The Latest Ends To Formula 1 Seasons

The 2024 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, on December 8, will be the sixth latest end to a Formula 1 season. Here are the latest dates on which the final race of an F1 season has taken place!

December 29: 1962 South African Grand Prix

The 1962 South African Grand Prix holds the record for the latest date in the year on which a Formula 1 race has been held. The 1962 season was contested over nine rounds, with the first eight playing out between May and October. After the United States Grand Prix, there was a wait of almost three months before the season-ending South African race, which was to be a title decider. It was also to be the first time that F1 raced in South Africa as part of the World Championship.

Practice for the race began on Boxing Day – though there were only a few runners. Title rivals Graham Hill and Jim Clark took to the track for the first time on the following day. The pair started alongside each other on the front row, and it was Hill who would come out on top. He won the race, securing the first of his two Drivers’ Championships.

December 28: 1963 South African Grand Prix

One year later, F1 returned to South Africa at the same time of year. This time around, Jim Clark had already wrapped up the title in September. It was Clark who would be victorious at the 1963 South African Grand Prix, winning his seventh race of the year.

With only ten races in the season, Clark’s winning percentage of 70% that year has been beaten only three times – by Alberto Ascari in 1952, Michael Schumacher in 2004 and Max Verstappen in 2023. This was the last time that a Formula 1 race was held in December for over 55 years.

Two of the five latest F1 season-closing races have been held at the Yas Marina Circuit. Image: Rob Alter, Flickr / CC BY 2.0.

December 13: 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix brought to an end one of Formula 1’s strangest seasons. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Yas Marina race was originally scheduled to take place on November 29, but was pushed back by two weeks to allow two additional races in Bahrain to take place, boosting the number of rounds in the season to 17.

December 12: 1959 United States Grand Prix

The 1959 United States Grand Prix, held three months after the previous race at Monza, was the first Formula 1 race to be held in the month of December. It was also the first time that F1 visited the United States; though the Indianapolis 500, not run to F1 regulations, was a round of the World Championship in every season prior.

The race, held at Sebring, was a three-way title decider between Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks. Moss led the opening laps, but retired on the fifth tour, giving the lead to Brabham. Brabham comfortably led until the final lap, when his car ran out of fuel. It came to a halt a few hundred yards from the finish line, and the Australian got out to push the car over the line. He ultimately finished fourth, but it was enough to secure him his first of three titles.

December 12, 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Perhaps the most controversial race in Formula 1 history, the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, took place on December 12 – the third time a modern Formula 1 season stretched into December. The title was still up for grabs at the final race of the year, with Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton level on points heading into the final round.

December 8: 2024 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The record-breaking 24-round 2024 Formula 1 season is set to come to a close on December 8 at Yas Marina Circuit, the track which now holds the record as the venue to have hosted F1’s curtain closer on the most occasions. It’s the fourth time that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will take place in December and will bring to a close the longest season in history, spanning over nine months.

December 1: 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the first F1 race to take place in December in 56 years. While this is the fifth latest season-ending race, it is the sixth latest date in the year on which an F1 race has been held. The penultimate round of the 2020 season, the Sakhir Grand Prix, was held on 6th December. Lewis Hamilton, who had wrapped up a sixth title earlier in the season, won the race in dominant fashion.

Header image: Lothar Spurzem, Spurzem / CC BY-SA 2.0 DE

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