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Ten maiden Formula 1 wins that got away
Lando Norris made no bones of the fact that he was 'devastated' to have lost his chance of a maiden Formula 1 victory at the Russian Grand Prix.
Having started from pole, and briefly lost the lead to Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, Norris had moved back to the front and looked to have everything under control as the laps counted down.
But a late race shower turned the Sochi race on its head, and a mistake in staying out on slicks proved costly.
The track proved too wet for the dry tyres and, after a very slow lap as he ploughed on, Norris was forced to stop for inters three laps from the end – dropping him down the order where he eventually finished seventh.
While lessons will be learned, Norris is not the first – and will almost certainly not be the last – F1 driver to have seen a maiden victory be within his grasp only for it to get snatched away.
Here we take a look at 10 famous races that could have delivered a maiden victory for some famous names...
Nigel Mansell – 1984 Monaco Grand Prix
Nigel Mansell, Lotus 95T
Photo by: Motorsport Images
In atrocious wet conditions in Monte Carlo, Lotus driver Nigel Mansell took the lead from a misfiring pole man Alain Prost in the early stages – heading the field for the first time in his career.
Showing no signs of being intimidated by the rain around the tight and twisty streets, Mansell got down to business and started extending his lead by around two seconds per lap.
But it all went wrong a few laps later when Mansell lost control on the climb up the hill out of Ste Devote.
As his car spun, his rear wing swiped the barriers and, with it, his hopes of that first F1 win evaporated.
Ayrton Senna – 1984 Monaco Grand Prix
Race winner Alain Prost, McLaren and Ayrton Senna, Toleman, with their trophies
Photo by: Ercole Colombo
That same wet afternoon offered the chance for another future champion to grab his maiden win – as Ayrton Senna put in a late race charge.
Having come through from 13th on the grid, Senna had climbed up the order and was rapidly closing in on race leader Prost as the weather conditions got worse.
With Prost aware of the threat being posed to him, he gesticulated to the stewards to stop the race – as the red flag would guarantee him the victory.
Clerk of the course Jacky Ickx agreed that the grand prix needed to be halted and, although Senna had found a way past Prost, the rules dictated the result would be taken from the lap before.
It meant Prost took half points for the victory, with Senna having to accept second.
Damon Hill – 1993 German Grand Prix
Damon Hill, Williams, 1993 German GP
Damon Hill's first season with Williams started with some decent podium finishes, but that elusive maiden victory was out of grasp for a while.
At his home British Grand Prix, Hill had come fairly close to hitting that target. He took the lead from pole man Prost at the start and held an advantage over the Frenchman until lap 41 of 59 when his engine blew.
Two weeks later in Hockenheim, Hill had looked even more set for the win when he held a comfortable advantage over Prost on the penultimate lap.
But as he appeared to be cruising for the win, his left rear tyre failed – and he didn't even make it back to the pits for a change.
Jean Alesi – 1994 Italian Grand Prix
Jean Alesi, Ferrari, leads the 1994 Italian GP
Jean Alesi was the darling of the tifosi at the 1994 Italian Grand Prix when he took his maiden pole position.
With a golden chance to grab his first win after so much frustration at Ferrari, Alesi duly delivered a great getaway on the restart (following a first corner crash involving Johnny Herbert) to lead teammate Gerhard Berger.
Alesi steadily pulled clear at the front and, by the time of his first stop, he held an 11-second lead over Berger.
But it all went wrong in an instant as, after taking on new tyres and fuel, the Frenchman's gearbox failed as he tried to exit the pits. His race was over.
Jacques Villeneuve – 1996 Australian Grand Prix
Jacques Villeneuve, Williams FW18 Renault, Damon Hill, Williams FW18 Renault, Eddie Irvine, Ferrari F310
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Jacques Villeneuve had arrived in F1 with Williams in 1996 amid huge hype, as Williams had high hopes for the reigning IndyCar and Indy 500 champion.
The French-Canadian did not disappoint as he grabbed pole position for his debut grand prix in Melbourne, alongside teammate Damon Hill.
In the race (restarted after Martin Brundle's spectacular barrel roll), the Williams duo battled hard for the victory.
But, despite an off track excursion at Turn 1, Villeneuve appeared to have the better of Hill.
That was until an oil leak proved crucial; slowing Villeneuve and leaving the way open for Hill to go through and deny his teammate the accolade of a debut victory.
Mika Hakkinen – 1997 Luxembourg Grand Prix
The start of the 1997 Luxemburg GP
Mika Hakkinen had proved the growing competitiveness of McLaren-Mercedes with a well judged pole position at the Nurburgring.
It was his first in F1, McLaren's first since Ayrton Senna at the 1993 Australian Grand Prix – and Mercedes' first since 1955.
The main target after that though was the win, and Hakkinen duly set about delivering that: getting away cleanly from pole position and, at half distance, leading teammate David Coulthard by more than 10 seconds.
But despite it looking like things were under control, just moments after Coulthard suffered an engine failure, so too did Hakkinen's power unit expire – and with it all hopes of the victory.
Juan Pablo Montoya – 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F2001, battles with Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams FW23 BMW
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Juan Pablo Montoya had arrived in F1 from IndyCar with the reputation as a feisty and exciting driver.
And for onlookers, there were hopes that the Colombian could prove to be a challenger to Schumacher's reign over the sport.
At Interlagos, he certainly proved to be no pushover as he banged wheels with his Ferrari rival after pulling off an audacious move at the first corner complex following a safety car restart.
Montoya then set about building up a lead, and he was almost 30 seconds clear past the halfway stage of the race.
But on lap 39, after lapping Jos Verstappen, Montoya pulled back in front of the Arrows driver – who slid into the back of the Williams and put them both out of the race.
Kimi Raikkonen – 2002 French Grand Prix
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren Mercedes MP4/17 runs wide, Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F2002 pass
Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images
Kimi Raikkonen had proved to be a sensation when he arrived in F1 in 2001, and it was no surprise that McLaren duly signed him up for 2002.
While able to deliver podium finishes in the first half of the year, a run of results were hard to come by thanks to a number of reliability problems.
But at the French Grand Prix, Raikkonen had everything he needed to grab an elusive maiden win.
During a race that swung on tyre and fuel strategy, Raikkonen had moved to the front and, with five laps to go, it looked like everything was in place for that maiden win.
But, unsighted by the Finn, Allan McNish's Toyota had suffered an engine failure on the way into the hairpin – depositing the contents of its power unit on the straight.
Raikkonen hit the oil and slid wide, handing the lead to a pursuing Michael Schumacher who barged his way through on the exit of the hairpin.
While Raikkonen recovered to finish second he admitted afterwards that it was the most disappointing race of his life.
Charles Leclerc – 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 3rd position, in Parc Ferme
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
After an impressive debut season for Sauber in 2018, Charles Leclerc's step up to Ferrari for the following season was expected to deliver good results in the long term.
But few expected things to get off to such a strong start when, at the second race of the season, he grabbed his maiden pole position.
Although dropping back at the start, the Monegasque driver soon recovered to take the lead from teammate Sebastian Vettel on lap six.
After that, Leclerc got his head down and pulled well clear at the front – leaving the pursuing Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas with little hope of closing him down.
That was until Leclerc was hit late on with a power unit problem which cut one of his cylinders, and his pace dropped away.
It left him unable to prevent Hamilton and Bottas overtaking him towards the end as he came home a disappointed third.
George Russell – 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix
George Russell, Mercedes F1 W11, in the pits
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
After a last-minute call up to replace Lewis Hamilton, who had been struck down with coronavirus, George Russell seized his big opportunity with Mercedes.
Having qualified on the front row, Russell grabbed the lead from teammate Valtteri Bottas at the start, and looked on course for a dominant win.
But a late safety car, triggered by Jack Aitken crashing the Williams, turned the race on its head.
As Russell dived to the pits for fresh rubber, a shambolic stop resulted in him being sent out with a mixed set of tyres – which prompted another stop.
Having dropped down the order, Russell muscled his way back up the order and looked set to still challenge Sergio Perez for the lead.
However, a puncture put paid to his ambition and yet another stop pitched him off the podium place, before he came home in ninth.
Russell's misfortune was to Perez's benefit, as the Mexican duly too his maiden F1 victory.
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