Should Lewis Hamilton overcome the double threat poised by McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen at Interlagos this weekend, he would join a select group incorporating some of the sport's biggest names.

Since the world championship started in 1950, there have been ten three-way shoot-outs at the last round, but only half of those have been won by the man leading heading into the finale.

The two most recent - in 1983 and 1986 - both went to the driver sitting second, while it can be argued that Keke Rosberg's 1982 triumph was aided in no small part by Didier Pironi sitting on the sidelines following his Hockenheim smash earlier in the season, meaning that the Caesar's Palace round was not a true three-way battle. Indeed, had the Frenchman still been active, the battle with Rosberg and John Watson may never have come to pass at all.

In 1983, Nelson Piquet overcame a two-point deficit to snatch the crown from Alain Prost at Kyalami - just as he had with Carlos Reutemann at Caesar's Palace in '81 - while, three years later, it was the Frenchman's turn to deprive the Brazilian and series leader Nigel Mansell as both Williams drivers ran into tyre trouble in Adelaide.

Joining Rosberg among those to hold onto their points advantage in the final round, Emerson Fittipaldi benefited from neither Clay Regazzoni or Jody Scheckter scoring in the 1974 finale at Watkins Glen, while Graham Hill won the 1968 season-closer in Mexico City, but benefited from rivals Jackie Stewart and Denny Hulme both dropping out of the race beforehand.

Four years previously, Hill had seen a five-point cushion overturned by fellow Briton John Surtees, again in Mexico City, when his BRM was classified two laps off the pace. Second place on that occasion was enough for Surtees to become the first - and only - man to win world titles on two and four wheels, but the two points that Hill had to drop from earlier in the season - totals were based on the 'best results' in those days - would have seen him crowned champion.

As with Prost and, on both occasions, Piquet, Surtees came from second in the standings to clinch the title, something that Fernando Alonso will hope to achieve this weekend. But there is also hope for Raikkonen too, as the first ever world championship was decided in a three-way shoot-out between the Three Fs - Juan Manuel Fangio, Luigi Fagioli and Giuseppe Farina - with the last named coming from four points back to beat his rivals to the crown. Raikkonen has a little more to do on Sunday, but will hold on to the hope that the cards will fall his way.

The fifth leader to hold on to his pre-race advantage was Jack Brabham who, despite having to drop the three points he scored in the 1959 finale at Sebring, managed to hold off Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss in the end-of-season standings.

1950 (before and after final round)

Fangio 26Fagioli 24Farina 22

Farina 30Fangio 27Fagioli 24


Fangio 27Ascari 25Gonzalez 21

Fangio 31Ascari 25Gonz?lez 24


Brabham 31Moss 25.5Brooks 23

Brabham 31Brooks 27Moss 25.5


G Hill 39Surtees 34Clark 30

Surtees 40Hill 39Clark 32


G Hill 39Stewart 36Hulme 33

Hill 48Stewart 36Hulme 33


Fittipaldi 52Regazzoni 52Scheckter 45

Fittipaldi 55Regazzoni 52Scheckter 45


Reutemann 49Piquet 48Laffite 43

Piquet 50Reutemann 49Jones 46


Rosberg 42Pironi 39Watson 33

Rosberg 44Pironi 39Watson 39


Prost 57Piquet 55Arnoux 49

Piquet 59Prost 57Arnoux 49


Mansell 70Prost 64Piquet 63

Prost 72Mansell 70Piquet 69

Data courtesy David Hayhoe/Roger Smith



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