Formula One drivers have backed a plan to restart the coronavirus-stalled season by unfortunately racing without fans in Austria in July.
Seeing as I didn’t really celebrate the occasion last year, and also since we are all streaming old sports (but in this case, motor races), I thought it was time to put together the definitive list of the 100 best/most important grands prix of the World Championship era.
There will be some ground rules in place though, so that there is a good spread. Firstly, the 100 shall be split up according to what number GP it is:
1-100: 10 races.
101-200: 10 races.
And so on, with a extra few spots for honourable mentions from 2019 (as most GPs will fall after the 1000th GP). Remember, this is also subjective, based off reading old reports and a few things that I might fight important in F1 history compared to others.
First up, 1-100, which encompasses from the first World Championship Grand Prix, Britain 1950, through to the 1961 German GP. Bear in mind, these include the 1950-1960 Indianapolis 500s.
All races will be in chronological order, not in a rated order.
1 – 1950 British Grand Prix
The race that started it all. Despite Grand Prix racing being around since the 1890s, the first World Championship for Formula One began in 1950, the first race held at Silverstone.
Giuseppe Farina won from pole for Alfa-Romeo in a podium lockout, with a fourth Alfa Romeo retired by Juan Manuel Fangio with eight laps remaining.
13 – 1951 German Grand Prix
A race that shows just how early strategy crept into playing a large part in F1, this was a duel between Ferrari’s Alberto Ascari and Alfa-Romeo’s Fangio. Ascari started from pole, but the two Alfa-Romeos of Fangio and Farina quickly took the lead.
However, the Ferrari was a lot more economical on fuel, and Ascari was able to get by Fangio after Farina retired, as he had to make two stops compared to Ascari’s one. Plus, Fangio’s gearbox troubles late in the race helped.
This was Ascari’s first GP victory, but Fangio would go on to win his first of five world titles that year.
18 – 1952 Belgian Grand Prix
In 2013, Sebastian Vettel set the record for the most consecutive F1 Grand Prix victories (9). The previous record was held by Ascari, and this was the race that started the streak.
With Maserati waiting to finalise their new car and Fangio recovering from a back injury sustained during a race at Monza, Ferrari locked out the front row (which was three cars back then). Gordini’s Jean Behre gave the Ferrari trio (Ascari, Farina and Piero Taruffi) a race to run in its early stages, but eventually spun in the wet conditions, taking out Taruffi while Farina and Ascari duelled for the victory, with Ascari winning by 115 seconds.
Ascari would set the record for consecutive victories at seven. Although, some would credit this as nine, as the streak was only broken by the 1953 Indianapolis 500, and Ascari would win the following two Grands Prix.
28 – 1953 French Grand Prix
The race of the century. The top six were separated by 1.2 seconds in qualifying around Reims, with Ascari taking pole position. José Frolián González led for the first 29 of 60 laps before Maserati’s Fangio and Ferrari’s Mike Hawthorn battled for the victory, reportedly passing each other 16 times over the final 30 laps.
Hawthorn won the race by one second, with González 0.4 seconds behind. Ascari’s streak ended in fourth place, behind Fangio, a further three seconds adrift.
32 – 1953 Italian Grand Prix
The 1953 season ended in Monza, and was a typical speed-fest with four drivers battling throughout the race; Fangio, Ascari, Farina and Maserati’s Onofre Marimón. The Italian fans were put on a show, with Ascari already sealing the title.
But it was Fangio and Farina who were duelling on the run down from Parabolica on the final lap. Farina spun on some oil on the track, and Fangio dodged the Scuderia bullet to take a famous Italian victory for Maserati.
56 – 1956 Italian Grand Prix
The 1956 title decider, between then three-time champion Fangio (now with Ferrari), and Maserati’s Jean Behra, and Ferrari’s Mike Collins. This race sums up how confusing the world championship rules could be, as drivers were allowed to share rides, and thus world championship points.
Eugentio Castellotti led for Ferrari before spinning out and jumping in with Fangio. Stirling Moss now led the race but sprung a fuel leak on his Maserati, which was repaired. Ferrari’s Luigi Musso was leading the race, but on lap 19, Fangio’s steering arm broke, Musso was summoned in to give his drive to Fangio, but refused, as he had already done this previously in the season.
Then, Mike Collins, in the title fight, sportingly pulled in to the pits and handed his seat to Fangio, as they shared the points for second place behind Moss, and Fangio became a four-time world champion.
62 – 1957 German Grand Prix
Regarded as one of the single best performances in a Grand Prix, as Fangio was able to clinch his history-making fifth title. Light on fuel and starting on pole for Maserati, he was stuck behind Ferrari’s Hawthorn.
Once he got past, he pulled out a Once he got past, he pulled out a 30-second lead, but a slow pit stop on lap 12 of 22 left him 50 seconds behind the leading duo of Hawthorn and Collins. With three laps to go, Fangio made up 11 seconds, a lap that was seven seconds faster than his pole position lap, and duly won the race by 3.6 seconds. T
his ended up being his final Grand Prix victory before retiring midway through 1958.
84 – 1959 United States Grand Prix
Despite the Indianapolis 500 being a World Championship Grand Prix, Sebring also held the United States Grand Prix, which was the 1959 season finale. Australia’s Jack Brabham, then racing for Cooper, his teammate Stirling Moss and Ferrari’s Tony Brooks were all in with a shot to win the title in Sebring.
Moss led for the first five laps, with a ten-second lead when his gearbox failed, and Brabham assumed the lead, with fellow Cooper driver Bruce McLaren in second, also racing for Cooper. However, on the last lap, Brabham ran out of fuel, McLaren grabbed his, and New Zealand’s first Grand Prix victory at the age of 22 years, three months and 12 days.
Brabham was able to literally push his car over the line, to seal fourth place and become Australia’s first Formula One World Champion. This was a race of lasts too, as this was the last Grand Prix to award a point for fastest lap, until the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, and was also the last race to not have a former or current world champion on the grid until the 1994 Monaco Grand Prix.
McLaren’s win was the youngest for a driver, however, the European press decided to ignore Troy Ruttman’s 1952 Indianapolis 500 victory at the age of 22 years, two months and 19 days. Either way, this record stood until Fernando Alonso’s first victory at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix – race number 710.
86 – 1960 Monaco Grand Prix
Stirling Moss won the first race for Walker around the streets of Monaco, one of only two victories not celebrated by the Cooper-Climax team as Jack Brabham won his second world championship. With a car designed by Colin Chapman, the Walker team used Lotus cars that would go on to become a dominant force in Formula One throughout the 1960s and 70s, until their demise in the 1990s.
Despite Cooper’s dominance, Moss was able to use the narrow street circuit, and his experience to keep Bruce McLaren and Ferrari’s Phil Hill almost a minute behind him to take the chequered flag.
100 – 1961 German Grand Prix
The 100th World Championship Grand Prix was held around the Nordschleife circuit at Nurburgring, and was another masterclass by Stirling Moss for the Walker team. By beating the Ferrari’s of Wolfgang von Trips and Phil Hill, Moss was able to stay in contention with the duo, along with fellow Ferrari driver Richie Ginther, in contention for the 1961 title with two races remaining.
Moss led every lap of the race, despite starting from the second row, and finished 20 seconds ahead of the rest of the pack, which also ended a four-race streak for Ferrari.
Part 2 will encompass the 101st Grand Prix (1961 Italian GP), to the 200th Grand Prix: Monaco 1971