Coming unto the fifth round of 2014 Formula 1 season at Barcelona, one has to wonder if Alonso can pull off the same sort of victory as he did at this circuit one year ago.
If he does, it is sure to be a popular win, as the Spanish crowds have demonstrated their passion for the two-time champion before when he has won at home. With this in mind, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable and emotional Formula 1 home Grand Prix wins.
No. 5: Gilles Villeneuve – 1978 Canadian Grand Prix
Villeneuve’s first full season in Formula 1 had had its highlights, such as the Canadian’s first podium in the attrition-filled Austrian Grand Prix, but he entered the final round with just a mere eight points during the first 15 rounds of the season. Still, the Canadian fans flocked to the new Formula 1 circuit on the Ile de Notre-Dame in Montreal to watch the French-Canadian Ferrari driver perform. Starting third, Villeneuve ran up front all race. He took the lead when race leader Jean-Pierre Jarier retired with a mechanical failure 20 laps from the end. Gilles went on to take his first Formula 1 victory in front of his home crowd. After his tragic death at Zolder in 1982, the Montreal circuit was renamed to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, which it remains today.
No. 4: Lewis Hamilton – 2008 British Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton dominated the action-packed 2008 British Grand Prix at Silverstone which was held in changing (but mostly damp) weather conditions. When all was said and done, Hamilton crossed the finish line over a minute ahead of second place finisher Nick Heidfeld. Hamilton started fourth and was up to second behind teammate Heikki Kovalainen in the first corner. Five laps later, he disposed of the Finn going through Becketts and never looked back. The local British crowd were treated to a show, not only by seeing their home man display some wet-weather mastery en route to his first home grand prix victory, but also by a soggy spinfest that took place behind him. Seven of the 20 starters were unable to finish due to accidents.
No. 3: Fernando Alonso – 2012 European Grand Prix
A Ferrari win at the 2012 European Grand Prix seemed out of the question, given that the team had made a major folly in qualifying and so neither of its cars would start in the top 10. However, Alonso pulled off a stunner, moving his way up to eighth place on the first lap and then picking off cars one by one on his way to the front. A well-timed safety car also helped the Spaniard take care of one of his stops and erased a 20 second gap to race leader Sebastian Vettel… who eventually retired from the race due to an alternator issue. Alonso took the lead and the win, but it would take a while for him to get to the podium. Fernando was so delighted to have won in front of his home crowd, that he exited the car and spent the next ten minutes waving the Spanish flag in front of the spectators.
No. 2: Ayrton Senna – 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix
En route to his third and final Formula 1 World Championship, Ayrton Senna claimed an emotional victory in front of his home crowd. It was one of the most physically demanding races for the Brazilian as, late in the race, his gearbox began to fail, forcing him to have to drive with the car stuck in sixth gear. Senna won by a mere 2.9 seconds and, due to physical stress he had endured trying to fight with the car, had to be assisted out of the cockpit and up to the top step of the podium, where he was finally able to celebrate in front of his home fans.
No. 1: Nigel Mansell – 1987 British Grand Prix
Nigel Mansell won at Silverstone on three occasions, and each of them had a memorable end to it. However, the one that takes the cake was the 1987 race where, in the dying laps, Mansell made an incredible pass on his teammate Nelson Piquet to steal the lead from him. Mansell won, only to run out of gas on the cool down lap and have the fans swarm over his car. In 1991, it was Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna who ran out of fuel, and Nigel Mansell offered him a lift-home to pit road on the side-pod of his Williams. Then, in 1992, Mansell dominated only to have his car stopped by his British fan base on the cool-down lap again.