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One ’n’ done: Formula 1's greatest one-off wins

 

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9. 1995 Canadian GP, Jean Alesi (Ferrari)

It might not have been a classic race, but there was so much emotion involved in Jean Alesi's one and only victory that it earned its place in our top 10. The Frenchman had been a big name in the sport since his early races with Tyrrell marked him as a future star, but his first three years with Ferrari brought a lot of disappointment as he struggled with a car that was at best the third fastest in the field, and was sometimes far worse than that.

His fourth year with the Scuderia started well, despite Benetton and Williams continuing to set the pace, and he picked up second places in Argentina and Imola. In Montreal from fifth on the grid he passed Gerhard Berger and Damon Hill and worked his way into another solid second place. Then leader Michael Schumacher hit an electronic glitch, and fell off the pace. Alesi swept into the lead with 11 laps to go and made it safely to the flag. He'd waited 91 races, it was his 31st birthday, and he was driving the famous No. 27 Ferrari on Gilles Villeneuve's home ground. The tears flowed.

Jean would race on for another six seasons, but unfathomably his career ended with just one win on a résumé that included 31 other podium finishes.

 

8. 1975 Brazilian GP: Carlos Pace (Brabham)

Carlos Pace had always lived in the shadow of countryman Emerson Fittipaldi, but many believed that he was just as talented as his fellow Brazilian. After driving for Frank Williams and John Surtees, Pace got his big break when he moved to Brabham in the middle of 1974. In the final race of the year at Watkins Glen he took runner-up spot behind team mate Carlos Reutemann. In the second race of '75 at Interlagos he started only sixth, but inspired by his home crowd, drove the race of his life.

He jumped up to third on the first lap, and relieved Reutemann of second on lap 14. Leader Jean-Pierre Jarier remained out of reach, but with eight laps to go, the Shadow coasted to a halt. Pace sailed into the lead and, staying safely ahead of Fittipaldi, brought the car home to a hero's welcome. There were podiums but no more wins before his death in a plane crash two years later, after which Interlagos was renamed as the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.

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