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Singapore Grand Prix: Six of the Best: Attritional Races

With F1 returning to the streets this weekend, Crash.net columnist Will Saunders explores those races where the circuit took its toll on the result.
Like many of Formula One's street circuits past and present, Singapore's Marina Bay Circuit has a significantly above average rate of attrition. The combination of a narrow track, omnipresent concrete walls, the length of the race and the intense humidity of Singapore renders the grand prix a race invariably low on finishers.

Across the first five seasons of the Singapore GP, only Monaco (70.9%) and Melbourne's Albert Park (63.5%) have seen lower finishing percentages than the Marina Bay Circuit (75.7%). Bearing testament to this, the safety car has made an appearance in each of the five editions of the Singapore Grand Prix to date - a record unmatched over the equivalent time period.

Singapore still has some way to go to produce a classic attritional race though, with improvements in reliability and a reduction in accidents over time meaning that the days of single digit finishers being commonplace have long passed. With 2013 on course to break last year's record and become the most 'finished' season of all time (with 84.7% of race starts seeing the chequered flag to date), races like the six classic wars of attrition below are unlikely to come around again – even at circuits such as Singapore.


(6 running at flag, 5 out of 19 starters classified finishers)

The 1956 German GP at the old Nurburgring saw the 45-year old Juan Manuel Fangio break a 17-year old lap record around the 'Ring en route to victory and the championship lead for Ferrari.

The race is as notable for the litany of retirements that ensued behind Fangio's serene stroll to victory though, as surprisingly only two could be attributed to accidents. With a race time of 3 hours 38 minutes around 22 laps of the 'Green Hell', the 1956 German Grand Prix saw the Nurburgring live up to its lesser-remembered reputation – as a fearsome car breaker.

The race boasted an entry list populated by Italian powerhouses Ferrari and Maserati, alongside French constructor, Gordini. Fangio started the race from his customary pole position, joined on the four-strong front row by team-mates Peter Collins and Eugenio Castelloti, and Stirling Moss, who had qualified a game fourth as the leading Maserati.

Although Collins took the lead off the line, Fangio came through in the lead at the end of the first lap, and there he would stay for the duration, sailing to victory by 46 seconds from Moss' Maserati, and an astonishing 7 minutes from third-placed man Jean Behra.

The rest of the field slipped by the wayside one-by-one, most notably Collins, who, having been forced into retirement when his fuel line split, took over Alfonso de Portago's car before making a rare mistake and spinning off into a ditch. Bruce Halford also made a notable exit from the results, disqualified en route to hospital for treatment for fuel inhalation having received an illegal push-start from spectators during the race.


(4 running at flag, 4 out of 16 starters classified finishers)

Monaco's unique challenge has provided attritional races across F1 generations, seeing six finishers five times, five finishers in the wet in 1968, and famously a record four classified finishers in 1966.

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Michael Schumacher`s car is craned away on Friday
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Alain Prost (FR), Marlboro McLaren International MP4/2. Monaco Grand Prix, 03/06/1984, Monte Carlo.
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20.07.2014- Race,  The Podium: winner Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W05, 2nd Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams F1 Team FW36, 3rd Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05
20.07.2014- Race, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-29
20.07.2014- Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) Scuderia Ferrari F14T
20.07.2014- Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05
20.07.2014-  Team Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates the victory of Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 and the 3rd place of Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05
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September 18, 2013 7:06 PM

I reckon Monaco 1990 has got to be worth a mention. Of the 35 cars entered 29 would fail to see the chequred flag. As a percentage, that's good going! Five failed to pre-qualify and four more failed to qualify, giving 26 starters, of which one (Piquet) was disqualified mid-race and 18 went out (although Foitek was still classified 7th as he'd managed 72 of the 78 laps when he retired). Just six cars running at the end...


September 19, 2013 12:59 PM

The 1982 Monaco GP HAS to take the biscuit for sheer mayhem. I'm not even going to attempt to describe the carnage in the last three laps, check out professionally written reports elsewhere, but suffice to say the drivers were placed second and third didn't even finish! I have a distant friend who switched his TV off in disgust at Riccardo Patrese (seemingly) throwing away his golden chance for a debut F1 win, and not realising he'd won for over twelve months.....

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