Great Eight... F1 world title-deciding circuits

17th October 2017
Henry Hope-Frost

In a few days’ time, Lewis Hamilton may well be crowned Formula 1 World Champion for the fourth time, thereby becoming Britain’s only quadruple title winner.


With Hamilton, currently a triple Champion alongside Sir Jackie Stewart, enjoying a 59-point lead after a run of poor form for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari, and a maximum of 100 points still available from the final four Grands Prix, there are various permutations that will decide if the Mercedes ace can get the job done in this weekend’s United States GP at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.

If Hamilton wins, he’ll take the title if Vettel finishes sixth or lower. If he finishes second, he’s champion if Vettel is ninth or lower and the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas does not win. Finally, if Hamilton is third, the title fight will continue to the Mexican GP seven days later.

Glory for Hamilton in America will be the second time he’s won motorsport’s top prize in Texas in three years, having secured it there in 2015.

And that got us thinking: which circuits in the 66-year history of the World Championship have hosted the most title-deciding Grands Prix? Some 29 venues have witnessed a showdown since 1950. Here, then, are the ones that have hosted the most.  

Monza – 12 races

The historic Italian venue is the most capped in F1 history, hosting a race every year except one, back in 1980. Monza’s first title-deciding race came in the World Championship’s inaugural season in 1950, when Giuseppe Farina came out on top for Alfa Romeo. Interestingly, Farina is the only World Champion to have been crowned at his home race. It’s a great strike rate for Monza since the Milan parkland circuit has only been the season finale on six occasions. Jody Scheckter’s 1979 title victory was the last to come there – appropriately for Ferrari. 

Title-deciding GPs:

1950 (Giuseppe Farina, Alfa Romeo)*

1953 (Alberto Ascari, Ferrari)*

1956 (Juan Manuel Fangio, Lancia-Ferrari)*

1961 (Phil Hill, Ferrari)

1963 (Jim Clark, Lotus)

1966 (Jack Brabham, Brabham)

1969 (Jackie Stewart, Matra)

1972 (Emerson Fittipaldi, Lotus)

1973 (Stewart, Tyrrell)

1975 (Niki Lauda, Ferrari)

1978 (Mario Andretti, Lotus)

1979 (Jody Scheckter, Ferrari)

*final race of the season

Suzuka – 10 races

Adored by all drivers since it joined the calendar 30 years ago, the super-fast and flowing Japanese circuit has only been the final GP of the year on six occasions (the same number as Monza, incidentally) but it has hosted some classic showdowns, from the heated Senna-Prost confrontations of 1989 and ’90 to the emotional finish that was Damon Hill’s 1996 season and Michael Schumacher’s breaking of a 21-year drought for Ferrari in 2000.

Title-deciding GPs:

1987 (Nelson Piquet, Williams)

1988 (Ayrton Senna, McLaren

1990 (Senna, McLaren)

1991 (Senna, McLaren)

1996 (Damon Hill, Williams)*

1998 (Mika Häkkinen, McLaren)*

1999 (Häkkinen, McLaren)*

2000 (Michael Schumacher, Ferrari)

2003 (Schumacher, Ferrari)*

2011 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull)

*final race of the season

Interlagos – 5 races

The anti-clockwise challenge of Interlagos, home to the Brazilian GP, hosted five title-deciders, consecutively from 2005 to 2009, with three of them the curtain-closer. And who can forget any of them: Fernando Alonso’s double for Renault, Kimi Raikkonen’s last-gasp victory in his debut Ferrari year, Lewis Hamilton’s extraordinary result for McLaren and Jenson Button’s magic moment for Brawn?

Title-deciding GPs:

2005 (Fernando Alonso, Renault)

2006 (Alonso, Renault)*

2007 (Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari)*

2008 (Lewis Hamilton, McLaren)*

2009 (Jenson Button, Brawn)

*final race of the season

Abu Dhabi – 4 races

The United Arab Emirates capital city joined the F1 calendar in 2009 as the season finale, where Jenson Button was able to bask in the glory of having wrapped up the title in the previous race in Brazil. The following year, a four-way scrap for the title ensued between Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, with Vettel becoming the youngest World Champion in F1 history. Since then, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have landed the crown in last-race deciders in the desert.

Title-deciding GPs:

2010 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull)*

2012 (Vettel, Red Bull)

2014 (Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes)*

2016 (Nico Rosberg, Mercedes)*

*final race of the season

Adelaide – 3 races

The City of Churches’ East Parklands street circuit hosted a hugely popular season finale every year between 1985 and ’95 before a season-opening slot was awarded to Melbourne for ’96. And all three title-deciders were drama-filled, with Nigel Mansell’s tyre failure in ’86, Alain Prost finally confirmed as champion in ’89 after the disqualification of McLaren team-mate Ayrton Senna in the previous race in Japan, and Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill colliding in ’94.

Title-deciding GPs:

1986 (Alain Prost, McLaren)*

1989 (Prost, McLaren)*

1994 (Michael Schumacher, Benetton)*

*final race of the season

Mexico City – 3 races

The high-altitude challenge of Mexico City was the last stop for the F1 circus each year between 1964 and ’70 before the race lost its place on the calendar on safety grounds. Three of those GPs provided title showdowns, with John Surtees’ last-gasp victory, by a single point, over fellow Brit Graham Hill perhaps one of the most memorable of F1’s title-deciders.

Title-deciding GPs:

1964 (John Surtees, Ferrari)*

1967 (Denny Hulme, Brabham)*

1968 (Graham Hill, Lotus)*

*final race of the season

Nürburgring Nordschleife – 3 races

The fearsome Nordschleife, which hosted 22 German GPs between 1951 and ’76, was never the final race of the season yet it hosted the title-decider on three occasions. In 1952 the dominant Alberto Ascari sealed the deal for Ferrari with two races to spare, while Juan Manuel Fangio repeated the feat in 1957 after his folklore drive for Maserati. In 1965, Jim Clark secured his second crown for Lotus with three races remaining, having made it six wins from seven races. And he only failed to win in Monaco because he missed the race to win the clashing Indianapolis 500 instead! 

Title-deciding GPs:

1952 (Alberto Ascari, Ferrari)

1957 (Juan Manuel Fangio, Maserati)

1965 (Jim Clark, Lotus) 

Watkins Glen – 3 races

The Upstate New York circuit was a favourite of drivers, teams and fans from 1961 to 1980 and hosted eight curtain-closers in the American fall. On three occasions, it hosted the title-decider. Jochen Rindt was confirmed as the sport’s only posthumous World Champion in 1970, having lost his life in qualifying for the Italian GP a month before. Emerson Fittipaldi and Niki Lauda both secured their second titles there, in 1974 and ’77 respectively, although neither won the race. 

Title-deciding GPs:

1970 (Jochen Rindt, Lotus)

1974 (Emerson Fittipaldi, McLaren)*

1977 (Niki Lauda, Ferrari)

*final race of the season


And not forgetting the 21 circuits that hosted one or two showdowns… 

Estoril, Portugal – 1984 (Niki Lauda) and 1993 (Alain Prost)

Hungaroring, Hungary – 1992 (Nigel Mansell) and 2001 (Michael Schumacher)

Las Vegas, USA – 1981 (Nelson Piquet) and 1982 (Keke Rosberg)


Aida, Japan – 1995 (Schumacher)

Ain-Diab, Morocco – 1958 (Mike Hawthorn)

Austin, USA – 2015 (Lewis Hamilton)

Brands Hatch, Britain – 1985 (Prost)

Bremgarten, Switzerland – 1954 (Juan Manuel Fangio)

Buddh, India – 2013 (Sebastian Vettel)

East London, South Africa – 1962 (Graham Hill)

Fuji, Japan – 1976 (James Hunt)

Jerez, Spain – 1997 (Jacques Villeneuve)

Kyalami, South Africa – 1983 (Piquet)

Magny-Cours, France – 2002 (Schumacher)

Montreal, Canada – 1980 (Alan Jones)

Osterreichring, Austria – 1971 (Jackie Stewart)

Pedralbes, Spain – 1951 (Fangio)

Porto, Portugal – 1960 (Jack Brabham)

Sebring, USA – 1959 (Brabham)

*Silverstone, Britain – 1955 (Fangio)

Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium – 2004 (Schumacher)

*Only after three subsequent races were cancelled

Photography courtesy of LAT Images

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