The First Retirement of Every F1 Season

The First Retirement of Every F1 Season

Who recorded the first retirement in every Formula 1 season? We’ve done the research to find which teams and drivers have recorded the first retirement of the year on the most occasions!


Leslie Johnson has the unwanted honour of being the first ever retirement in a Formula 1 race as he retired on the third lap at the 1950 British Grand Prix. Since then, another 57 drivers have gone on to take the first retirement of the season.

There have been 22 occasions where the first retirement of a season has happened on the first lap of the first Grand Prix of the year. The longest before the first retirement of a season was at the 1957 Argentine Grand Prix, where Peter Collins raced for 26 laps before clutch problems saw him record the first DNF of the year. The full list of first DNFs of every Formula 1 season can be found at the end of the article.

The most first retirements of the year

Only eight drivers have recorded the first retirement of a season on more than one occasion in their careers. The drivers who have done it most frequently are Jean-Pierre Jarier, Johnny Herbert, Christijan Albers and Pastor Maldonado. Albers is the only driver to have been the first retirement of the year in three successive seasons. He was first out with mechanical issues for Minardi in 2005 and with Midland in 2006, then he recorded a retirement for Spyker, crashing out on the eleventh lap in 2007.

Herbert had a particularly unlucky time in the late 1990s, as for four of the five seasons between 1996 and 2000, he can be classified as the first driver to retire in one way or another. He was the first DNF of the year in both 1996 and 1997, both times through collisions; he failed to start in 1999; and was out with clutch problems on the second lap in 2000, becoming the first retirement of the new millennium. Like Herbert, Jarier – who was the first driver to record three first retirements in a season – also recorded the first DNF of the season in 1975.

Both Peter Collins and Alex Soler-Roig recorded the first retirement of the year in successive seasons, Collins doing so in 1957 and 1958 and Soler-Roig doing so in 1971 and 1972.

In terms of teams, McLaren became the first team to record a sixth first retirement of a season in 2019, with Carlos Sainz out with power unit issues. It was the second time in four years that the time have been first to record a retirement, with Fernando Alonso also out first in 2016. BRM and Ferrari have each recorded the first DNF of a year on five occasions.

DRIVERS WITH MOST FIRST DNFs OF A SEASON

  • 3 Jean-Pierre Jarier
  • 3 Johnny Herbert
  • 3 Christijan Albers
  • 3 Pastor Maldonado
  • 2 Peter Collins
  • 2 Alex Soler-Roig
  • 2 Andrea de Cesaris
  • 2 Rubens Barrichello
TEAMS WITH MOST FIRST DNFs OF A SEASON

  • 6 McLaren
  • 5 BRM
  • 5 Ferrari
  • 4 Williams
  • 4 Lotus
  • 3 Brabham
  • 3 Minardi
  • 3 Sauber
  • 3 Tyrrell
  • 2 Benetton
  • 2 Cooper
  • 2 Force India
  • 2 March
  • 2 Maserati
  • 2 Shadow


World Champions who were the first retirement of the year

There have been only eight occasions in Formula 1 history that a World Champion has recorded the first retirement of the season. Juan Manuel Fangio (1956), Nelson Piquet (1985) and Fernando Alonso (2016) are the only World Champions to have done so having already been crowned World Champion, while Fangio is the only driver to have recorded the first retirement of a season who has gone on to win that year’s title. 

Causes of the first retirement of the year

In Formula 1 history, mechanical failures have caused more first retirements of the season than driver errors. 43 retirements have been as a result of mechanical issues, while 27 have been due to driver error or collisions. All of the last three seasons have seen the first retirement of the season caused by mechanical gremlins. However, in the ten years prior to that, Pastor Maldonado’s transmission issues in 2011 were the only time that a driver error or collision was not to blame for the first DNF of the year.

Occasions where two drivers were out at the same time

Of course, in collisions there have been occasions where multiple drivers have had their races ended at the same point. For those occasions, we’ve taken the driver classified at the bottom of the order to be the first DNF of the season. Times where this has happened were in 1955, 1959, 1981, 1989, 1997, 2002, 2008 and most recently in 2016, when Fernando Alonso crashed into the back of Esteban Gutierrez. Further details of these occasions are in the table below.

Did Not Starts at the first race of the season

There have also been a number of occasions where drivers have not even started the first race of a season. In the table below, there are details of drivers who recorded a DNS (Did Not Start) at the opening race of the season.

Both Chris Amon and Brian Redman were forced into DNSs in similar circumstances at the first race of the season in 1963 and 1970. In 1963, Maurice Trintignant raced Amon’s car and in 1970, Graham Hill raced Redman’s car.

There have been two occasions where three drivers recorded a DNS at the first race of the season, Those were in 1960, when three Maserati drivers all failed to start, and in 2015 when Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat all failed to line up on the final grid.

Bottas is one of two drivers to not start the first race of a season due to injury. The other driver to do so is Innes Ireland, who broke his leg during practice for the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix and then was injured in practice again at the 1964 Monaco Grand Prix.

YearDrivers who recorded DNS at the first race of the season
1952Maurice Trintignant
1954Carlos Menditeguy, Luigi Musso
1960Oscar Cabalén, Pedro Llano and Julio Pola
1961Innes Ireland
1963Chris Amon
1964Innes Ireland
1970Brian Redman
1972Chris Amon
1974Rikky von Opel
1975Jean-Pierre Jarier
1977Gunnar Nilsson
1979Riccardo Patrese
1987Ivan Capelli
1997Damon Hill
1999Johnny Herbert
2013Nico Hulkenberg
2015Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat
2016Daniil Kvyat

Disqualifications at the first race of the season

There have been a number of occasions where drivers have been disqualified at the first race of the season. While in recent years these disqualifications – for example Lewis Hamilton in 2009, the Sauber drivers in 2011 and Daniel Ricciardo in 2014 – have happened after the race has been completed, there have been a couple of occasions where drivers have been disqualified before any drivers have retired from the race. Those instances were at the 1975 Argentine Grand Prix, when John Watson was disqualified on the sixth lap, and at the 1987 Brazilian Grand Prix, where Adrian Campos was disqualified after three laps.

THE FIRST DNF OF EVERY SEASON

The table below shows a full list of every first DNF of the season plus the reason for the DNF and the lap on which the driver retired. The list excludes any Did Not Starts, Did Not Qualifys and Disqualifications.

YearDriverTeamReason for DNFOn Lap
1950Leslie JohnsonERACompressor3
1951Peter HirtVeritasFuel System1
1952Max de TerraGordiniMagneto2
1953Adolfo Schwelm CruzCooperWheel21
1954Louis RosierFerrariAccident2
1955Carlos MenditeguyMaseratiAccident (Pablo Birger was out on the same lap)2
1956Juan Manuel FangioFerrariFuel Pump23
1957Peter CollinsFerrariClutch27
1958Peter CollinsFerrariHalfshaft1
1959Bruce HalfordLotusCollision (Cliff Allison and Wolfgang von Trips were out on the same lap)2
1960Giorgio ScarlattiMaseratiOverheating12
1961Graham HillBRMFuel Pump12
1962Ben PonPorscheSpun Off3
1963Jo SiffertLotusEngine4
1964Trevor TaylorBRMFuel leak9
1965Dan GurneyBrabhamIgnition12
1966Bob AndersonBrabhamEngine4
1967Jackie StewartBRMEngine3
1968Ludovico ScarfiottiCooperWater Pipe3
1969Basil van RooyenMcLarenBrakes13
1970Chris AmonMarchOverheating15
1971Alex Soler-RoigMarchEngine6
1972Alex Soler-RoigBRMAccident2
1973Nanni GalliWilliams*Engine1
1974Jean-Pierre JarierShadowAccident1
1975Wilson FittipaldiFittipaldiAccident13
1976Ian AshleyBRMOil Pump3
1977Renzo ZorziShadowGearbox3
1978Rupert KeeganSurteesOverheating5
1979Arturo MerzarioMerzarioCollision1
1980Jean-Pierre JarierTyrrellCollision2
1981Andrea de CesarisMcLarenCollision (Alain Prost was out on the same lap)2
1982Jean-Pierre JarierOsellaCollision1
1983Michele AlboretoTyrrellEngine8
1984Ayrton SennaTolemanTurbo9
1985Nelson PiquetBrabhamTransmission3
1986Nigel MansellWilliamsSpun Off1
1987Teo FabiBenettonTurbo10
1988Oscar LarrauriEuroBrunElectrical1
1989Luis Perez-SalaMinardiCollision (Gerhard Berger was out on the same lap)1
1990Martin DonnellyLotusGearbox1
1991Eric BarnardLolaEngine5
1992Martin BrundleBenettonClutch2
1993Andrea de CesarisTyrrellTransmission1
1994Bertrand GachotPacificCollision2
1995Perluigi MartiniMinardiGearbox1
1996Johnny HerbertSauberCollision15
1997Johnny HerbertSauberCollision (Jacques Villeneuve and Eddie Irvine were also out on the same lap)1
1998Rubens BarrichelloStewartGearbox1
1999Jean AlesiSauberGearbox (Damon Hill was also out on the same lap)1
2000Johnny HerbertJaguarClutch2
2001Gaston MazzacaneProstBrakes/Engine1
2002Allan McNishToyotaCollision (Multiple other drivers were also out on the same lap)1
2003Rubens BarrichelloFerrariAccident6
2004Kimi RaikkonenMcLarenEngine/Spin10
2005Christijan AlbersMinardiGearbox17
2006Christijan AlbersMidlandDriveshaft1
2007Christijan AlbersSpykerAccident11
2008Giancarlo FisichellaForce IndiaCollision (Four other drivers were also out on the same lap)1
2009Heikki KovalainenMcLarenCollision13
2010Karun ChandhokHRTSpun Off2
2011Pastor MaldonadoWilliamsTransmission10
2012Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaCollision1
2013Pastor MaldonadoWilliamsSpun Off25
2014Kamui KobayashiCaterhamCollision1
2015Pastor MaldonadoLotusCollision1
2016Fernando AlonsoMcLarenCollision (Esteban Gutierrez was also out on the same lap)17
2017Romain GrosjeanHaasWater leak14
2018Sergey SirotkinWilliamsBrakes5
2019Carlos SainzMcLarenPower unit, fire10

Header image: Atres Max on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

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