2000 San Marino Grand Prix
Harking back to the bygone era of Schumacher vs. Hakkinen, both these greats went toe-to-toe at Imola early in the 2000 season. While this session suffers from the usual issue of not much happening for most of the hour, the final fast laps set by both is arguably like watching two boxers trade punches until one is victorious.
1999 French Grand Prix
Bare with this one not having the usually stellar commentary of Walker and Brundle – a dispute between FOM and ITV at the time prevented it from being shown live.
This meant British TV viewers had to settle for highlights later on in the evening, robbing them of seeing a sodden track create tension, excitement and surprising names at the sharp end.
1997 European Grand Prix
An hour of qualifying that has gone down as part of Formula One folklore – three drivers setting exactly the same time to one-thousandths of a second.
Some claim it to be a timing error and a fluke, but call it what you want – it still happened.
2003 French Grand Prix
With single lap qualifying becoming the new format, two sessions were set up to decide the running order – one in order of the previous race, with the fastest car going last in the second.
This saw backmarker teams like Minardi run early every weekend, but when the rains came in France and the track was drying in the first session, Jos Verstappen topped the timesheets for the plucky Italians – the only time they ever did in their history.
2006 French Grand Prix
With qualifying becoming more and more altered as the 2000s went on, by the time the now familiar three-part elimination hour was introduced there were still a few kinks that needed ironing out. One was the allowed “fuel burn” in Q3, where race fuel levels were permitted to set times on, with any spent allowances added after. This led to cars pointlessly burning fuel to become lighter to set faster times, and getting topped back up before Sunday.
It did create some fun though, like at Magny Cours in 2006 seeing title rivals Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso battle for track position so they could set the fastest time.
1998 Austrian Grand Prix
Another wet qualifying hour that brought plenty of high drama, as the track was initially wet and dried throughout, meaning the last drivers on track would be the ones to benefit them most. But in all fairness, in a session like this, you really had a better chance if you picked a number out of a hat. Now there’s an idea…