Sunday April 29th, 2001
Mika Hakkinen's last lap retirement from leading Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix evoked memories of some of the biggest surprises and dramas in the sport stretching back more than 30 years. In relatively recent times, it was the biggest upset since the Canadian Grand Prix of 1991, but it also reminded seasoned observers of famous races at Monaco in 1970 and 1982.
On Sunday, Hakkinen was forced to retire by a spectacular clutch failure with only five corners remaining on the final lap as he was guiding his McLaren Mercedes-Benz towards his first victory since the Belgian race in August last year. His enforced retirement let defending champion Michael Schumacher of Germany, in a Ferrari, cruise through to seize his third win of the year.
Hakkinen ended up being classified ninth in the result and scored no points, despite leading for much of the final third of the race and leaving Schumacher trailing in second.
In Montreal, in 1991, Briton Nigel Mansell was a little luckier as he wound up sixth in the official result in his Williams, but he was deeply embarrassed after leading into the final lap and then suffering a curious car failure which saw him slowly cruise around the final lap.
He was passed by Nelson Piquet in a Benetton, much to the Brazilian's surprise and excitement.
In 1970, Briton Jackie Stewart had pole position in a March in the Monaco Grand Prix and led for 27 laps before Australian Jack Brabham, in a Brabham-Ford, took over for the following 52 laps. He looked certain to win, but only finished second after going off the track. The race was won by Austrian Jochen Rindt, in a Lotus, who led only the final lap.
In 1982, Italian Riccardo Patrese won at Monaco, also after leading only the final lap in his Brabham-Ford. He took the chequered flag as his rivals spun off a wet track, the victims including Frenchmen Rene Arnoux and Alain Prost, who led for 14 and 59 laps respectively, and Didier Pironi, who led only one lap at the end.