PARIS - Lewis Hamilton may be just a hair's breadth away from the Formula One world championship, but the sport's history books show how final race title deciders are littered with tragedy and triumph.
The British driver knows to take nothing for granted.
Twelve months ago, he needed to finish only fifth at the closing Brazilian Grand Prix to take the title, but mechanical and tactical errors handed the crown to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen by just one point.
The dangerous, daring days of the 1970s witnessed plenty of last-race dramas.
At the 1974 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, Emerson Fittipaldi, like Hamilton a McLaren driver, Clay Regazzoni and Jody Scheckter all stood a chance of claiming the title. But the race was marred by the death of Austrian driver Helmut Koinigg who was killed when his Surtees car crashed at high speed into a barrier.
On the track, Fittipaldi's fourth place was enough to clinch the championship.
The 1976 championship was also decided in the last race at a wet and wild Fuji.
That season had already seen Niki Lauda, in a Ferrari, and extrovert McLaren pilot James Hunt tussle for the title but the Austrian's hopes seemed over when his car crashed in flames during the German Grand Prix. Lauda returned to action but saw his 26-point lead over Hunt trimmed to just three by the time they came to the season's climax in Japan.
In torrential rain, Lauda, believing the conditions were too dangerous, retired at the end of the opening lap. Hunt finished third, took four points and grabbed the championship by one point.
"It had been raining that week like you couldn't believe and, in my opinion, it was too dangerous to drive," insisted Lauda who was world champion in 1975, 1977 and 1984.
In 1986, three drivers went to Adelaide for the final race of the season still in with a chance of the title - Nigel Mansell had 70 points, Alain Prost was on 64 while Nelson Piquet had 63.
Mansell, who was to be champion in 1992, saw his chances wrecked when his left rear tyre exploded in spectacular style, handing the lead to Williams teammate Piquet who then surrendered it to Prost who went on to claim a second successive world championship.
In 1994, Michael Schumacher went into the season-ending Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide leading by just one point from Britain's Damon Hill. But the pair collided after the German turned his Benetton into Hill's Williams. Neither finished the race and so Schumacher won the title.
"I don't think it's a question of forgiving. It was all very exciting at the time and you just try to get stuck into the next season," said Hill who went on to be world champion two years later.
"It was disappointing that I didn't win but, to be fair, it was a closely fought championship and a sad one because we lost Ayrton Senna [who was killed at Imola earlier in the year]. So quite honestly I was glad to see the back of it."
Schumacher was again involved in title-deciding controversy in 1997, but this time came off worst as his Ferrari battled with the Williams of Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez.
The German led the Canadian by a point but the two cars came together on lap 48 as Villeneuve attempted to slip by on the inside. Schumacher had to retire and Villeneuve finished third to take the title by three points. - Sapa-AFP