The five tightest finishes in F1 history


On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the grouped arrival of the Ferraris of Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher at the 2002 United States Grand Prix, Motorsport.com invites you to come back to the tightest finishes in the history of Formula 1.

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5. 1969 Italian Grand Prix

The arrival of the 1969 Italian GP

The arrival of the 1969 Italian GP

As often at that time when the chicanes did not yet exist, the races at Monza are suction events. And as long as a group is formed at the forefront, it is difficult to get out without a significant advantage. Also, the 1969 Italian GP is disputed on this mode and first sees seven pilots escaping at the controls of the race, including the poleman Jochen Rindt (Lotus) and Jackie Stewart (Matra), about to pocket his first world title.

It is moreover the confrontation of these two pilots, the great favorites of the GP, which will concentrate a large part of the attention with a classic pattern which will be repeated: Rindt doubles Stewart in Curva Grande and the Scot returns the Austrian in the Parabolic. As the race progresses, the skimming finally leaves four men for the victory in the last laps: Stewart, Rindt, Jean-Pierre Beltoise (Matra) and Bruce McLaren (McLaren).

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In the final loop, Rindt overtook Stewart in Curva Grande but the Matra driver replied on the straight leading to the Parabolic. It was then that Beltoise attempted a gamble by delaying his braking and diving inside, overtaking the two leaders in the maneuver. But his bet is lost: his trajectory is too outside the exit and he cannot reaccelerate correctly.

Stewart and Rindt played better on the inside, overtook the Frenchman and advanced towards the line, the Lotus driver trying to pass by the right, in vain. Stewart takes the victory and the title, finishing at the top of a top 4 standing in 0.19 on the line.

4. 1982 Austrian Grand Prix

The arrival of the 1982 Austrian GP

The arrival of the 1982 Austrian GP

First long led by the Brabham of Riccardo Patresevictim of a runway excursion following an engine failure, then by the Renault ofAlain Prostalso plagued by an engine problem, the 1982 Austrian Grand Prix saw two drivers without any success in Formula 1 compete for victory in the last moments, namely Elio de Angelis (lotus) and Keke Rosberg (Williams).

Author of a smooth race, the Italian is however under pressure: while the gap between the two men peaked at about fifteen seconds around the halfway point, he only has a mattress of four seconds on the Finn when he inherits the lead. But this margin crumbles irreparably, so that at the start of the final loop, there is only one second and six tenths behind for the Williams at number 6.

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The gap seemed sufficient to resist but Rosberg’s attack combined with a misfire from the engine of the Lotus almost completely wiped out De Angelis’ lead. The future World Champion is trying everything to prepare his overtaking as well as possible, but the resistance of the leader is fierce.

In a last-ditch maneuver, Rosberg – who was trying to go inside on the last corner – briefly repositioned himself in the draft at the start of the final straight and overran on the right, but in vain. De Angelis offered his very first success, the last to be attended by the legendary Colin Chapman, barely two meters ahead of his rival.

3. 1986 Spanish Grand Prix

The arrival of the 1986 Spanish GP

The arrival of the 1986 Spanish GP

Author of the pole position, Ayrton Senna (Lotus) retained the lead in the 1986 Spanish GP at the start. The Brazilian will however be confronted for a long time with opposition that is both close and rather dense: after 20 laps, the first five are indeed separated by less than four seconds. Sacred first for the circuit of Jerez in F1, which however did not arouse the enthusiasm of the pilots…

During the next twenty rounds, Nigel Mansell will prove to be Senna’s most pressing opponent, to the point of overtaking him, not without using a latecomer, on the 40th lap of the race. The Briton, armed with a formidable Williams, widened the gap, counting half a dozen seconds of margin on the Brazilian at the time of the 46th lap. But that’s when one of Mansell’s rear tires began to lose pressure after hitting a piece of debris.

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Mansell sees Senna and even Prost returning. The fight becomes intense when Senna tries the blow from the 60th lap but comes up against fierce resistance from the Briton. The latter, under pressure, then made the choice, ten laps from the goal, to go through the pits to change tires. He emerged twenty seconds behind the leader but with new tyres. However, the holding of the Goodyear envelopes which equip the three leaders is a big problem: Prost is obliged to let go. Now alone in the lead, however, Senna suffers a haemorrhage of seconds against a Mansell on another planet.

Despite a surly defense, Prost could not do much and finally gave in on the 69th pass. The eight seconds behind Senna are almost erased in just two laps. On the 72nd and final lap, Mansell gave it his all and got back into Senna’s exhaust on the final hairpin. In great difficulty on the re-acceleration, Senna still manages to stay, just in front of the Williams, tumbling on his left, when crossing the finish line.

2. 2002 United States Grand Prix

The arrival of the 2002 United States GP

The arrival of the 2002 United States GP

Starting from pole position, Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) will easily lead the entire race. The German is in an ideal position: titled since the GP of France, 11th event of a season counting 17, he approaches the penultimate stage of the 2002 campaign, in Indianapolis, without any pressure, he who has just equal the five titles of Juan Manuel Fangio.

The gap between him and his team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who took the lead when his leader made two stops, never exceeded four seconds. In the final laps, the margin between the two drivers will narrow, with both men ostensibly preparing for a combined finish; in the final corner, the banking of the famous oval, the Ferrari hit by #1 shifts to the outside and lets the other F2002 return to its height inside.

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The two drivers pass the reacceleration phase side by side, almost at the same level when crossing the finish line… Almost, because the timing places the Brazilian in the lead and therefore the winner by 0″011! narrowest gap recorded since the introduction of timing to the nearest thousand If Schumacher assured just after the race that it was simply an improvised attempt to finish in perfect equality, many will see in this arrival the compensation of the final controversy of the Austrian GP of the same year and others a new manipulation of the results on the part of a Scuderia also arch dominating.

1. 1971 Italian Grand Prix

The arrival of the 1971 Italian GP

The arrival of the 1971 Italian GP

Last edition of the Italian GP without the chicanes (Ascari and the Variante del Rettifilio will appear in 1972), requested by the pilots for more safety, the 1971 Italian GP is marked by an impressive finish, even tighter than two years before and with even more contenders for victory. After about fifty laps, the skimming is definitely done and five men will fight for victory: Ronnie Peterson (March), Francois Cevert (Tyrell), Mike Hailwood (Surtees), Howden Ganley (BRM) and Peter Gethin (BRM).

Contrary to 1969, there is not really an undisputed leader even if the Swede most often showed himself in the lead, especially in the first part of the race, being even the only driver capable of keeping the controls several times over several rounds. But this is much less true at the end of the GP, and the fight is raging to position themselves as well as possible.

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Heading into the final lap, Cevert passed Peterson on the straight as Gethin outplayed Hailwood, all in front of a cautious but ambush Ganley. Then comes the end of the lap: the Frenchman wanting to take advantage of a draft towards the finish line, he encourages the Swede to pass him at the start of the last bend by shifting clearly.

Peterson didn’t need to be asked, but Gethin got involved and smelled the right move: like Beltoise two years earlier, he tried the interior by delaying the braking. The maneuver was successful this time and Peterson, who on his side turned too wide, was unable to resist. He tries to resume suction and overflows but a little too late. Peter Gethin surprised everyone and took a tempting top 5 in six tenths! It will be his only victory in F1.

The 15 lowest gaps in F1 history

Grand PrizeDifferenceWinnerSecond
1Italy 19710″010P. GethinR. Peterson
2USA 2002

0″011

R.BarrichelloMr Schumacher
3Spain 19860″014A. SennaN.Mansell
4Austria 19820″050E. De AngelisK.Rosberg
5Italy 19690″080J.StewartJ.Rindt
6France 19540″100JM FangioK.Kling
7France 19610″100G.BaghettiD.Gurney
8Canada 20000″174Mr SchumacherR.Barrichello
9Austria 20020″182Mr SchumacherR.Barrichello
10Great Britain 19550″200S. MossJM Fangio
11Italy 19670″200J.SurteesJ. Brabham
12Spain 19810″211G. VilleneuveJ.Laffite
13Monaco 19920″215A. SennaN.Mansell
14San Marino 20050″215F.AlonsoMr Schumacher
15Netherlands 19850″232N.LaudaA.Prost

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