With four drivers in with a chance of hunting down Fernando Alonso’s 40 point lead in the championship, ESPNF1 looks back at ten of the best comebacks in the second half of an F1 season
Sebastian Vettel did not lead the driver’s championship until the final round in his first year of title success. With five rounds to go he was fifth in the standings and 24 points adrift of Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber. But despite being dubbed the “crash kid” after his collision with Jenson Button in Belgium, he hit back with three victories in the final five races and even a blown engine at the Korean Grand Prix didn’t stop his charge. Heading into the final race he was still in third and 15 points shy of Fernando Alonso, but rather than heed calls to support his team-mate’s bid for the title – Webber was seven points ahead – he went all out for victory and came out on top. The win set him up perfectly for a second title in 2011 and he has never looked back.
With just two races to go in 2007, Kimi Raikkonen was 17 points off Lewis Hamilton at a time when a win only counted for 10 points. Hamilton should have wrapped up the title at the penultimate round in China, but ended his race in a pit lane gravel trap while Raikkonen cruised to victory. The scene was then set for a fantastic showdown in Brazil, but it was still the McLaren duo of Hamilton and Fernando Alonso that were expected to settle their season-long grudge match with Raikkonen still seven points off the top. However, Ferrari had the fastest car in Brazil, and when Hamilton lost positions at the start and then temporarily lost drive on lap eight Raikkonen was in with a chance. His Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa played his part by positioning his car between Raikkonen and Alonso and the Finn took the title by a single point. Arguably McLaren had lost rather than Raikkonen winning, but the Ferrari driver’s comeback in the final two races was not to be sniffed at.
Jacques Villeneuve was 14 points off Michael Schumacher after eight races in 1997, despite both taking three victories. It was perhaps surprising that Villeneuve was so far behind as he clearly had the fastest car and had taken pole position at five of the first six races. But a gearbox issue at Imola and a couple of accidents in Monaco and Canada created a worrying gap to the Ferrari driver and meant more victories were required in the second half of the season. Villeneuve took four to Schumacher’s two over the next eight races and lined up one point behind the German heading into a showdown at the final race at Jerez. Schumacher got an early lead in the race but Villeneuve closed
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