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Pick your classic grand prix - race two

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Andrew Benson | 10:30 UK time, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Welcome to the second edition of our 2010 classic grand prix series.

The Australian Grand Prix, which has been on the calendar for 25 years, provides rich pickings, so we have not had to scour the archives from other events as we did for Bahraintwo weeks ago.

As ever, we are asking you to tell us which is your favourite race and why. We will read your comments and use them to make a decision on which race to feature in the run-up to next week's 2010 Australian Grand Prix.

If the race we pick is from the era when the BBC owned the rights to F1 - i.e. until 1996, and from 2009 - we will show the full 'Grand Prix' highlights programme of the time as well as the shorter highlights we cut for all the races.

This time, four of the five choices fall in the BBC eras.

Having chosen 1986, 1991, 1994, 1996 and 2007 last year, the first Australian selection this year is the inaugural Grand Prix in Adelaide in 1985, a race that was packed with action from beginning to end.

Nigel Mansell's Williams collided with Ayrton Senna's Lotus on the first lap, putting the Englishman out and leaving the Brazilian to challenge the new leader, Mansell's team-mate Keke Rosberg, father of current Mercedes driver Nico.

The two battled for much of the race before Senna, caught by surprise when Rosberg dived into the pits for tyres, ran into the back of the Williams and broke his front wing.

Senna rejoined the race third behind Rosberg and the McLaren of Niki Lauda, who was driving the final race of his career. When Rosberg made a second stop for tyres, dropping him to third, the Austrian legend appeared on course for a fairytale finale only to suffer brake trouble and crash.

Senna inherited the lead, with Rosberg right behind him, but held it for just three laps before he retired with an engine problem, leaving Rosberg to cruise to the finish ahead of the Ligiers of Jacques Laffite and Philippe Streiff.

button2.jpgJenson Button claimed his first race victory for Brawn at last year's Australian Grand Prix

Our next choice, Adelaide 1990, saw a great battle between those titans of the 1980s - Senna, Prost, Mansell, Nelson Piquet and Gerhard Berger.

The race finished with Piquet's Benetton in front, just managing to hold off a late-race charge from Mansell's Ferrari, but on the way there was some superb racing as Piquet climbed up from seventh on the grid, Senna and Mansell battled over the lead - a fight ended when the Englishman went up an escape road - and Senna crashed after a gearbox glitch.

The final race in Adelaide before the race moved to current host city Melbourne in 1996 is our third selection - and it is a race that will not provide happy memories forBBC Sport pundit David Coulthard.

The Scot was on course for an easy win in his final race for Williams before moving to McLaren but he crashed into the wall on his way into the pits for his first stop and that was the end of his race.

His exit handed the lead to team-mate Damon Hill, who went on to dominate the race - a result, he told me a couple of years ago, that helped him clear his mind of the drubbing he had been given by Michael Schumacher's Benetton in the championship that year and get his head straight for a successful title assault in 1996.

It was not the end of the action, though, as Schumacher, trying to climb through the field after a poor start, retired when he collided with the Ferrari of Jean Alesi, and the attrition rate was so high that Olivier Panis finished second for Ligier ahead of the Footwork of Gianni Morbidelli.

We next switch to Melbourne in 2003 - an action-packed event that started on a damp track which was so borderline in terms of the choice between wet and dry tyres that McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen pitted for dries at the end of the formation lap!

There was action throughout with various tyre changes playing out, a safety car, a collision between Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher as they battled for the lead and, finally, a catastrophic error by Juan Pablo Montoya. The Colombian, leading, spun at Turn One eight laps from the end, handing victory to Coulthard's McLaren.

Finally, there is last year's race - Jenson Button's first victory for Brawn, featuring a late-race collision as Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica's BMW were battling over second, two safety car periods - and the incident between Lewis Hamilton and Jarno Trulli that led to the huge 'lie-gate' controversy that engulfed Hamilton at the next race.

So there you have it. Five superb races. Let us know your thoughts - I will enjoy reading your responses.


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