There have been just eight occasions where a driver has recorded no retirements during a Formula 1 season and only one occasion where a driver has completed every single lap in a season. Both are feats which Lewis Hamilton will achieve in 2019 if he finishes every lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Here are F1’s 100% season finishers!
NB: This list only includes drivers who contested in every round of the season. It does not include drivers who were classified but did not finish the race.
1961 – Dan Gurney
In the first ten years of the F1 championship, not a single driver completed every race of the season. That’s mostly thanks to the unreliability of the cars and also the fact that many regular F1 drivers didn’t bother with the Indianapolis 500, which was an official round of the Formula One championship until 1960. The American race was not run to FIA regulations.
Dan Gurney was the first man to buck the trend and complete every race in 1961. Although there were only eight rounds that year, the sheer unreliability of the cars makes the feat just as impressive as a modern day driver completing every race in a twenty round season. Driving for Porsche, Gurney finished in the runner-up spot three times throughout the season. He came close to winning the French Grand Prix, but was overtaken on the line. Gurney went on to take Porsche’s first and only F1 victory at the 1962 French Grand Prix.
Phil Hill also had the opportunity to complete every race of the 1961 season, but Ferrari opted not to compete at the season closing US Grand Prix following the death of their driver Wolfgang von Trips at the previous race.
1964 – Richie Ginther
American driver Richie Ginther completed every race of the season on his way to fifth in the 1964 F1 Drivers’ Championship. He finished over half of the races in points paying positions, driving for BRM. Ginther’s only hiccup was the Dutch Grand Prix, during which he suffered engine problems and lost sixteen laps as the result of a water cooling issue. His car was still running at the end of the race, so he makes it on to this list. In the same year, at a non-championship race at Aintree, Ginther crashed during practice at 120mph. He escaped with only a cut jaw and some fractured ribs.
2002 – Michael Schumacher
Remarkably, it was almost forty years until the next driver would complete every race on the ever expanding F1 calendar. Michael Schumacher, in one of his most dominant years at Ferrari, not only completed every Grand Prix but finished every single one of them on the podium. During 2002, he surpassed his own record by winning eleven Grands Prix in a single season and took the title before the summer break at the French Grand Prix. Such was Ferrari’s impressive form that Schumacher only retired from one Grand Prix over each of the next two seasons.
Schumacher also became the first driver to complete every racing lap of a season in 2002.
2008 – Nick Heidfeld
2008 was BMW Sauber’s most competitive season in Formula One, with Robert Kubica winning the Canadian Grand Prix and even leading the championship for a while after. But it was his team-mate who took a 100% finish rate that season. Heidfeld finished in second place four times over the eighteen race season, and took fastest lap at the Malaysia and German Grands Prix.
Lewis Hamilton would have completed every race of the season in 2008 too, had he not crashed into the back of Kimi Raikkonen at the end of the pit-lane in Montreal.
2012 – Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Formula One with Lotus in 2012 was certainly successful. Apart from the Chinese Grand Prix – which he finished in 14th – he came home in the points on every race weekend. He scored seven podiums over the course of the twenty race season and became the sport’s eighth different victor in 2012 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Raikkonen almost became the second driver to finish every lap of the season, but was lapped by race winner Jenson Button at the season-closing Brazilian Grand Prix.
2013 – Max Chilton
They may have only scored on two occasions in their various guises, but Marussia could actually build quite a strong car, as Max Chilton proved in his rookie season in 2013. Although he didn’t score a point, the British driver finished every race of the season with a highest finishing position of fourteenth at the Monaco Grand Prix. He is the only rookie to have ever finished every Grand Prix in their debut season.
It is worth noting that both McLaren drivers were classified in every Grand Prix in 2013 as they completed over 90% of the laps in the races which they retired from.
2016 – Daniel Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo became the seventh driver to finish every Grand Prix in a mammoth 21-round season in 2016. He finished in the top four in 13 of those 21 races, and scored points in every race bar the Russian Grand Prix, in which he was hampered by a collision caused by his team-mate Daniil Kvyat.
2017 – Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton was unstoppable in 2017, finishing every Grand Prix in the points on the way to his fourth title. Hamilton could have finished every lap of the season too, but ended up a lap down in Mexico – ironically his worst performance of the season occurring when he won the title. His Mercedes team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, would have also finished every race in the points if not for an engine failure in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Esteban Ocon came close to completing every round of the season too, and would have done had he not been taken out of the race by Romain Grosjean on the first lap at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
2019 – Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton is on the brink of becoming the first driver to appear on this list twice if he finishes the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. There have been just four races so far this year where Hamilton has not finished on the podium, with his lowest finishing position being ninth place in the dramatic German Grand Prix.
If he completes every lap at the Yas Marina Circuit, Hamilton will become only the second driver to have completed every racing lap of a Formula 1 season. He’d be the first to do so since Michael Schumacher in 2002.
Alex Albon came close to finishing every race of the 2019 season, but his DNF eleven laps from the end of the Canadian Grand Prix sees him fall short of joining the club.
Nicky Haldenby is a freelance writer from Scarborough, England. After graduating from the University of Hull in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its fourth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations, and sister site GPDestinations, where he shares regular race previews and articles focussed around the latest in Formula 1 calendar and venue news. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky can also be heard regularly as a guest on various Formula 1 radio shows and podcasts.