The 10 most shocking opening F1 races ever have been ranked

The Australian Grand Prix of 2005 features in the top 10 most shocking opening F1 races ever

Formula One has the ability to leave fans open-mouthed in the stands and in living rooms across the world - which has been proved on many occasions over the years.

Whether it is a victory for the underdog or unpredictable retirements, the world’s premier single-seater racing series has provided it all in abundance.

The likes of Nigel Mansell, Stirling Moss and Damon Hill all feature on this list but don’t quite make the top spot after some truly unbelievable circumstances have occurred before our very eyes.

But out of all of these moments that have taken place, which have we ranked first? Scroll to see the 10 most shocking opening F1 races of all-time.

10. Australia 2005

A new aggregate-style qualifying format set up for a mixed-up grid with a few surprises.

Renault’s new driver Giancarlo Fisichella took the top spot on the grid for the first time in seven years and went on to completely control proceedings around the famous Albert Park circuit.

9. Monaco 1961

The clear underdog, Stirling Moss entered the most glamorous race of them all in an underpowered four-cylinder Lotus. He was up against V6 Ferraris of Phil Hill and Richie Ginther.

After putting his car on pole position and being undone by the Marinello duo at the start, Moss battled back by removing the side panels for cooling by took the lead - dominating for the remaining 87 laps and securing a memorable victory.

8. Australia 2002

Chaos and carnage ensued on the opening lap of the first race of the season in 2002, with Ralf Schumacher going over the back of Rubens Barrichello in spectacular fashion which led to a red flag with eight cars out on the spot.

While Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya battled wheel-to-wheel at the front, F1 debutant Mark Webber massively overachieved in the Minardi and finished in fifth place. He was even allowed to celebrate on the podium alongside fellow Aussie Paul Stoddart in front of a crowd completely in awe of his achievement.

7. Argentina 1977

Jody Scheckter lined up in 11th place for the start of the 1977 season in a Walter Wolf Racing car that was making its Formula One debut.

Despite being up against legendary figures of the sport such as James Hunt and Niki Lauda, Scheckter took advantage of their mistakes due to the intense heat on the day to pick up an extraordinary maiden victory for the team.

6. Australia 1997

It was a season that saw reigning world champion Damon Hill make the shock decision to leave Williams while on top - and make the switch to join Tom Walkinshaw at Arrows for the 1997 season.

If that wasn’t shocking enough, his first race for the midfield team was. His Yamaha engine on his number one car cut out whilst on the formation lap, meaning that he failed to even make the grid for the opening race.

David Coulthard would go on to win the race in what was the maiden appearance for the new shining silver livery after both Williams cars failed to finish.

5. South Africa 1982

The drama took place away from the tarmac in what was an unusual twist to a new F1 season.

All 31 drivers refused to race on the Kyalami circuit after clauses to their super licenses were added without their consent, with threats of lifetime bans being imposed.

But after an intense standoff that jeopardised the campaign starting on time, those concerned eventually got behind the wheel of their respective cars and the South African Grand Prix went ahead as planned.

4. Australia 2007

There was one man’s name on the lips of the paddock and the fans at this race - Lewis Hamilton.

After a hugely impressive GP2 campaign the season before, the Englishman made his Formula One debut for the eight-time Constructors’ champions.

Hamilton didn’t disappoint as he leapt up to third at the start and managed to hold on to secure an astonishing maiden result with his new team.

3. Brazil 1994

A change of the guard took place in 1994 in was to be an emotional season for many reasons.

Both Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher stole the show after lapping every car on the circuit, which included a shocking accident involving Jos Verstappen.

But while the Brazilian was chasing the young German, Senna made an uncharacteristic mistake in front of his home crowd, leading him to retire and was the start of a dominant two-year spell for Schumacher.

2. Brazil 1989

Nigel Mansell’s Ferrari was so unreliable heading into the 1989 season, that he had booked an early flight home back to the UK.

But astonishingly, the Brit would go on to pass Ricardo Patrese in the Williams to take the lead - where Mansell would later admit that he could not believe that the car kept soldiering on until the end.

1. Australia 2009

Fairy tales and F1 have gone hand in hand over the years which has seen fans coming back again and again to the sport - and the first race of 2009 encapsulated exactly that.

After what had been a turbulent winter for Honda, many of the staff were left unsure whether they would have jobs which led to questions about whether they would even compete. It appeared to be a miracle when Ross Brawn purchased the team outright and renamed Honda as Brawn GP, even made the grid at all.

After finding a loophole in the regulations which meant they could their infamous double diffuser, both Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello locked out the front row at Albert Park in qualifying. Better still, the Englishman went on to win the race in what was a truly remarkable turn of events.

What are your thoughts on our list? Do you agree? Are there any other shocking F1 opening races that should have been listed? Get in touch and let us know!

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