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CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

NEARLY CHAMPIONS

302

Widely regarded as the greatest driver never to win the world title, Stirling Moss was championship runner-up on no less than four occasions. 18 other drivers finished runner-up at least once but also never became champion. Of these, a handful was merely ‘best of the rest’ behind a highly dominant championship performance. So this 13-race collection identifies those occasions when a driver genuinely came close to wresting the title from the ultimate champion. Some names one would expect, even regret that their chance of glory never materialised. Others are a surprise, with almost all being decided in the final race of the season. The outcome of two or three titles came about due to sportsmanship, or a badge of honour, while three others were influenced by tragic events. In this day and age neither scenario is likely to apply, regrettably perhaps the lack of one, thankfully the absence of the other.

56 Collins could have been Britain’s first champion
75 The closest of Moss’s four title runner-up spots
84 Brooks did well to even be in the title hunt
101 von Trips could have been Germany’s first
196 Ickx was content with runner-up to Rindt
250 Regazzoni took it to the wire, but no further
311 Mario’s nil scores made Ronnie’s loss ‘what if?’
326 An honourable man, Gilles’ word counted more
357 Reutemann lacked ambition at the last
373 Outsider Watson did all that he could
597 JV fought for the title in his rookie season
646 Irvine came surprisingly close to a title
Race 803 AUTHOR’S PICK

803 AUTHOR’S PICK

Felipe Massa, champion for 20 seconds

Massa has to be the ‘nearly champion’ beyond any other. That final lap was sheer F1 theatre