Home Racing News F1 News Five memorable F1 title deciders in Japan

Five memorable F1 title deciders in Japan


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This weekend sees the fourth round of the 2024 Formula 1 season take place around the Suzuka Circuit.

The track has hosted F1 for several decades but has typically been present in the latter stages of the calendar throughout its history.

Therefore, it has naturally been a setting for title-deciders. From Senna to Verstappen, RacingNews365 takes you through five of the most memorable moments involving the clinching of a world championship.

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1990 – Senna and Prost clash – again!

In 1990, F1 descended on the Suzuka Circuit for the penultimate round of the season where 12 months prior, Alain Prost clinched his third title by closing the door on McLaren team-mate Ayrton Senna resulting in contact.

Senna was able to continue in the race but was later disqualified. A year later, Senna had his revenge.

With a lead of nine points over his rival, the duo lined up on the front row of the grid. However, Prost got the better start.

Any attempt to overtake into the first corner was denied by Senna who enacted revenge on Prost by making contact and taking them both out of the race. With just one round remaining in the calendar, the incident allowed Senna to take his second title.

1998 – Hakkinen edges out Schumacher

There was little to separate Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher when the two arrived in Japan for the final round of the 1998 season.

Both vying for the title, Schumacher dealt the first blow by taking pole position – but the German was forced to take the start from the back of the grid after his car stalled on the starting line.

Schumacher rose through the field quickly and found himself in seventh place after the opening laps to bring himself back into contention.

A puncture on lap 31, however, saw Schumacher’s hopes of a first title with Ferrari end, allowing Hakkinen to be crowned champion.

2000 – Schumacher’s Ferrari dream realised

In his fifth F1 season with Ferrari, Schumacher finally bagged a championship with the Italian squad, which would be the start of his historic run of titles in red.

Schumacher took pole position for the start of the race and was sitting pretty for the win before Hakkinen overtook him off the line, setting up the potential for the title to run to the final round in Malaysia.

In the pit stop phases of the race, though, Ferrari held an advantage and got Schumacher back ahead of his rival to secure the title.

2003 – Schumacher hangs on for title number six

Kimi Raikkonen entered the Japan round in 2003 as an outside contender for the title, sitting eight points adrift of Schumacher.

A mixed-up qualifying session saw the German only slot into 14th position on the grid. Raikkonen, though, also did not have his smoothest session and was eighth.

Raikk rose to second place at the chequered while Schumacher endured a disastrous race as he suffered a damaged front wing while overtaking a rival and almost was taken out by brother Ralf.

Schumacher managed to clinch eighth place and a solitary point that ensured he won the title by two points over the Finn.

2022 – Verstappen confusion

Although Max Verstappen’s championship success was of little surprise due to his dominant year, the circumstances around the result marked a bizarre conclusion to his second title.

The grand prix was shortened due to heavy rain that caused a delay and as just 28 out of the 53 scheduled laps were run, Verstappen seemingly had to wait until the following round in the United States to take the title as 75 per cent of the full race distance was not completed.

Full points, though, were awarded due to the wording of a new rule introduced by the FIA in response to the farcical Belgian Grand Prix the year before.

The regulations stated that reduced points would be handed out “if a race is suspended and cannot be resumed”. However, as the race did recommence, Verstappen was handed the title following a commanding drive in which he was roughly one second per lap faster than his closest rivals.

© XPBimages

What’s your favourite Japanese GP? Let us know in the comments section below.



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