“All of a sudden, this lap out of nowhere was just flowing, beautiful,” said . “It was like a dance.”

He knew he had produced one of modern Formula 1’s great moments with his qualifying lap in Singapore last Saturday. A race victory followed; it appears that this year’s drivers’ championship could well, too.

It was one of those moments when a driver shows that extra 1% to lift him above all rivals. Those moments do not come along too often in F1; when they do, they are worth celebrating.

BBC Sport has looked through the archives and dug out five other moments when a driver proved themselves on a different plane to the rest.

’s storming victory (Silverstone, 2008)

Lewis Hamilton

The 2008 British Grand Prix was held in conditions more suitable for the Boat Race; heavy rain in the morning had left water on the track.

Lewis Hamilton responded with a masterful drive for the first of his five career Silverstone wins – finishing a staggering 68 seconds clear of nearest challenger Nick Heidfeld and making a major statement of intent on the way to his first drivers’ title.

His race could have ended in the opening seconds. Starting in fourth, Hamilton jostled with team-mate Heikki Kovalainen at Copse corner, slid wide as the spray flew into the drivers’ faces and touched the other McLaren at high speed. But they both recovered and sped away.

At times, the conditions were almost impossible, particularly when heavy rain came down during the second half of the race. Hamilton said afterwards that there were moments he could not see through his visor, having to clean it during the first two turns of each lap.

“It’s definitely and by far the best victory I’ve ever had,” said the Briton immediately after the race. Ten years later, it probably still is.

’s qualifying lap (, 1988)

Ayrton Senna

It seems unimaginable now, but one of the greatest laps ever driven in a Formula 1 car was not captured on television at all.

Perhaps that has added to the mystique of the late, great Ayrton Senna’s qualifying lap at in 1988; we have to rely on eyewitness accounts to piece it together.

The dry facts: Senna out-qualified McLaren team-mate Alain Prost by an astonishing 1.4 seconds to take pole position.

It’s the telling of the story, though, that gives it the added romance. Senna suggested in an interview with Canadian journalist Gerald Donaldson that during the lap, “I was no longer driving the car consciously” and that “I was kind of driving it by instinct, only in a different dimension”.

We have to take his word for that. On-board cameras were in their infancy then, and were not used at all during the 1988 season. And while the qualifying session was filmed for television coverage, the trackside cameras did not pick up Senna during his lap. Footage from 1990 is usually used to patch over the Brazilian’s recollections of that qualifying performance.

As great a performance as it was, it ended up counting for nothing on race day. Senna lost concentration and landed his car into the barriers on lap 67 at Portier corner, and went home with zilch.

Juan Manuel Fangio’s comeback (German Grand Prix, 1957)

Juan Manuel Fangio

Regarded as the greatest ever, it seemed like the most relaxed comeback in Formula 1 history.

Nowadays with pedantic tyre strategies, fast out laps from the pits back into the race are the done thing to get on the pace and warm those rubber boots up. But that wasn’t the strategy Fangio took.

The Argentine led from pole at the Nurburgring and found himself rejoining the race 50 seconds off the pace after a pit stop with 10 laps to go.

In a completely relaxed manner, he just continued in his 250F Maserati and made no impression on the race leader for the first three of the final 10 laps.

Then he put the hammer down and began lapping an astonishing 15 seconds faster than his previous year’s record. By the end of lap 19 of 22, he was 13 seconds behind the pace, and then thrashed it even more for the final three to take the race victory and create a new lap record more than eight seconds quicker.

Sir Stirling Moss said: “He was just a great artist of driving.” Fangio was apparently so good that he rarely needed to push his car to the limit, but on the days he did, it provided some jaw-dropping moments.

Sir Jackie Stewart’s marvellous ‘rain race’ (German Grand Prix, 1968)

Jackie Stewart

Fifty years on, the ‘rain race’ is where Sir Jackie Stewart drove his most legendary victory. It all began with bad weather at the Nurburgring, torrential rain and fog so thick drivers could only see 100 yards in front of them 3,000 metres high in .

The Nurburgring was the most challenging track on the calendar in 1968, with its 14 miles of “Green Hell”, as it was known by the drivers. The race was potentially going to be postponed to later that year at Hockenheim – the other main German Grand Prix circuit – but they continued regardless.

The rain became so bad the track had channels of water running across it in several places, but Stewart’s rivals were no match.

In an era when serious injury and death were all too tragically common in dry conditions, the Scot said: “When I got back to the pits, the first question I asked Ken [Tyrrell, team principal] was, ‘Who died?'” Thankfully there were no additions to the list of 1968 fatalities that day.

’s masterclass (, 1996)

’s maiden Ferrari victory was one to remember, not because it was his first, but because it could well have been his best. And there have been a few…

His 1996 Ferrari was said to be a “dog of a car” and one which shouldn’t have won any races. But he took it to a higher level that day, and proved himself to be the type of driver who can do exceptional things in sub-standard machinery.

In what was another dangerously wet race in Europe, the German started on the second row, in third. After actually losing some places earlier on, by lap 13 he was leading.

Different team strategies played a small part in Schumacher’s stunning victory, as Ferrari preferred a full wet car set-up, while Williams were hoping for a drier afternoon.

But that alone cannot account for Schumacher lapping five seconds quicker than anyone else. Stunning.

Jackie Stewart


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