Formula 1: Top 10 most iconic moments in Brazilian GP history
As the Formula 1 2023 circus heads into its last stretch with both championships decided, there’s still plenty to look forward to in both the driver’s and constructor’s championships, as both drivers and teams look to end the season on a high note. With the Brazilian GP as its next destination, we believe anything is possible.
Dramatic is perhaps the best way to refer to the Brazilian GP, with bizarre and memorable incidents shaping Formula 1 folklore over the years, and with the race largely being the ultimate destination on the calendar in the past, plenty of iconic moments have been seen here.
So without further ado, let’s dive into it and take a look at the top 10 most memorable moments from the Brazilian GP.
10. Michael Schumacher says goodbye to Formula One
It just had to be there. The 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix was Michael Schumacher’s final race in Formula 1 (yes, his second and final retirement from the sport). What was an underwhelmed return to the sport by the seven-time world champion, In his finale race, the German legend allowed Sebastian Vettel through to P7, which resulted in the latter winning his third driver’s championship title, with his rival Fernando Alonso needing to close a 13-point deficit in the final race.
After the race, Schumacher said, “I think it’s a nice handover to Seb that I feel happy for him.”
9. Piquet faints on the podium
Nelson Piquet won the 1982 Brazilian Grand Prix; however, following the race, the Brazilian driver was visibly exhausted and struggled to make his way to the rostrum. With Piquet both hands on the shoulders of Keke Rosberg and Alain Prost, the Brabham driver, looking very pale, starts to sway and falls unconscious face down. After several minutes, Piquet re-emerged, and the podium celebration resumed as the raucous Brazilian crowd cheered for their brave hero.
8. Jenson Button celebrates first world championship
In the penultimate round of the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship, Brawn driver Jenson Button celebrated winning his first world championship, and that too in some style. The British driver was visibly ecstatic with the result, and why shouldn’t he? For a team that was on the verge of bankruptcy before the season started, they went on to win both the driver’s and constructor’s titles.
7. Giancarlo Fisichella wins bizarre 2003 Brazilian GP
The infamously unpredictable weather at Interlagos wreaked havoc on race weekend. As a result, the front-runners, including the Ferraris, were crashing left, right, and centre. Moreover, a smart strategic call by the Jordan team to pit Giancarlo Fisichella early allowed them to take the lead in the race with nearly 75% of the race distance covered.
When the stewards red-flagged the race following a horrific crash for Fernando Alonso, using the countback rule, Finn driver Kimi Räikkönen was declared the race winner, much to the utter disbelief of Fisichella and Eddie Jordan. However, upon further protests and re-evaluation of the timekeeping system, the FIA overturned their decision five days later. Two weeks later, during the San Marino Grand Prix, Fisichella was handed his trophy.
6. Fernando Alonso celebrates his first world championship
That iconic scream still lives long in the memories of Formula 1 faithful. After five consecutive titles for Ferrari and Michael Schumacher from 2000–2004, the world wanted to see a new champion. Sensing these feelings, the FIA did its best to do exactly that, changing the rules to make way for a new beginning. Although Fernando Alonso had a slightly slower car compared to his McLaren rival Kimi, the Spaniard showed immense grit, racecraft, and consistency throughout the season to seal his first world championship with a third-place finish at Interlagos.
- Formula 1: Longest intervals between Grand Prix races for F1 constructor teams
- F1 2024 calendar: Everything we know so far
- Formula 1: Top five drivers with most consecutive laps led
- Formula 1: Top six drivers with most consecutive podium finishes in F1 history
- Formula 1: Teams with most consecutive wins in F1 history
- Formula 1: F1 constructors with most wins
5. Filipe Massa’s emotional send-off in the pitlane
The Brazilian driver had announced early into the season that 2016 would be his last year in the sport. Thus, there was a lot of expectation from both Massa and the home crowd that it’d be a fitting end to a beautiful 14-year journey for the Brazilian. However, with a rain-interrupted race, a few laps before the end, Massa crashed near the pitlane entry, ending his race prematurely. But as the Williams driver jumped out of his car, the crowd in Interlagos got up on its feet and gave a standing ovation to their hero.
With the pitlane entry closed, even the Mercedes crew stepped out of their garage to give Massa a guard of honour while Ferrari also showed appreciation and gratitude to their former driver.
4. Fernando Alonso staring in disbelief as Sebastian Vettel seals his 3rd world title
Fernando Alonso fans look away. The Spaniard’s heart-wrenching moment will forever be etched in Formula 1 folklore. The two-time world champion was simply the best driver on the grid during the 2012 season. With arguably the 4th or 5th fastest car, Alonso almost miraculously won his third world championship. With a 13-point deficit to overcome, the Spaniard finished the race in P2. However, a late surge from Vettel and a helping hand from Michael Schumacher meant the German had enough points to secure his third title in a row. We feel for you, Alonso!
3. Kimi Räikkönen wins dramatic first world title
The 2007 Formula 1 World Championship went down to the wire with three drivers in contention to win it all at the season finale in Interlagos. Heading into the Brazilian GP, rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton held a four-point lead over teammate and double-world champion Fernando Alonso, who was a further three points ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, making him the outsider.
However, as fate would have it, Lewis faced gearbox issues at the start, pushing him at the back of the pack while Alonso had no answer for the two Ferraris in front of him, as the Spaniard had to settle for third. Ferrari, using Filipe Massa as the shield, helped Kimi stretch his lead in front and eventually win the race and the driver’s championship by a single point.
2. Hamilton’s joy; Massa’s despair
As the rain gods opened the floodgates at the dramatic 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, Filipe Massa and Ferrari, who crossed the chequered flag, first thought they had secured the driver’s title with Hamilton still stuck in P6, which meant they would be on equal points, but Massa winning the title on countback. However, in one of the most iconic moments in Formula 1, a couple of corners from the finish line, Hamilton overtook the slow Toyota of Timo Glock, who was on slick tyres on a wet track, which gave Hamilton the all-important fifth place and won him his first world title.
1. Ayrton Senna wins the Brazilian GP for the first time
Ayrton Senna turned 31 two days before the 1991 Brazilian GP, but the three-time world champion didn’t celebrate one bit. The ultimate gift for him was fulfilling one of his dearest dreams: winning his home race. Senna made the perfect start and managed the race from start to finish.
Everything was going well for the McLaren driver; however, unknown to observers, the Brazilian’s gearbox was failing. Having already lost fourth gear by lap 60, his lead was halved by Nigel Mansell, who was setting the fastest laps, lap after lap. But it was the British driver whose gearbox gave away first, forcing him into retirement on lap 61. Only a few laps had passed when Senna also lost third and fifth gear, forcing the Brazilian to maintain sixth gear in slow and medium corners, which nearly stalled his car several times.
Eventually, Senna won the race 2.9 seconds ahead of teammate Riccardo Patrese. After crossing the finish line, Senna started screaming at the realisation of achieving. The tremendous struggle of trying to keep the car under control caused him to have muscle cramps and a fever. After stopping his car, Senna was almost unable to move on his own. He had to be lifted bodily from the car due to exhaustion and driven to the podium in the medical car.