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Formula 1

On this day: When an F1 title was settled during the festive period

The 2021 F1 championship might have been wrapped up well before the holiday season, but that was not the case back in 1962, when the title-deciding finale played out just days after Christmas Day.

This year, the season-long battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen was brought to a close at the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. With the race taking place on 12 December, the championship was resolved in advance of the Christmas holidays.

However, that has not always been the case in Formula 1. Back in 1962, the title was settled right in the middle of the festive period.

The season had started in May, with the first event of the year being the Dutch Grand Prix, won by Graham Hill in the BRM. This marked a significant step forwards for the team, who had finished last in the Constructors' Championship in 1961.

From June until October, another seven races took place, with the winners including Bruce McLaren - who, racing for Cooper, had not yet founded his namesake team - as well as Jim Clark and Dan Gurney.

Hill claimed a further two victories, and as such looked to be in a strong position in the title battle, where his main competitor was Clark.

A festive finale

Whilst there was generally one race per month throughout the season, there was a longer gap between the penultimate event of the year in the United States in October and the season-closing South African Grand Prix, which was held on 29 December 1962 at the Prince George Circuit. It was the first World Championship F1 race at the venue.

Clark started from pole position, with Hill alongside in second for the 82-lap Grand Prix. However, it all went wrong for Clark when his Lotus suffered mechanical problems, forcing him to retire on Lap 61.

As such, Hill was able to take advantage of the situation and went on to win the race, taking not only the victory but the title too.

The points system differed greatly to modern-day Formula 1. In 1962, points were allocated to the top six finishers as 9-6-4-3-2-1.

Additionally, each driver's final points tally at the end of the year was based on their best-placed finishes of the season. This had been used to account for poor reliability, and remained in place until 1991.

In 1962, the best five race results were those counted towards each driver's final amount of points, and this gave Hill a total of 42 points, whilst second-placed Clark had 30.

This was Hill's first championship win in F1, and he achieved a second in 1968 whilst racing for Lotus. Hill also remains the only driver ever to achieve the Triple Crown, which consists of winning the Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500.

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