Lewis Hamilton could equal Michael Schumacher’s record tally of 91 Grand Prix victories in 2020. We take a look back at the previous holders of F1’s all-time win record and the races at which they secured it.
THE EARLY YEARS – FARINA, FANGIO, PARSONS
After the first three rounds of the World Championship in 1950, three drivers had been victorious. Giuseppe Farina won the first ever Formula 1 race at Silverstone, Juan Manuel Fangio took victory at Monaco and at the Indianapolis 500 – where none of the regular F1 drivers competed – Johnnie Parsons took the win. This is the only time that three drivers have shared F1’s win record, each with one apiece. For the next year, Farina and Fangio exchanged the record until both reached four wins – Fangio doing so at the 1951 Swiss Grand Prix and Farina matching him at the Belgian Grand Prix. When Fangio took a fifth victory at the 1951 French Grand Prix, Farina would never match the Argentine’s tally again, and Fangio’s rival in the record books became another Italian…
Fangio was the sole holder of F1’s win record for over a year, when Alberto Ascari matched his six wins at the 1952 German Grand Prix. A stellar year in 1952 saw Ascari win six of the seven rounds of the championship which he entered. Ascari amassed thirteen victories in total during his career, with his final victory coming at the 1953 Swiss Grand Prix – the same race at which he became Formula 1’s first double World Champion. Ascari entered seven races after this but failed to finish on any occasion. His F1 career came to an end with him crashing into the harbour at Monaco in 1955, and he was killed only four days later in a crash at the Monza circuit.
JUAN MANUEL FANGIO
Juan Manuel Fangio became the second driver, after Ascari, to have his win tally break into multiple figures. He won his tenth race at the 1954 French Grand Prix, and equalled Ascari’s tally of thirteen wins at the Italian Grand Prix later that year. Fangio became the new record holder with his fourteenth victory at his home Grand Prix, the Argentine Grand Prix, in 1955. Over the next two years, he won ten more races and took his tally to 24 at the 1957 German Grand Prix.
It would be ten years before anybody challenged Fangio’s tally. Jim Clark finally equalled the Argentine’s 24 victories at the 1967 Mexican Grand Prix. And the Scot would go one better, and secure a 25th victory on New Year’s Day in 1968 at the South African Grand Prix. This was to be Clark’s final Formula 1 appearance however, as he was killed in a Formula 2 crash at Hockenheim before the next round of the championship. Had his career not been cut short, it’s likely Clark would have gone on to score plenty more victories. He remains the driver to have recorded the most Grand Slams in Formula 1 history.
Jim Clark’s record of 25 wins stood for five years, before fellow Scot Jackie Stewart equalled the tally at the 1973 Monaco Grand Prix. In the final year of his career – the year in which he also won his final World Championship – Stewart would secure two more victories, at the 1973 Dutch and German Grands Prix, extending the record to 27 victories.
Impressively, Stewart held on to the record for fourteen years. In the interim, Niki Lauda won 25 races, equalling Jim Clark for second on the all-time list. Lauda, Nelson Piquet and Carlos Reutemann exceeded Stewart’s record of 43 podiums – Lauda’s tally eventually reaching 54 – but the win total remained unbeaten.
Instead, it would be Alain Prost who would become Formula 1’s new most winning driver. Prost scored his 27th victory with McLaren at the 1987 Belgian Grand Prix, and would go on to set a new benchmark four months later with a 28th win at the Portuguese Grand Prix. At the same race, Prost equalled former team-mate Lauda’s record tally of podiums. Prost went on to record a total of 51 wins, the last of which came with Williams at the 1993 German Grand Prix.
Prost’s tally would not be beaten until the turn of the new millennium. As Michael Schumacher’s domination in the early 2000s began, he started to close in on the Frenchman’s record. He equalled Prost’s total at the 2001 Hungarian Grand Prix, with that victory leading to him being confirmed as the 2001 World Champion. Schumacher would then surpass Prost’s tally with his 52nd win two weeks later at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Over the next five years, Schumacher would go on to score almost 40 more wins, with his 91st and final victory coming at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix. Schumacher has now held the record for longer than anyone else in Formula 1’s history, but his tally may soon be beaten…
Lewis Hamilton stands on the cusp of equalling a once unimaginable record. At the start of the 2020 season, Hamilton needs only six more race wins to equal Schumacher at the top of the table. With his form not showing any signs of stopping, how many more wins will Hamilton rack up before the end of his career?
After graduating from the University of Hull in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its fifth 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 GPDestinations. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.