Hamilton's five final-day title deciders in which he has only won TWO!

Lewis Hamilton has been involved in five final-day title shootouts in his stellar F1 career… but he’s only won TWO! Here’s how Mercedes star tried – and failed – to secure success in 2007, 2010 and 2016, only to be pipped by Raikkonen, Vettel and Rosberg

  • Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will go wheel-to-wheel for the title
  • The pair are level on points going into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi
  • It will be the sixth time in Hamilton’s career that he has had a title shootout 
  • Hamilton is a seven-time champion who could have held ten titles already 

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be the sixth time that Lewis Hamilton enters the final race of the season in a shoot-out to be crowned champion.

Hamilton has been involved in title deciders against Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg during his 15 years in Formula One.

Despite winning a stunning seven championships in his career, he could already have ten titles to his belt if things went in his way in seasons where he narrowly missed out in the final race.

Hamilton goes into the final race of this season level on points with Max Verstappen, knowing all he needs to do is outscore the Dutchman to win his eighth championship. 

But he will start on the back foot in the desert, after his Red Bull rival clinched pole position for Sunday’s race with an outstanding effort in qualifying on Saturday. 

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at Hamilton’s previous title shootouts and see how it went right or wrong for the most successful driver in F1 history.    

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen enter the final race of the season level on points

The pair have had a ferocious scrap for this year’s title which will be decided in Abu Dhabi

CHAMPIONSHIP LOST IN LAST TWO RACES 

2007 – McLaren (2nd)  

Championship order going into the race – Hamilton 107, Alonso 103, Raikkonen 100

Final championship order – Raikkonen 110, Hamilton 109, Alonso 109

Lewis Hamilton’s success in Formula One should come as no surprise by the fact that the one title that slipped through his grasp was in his rookie season. 

Many expected he would play second fiddle to Fernando Alonso who had joined McLaren after two championship winning years for Renault.

But it was immediately clear that Hamilton had the pace to match Alonso and cause him difficulty – which led to troubles with the Spaniard and the team.

Going into the final race of 2007 many expected the battle to be between Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso with not many giving Kimi Raikkonen (back) any hope

It took the then fresh-faced 22-year-old just six races to take his first victory at the Canadian Grand Prix and would go on to take three more that season. 

Going into the penultimate race of the season in China, Hamilton had a 12 point lead over Alonso and 17 points over the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. 

It should be noted that up until the end of 2009, the race winner only got ten points for a victory so Hamilton looked destined to become the first man to win the championship as a rookie since Giuseppe Farina claimed the very first F1 title in 1950. 

At the Chinese Grand Prix, Hamilton led from pole in changeable conditions only to suffer from tyre wear as the track began to dry out.

McLaren elected to keep Hamilton out which ultimately was the turning point of the championship as Raikkonen passed him for the lead on Lap 31 before the Brit finally came into the pits.

Hamilton made a mistake on the first lap before a gearbox issue dropped him to the back

However, as he entered the pit lane with his tyres worn down to the canvas, he failed to negotiate the sharp left-hander into the pits, beaching his car in the gravel.

Despite marshal’s efforts to get him back into the race, he suffered the first retirement of his career wasting the first of two opportunities he had at sealing the 2007 championship. 

Going into Brazil all focus was on the battle between Hamilton and Alonso for the championship, with very few giving Raikkonen any hope of clinching his first title. 

But at Interlagos, a mixture of inexperience and bad luck cost Hamilton the championship, while Ferrari took advantage of a title fight that McLaren threw away.  

At the start the Ferrari pair of Felipe Massa and Raikkonen led away from the front while Alonso got past Hamilton.

Raikkonen took advantage and clinched the championship by one point from Hamilton and Alonso

Hamilton in a desperate move to re-take the position, locked his brakes and went off track rejoining back in eighth.

Then as he worked his way back to sixth, he suffered a gearbox problem which relegated him to 18th place. 

He fought his way back up to seventh but Raikkonen got past team-mate Massa in the pit-stops to win the championship by a solitary point from Hamilton and Alonso who finished the race third.

It was heartbreaking for the Brit and McLaren who essentially threw away the championship in China with a risky strategy. 

Hamilton congratulates Raikkonen after the Finnish driver was crowned 2007 champion

‘IS THAT GLOCK? 

2008 – McLaren (1st) 

Pre-race championship order – Hamilton 94, Massa 87

Final championship order – Hamilton 98, Massa 97 

Just one year later, Hamilton and McLaren were back in Brazil with a chance at redemption as they again led the championship going into the final race.  

A lot had changed in 12 months still with Alonso no longer at McLaren and Massa now the man to lead Ferrari’s charge rather than Raikkonen. 

Again it was a closely fought championship with Hamilton holding a seven point lead going into Brazil – with both men on five wins that season. 

Hamilton entered the 2008 decider with Felipe Massa (left) top of the standings and again nearly lost the title

Hamilton had learned a lot from his desperate driving at the start of the 2007 Brazilian GP and drove a conservative race knowing he needed just a fifth place finish.

Massa was comfortably the quickest man all weekend taking pole position and leading away from the front in changeable conditions on Sunday.

Hamilton fell briefly out of position after drivers pitted for dry tyres, before he got past Giancarlo Fisichella on Lap 18 and was now behind Massa, Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Raikkonen. 

After the second round of stops, Hamilton was ahead of Vettel in fourth and cruising on his way to the championship – only for a late rain shower to create havoc and confusion.

Hamilton was one of many who pitted for intermediates but he dropped to fifth as the Toyota of Timo Glock stayed out on dries as he was still putting in decent lap times.

Massa did everything he could to be champion leading from start to finish at his home race

Hamilton though passed the Toyota of Timo Glock in the last corner to win the championship

Things went from bad to worse for Hamilton as Robert Kubica unlapped himself which caused the McLaren driver to lose traction and allow Vettel through into fifth.

Hamilton had two laps left to work his way back into championship contention.  

Massa did everything he needed to do, driving a brilliant controlled race to win his home Grand Prix and pumped his fists knowing he did all he could to be champion.

He had a 38 second wait to see if he would become champion but it was disappointment for the Brazilian as Martin Brundle delivered potentially the most famous line in Formula One commentary history – ‘is that Glock?’.

The Toyota was 18 seconds slower on his final lap as his dry tyres finally began to struggle in the wet conditions and he was overtaken by Hamilton into the inside of the the final corner, allowing the Brit to finish fifth and become world champion for the first time. 

It sparked crazy celebrations in the McLaren garage while it was heartbreak for Massa and Ferrari – with one mechanic showing his anger by punching a wall and breaking a pane of glass.

Hamilton got his redemption and won the championship in the most dramatic ending the sport will likely see.  

Hamilton celebrates his first championship with his family and then girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger

FOUR-WAY BATTLE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP

2010 – McLaren (4th) 

Pre-race championship order – Alonso 246, Webber 238, Vettel 231, Hamilton 222

Final championship order – Vettel 256, Alonso 252, Webber 242, Hamilton 240

The 2010 Formula One season was the first time in history that four drivers entered the final race with the chance of being crowned champion.

Alonso, Mark Webber and Hamilton all led the championship at varying stages throughout the season but in the end it was Vettel who won his first title having not topped the standings at any part throughout the year.

For Hamilton, it would be near impossible for him to win the championship that year against the class of the field Red Bull cars and he didn’t seem to have the advantage over the Ferrari of Alonso either.  

To win the championship in the deciding race he would have needed Alonso to not score, Webber to finish lower than fifth and Vettel to finish lower than third.

Hamilton running second at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix between Vettel and team-mate Jenson Button

Hamilton qualified second for the race and showed great speed but was unable to keep up with pole-man Vettel, who serenely led from the front. 

Webber pitted early and Alonso who just needed a fourth place finish to win the title, reacted to the Australian’s pitstop in a move that would cost him the championship.

The Spaniard also pitted early and spent the rest of the race stuck behind the Renault of Vitaly Petrov and finished a lowly seventh handing Vettel his first of four championships.   

Hamilton didn’t expect much going into the final race and was probably relieved to even have a chance but it would be his last title fight for McLaren after a messy 2011 season which was his worst in F1, followed by 2012 where his car was quick but unreliable.

Vettel (right) claimed the title in a last race shootout with Hamilton (left), Alonso (second left) and Webber (third left)

Hamilton (left) and team-mate Jenson Button (right) pour champagne over the 2010 champion

THE START OF A NEW ERA

2014 – Mercedes (1st) 

Pre-race championship order – Hamilton 334, Rosberg 317

Final championship order – Hamilton 384, Rosberg 317

In normal circumstances, Hamilton would have needed just a sixth place finish to win the 2014 championship.

However, the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered best as the one and only time in F1 history where double points were on offer.

That meant Hamilton couldn’t afford much margin for error as team-mate Nico Rosberg would have been crowned champion if the German won the race and the Brit finished in third.

The 2014 season saw the start of the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

It was a hard fought championship battle between the pair, with Hamilton in his second season alongside Rosberg having moved to the team in 2013.

With the new V6 hybrid turbo engines, Mercedes were the dominant force on the grid winning 16 of the 19 races that season.

Rosberg who had got the better of Hamilton more often that not in qualifying that year, stuck his car on pole by nearly four tenths from his team-mate with a brilliant lap.

However, it was Hamilton who made the better start getting past Rosberg into the first turn and building a 2.6 second gap by Lap 22.

On Lap 23, Rosberg’s troubles began as he locked up and ran off the track, before two laps later he was told that ERS had failed.

Hamilton clinched his first title with Mercedes as Rosberg struggled with mechanical issues

Rosberg dropped down the field as Hamilton also began to lower his pace and asked his team to keep the engine turned down in an effort to avoid suffering the same fate as his team-mate.

Hamilton held on to take the victory and the championship by 2.5 seconds from Massa’s Williams, while Rosberg valiantly ignored instructions to retire the car and continued until the chequered flag where he finished all the way down in 14th.

The double point situation meant Hamilton won a title by a massive 67 points which was cruel on Rosberg as it didn’t reflect the pressure he put on Hamilton – even if the Brit had won 11 races compared to his team-mate’s five that year. 

Their rivalry would intensify over the next two seasons but it marked the start of an era of domination for the Mercedes team with Hamilton winning six titles in seven years. 

It would be the start of an era of domination for Mercedes with Hamilton winning six of seven titles

TEAM GAME OUT OF THE WINDOW 

2016 – Mercedes (2nd) 

Pre-race championship order – Rosberg 367, Hamilton 355

Final championship order – Rosberg 385, Hamilton 380

The one time Hamilton has not won a championship in the turbo hybrid era came in 2016 in what was the most hard-fought championship battle that the Brit has been involved in. 

After a slow start to the season in which Rosberg won the first four races, the pair took each other out at the Spanish Grand Prix allowing Verstappen to take his first victory.

Hamilton then went on a brilliant run of six victories in seven races before Rosberg won three on the trot to hold an eight point lead going into the 16th race of the season in Malaysia.

Nico Rosberg was crowned 2016 champion despite Hamilton’s best efforts in the final race

That would prove to be the season-defining race as Rosberg recovered from a first-lap collision with Vettel which left him last to finish third, while Hamilton cruelly lost the victory with a Lap 40 engine blowout.

Rosberg subsequently won the Japanese Grand Prix, before three victories from Hamilton put him 12 points behind going into the final race. 

In Abu Dhabi, Hamilton needed to win and hope Rosberg finished no higher than third. Ironically, Hamilton’s best hope of winning the 2016 championship was the Red Bull of Verstappen.  

The Dutchman was on a one-stop strategy and jumped ahead of Rosberg after the German came into the pits.

Rosberg was under huge pressure to pass the combative 19-year-old and was able to do so with a brilliant move on Lap 20 to put himself back into championship position.

Hamilton congratulates Rosberg after his victory was not enough to stop Rosberg from taking the title

Hamilton, not willing to lose the title easily, decided not to play the team game and began to slow the pace down and allowed the chasing group to catch up to the leading Mercedes cars while holding Rosberg around one second behind.

The difficult to overtake layout helped Hamilton not be overtaken himself and Rosberg had to keep his cool with Vettel and Verstappen catching up to the back of him.

At this point individuals within the Mercedes pit wall, namely his race engineer and the team executive director Paddy Lowe began to issue repeated orders to Hamilton to increase his pace, but Hamilton continued to rebuff their requests.  

In the penultimate lap, Vettel attacked Rosberg, who defended his position, with Red Bull also encouraging Verstappen to push up to Vettel’s DRS to take advantage of a mistake by Vettel or Rosberg. 

Rosberg ultimately held out though and was crowned champion in what proved to be his final race as he announced his decision to retire from the sport less than a week later.

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff was able to see two sides to Hamilton’s actions, while not condoning his insubordination, understood the racer’s mentality in this situation. 

HAMILTON V VERSTAPPEN 

Pre-race championship order – Verstappen 369.5 points, Hamilton 369.5 points  

For the first time since 1974, the top two drivers enter the final race of the championship level on points.

It is the closest championship that Hamilton has faced in his 15 years of Formula One and it offers him a different challenge to what he has come up against before.

In 2007 and 2008, Hamilton just needed to attempt to drive conservatively and finish in the top five to seal the championship – with varying results.

Verstappen leads the championship on countback after taking nine wins compared to Hamilton’s eight

Then in 2016 it was Rosberg who had to produce a sensible drive and make sure he just finished behind Hamilton.

In 2021, it will be both drivers who need to push to seal the championship, as whoever finishes ahead of the other will be crowned champion.

In Hamilton’s sixth championship decider, he will be hoping to level the score and win his third title on the final day of the season. 

Hamilton pulled himself level on points after taking three consecutive victories




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