Join DRAKE at STAKE F1 PARTNER
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Race winner and 2021 F1 World Drivers Champion Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates with Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Three Times the F1 Title Race Went Down to the Last Race

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Race winner and 2021 F1 World Drivers Champion Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates with Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

After one of the most incredible F1 seasons in recent memory, Max Verstappen has been crowned the winner of the Drivers’ Championship for 2021.

The Dutchman has spoken of his desire for Red Bull to dominate the sport for years to come, while you suspect Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will have been left hurting deeply after losing their crown at the last hurdle.

It all serves to set the 2022 season up rather nicely, and you suspect the betting odds for that from the likes of Space Casino will indicate an almost 50/50 race for the title once again – an appetising prospect.

Amazingly, given how long the standard F1 season is – and how many points there are to be won and lost, the shootout between Verstappen and Hamilton in Abu Dhabi isn’t the first time that the championship has gone down to the final race of the term.

And, as you might expect, it’s very rarely dull when that’s the case…

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 14:  Race winner and F1 2010 World Champion Sebastian Vettel (2nd left) of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates with Red Bull Racing Motorsport Consultant Dr Helmut Marko (left), Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey (2nd right) and Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner (right) in their team garage following the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 14, 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Vettel; Christian Horner; Adrian Newey; Helmut Marko

2010: The Four-Way F1 Dance

You have to go back to 2010 to find the last time that the Formula One campaign ended in such dramatic fashion.

Sebastian Vettel pulled off the perfect smash-and-grab raid. He hadn’t once led the championship standing in a season that the lead changed hand on an unprecedented eight occasions.

Three other drivers – Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber – also had a mathematical chance of lifting the trophy, but it was Vettel who finished the strongest of all. He claimed victory in three of the final four races of the campaign, including on the final day in Abu Dhabi, to become the youngest champion in F1 history.

Lewis Hamilton Has Flashback as He Prepares to Battle Max Verstappen During  Abu Dhabi GP

2008: Last Lap Glory

Going down to the last race of the season is one thing, but the final lap? F1 fans have rarely seen drama like it.

The young upstart, Hamilton, had led the way for much of the season in his McLaren. However, a slow end to the campaign – he won just one of the last eight Grand Prix races – opened the door to Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.

Even so, the title was in Hamilton’s hands – all he had to do was finish fifth or better at Interlagos, which also just happened to be Massa’s home circuit.

The Brazilian held up his end of the bargain, dominating the race from start to finish. The local crowd celebrated, but all eyes were on Hamilton further back in proceedings.

As the rain began to fall, Vettel overtook the Brit and left him in sixth place – the noise from the home faithful was almost deafening. Timo Glock, who hadn’t changed his tyres despite the downfall, started to lose time and in the final stretches Hamilton was able to roar past the German to complete the most extraordinary finish to the 2008 season.

1976: Life and Death

For one of the most extraordinary finishes to an F1 campaign, we have to head back all the way to 1976.

It’s a season so remarkable that it was documented in a Hollywood movie – Rush, with Niki Lauda battling back from a potentially life-ending crash at the Nürburgring that left his Ferrari a fireball.

Still wearing bandages on his head and hands, Lauda returned after missing just two races with his injuries. So good had his start to the season been that he still had a chance of winning the title heading into the Japanese GP curtain call.

Standing in his way was the ever-popular James Hunt, as well as a torrential downpour at the Fuji Speedway track that threatened the race even happening.

In the end, Lauda retired after just two laps, claiming that ‘my life is worth more than any title.’ A dramatic and poignant way to end the campaign, as were the other two astonishing title races on this list.