Top 10 F1 races of the 2010s

The last decade of Formula 1 racing may only have produced three different champions but there were still plenty of exciting grands prix - here's our pick for the top 10 races of the 2010s

Top 10 F1 races of the 2010s

The dominance of Red Bull and then Mercedes did not prevent some classic contests during the 2010s. Championship showdowns, duelling team-mates and rain-drenched chaos all helped produce some memorable moments during the decade.

In producing this list, we considered the excitement, overtaking and unpredictability of the races. Great drives were also taken into account, though it's fair to say that entertainment was the bigger factor.

10. 2010 Australian Grand Prix

Where: Melbourne
Winner: Jenson Button

"Australian GP thriller," said Autosport magazine's cover after reigning world champion Jenson Button sensationally won on his second start with McLaren.

Rain just before the getaway forced everyone to switch to intermediate tyres. Poleman Sebastian Vettel led away, but a slow-starting Fernando Alonso and Button clashed at the first corner, forcing the Ferrari into a spin. Button and team-mate Lewis Hamilton were delayed and completed the first lap in sixth and seventh respectively.

Thanks to a bigger accident further back, when a front wing failure for Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi sent him spearing into Williams rookie Nico Hulkenberg, the safety car was already out. The restart came on lap five and next time around Hamilton passed Button, who then decided to stop. Not for the first or last time in his career, Button making an early switch to slick tyres was crucial, despite an off on his out-lap.

The McLaren almost immediately became the fastest car on track and others soon stopped too. Robert Kubica had stormed from 11th to fourth on the first lap and a slow Ferrari pitstop allowed the Renault to jump Felipe Massa, who had been second before pitting. But, on his hotter slicks, Button easily overcame Kubica.

Red Bull delayed bringing in Vettel and Mark Webber, which meant that once the leaders had all stopped Button was second, not far behind Vettel's RB6. Vettel seemed able to keep Button at arm's length, despite occasional drizzle.

That was until lap 26 of 58, when he suffered a brake failure. At almost the same moment, Hamilton - having extricated himself from a multi-car fight, went around the outside of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes at the fast Turn 11 left-hander. The McLarens were now first and third.

But thwarted by Kubica's brilliant display of defensive driving, Hamilton pitted for fresh tyres. Webber had done likewise and, with 10 laps to go, they joined the Kubica-Massa-Alonso battle for second.

The final drama came when Hamilton unsuccessfully attacked Alonso - and was hit by Webber. That handed Rosberg fifth, while Kubica held on for a remarkable second. Button, though, took a sublime win by 12 seconds.

Button's drive to victory just three weeks later in China was arguably an even better personal performance, but in terms of overall drama, the Australian GP had got the decade off to a fine start.

PLUS: Jenson Button's 10 greatest F1 races

"This race was exactly what F1 needed and proof that throwing random elements into the mix is the most surefire way of spicing the action up," said Autosport.

9. 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

Where: Hungaroring
Winner: Daniel Ricciardo

With Hamilton forced to start from the pitlane after a fuel leak for his Mercedes in qualifying, poleman Rosberg comfortably led early on in damp conditions.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo ran sixth after a poor first lap, trapped behind Button's McLaren, but the Australian's bit of luck came when Marcus Ericsson crashed and brought out the safety car too late for the leaders to dive into the pits. Ricciardo could and did.

Ricciardo started building a lead over Massa's Williams, which was ahead of a fine battle for third involving Alonso, Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso, Rosberg, Vettel and Hamilton - up from the back despite an off on lap one.

When Sergio Perez crashed and brought out another safety car, Ricciardo and Massa pitted again, leaving Alonso at the front of the pack. As others stopped, Ricciardo moved forward and led until his final stop on lap 54 of 70.

What made the final laps exciting was the different strategies at play. Ricciardo was fourth but had fresh softs. Third-placed man Rosberg then made his last stop and began his own charge. Alonso led on old soft tyres and Hamilton was second on ageing mediums.

Despite Alonso's tired rubber he was somehow able to hold off Hamilton, but Ricciardo was a different matter. With four laps to go he audaciously went around the outside of Hamilton at the Turn 2 left-hander, making it stick at the downhill right-hand Turn 3 - now Alonso was vulnerable.

Next time around Ricciardo dived inside the leading Ferrari into Turn 1 to snatch a remarkable victory, while Rosberg's charge meant he finished on third-placed Hamilton's gearbox.

"An absolute classic that will be remembered for years to come," reckoned Autosport.

8. 2018 Chinese Grand Prix

Where: Shanghai
Winner: Daniel Ricciardo

This was all about the battle in the closing stages, during which Ricciardo charged from sixth to first in nine spectacular laps.

Poleman Vettel's Ferrari just about held the lead at the start, with Ricciardo's Red Bull sixth - Valtteri Bottas, an aggressive Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton between them.

Bottas grasped the initiative at the first round of pitstops, a storming out-lap helping him jump Vettel when he stopped a lap later. Despite Ferrari leaving Raikkonen out to hinder Bottas, the Mercedes driver swiftly overcame his fellow Finn to maintain his advantage.

After 30 of the 56 laps, Bottas led Vettel by a second, with Verstappen a further five seconds back in third. Ricciardo was behind Hamilton in fifth, 12.8s off the lead.

Then Pierre Gasly hit Toro Rosso team-mate Brendon Hartley and brought out the safety car. Red Bull brought Verstappen and Ricciardo in for soft tyres. That meant the order became Bottas-Vettel-Hamilton-Verstappen-Raikkonen-Ricciardo.

The laps following the restart were electric. Ricciardo soon overcame Raikkonen, but Verstappen was better-placed until he tried an optimistic move on Hamilton. Trying to go round the outside of the Mercedes at the Turn 7 left-hander was never going to work. And the ensuing off allowed Ricciardo to pass his team-mate.

The Australian's moves were perfectly judged. He made a late dive on Hamilton at the hairpin, then easily overtook Vettel on the back straight. His Bottas pass was the most spectacular, just squeezing down the inside into the Turn 6 hairpin.

"As the man himself pointed out, while Ricciardo doesn't win that many GPs, when he does they tend to be thrillers," concluded Autosport's Ben Anderson.

7. 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix

Where: Sakhir
Winner: Lewis Hamilton

This race provides evidence that, even when one team is dominant, it only takes two cars to make a race, providing the pacesetting squad allows its drivers to fight each other. And in Bahrain, it helped that one of the drivers was faster and the other had better racecraft.

It was already clear that Mercedes would be the team to beat in the hybrid era, but the third race of the season was the scene of Hamilton and Rosberg's first real battle for victory. Rosberg arrived leading the championship, qualified on pole and set fastest lap, but came away second best.

Hamilton outdragged Rosberg to the first corner, but the German stayed on his tail. Once clear of the field, Rosberg launched his assault. On lap 19 he drove underneath Hamilton into Turn 1, but couldn't get his W05 stopped and Hamilton repassed on the exit before pitting.

Rosberg took the slower medium tyre for the second stint, but underlined his pace by only losing minimal time to his soft-shod team-mate. That meant he would come back at Hamilton after their final stops, where they effectively swapped compounds.

Rosberg was helped by a safety car period, caused by Pastor Maldonado flipping Esteban Gutierrez at Turn 1. He now had 11 laps to make a pass.

His big effort came with six laps to go, diving up the inside into Turn 1 and duelling all the way to Turn 4. He tried again on the next tour, but Hamilton put his car in the right place each time to retain the advantage. He took victory by a second.

There was some good battling behind too, a charging Ricciardo just failing to usurp Perez for the final podium spot.

6. 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

Where: Interlagos
Winner: Max Verstappen

Interlagos showed it could produce the goods in the dry with a race featuring plenty of overtaking and an unusual result.

Verstappen and Red Bull was the fastest combination, but were made to work for victory despite leading from pole. Hamilton pulled a great move around the outside of Vettel's Ferrari at the first corner and chased the leader, while Charles Leclerc was involved in some great battling as he made his way up from 14th in the other Ferrari.

Hamilton pitted early to attempt an undercut and the Williams of Kubica delayed Verstappen on his way out of the pits, helping to hand Mercedes the initiative. Hamilton even passed the yet-to-stop Leclerc around the outside of Mergulho, but Verstappen followed him through at Juncao. Hamilton had no battery power left, allowing the Red Bull to blast by on the run to Turn 1.

The safety car being called after Bottas's engine failed set the scene for late drama. Verstappen pitted for fresh rubber, Hamilton did not and took the lead, only for Max to brilliantly drive around the outside of the Mercedes at the restart on lap 60 of 71.

Having been jumped by Alex Albon's Red Bull at the restart, Vettel fell victim to a fine move by Leclerc into the Esses, but then managed to hit his team-mate when he tried to retaliate. That put both Ferraris out and brought out the safety car.

Mercedes blundered by pitting Hamilton, dropping him to fourth with just two laps to make ground at the restart. He got ahead of Albon after contact at Bico do Pato and just failed to pip Pierre Gasly's Toro Rosso by 0.062s on the run to the line.

Hamilton received a 5s penalty for his move on Albon, handing a first F1 podium to Carlos Sainz Jr, who had also raced superbly after starting last in his Mclaren. It was that sort of race.

5. 2019 Austrian Grand Prix

Where: Red Bull Ring
Winner: Max Verstappen

"Verstappen stars on a good day for F1," said Autosport as the 2019 campaign came alive after early-season Mercedes domination.

An appalling start meant Verstappen briefly fell from second to eighth and a lock-up gave him a vibration. But all that just set the scene for a remarkable charge and a denouement with fellow rising star Leclerc.

Leclerc edged away from Bottas in the early stages, but crucially made his stop relatively early - lap 22 of 71 - in response to the Mercedes pitting. Verstappen went nine laps longer, giving him a tyre life advantage over the Ferrari.

It had taken Verstappen just nine laps to reach fifth spot. A fantastic pitstop got him ahead of Hamilton, who in any case had to start lifting-and-coasting to keep engine temperatures down, a problem that would also afflict Bottas. After 32 laps Verstappen was 12.9s behind Leclerc.

Now began the charge of an "irresistible Verstappen, who showed the speed and relentlessness that will one day make him a world champion", according to Autosport.

On lap 50 he relieved Vettel of third with the help of DRS on the run to Turn 4. Six laps later he breezed past Bottas into Turn 3 and, with 15 to go, was now five seconds behind Leclerc.

With four to go, Verstappen squeezed up the inside at the Turn 3 right-hander, but Leclerc got a better exit and outdragged the Red Bull on the outside to retake the lead, Verstappen giving him room.

The next time around, Leclerc left the door open at the same corner. Verstappen again went up the inside and this time ran the Ferrari out towards the exit kerb, contact forcing Leclerc briefly off the road. The winning move was hard but deemed fair by the FIA stewards, putting a marker down for future wheel-to-wheel racing.

There was sympathy for Leclerc - at that time still searching for his first GP victory - but the right driver had won. And so had F1.

4. 2012 European Grand Prix

Where: Valencia
Winner: Fernando Alonso

This race on the Valencia street circuit is memorable largely because of home hero Alonso, who put in one of his greatest drives to take victory from 11th on the grid.

PLUS: Fernando Alonso's 10 greatest drives

Poleman Vettel led early on, but Alonso's Ferrari was on the move immediately, climbing three spots on lap one. Alonso gained more ground during the first round of pitstops and, after passing several cars attempting a one-stop strategy, he was fourth by the end of lap 22 of 57.

When Heikki Kovalainen and Jean-Eric Vergne clashed and brought out the safety car, Alonso gained another place thanks to problems during Hamilton's tyre change.

At the restart, Alonso superbly and aggressively went around the outside of Romain Grosjean's Lotus to snatch second at the Turn 2 right-hander.

Moments later Vettel's Red Bull ground to a halt with an alternator failure and so, after 34 laps, Alonso was in the lead. Grosjean kept the pressure on until another Renault-related alternator problem ended his challenge, leaving Alonso in the clear.

But the drama wasn't over yet. Hamilton had inherited second, but he was in trouble with his tyres. Raikkonen's Lotus made it by cleanly on lap 55, but when Pastor Maldonado's Williams tried to pass at the Turn 12-13 chicane, neither yielded and Hamilton ended up in the barriers.

That enabled Michael Schumacher to take the only podium of his 'second' career, in a race that Autosport described as "very special".

3. 2019 German Grand Prix

Where: Hockenheim
Winner: Max Verstappen

"A gloriously chaotic and breathlessly entertaining 'snakes and ladders' German GP," reckoned Autosport after a race that was voted the best of the decade by fans in a poll by F1.

Hamilton hadn't been beaten in a rain-affected race since the 2014 Hungarian GP when the field lined up in Germany. Given some of Verstappen's previous efforts, most notably in the 2016 Brazilian GP, it was fitting that he was the driver who finally ended that run. And he did so in one of those crazy races that rain sometimes produces.

Problems for both Ferraris meant that Leclerc started 10th and Vettel 20th, so there were also quick cars out of position - another ingredient that spices things up.

Poleman Hamilton led from the start, as Verstappen's Red Bull fell from second to fourth. Predictably, Hamilton controlled the early stages of the race despite safety car and virtual safety car periods.

Verstappen rose to third and pressured Bottas. The Red Bull made the switch to slicks before the Mercedes, but Verstappen spun on his out-lap and so stayed behind. And a combination of impressive pace, a later stop and another VSC allowed a charging Leclerc to jump them both.

A slow stop for Hamilton meant that Leclerc was about to be in contention for the lead - but instead he crashed out at the Sudkurve right-hander. The safety car was deployed again, only for Hamilton to slide off in the same place. He managed to get back to the pits, picking up a five-second penalty for going the wrong side of the pit entry bollard, for repairs.

So, despite his spin, Vertappen led at the lap-34 restart. Bottas and Hamilton moved back up to second and third before Hulkenberg crashed and the safety car appeared again.

Many of the remaining runners stopped for slicks, briefly allowing Lance Stroll's Racing Point into the lead before Verstappen blasted past. The different strategies and gambles behind meant that Daniil Kvyat's Toro Rosso was now third and he would soon pass Stroll, but the man on the move was Vettel.

He was sixth when Bottas crashed and brought out the safety car for the last time. There were five laps to go at the restart and Vettel quickly overcame Sainz's McLaren. Two laps later he passed Stroll and on the final tour he overtook Kvyat, who nevertheless competed the unlikely podium.

Several pitstops and a spin meant Hamilton finished 11th, which became ninth when the Alfa Romeos were excluded. His wet-weather run was finally over amid high drama.

2. 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix

Where: Interlagos
Winner: Jenson Button

An underdog in the mix at the front, a great performance from the winner and a tense title fight. The 2012 season finale had it all.

When championship leader Vettel got caught up in a first-lap tangle, things looked good for rival Alonso.

While Vettel began a recovery drive, the McLarens, which had locked out the front row, put on a fine show at the front. As drizzle got heavier, Button increasingly threatened Hamilton. They swapped places several times before Button made a move stick on lap eight and drew away.

Hamilton soon came in for intermediates. Others followed, but Button and Nico Hulkenberg's Force India - up to third from sixth on the grid - stayed out. Hamilton started closing as the leaders duelled, only to fall back again as the track dried.

Like much of the rest of the field, Hamilton soon peeled back into the pitlane for slicks. That meant that, just before one-third distance, Hulkenberg and Button were three quarters of a minute clear of the field.

Then Rosberg's Mercedes picked up a puncture, bringing out the safety car. Hulkenberg and Button took the opportunity to change tyres, but their advantage had vanished.

Button started suffering from front-tyre graining following the restart and dropped behind Hamilton. As rain returned, Hulkenberg had a half-spin and Hamilton took the lead.

But it wasn't to be his day. Going on to lap 55 of 71, Hulkenberg got a run on the McLaren heading into the Esses, hit a wet patch and slid into Hamilton, putting the Briton out and earning the Force India a drive-through penalty.

As well as leaving Button well clear, that promoted Alonso, who had earlier pulled off a fine move on Massa and Webber, into second.

It wasn't enough. Somehow Vettel's Red Bull held together after the first-lap contact with Bruno Senna's Williams. Not only that, but he had got back into the points - from last - inside seven laps.

Despite the damage, changeable conditions and problems with his radio, Vettel was in sixth when Paul di Resta crashed and the race finished behind the safety car.

Button had scored his final GP win and Vettel was champion by three points.

1. 2011 Canadian Grand Prix

Where: Montreal
Winner: Jenson Button

The ultimate modern classic, the 2011 Canadian GP was a four-hour extravaganza of twists and turns and drama in the rain. After a red flag and five safety cars it came down to the final lap as a flying Button piled the pressure onto leader Vettel.

Chaotic and unpredictable races are often entertaining but to top a list such as this a race also needs a great performance, and Button provided it.

Standing water meant the GP started behind a safety car and Vettel's Red Bull led once the action got underway. Hamilton made an optimistic attack on Webber and both spun, Button moving past his team-mate.

Hamilton made it back by when Button made an error at Turn 3, but then had more drama trying to pass Schumacher's Mercedes. Button repassed.

When Button twitched exiting the chicane at the end of lap seven, Hamilton tried to pass to his left, as the 2009 world champion moved across to take his line. Contact was made, putting Hamilton out and triggering a safety car. Cue Button's first stop, to switch to intermediates.

His second pit visit came almost as soon as racing resumed, this time for a drive-through penalty for exceeding the target speed during the safety car.

As conditions worsened, the safety car was called again and those who had stopped for inters, including Button, came in for wets. And then the race was halted, with Button 10th.

The one thing against this GP was the two-hour gap before the restart, which would result in a ridiculous official average speed of 46.5mph.

After more safety car laps, Vettel again led the field, while Button was one of three drivers to stop for inters. Alonso soon did likewise and rejoined just ahead of Button. The duo headed into Turn 3 side-by-side. Neither gave way and a tap from the McLaren sent the Ferrari spinning - and Alonso got beached on a kerb.

That brought out the safety car again, which was vital for Button as he cruised back to the pits with a flat tyre and damaged nose for pit visit number five. He rejoined last.

After 40 laps of the 70, just as the safety car peeled in, Vettel led and Button was 21st. But at the restart, Button started picking off car after car.

On lap 51 Button drove down the pitlane for the sixth time, for slick tyres. As others did the same, he gained more spots and was fourth when Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber and the Renault of Nick Heidfeld collided, bringing out a final safety car.

Instead of being 13s behind Vettel, Button was 3s adrift when the race went green with 10 laps to go.

Webber made an error trying to usurp Schumacher at the chicane, allowing Button by, and on lap 65 the McLaren used DRS to breeze by into second. The gap to Vettel was 3.2s and the leader increased his pace when he recognised the threat, but Button kept on coming.

Desperately trying to stay out of DRS range, Vettel slid wide at Turn 6 and Button was through, on his way to one of the most incredible wins in F1 history.

Williams F1 restructure shouldn't be seen as "anything other than positive"
Previous article

Williams F1 restructure shouldn't be seen as "anything other than positive"

Next article

Imola's F1 return takes a step closer after Grade 1 licence renewal

Imola's F1 return takes a step closer after Grade 1 licence renewal
Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised Plus

Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised

AlphaTauri’s mission in F1 is to sell clothes and train young drivers rather than win the championship – but you still need a cutting-edge factory to do that. Team boss Franz Tost takes GP Racing’s OLEG KARPOV on a guided tour of a facility that’s continuing to grow

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons Plus

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons

Gilles Villeneuve's exploits behind the wheel of a Ferrari made him a legend to the tifosi, even 40 years after his death. The team's current Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc enjoys a similar status, and recently got behind the wheel of a very special car from the French-Canadian’s career

Formula 1
Jun 24, 2022
How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock Plus

How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock

Porpoising has become the key talking point during the 2022 Formula 1 season, as teams battle to come to terms with it. An FIA technical directive ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix and a second stay appearing on the Mercedes cars only served to create a bigger debate and raise tensions further

Formula 1
Jun 23, 2022
Does Verstappen have any weaknesses left? Plus

Does Verstappen have any weaknesses left?

Having extended his Formula 1 points lead with victory in Canada, Max Verstappen has raised his game further following his 2021 title triumph. Even on the days where Red Bull appears to be second best to Ferrari, Verstappen is getting the most out of the car in each race. So, does he have any weaknesses that his title rivals can exploit?

Formula 1
Jun 22, 2022
How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector Plus

How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector

In 2026, Formula 1 plans to make the switch to a fully sustainable fuel, as the greater automotive world considers its own alternative propulsion methods. Biogasoline and e-fuels both have merit as 'drop-in' fuels but, equally, both have their shortcomings...

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2022
The breakthrough behind Sainz’s best weekend of F1 2022 so far Plus

The breakthrough behind Sainz’s best weekend of F1 2022 so far

OPINION: Carlos Sainz came close to winning in Monaco but needed that race’s specific circumstances for his shot at a maiden Formula 1 victory to appear. Last weekend in Canada, he led the line for Ferrari in Charles Leclerc’s absence from the front. And there’s a key reason why Sainz has turned his 2022 form around

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2022
Canadian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022 Plus

Canadian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022

Plenty of high scores but just a single perfect 10 from the first Montreal race in three years, as Max Verstappen fended off late pressure from Carlos Sainz. Here’s Autosport’s assessment on the Formula 1 drivers from the Canadian Grand Prix

Formula 1
Jun 20, 2022
Why “faster” Ferrari couldn’t beat Red Bull in Canadian GP Plus

Why “faster” Ferrari couldn’t beat Red Bull in Canadian GP

On paper the Canadian Grand Prix will go down as Max Verstappen’s latest triumph, fending off late pressure from Carlos Sainz to extend his Formula 1 world championship lead. But as safety car periods, virtual and real, shook up the race Ferrari demonstrated it can take the fight to Red Bull after recent failures

Formula 1
Jun 20, 2022