Formula 1®

The shortest races in Formula 1 history

The Italian Grand Prix is the last race of the season on European soil. The high average speed at Monza also makes it the shortest grand prix of the year. We therefore thought it would be interesting to look back at the shortest races in Formula 1 history and explain the special circumstances that led to them not going the full distance.

1991 Australian GP – 24:34.899 minutes

The grand finale to the 1991 season in Adelaide was a washout. Because of heavy rain, the start was initially postponed by one lap and then given the all-clear when the rain temporarily let up. But almost immediately, the heavens opened again and numerous collisions ensued, including one between Michael Schumacher and Jean Alesi. Several of the drivers gesticulated to indicate that the race should be stopped.

The stewards finally concurred after 16 laps. The result was then decided on positions after 14 laps. The race winner was Ayrton Senna ahead of Gerhard Berger and Nigel Mansell, but because only 53 kilometres had been driven – i.e. significantly less than the minimum 75% of the race distance – only half points were awarded.

1975 Spanish GP – 42:53.700 minutes

Rolf Stommelen was leading the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Montjuïc when his rear wing broke off and he flew over the crash barriers into the spectators standing behind. Five of them were killed, while the German driver survived with injuries.

The race stewards were slow to respond, and it wasn’t until four laps after the devastating accident that they halted the race. In the meantime, Jochen Mass had got past Jacky Ickx and so celebrated his only race win, but in very sad circumstances. Due to the short race distance, only half points were awarded. Lella Lombardi therefore scored a half point and became the only female Formula 1 contestant to have so far finished in the points.

2009 Malaysian GP – 55:30.622 minutes

The Malaysian GP at Sepang started on a dry track, but after 23 laps, the rain became more intense and the race stewards decided to deploy the safety car. Yet cars were still continuing to spin off track, so the race was eventually red-flagged after 31 laps.

The teams formed up on the grid in anticipation of a continuation and tried to protect the cars as much as possible from the monsoon rains – but in vain. At 18:52 local time, the stewards announced that, with the onset of darkness, the Grand Prix would not be resumed and declared Brawn driver Jenson Button the winner.

1975 Austrian GP – 57:56.690 minutes

Because it began to rain heavily shortly before the start of the race at the Österreichring near Spielberg, the start was postponed for several minutes. After the lights went out on the gantry, race conditions gradually worsened until the organisers finally called it off after 29 laps.

It was a decision that caught race leader Vittorio Brambilla by surprise. He raised his hands in celebration as he crossed the finish line but then lost control of his car and crashed into the barriers on the home straight. It was to be the Italian’s first and only victory in Formula 1, and also his last ever podium appearance.

1984 Monaco GP – 01:01:07.740 hours

Since the morning, the principality of Monaco had been lashed by heavy rains. The race nonetheless went ahead, albeit with a 45-minute delay. But because the conditions showed no signs of improvement, race director Jacky Ickx brought out the red flags after 31 laps. The former F1 driver subsequently came in for a lot of criticism, because he was accused of wanting to protect race leader Alain Prost from the rapidly closing Ayrton Senna and Stefan Bellof.

Although Bellof had started from the rear of the grid, he had fought his way through to third. He was to lose the podium anyway at the end of the season, because Tyrrell were subsequently excluded from the world championship for having fielded underweight cars.

1978 Italian GP – 01:07:04.540 hours

Ronny Peterson was at the centre of a pile-up at Monza, in which the Swedish driver’s Lotus went up in flames. The race was interrupted and Peterson was transported to the hospital in Milan, where he succumbed to his injuries that night after complications during surgery. Despite the accident, the race resumed, but because Jody Scheckter lost a wheel and crashed into the barriers on the formation lap, the other drivers refused to continue until the damage was repaired.

The race was shortened to 40 laps and the restart was scheduled for 18:00. Niki Lauda eventually won the race, and the overall result meant that Peterson’s Lotus team-mate Mario Andretti clinched the title before the end of the season. At this point, no one had any idea that the Swede, who would be declared championship runner-up posthumously, would not survive the night.

2001 Belgian GP 2001 – 01:08:05.002 hours

On the fourth lap of the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix, there was contact between Luciano Burti and Eddie Irvine at Blanchimont. Prost driver Burti then slammed head on into the tyre wall, injuring himself so badly that he had to end the season prematurely. The race was halted and shortened to 36 more laps.

Michael Schumacher’s win took him past Alain Prost’s tally of 51 Formula 1 victories. With the injuries sustained by Prost driver Burti, however, the Frenchman had more important things to worry about than the loss of this particular record.

2003 Italian GP – 01:14:19.838 hours

The Italian GP is traditionally the shortest race on the calendar due to the high average speed (in this instance, 247.585 km/h) at the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza. The 2003 race lasted just under 75 minutes, making it the all-time shortest grand prix in which there was no red flag. Michael Schumacher took the victory to send the Ferrari tifosi home happy.

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