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Alain Prost's McLaren in 1986 was not the fastest car on the grid

3 times the slower F1 car won the title

It might be one of the most uncomfortable truths of F1 but it's often the quickest car that wins the title. It doesn't matter who the driver is or what team he/she represents, it is the quickest car that often tends to be the deciding factor in an F1 title battle.

When we talk about fighting for a title, however, having the fastest car on the grid is just one part of the puzzle. There is another part that tends to get missed sometimes: the driver and the team behind him. When it comes to executing an F1 race, you not only need a fast car but you also need a driver who can execute the race perfectly and a team that can help him in devising the perfect strategy.


Having said that, if the car is strong enough, the other factors often don't prove to be that big a differentiating factor. There have, however, been a few moments in the history of the sport when a driver with a slower car has been able to overcome inherent deficits and still win the title. In this feature, we'll take a look at three such scenarios in the history of the sport. So without further ado, let's get straight to it.

#1 1995 F1 Championship - Michael Schumacher (Benetton)


Not many F1 champions are dropped by the team after winning the title. However, this is exactly what happened to Damon Hill after the 1996 season. The seeds of that decision from Williams were, however, sown the previous year when Hill comprehensively lost to Michael Schumacher.


With his victory at the Nürburgring #OTD in 1995, Michael, then with Benetton, achieves the preliminary decision in the fight for the @F1 world championship title.
He wins ahead of Jean Alesi and David Coulthard.

Arguably even more disappointing was the fact that Hill's Williams that season was considered to be a better overall package than Schumacher's Benetton.

This was the second year of regulations where electronic aid had been banned. By this time, Williams, led by the great Adrian Newey, was an optimized car that worked better than anything else on the entire grid. The car achieved success as well as it secured 12 poles in 17 races and was clearly brilliant.

Benetton, on the other hand, was a piece of great machinery as well. It was, however, aided by a better strategic team as well as a driver like Schumacher who was able to mentally break Hill in their battles.

In the end, Schumacher took a very comfortable title win with 102 points by the end of the season to Hill's 69. This was not because of superior machinery, however, but because of a combination of superior skill and the team behind the driver.


#2 1994 F1 Championship - Michael Schumacher (Benetton)

The 1994 F1 season was a rollercoaster of emotions where it was difficult to make sense of what was going on throughout. On one side of the table was Michael Schumacher, who made the most of an early-season car advantage in the first few races of the season when Williams still had not optimized the car according to the new regulations.

The moment that changed everything: Michael wins his first @F1 world championship, #OTD 1994 in Adelaide. An exciting yet nerve-wracking season saw the first german ever to win the biggest trophy in motorsport. #KeepFighting

At the same time, the tragic passing of Ayrton Senna and the rise of Damon Hill was something no one had thought of before the start of the season either. As the season progressed, however, it became clear that Williams was back to being the fastest car on the grid after taking the first few races to figure out the new regulations.

The clash between Schumacher and Hill in the last race decided the title and the controversial nature of the championship did put a dampener on things. It was, however, clear to see that Williams, the fastest car on the grid, lost the title to Benetton in the end.

#3 1986 F1 Championship - Alain Prost (McLaren)

The 1986 F1 Championship is often remembered for the titanic title battle between Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, and Alain Prost. Mansell and Piquet drove for Williams while Prost, the reigning champion at the time, was a McLaren driver.

#OnThisDay in 1986.

Alain Prost (McLaren-TAG-MP4/2C) clinched his second World Championship with victory in the Australian Grand Prix at Adelaide.
There was agony though for Nigel Mansell, who missed out on a first title when his Williams-Honda retired after a tyre failure.

Early in the season, it had become clear that Williams was the class of the field with its Honda engines while McLaren was just not on the same level at most tracks. Having said that, what Williams did not expect was former world champion Nelson Piquet facing a stern test against young recruit Nigel Mansell.

The team's reluctance to exercise control led to increased tensions between the two drivers as Alain Prost kept plucking away at points throughout the season. In the last race of the season, all three drivers were in contention for the title. Heading into the last race of the season, Mansell had won five races, Piquet had won four, and Prost had won three. A late-race puncture for Mansell when he was on his way to winning the title turned the championship on its head and handed the title to Prost. The latter, on his part, did the maximum in his machinery to win the race and seal the title.

Edited by
Anurag C
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