This weekend’s Formula 1 race at Bahrain will be the 900th official F1 race. Although that may seem like just a number, looking back at Grand Prix No. 700 and No. 800, there seems to be some element of excitement and controversy during these hundred-race celebrations.
Grand Prix No. 700: 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix
Many of the most memorable Formula 1 races are made exciting by wet-weather conditions. During the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix, rain showers and a safety car had led to various tire strategies and a shake-up in race order. As the track dried out, the drivers began to pick up their lap times. However, a stream of water was running down the hill and across turn three, leading many cars (Jos Verstappen, Jenson Button, Antonio Pizzonia, Juan Pablo Montoya and Michael Schumacher) to spin out in the corner.
The race ended prematurely due to a bizarre set of crashes out of the final turn: Mark Webber had slid into the tire wall and across the track in his Jaguar. Yellow flags were waved but Fernando Alonso failed to slow down enough and drove into the debris, resulting in him being taken away in an ambulance instead of on the third step of the podium.
It took a while for the official race winner to be declared as Jordan’s Giancarlo Fissichella had just passed McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen for the lead. While Fissichella’s car burned up on pit road, the stewards were investigating footage to determine whether Raikkonen or Fissichella had won based on the timing on the red flag. Initially Raikkonen got to stand on the top step of the podium, until the decision was reversed later in the week and Fissichella was declared the official winner.
Grand Prix No. 800: 2008 Singapore Grand Prix
The 2008 Singapore Grand Prix was already historic in that it was Formula 1’s first ever night race … on a street circuit. As with any new street course, many were curious as to whether this race would prove to be a race of attrition. It was not to be however, with only Kimi Raikkonen, Adrian Sutil and Nelson Piquet Jr. retiring due to accident damage.
However, there was something abnormal in the way in which Piquet had crashed. The Renault driver was the teammate of eventual race winner Fernando Alonso, who had benefitted immensely due to the ensuing safety car. Skeptics began to question whether Piquet had, in fact, crashed intentionally to bring out the safety car to help Alonso win.
During 2009, it was revealed that there had been orders to Piquet to intentionally crash the car. Team principal Flavio Briatore and chief engineer Pat Symonds were temporarily banned from Formula 1, though Fernando Alonso and Renault were allowed to keep the win.Bahrain GP, Brazilian GP, Fernando Alonso, Formula 1, Michael Schumacher, Singapore GP