Just six drivers have won more than ten Grands Prix without ever winning the title – a number which could grow in 2021. We take a look at the drivers who have taken the most Formula 1 victories without ever winning the Drivers’ Championship!
16 – Stirling Moss
Stirling Moss had a glittering Formula 1 career spanning eleven seasons. During that time, he won sixteen Grands Prix and, in the last seven seasons of his career, he finished as runner-up in the championship four times and finished third three times – but never won the title. The closest he came to doing so was in 1958, when he scored one point fewer than World Champion Mike Hawthorn. Moss is often cited as the best F1 driver to have never won the title – and his place at the top of this list certainly backs up that claim. By the time of Moss’ sixteenth and final win at the 1961 German Grand Prix, Juan Manuel Fangio was the only driver who had recorded more wins.
To say that Moss has held the record since winning his sixteenth race would be inaccurate however, as other drivers have won more races before becoming World Champion for the first time. Alain Prost took the record for most victories without a title win at the 1985 Brazilian Grand Prix, but would take his first title later in the season after 21 Grand Prix wins. Nigel Mansell surpassed Moss’ tally at the 1991 French Grand Prix, but won the title one year later after 29 Grand Prix victories. Damon Hill became the driver with the most race wins without a title at the 1996 San Marino Grand Prix before securing his only title after his 21st race win at the Japanese Grand Prix later in the year. Nico Rosberg surpassed Moss’ record at the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix, but would win the title later in the year having racked up 23 Grand Prix wins. Most recently, Max Verstappen took the record from Moss at the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix. He went on to win the title at the final race of the 2021 season, as a result of securing his 20th F1 victory.
13 – David Coulthard
Second on the list of most wins without a title is David Coulthard. The Scotsman won thirteen Grands Prix between 1995 and 2003, but never finished higher than second in the Drivers’ Championship. Coulthard finished in third place in the championship four times before becoming runner-up to Michael Schumacher in the 2001 season.
12 – Carlos Reutemann
Carlos Reutemann recorded twelve Grand Prix victories in his Formula 1 career. The Argentine would finish in third place in the Drivers’ Championship in 1975, 1978 and 1980, before finishing as runner-up to Nelson Piquet in 1981. Reutemann led the title race by a single point heading into the final Grand Prix of the 1981 season, held in Las Vegas. However, Piquet’s fifth place in the race and Reutemann’s eighth place meant that the Brazilian finished one point ahead in the final standings. Reutemann went on to compete in just two more races the following season before calling time on his F1 career.
11 – Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa was World Champion for all of thirty seconds, until Lewis Hamilton passed Timo Glock on the final corner of the final lap of the 2008 season. 2008 – a season in which he took six Grand Prix victories – was by far the Brazilian’s best chance at becoming World Champion. In fact, the scene of his title loss, on home soil at Interlagos, proved to be the final race win of his Formula 1 career.
11 – Rubens Barrichello
Massa’s fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello also recorded eleven Grand Prix wins without ever winning the title. Somewhat cursed by being the team-mate of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, Barrichello took nine race wins with Ferrari. He finished as runner-up to the German in the championship in both 2002 and 2004 – though each time the battle for the title was not close. Barrichello went on to have one more shot at the title in 2009, with Brawn GP. He won two races – the European and Italian Grands Prix – but ultimately finished third in the championship, behind team-mate Jenson Button and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
There are six drivers on the 2022 grid who have previously won a Grand Prix but are yet to win the title: Valtteri Bottas (10), Daniel Ricciardo (8), Charles Leclerc (2), Sergio Perez (2), Pierre Gasly (1) and Esteban Ocon (1).
After graduating 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. 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 Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.