Formula One hits a major milestone at the Chinese Grand Prix, as when the cars line up for the start of the race it will be for the 1,000th time in the sport’s history.
The hi-tech technology we see on the grids and garages today are a long way from the small bays at disused airfields that greeted the drivers ahead of the first world championship race at Silverstone in 1950.
Among the changes through the years, there have been incredible races that have helped propel the sport to the popularity that it enjoys today as Sportsmail looks at the 10 best grands prix of all time.
Ayrton Senna celebrates winning the 1988 Japanese Grand Prix and his first world title
10. Japan 1988
Driving a McLaren in 1988 was as good as a guaranteed podium but even from pole position at Suzuka, Ayrton Senna was made to jump through hoops to claim his maiden world championship.
Admittedly it was self inflicted. After stalling at the start the Brazilian dropped down to 14th. The fightback however started instantly as on the first lap he passed six cars and by lap four was into fourth place.
Light showers then hit the track as Senna hauled in the front three, passing Gerhard Berger then benefiting from Ivan Capelli’s electrical-based retirement.
The Brazilian then started to reel in his team-mate who was enduring double pain in the form of backmarkers and a troublesome gearbox.
At just past the halfway stage, Senna made his move on the home straight to take the lead after Prost was held up before pulling away comfortably.
Despite the the threat of more showers, Senna eased to a then record eighth win of the season to land the first of his three world championships.
Senna closes in on McLaren team-mate Alain Prost before passing to take Suzuka victory
9. San Marino 2005
There was a very brief moment in 2005 when it looked like Ferrari could challenge for the title – and it wasn’t in the United States when only four opponents could take them on.
It came on a thrilling afternoon at Imola. Quite typically around that time Kimi Raikkonen led before being forced to retire, handing the lead to Fernando Alonso.
The Spaniard looked set for a straightforward charge to victory, until Michael Schumacher was released from traffic he was stuck behind.
The second half of the race saw all eyes on the world champion who was by far the quickest driver in the field and after the final round of pit-stops emerged just behind Alonso.
For the final 12 laps the German tried everything to get past, but with shades of Nigel Mansell vs Ayrton Senna in 1992 at Monaco, the Renault driver kept his cool as well as the lead to claim a famous win.
Fernando Alonso pulled off a stunning defensive drive to hold off Michael Schumacher at Imola
The two drivers shake hands after the San Marino Grand Prix following their exciting duel
8. Germany 1957
The last hurrah from the great Juan Manuel Fangio and it may have been his greatest of all given the incredible gutsy drive he had to produce at the daunting and highly demanding Nurburgring circuit.
Fangio’s main threat for the race was the Ferraris of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins who had opted to run on full tanks without pit-stops. The Argentine elected instead to run soft tyres and a lighter fuel load – necessitating a pit-stop.
After pitting from the lead, a mechanic’s error saw him lose an additional 30 seconds and he emerged in third place, 48 seconds behind Collins.
From there the charge started. After breaking the lap record nine times in 10 laps he caught up with both Ferraris in the penultimate tour around the Nordschleife.
After passing both, Fangio enjoyed the final lap out in front before securing his final F1 win, one in which he reflected: ‘I have never driven that quickly before in my life and I don’t think I will ever be able to do it again.’
Ferrari duo Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins lead Juan Manuel Fangio at the Nurburgring
In his last win, Fangio (centre) put in a series of fast laps to pass Collins (left) and Hawthorn
7. Spa 1998
‘This is terrible, this is quite appalling, this is the worst start to a grand prix I have ever seen in my life.’ You know you have seen quite a chaotic few seconds when even commentator Murray Walker is left stunned by events.
The race started with a 13-car collision in torrential weather conditions and never seemed to ease up once it got going again.
Damon Hill took the lead on the restart but was soon passed by Michael Schumacher who from then on looked set for an easy victory. However, blinded by rain, he drove into the back of David Coulthard while trying to lap the McLaren driver, putting them both out the race.
So angry was Schumacher that after ‘three-wheeling’ his car back to the pit-lane that he tried to physically confront the Scot after storming into the McLaren garage.
Hill retook the lead but was being rapidly caught by Jordan team-mate Ralf Schumacher. With Jordan set for their first win and one-two, Hill pressured team boss Eddie Jordan into preventing Schumacher from passing, claiming that allowing them to race would risk both drivers colliding and failing to secure a historic result.
Jordan relented and after a few radio messages, Schumacher eventually obeyed the command not to pass Hill who went on to seal his final Formula One victory.
Michael Schumacher drives with three wheels back to the pits after hitting David Coulthard
Damon Hill took victory after enforcing team orders to deny his team-mate Ralf Schumacher
6. Spain 1981
Gilles Villeneuve’s last Formula One win before his tragic death less than a year later is also arguably his best, with the Canadian showing all his strengths in raw speed, overtaking ability, driving skill and masterful tactical awareness.
The Ferrari star qualified seventh at Jarama in the relatively uncompetitive 126CK but knew his car would be at its best at the start of the race before fading.
By the end of the first lap he was second and that soon became the lead when Alan Jones spun off in the Williams.
From there it soon became all out defence for Villeneuve, whose only advantage was the speed his Ferrari could develop on straights before rivals closed in at the corners.
Yes, rivals, plural. At first it was just Jacques Laffite in the Ligier he had to hold off, but by the end of the race a train had developed behind the duo including John Watson, Carlos Reutemann and Elio de Angelis.
Despite the best efforts of Laffite and Co, Villeneuve’s ability to put his car in the right place at the right time saw him take victory by just 0.22 seconds – with just over a second covering the top five.
Gilles Villeneuve somehow kept four rivals at bay to win the 1981 Spanish Grand Prix
Villenueve (centre) is congratulated on his final F1 victory by third placed John Watson
5. Italy 1971
Monza will always be a legendary track and will continue to be one of the crown jewels for as long as it remains on the Formula One calendar as a high-speed circuit.
Yet it used to be even quicker, with the classic 1971 race the last held at the track before safety measures saw the implementation of chicanes seen today to slow down speeds.
Not only did this slow down cars but it also took some of the fun out of Monza, the chicane free circuit on its final run for instance had 26 changes for the lead (nearly once every other lap) and this was not unusual for the time.
What was unusual was the 1971 finish, with Peter Gethin’s winning his only ever F1 race for Matra by just 0.01 seconds from Ronnie Peterson’s March – the closest ever winning margin in an F1 race.
In fact the top five were covered by just 0.61 seconds with Francois Cevert, Mike Hailwood and Howden Ganley also chasing victory right up to the line. Until the 2003 Italian Grand Prix it was the fastest ever race recorded with an average speed of over 150mph.
Peter Gethin raises his hand aloft after winning by the closest ever margin in an F1 race
The Brit celebrates his victory at Monza which proved to be the only win in his F1 career
4. Brazil 2008
The ultimate ending to a season? It’s not often you see a world championship decided at the final race these days – let alone one settled at the final corner.
Lewis Hamilton went into the race with a seven-point advantage over Felipe Massa as the duo slugged it out trying to win their first title, with the Brit needing just fifth place to become champion.
Given the McLaren’s advantage over many of its rivals this looked a simple task but not for the first time in Brazil, rain played its part.
It started to fall in the latter stages of the race, and Hamilton as well as all of the front runners barring Timo Glock pitted.
Aside from pit-stops, Massa effectively led the whole race from pole position and was ready to be crowned world champion as he crossed the finishing line. That was because a Hamilton error meant he was passed by Sebastian Vettel for fifth.
But as the rain intensified, Glock’s grooved tyres had lost all grip and following the final corner Hamilton passed the Toyota to reclaim fifth and snatch the title away from Massa – leaving a previously celebratory Ferrari garage stunned.
Felipe Massa looked like he had won the world title after triumphing at Interlagos in 2008
But Hamilton last-gasp pass on Timo Glock saw him snatch the world title from the Brazilian
3. Canada 2011
Even by the seventh race of the 2011 season it was clear the world championship would be falling into the lap of Sebastian Vettel but he took one almighty punch in Montreal on his way to defending his title.
The race was hit by heavy rain, so much so that it was stopped for two hours just short of midway through, with Vettel, who had started from pole position leading the way.
Shortly after the restart, Jenson Button, who had previously tangled with team-mate Hamilton, had another incident with Alonso putting the latter out the race and the Brit 21st and last.
Then Button’s afternoon turned round dramatically, with the McLaren scything through the field before reaching Vettel on the final lap.
The German ran wide under pressure allowing the Brit, who had been in the pits six times, to take one of F1’s most famous and incredible victories.
Jenson Button passed Sebastian Vettel (background) to win the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix
Button shakes hands with Vettel on the podium having come from last place to take the win
2. Brazil 2003
The day when one small river at Turn 3 caused utter chaos… and produced one of the most bizarre races of all time.
Following a safety car start due to a downpour in Interlagos, Rubens Barrichello was passed by David Coulthard, before handing the lead back to the home favourite, as chaos reigned behind them.
Three drivers, including Michael Schumacher, spun off on successive laps at turn three which remained wet throughout the race, despite the rest of the track drying, due to rain water from the track running through it.
Barrichello then dramatically ran out of fuel, handing the lead back to Coulthard before he made a scheduled pit stop to what he thought would briefly hand team-mate Kimi Raikkonen the advantage.
The McLaren star though made a small error allowing the Jordan of Giancarlo Fisichella, who had been last after an early pit stop to take on fuel, to take a shock lead.
This then turned into a shock win when Fernando Alonso crashed heavily into the debris left by a Mark Webber accident seconds before – bringing out the red flag which ended the race.
Still the drama continued. Fisichella’s car caught fire amid pit-lane celebrations and the Italian then saw his race win taken away from him due to a timing error, before corrections a few days later saw him eventually awarded his first race win.
Many drivers spun at turn three, including Michael Schumacher (right) at Interlagos in 2003
Race winner Giancarlo Fisichella looks on as his Jordan catches fire in Parc Ferme
1. Monaco 1996
For those calling to bin the Monaco Grand Prix due to its processional races, events in Monte Carlo in 1996 should serve as a reminder that every now and then it can throw up incredible action.
On the opening lap there was high drama when in the wet, pole sitter Michael Schumacher crashed out shortly after the Station hairpin – with four more drivers failing to get a lap in.
The race had appeared to settle at the halfway mark, only for race leader Damon Hill’s Renault engine in his Williams to expire coming out the tunnel.
New leader Jean Alesi was then hit by his usual slice of bad luck when he was forced to retire 15 laps from the end with suspension issues, handing the lead to Olivier Panis.
As cars continued to find ways of retiring around him, the Frenchman held on to claim his only F1 win and the last for the Ligier team in a race where just four cars manged to cross the finish line.
Damon Hill leads from Michael Schumacher and Jean Alesi at the start of the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix- with all three going on to retire for different reasons in a race of attrition
Olivier Panis took a shock win, with the Frenchman’s win in a French car pleasing locals