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Singapore Grand Prix: Six of the Best: Attritional Races

A 2.5-mile, 17-corner 'point and squirt' style circuit, renowned for being exceptionally bumpy, slower than Monaco and containing the only level crossing in F1 history, Detroit was a fixture of the calendar from 1982 to 1988, displaying remarkable staying power compared to Dallas, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The first attempt to start the 1984 race was an ominous portent – ending with polesitter Nelson Piquet's Brabham and Marc Surer intertwined and blocking the track, forcing a red flag.

The second start was clean, and the field peeled away in formation. With the dual challenges of the oppressive heat and abrasive circuit, the race quickly became an attritional battle. First Alain Prost, and then Nigel Mansell, dropped back from Piquet's tail and, by half distance, only 13 cars were left.

One man on the up as his rivals fell by the wayside was Martin Brundle, whose Tyrrell, like a slasher movie killer, stalked through the points positions, inheriting 5th from Derek Warwick, 4th from Keke Rosberg, third from Michele Alboreto, and second place from Elio de Angelis when the Lotus' gearbox expired.

Ultimately though, Brundle's charge would be in vain, with Tyrrell's points subsequently erased and their results rescinded on a fuel infringement. When the Detroit results were adjusted, there weren't enough finishers to make up the points, and Jacques Laffite in 5th took the final points – the last time until the 2005 US GP that points would go unawarded. Factoring in the Tyrrell disqualifications, Detroit saw 21 retirements, 13 of which were mechanical – setting a record for attrition that will likely stand for years to come.


(8 running at flag, 8 out of 26 starters classified finishers)

A race best remembered for Jos Verstappen's pit-lane fire, the 1994 German Grand Prix was also notable for a remarkable double start-line accident which saw a record 11 retirements on the opening lap.

Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi had qualified their V12 Ferraris first and second, giving the Maranello outfit a welcome fillip. The season had thus far been dominated by Michael Schumacher, but Hockenheim was not well suited to the Benetton's V8 Ford engine, despite the hopes of the thousands of German fans who turned out to cheer on their hero.

Within seconds of the race start, Alex Zanardi and Andrea de Cesaris tangled, taking out the Minardis of Michele Alboreto and Pierluigi Martini well before the first corner. Up ahead, Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard touched, sending the Finn's McLaren spearing across the field, collecting Mark Blundell, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello, Johnny Herbert and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Häkkinen was subsequently given a one-race ban, the last such punishment until Romain Grosjean's 2012 indiscretions at Spa led to him being benched for the Italian GP.

Amazingly, given the carnage, neither the red flags nor the safety car were deployed, and the race continued unabated. Not for Alesi though, as the #27 Ferrari broke down on the first lap. For a brief moment, Ukyo Katayama ran second, before Schumacher took the fight to Berger. Despite hounding the Austrian for almost 20 laps, the Benetton couldn't muster the necessary grunt to get alongside the Ferrari on the straights, and Schumacher's race ended in a disappointing engine failure.

The German was followed in retirement by his team-mate's harrowing inferno, leaving Berger to coast to victory from Olivier Panis and Eric Bérnard in the Ligiers – Panis taking his first points and marking the last time that two drivers scored their maiden podiums on the same weekend.


(3 running at flag, 7 out of 21 starters classified finishers)

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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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