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  1. F1

Formula 1 - Motorsport: Greatest individual seasons

Max Verstappen's first Formula 1 world championship title defence began inauspiciously as the Dutchman's Red Bull suffered mechanical failures in two of the first three races of the 2022 season.

Furthermore, Verstappen was not in a winning position in either of those races when he retired, as Ferrari's Charles Leclerc took a commanding early lead in the standings.

However, after a dramatic turnaround Verstappen will get his first chance to wrap up a second title in Singapore, with five races remaining on the calendar.

Ferrari failed to live up to their early promise, with poor reliability, driver errors and strategic blunders all contributing factors. Meanwhile Verstappen has been near faultless behind the wheel, supported by an equally flawless Red Bull team.

Dominance by a single driver is nothing new in Formula 1.

Indeed, having a seemingly invincible figure out front who the others have to try to beat is part of the appeal for many fans. Here we look at some of F1's other dominant figures from the past.

Alberto Ascari (Ferrari) - 1952

With few races on the calendar, not many points on offer and terrible reliability across the field, the early days of F1 didn't witness many seasons of dominance. However, the 1952 season was a one-man show as Alberto Ascari proved literally unbeatable in his Ferrari.

Having missed the opening Swiss Grand Prix as it clashed with Indy 500 qualifying, Ascari won the remaining six races of the season. As drivers could count only their best four results towards the championship, Ascari ended with a perfect score and took the title ahead of his teammate, 1950 world champion Giuseppe Farina.

Nigel Mansell (Williams) - 1992

Arguably no-one has ever sacrificed more to achieve their Formula 1 dream than Nigel Mansell, and after a string of near-misses the moustachioed Brit's patience was finally rewarded in his 13th season in 1992.

The Williams team produced the most technologically advanced racer ever seen and Mansell put it to good use winning the first five races of the 16-round season - a start that has never been bettered.

Although only four more victories followed, Red Five clinched the championship at the 11th round in Hungary and ended the season with 14 pole positions out of 16.

After leaving F1 at the end of the season, Mansell went to America where he won the Indycar championship at the first attempt in 1993, at the age of 40.

Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) - 2002 & 2004

It wasn't until his fifth season with Ferrari that Michael Schumacher finally claimed the Scuderia's first drivers' title since 1979, but by the middle of the decade the Red Baron had rewritten the record books.

At a time when upwards of 40 per-cent of the field would be expected to fail to finish a race, Schumacher not only saw the chequered flag but appeared on the podium at all 17 rounds in 2002.

Ending the season with 11 wins, five second places and a third, the German amassed 144 points with his closest challenger, teammate Rubens Barrichello, on 77.

The championship was sealed in France with six races to go - a record that still stands - and a host of rule changes were announced for 2003 in an attempt to avoid a repeat of what many fans felt was the dullest season of all time.

But two years later Schumacher was in similar irresistible form, winning 12 of the first 13 events, although the advantage the 2004 Ferrari had over the rest of the field meant Barrichello was able to mathematically stay in contention until five races from the end of the season.

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Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) - 2011 & 2013

Before F1's switch to hybrid engines in 2014 heralded the start of the Mercedes era, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull racked up four consecutive titles between 2010 and 2013.

After winning a four-way shootout at the last race of 2010, Vettel won six of the first eight grands prix of 2011 and ended the year with 11 victories and a record 15 pole positions.

Having wrapped up the title by finishing third in Japan with four races to spare, the German ended the season 122 points ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button.

After winning just four of the opening ten races of 2013, the by-then three-time world champion Vettel's rivals had a glimmer of hope. However, by winning all the remaining nine races the Red Bull ace claimed his fourth and final title by a whopping 155 points.

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 2020

Up until this season Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes had been the combination to beat, and never were they more dominant than in Hamilton's record-equalling seventh world championship season in 2020.

In a curtailed championship of just 17 races, Hamilton won 11 of the 16 in which he participated.

More telling is the fact that in the first 15 races of the season, the Briton was beaten just once in a race where he wasn't handed a penalty, and no other driver managed more than two victories.

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