Can Anyone Stop Sebastian Vettel? Top 5 F1 Title Comebacks

Fraser Masefield@@fmasefieldContributor ISeptember 9, 2013

Can Anyone Stop Sebastian Vettel? Top 5 F1 Title Comebacks

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    Immediately after the Italian Grand Prix, a clearly frustrated Lewis Hamilton let his emotions get the better of him and conceded to BBC Sport that his title chances were over.

    He had lost his radio communication, a driver’s lifeline to his team, during the race and was effectively driving blind in having to make his own calls on when to push and when to pit.

    That he still finished ninth was a herculean effort in itself.

    Having had time to cool off and reflect, Hamilton told reporters he wasn’t giving up on the title just yet although he would have to win practically every race.

    Of course, it’s going to be a massively tall order with Hamilton now 81 points behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

    History will show Hamilton that overhauling a huge points margin in the second half of the season is possible as these five late title charges go to show.  

2010 : Vettel Overhauls Alonso and Webber

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    The reigning three-time world champion knows more than anybody else about the importance of not throwing in the towel until the final race of the season as it’s exactly how he won his first world title in 2010.

    After a season punctuated by rash moves and collisions with teammate Mark Webber in Turkey and Jenson Button in Spa, Vettel found himself fifth in the standings and 24 points behind Webber with five rounds remaining.

    He followed up a second place in Singapore with a win in Japan but a blown engine in Korea looked to have ended his hopes.

    Still Vettel wasn’t done, and victory in Brazil meant he lay third, 15 points behind leader Fernando Alonso and a further seven behind Webber heading into the final race.

    And as Alonso and Webber faltered under the pressure, Vettel surged to victory from the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button to snatch his first world title by four points from Alonso.

2007 – Raikkonen Slips Under the Radar

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    With only two races remaining, Ferrari’s Raikkonen found himself 17 points off Lewis Hamilton and nobody even considered him a threat for the title with a race win then worth just ten points.  

    Hamilton had dominated in his debut season for McLaren against the odds and was looking good to wrap the title up in China until inexplicably going off into the gravel trap on his way into the pits.

    It left Raikkonen seven points behind going into the final race, and a terrible start from Hamilton and a loss of drive on lap 8 gave the Finn all the incentive he needed to take victory and the title by a single point.

1976 – Hunt Pips Brave Lauda

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    Having won his first title the previous year, Niki Lauda looked destined to make it two in as many years as he held a mighty 26-point lead over James Hunt going into the now infamous tenth round at the Nurburgring.

    On the second lap, Lauda lost control of his Ferrari into Bergwerk and his car burst into flames, the Austrian receiving terrible burns and barely escaping with his life. 

    Against all the odds he returned for the final four rounds of the season and still held a three point lead over Hunt after the Englishman’s disqualification from the British GP.


1973 – Stewart Fights Back Against Fittipaldi

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    Having surged to his first drivers’ title in 1972, Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi looked as if he would yet again dominate the 1973 season after starting with three wins, two third places and a second place finish at Monaco in the opening six races.

    But retirements in France, Britain, Holland and Austria allowed Jackie Stewart to seize the initiative.

    And despite second place finishes in Italy and Canada, the Scot beat him to the title after an amazing charge through the field to finish fourth in Italy.

1964 – Surtees Halts Clark Charge

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    Having blitzed the field with seven victories out of ten in the 1963 season, Jim Clark looked set to do it all over again after winning three out of the first five races the following year.

    In doing so, he held a 20-point lead over eventual champion John Surtees with Graham Hill looking like his most likely challenger.

    But retirements in Germany, Austria and Italy and a seventh place finish in the U.S. meant that going into the title decider at Mexico, Hill led with 39 points from Surtees on 34 and Clark on 30.

    Clark again looked set for the title when leading with two laps to go misfortune struck again and he retired two laps from the end.

    Surtees took second place to ensure the title win and become a champion on four wheels as well as two.


    Have I missed any out? Perhaps Nelson Piquet in 1981 or Alain Prost in 1986? Let me know your thoughts below or Tweet me @fmasefield.