Fernando Alonso's move on Michael Schumacher, but I certainly don't, and speed differential or not, Alonso's move and Raikkonen's last lap blinder were indeed part of one of the finest races in F1 history.

  • Comment number 63.

    I'm certainly not going to forget Alonso's move in '05 anytime soon, I liked the pre-McLaren Alonso because he gave Schumacher a reality check. Pity he just turned into another Schumacher.


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