F1 title turnarounds to give Vettel hope

F1 title turnarounds to give Vettel hope

20 September 2017 – Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel finds himself 28 points down on Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton after a dramatic Singapore Grand Prix, with only six rounds remaining. GPUpdate.net looks back at some of the biggest title turnarounds in F1 history, referencing the deficits with the same number of races left to run.

Sebastian Vettel, 2012
29-point deficit to Fernando Alonso

Points system: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1


Vettel claimed four straight titles through 2010-2013, but 2012 was far from straightforward. Seven different winners from the first seven races ensured that nobody established an early lead, before Fernando Alonso strung a sequence of results together and opened up a near 40-point advantage. Vettel had to hit back hard during the final flyaways and four victories on the bounce proved crucial. A first-lap clash with Bruno Senna at the finale in Brazil almost cost him the title, but he recovered to sixth, enough to win the title by three points.

Sebastian Vettel, 2010
31-point deficit to Lewis Hamilton

Points system: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1


Vettel's first title win also came down to the wire. Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari all built race-winning cars in 2010, with the lead battle ebbing and flowing. Lewis Hamilton enjoyed the strongest middle phase of the season to edge clear of his rivals. However, costly retirements in Italy and Singapore dented his challenge, with Vettel, team-mate Mark Webber and Alonso arriving at the final race as the three contenders. Vettel stormed to pole and the win, and with Alonso and Webber only seventh and eighth, he secured the crown by four points.

Kimi Räikkönen, 2007
20-point deficit to Lewis Hamilton

Points system: 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1




Kimi Räikkönen won the 2007 opener in Australia but would not stand on the top step of the podium over the next six races, as McLaren team-mates Alonso and Hamilton pushed each other up front. And when the Alonso/Hamilton relationship turned sour, Räikkönen got his act together, taking back-to-back wins in France and Britain, before a run of six rostrums over the final seven races. Alonso and Hamilton suffered costly retirements in Japan and China, opening the door for Räikkönen, who snatched the title by just one point.

Nelson Piquet, 1981
17-point deficit to Carlos Reutemann

Points system: 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1




In an ultra-close 1981 season, five drivers ended within a victory of the title. Williams' Carlos Reutemann held the upper hand over Brabham's Nelson Piquet early on, winning twice and claiming three further podiums. At one stage, he stretched his lead out to 17 points (worth just under 50 today), after Piquet crashed and injured his leg at Silverstone. But as the second half of the season started, Piquet bounced back, taking four podiums (including a win) from five races, rapidly closing on Reutemann. At the Caesar's Palace finale, pole-sitter Reutemann hit gearbox trouble and dropped back to eighth, as Piquet took fifth to seal the title by a point.

James Hunt, 1976
26-point deficit to Lauda

Points system: 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1




James Hunt and Niki Lauda were the title protagonists during a 1976 season full of drama. Lauda, the reigning champion, and in his third season with Ferrari, made a strong start, winning four of the first six races. But at the German Grand Prix, a horrific crash left him badly burned, and he was read his last rites. Hunt, with a huge deficit, made up ground while Lauda recovered in hospital, though the Austrian's remarkable comeback, just six weeks after the crash, set up a tense title run-in. Ultimately, it would go Hunt's way, with Lauda pulling out of the rain-hit finale at Fuji, and the McLaren driver claiming the third place he needed for the championship.

John Surtees, 1964
14-point deficit to Hill

Points system: 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1


John Surtees became the first – and remains the only – driver to claim world titles on two and four wheels in 1964. He failed to finish three of the opening four races, with only 10 on the calendar at the time. However, a third place, two wins and two second places from the final six races earned him the title. His win was only confirmed on the final lap of the final race in Mexico; with Graham Hill and Jim Clark hitting trouble, Surtees would be crowned champion by finishing second, and Ferrari team-mate Lorenzo Bandini duly moved over.

Written by: Mike Seymour

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