F1 Drivers Who Reached Q3 on Debut

Since the current qualifying system was introduced in 2006, there have been only seven drivers who reached Q3 on debut. We take a look at the times that it has happened, and the other drivers who have qualified in the top ten on their maiden Grand Prix appearance.

Robert Kubica, 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix

Robert Kubica made his first Formula 1 appearance at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix, replacing Jacques Villeneuve at BMW Sauber. After setting the fourth fastest time in Q1, Kubica reached Q3 with the tenth fastest time in the second part of qualifying. He went on to qualify in tenth and lined up ninth on the grid due to a grid penalty for eventual race winner Jenson Button.

Kubica became the first driver to line up in the top ten on their first Grand Prix appearance since Felipe Massa at the 2002 Australian Grand Prix – though the Brazilian’s first race would come to an end at the first turn. Things went better for Kubica in his first race, but the Pole was still unlucky. He finished seventh, picking up points on his debut – only to be disqualified after the race for his car being too light.

Lewis Hamilton, 2007 Australian Grand Prix

It’s no surprise that the most successful driver in F1 history reached Q3 on his debut appearance. At the 2007 Australian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton easily progressed to the final stage of qualifying with McLaren. After setting the second fastest time in Q1, Hamilton eventually qualified in fourth place, around seven tenths of a second away from pole position. He was less than three tenths slower than World Champion team-mate Fernando Alonso. Hamilton went on to finish on the podium in his maiden Grand Prix – the first driver to do so since Jacques Villeneuve in 1996.

Sebastian Vettel, 2007 United States Grand Prix

Robert Kubica missed the 2007 United States Grand Prix following a huge crash during the Canadian Grand Prix. He was replaced by Red Bull-backed youngster Sebastian Vettel. Vettel was within the seven top times in all three stages of the qualifying hour, and ultimately lined up seventh on the grid. He lost one position in the race to finish eighth, becoming Formula 1’s youngest points-scorer.

Daniil Kvyat, 2014 Australian Grand Prix

Daniil Kvyat became the second Russian driver to race in Formula 1 at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. The reigning GP3 champion impressed on his first outing, qualifying in eighth place – two positions down on team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne. The Toro Rosso driver went on to become the youngest driver to score on their Formula 1 debut, breaking Sebastian Vettel’s record from seven years previously.

Kevin Magnussen, 2014 Australian Grand Prix

Kvyat wasn’t the only rookie in Q3 at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. Danish newcomer Kevin Magnussen was also in the top ten shootout. While his team-mate Jenson Button was eliminated in Q2, Magnussen set the second fastest time in Q1 and set the fourth fastest time in Q2.

Fourth would be where he qualified, and he’d go on to impress again in the race. Magnussen became the first driver to finish on the podium on his maiden F1 appearance since Hamilton in 2007. That was as good as things got in the Dane’s career – becoming one of only six drivers to record their only podium appearance on debut.

Carlos Sainz, 2015 Australian Grand Prix

Of the four drivers making their debut at this race, Sainz was the only one to reach Q3. While the hype surrounded Toro Rosso team-mate Max Verstappen, the Dutch driver was eliminated in Q2 while Sainz reached Q3. The Spaniard qualified in eighth place, but an injury saw Valtteri Bottas sit out the race, and Sainz moved up one position on the grid. Bottas’ injury also meant that Sainz’s fellow debutant Felipe Nasr would begin his first Grand Prix from inside the top ten on the grid too.

Lando Norris, 2019 Australian Grand Prix

Lando Norris is the last driver to reach Q3 on his maiden race appearance, doing so at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix. Though McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz was unluckily eliminated in Q1, Norris set the eighth fastest time in Q3. He failed to convert his top ten starting spot into a points finish, coming home in twelfth place.

Drivers who lined up in the top 10 on the grid for their first Grand Prix

Below is a list of every driver who lined up in the top ten on the grid for their first World Championship Grand Prix appearance. This list does not include drivers who lined up in the top ten on the grid for the Indianapolis 500 between 1950 and 1960, nor does it include drivers who qualified in the top ten but were later handed a grid penalty.

DriverRaceGrid Position
1Giuseppe Farina1950 British Grand Prix1
2Luigi Fagioli1950 British Grand Prix2
3Juan Manuel Fangio1950 British Grand Prix3
4Reg Parnell1950 British Grand Prix4
5Prince Bira1950 British Grand Prix5
6Yves Giraud-Cabantous1950 British Grand Prix6
7Eugene Martin1950 British Grand Prix7
8Emmanuel de Graffenreid1950 British Grand Prix8
9Louis Rosier1950 British Grand Prix9
10Peter Walker1950 British Grand Prix10
11Jose Frolian Gonzalez1950 Monaco Grand Prix3
12Luigi Villoresi1950 Monaco Grand Prix6
13Alberto Ascari1950 Monaco Grand Prix7
14Raymond Sommer1950 Monaco Grand Prix9
15Pierre Levegh1950 Belgian Grand Prix10
16Consalvo Sanesi1950 Italian Grand Prix4
17Dornio Serafini1950 Italian Grand Prix6
18Piero Taruffi1950 Italian Grand Prix7
19Rudi Fischer1951 Swiss Grand Prix10
20Ken Richardson1951 Italian Grand Prix10
21Peter Collins1952 Swiss Grand Prix6
22Mike Hawthorn1952 Belgian Grand Prix6
23Paul Frere1952 Belgian Grand Prix8
24Dennis Poore1952 British Grand Prix8
25Eric Thompson1952 British Grand Prix9
26Ken Downing1952 British Grand Prix5
27Hans Klenk1952 German Grand Prix8
28Willi Heeks1952 German Grand Prix9
29Elie Bayol1952 Italian Grand Prix10
30Oscar Galvez1953 Argentine Grand Prix9
31Carlos Menditeguy1953 Argentine Grand Prix10
32Tony Rolt1953 British Grand Prix10
33Luigi Musso1954 Argentine Grand Prix7
34Karl Kling1954 French Grand Prix2
35Olivier Gendebien1956 Argentine Grand Prix10
36Colin Chapman1956 French Grand Prix5
37Alfonso de Portago1956 French Grand Prix9
38Archie Scott-Brown1956 British Grand Prix10
39Wolfgang von Trips1957 Monaco Grand Prix9
40Masten Gregory1957 Monaco Grand Prix10
41Innes Ireland1959 Dutch Grand Prix9
42Richie Ginther1960 Monaco Grand Prix9
43Alfonso Thiele1960 Italian Grand Prix9
44Ricardo Rodriguez1961 Italian Grand Pix2
45Neville Lederle1962 South African Grand Prix10
46Mike Spence1963 Italian Grand Prix9
47Peter Arundell1964 Monaco Grand Prix6
48Peter Revson1964 Belgian Grand Prix10
49Dick Attwood1965 Monaco Grand Prix6
50Denny Hulme1965 Monaco Grand Prix8
51Mike Parkes1966 French Grand Prix3
52Dave Charlton1967 South African Grand Prix8
53Andrea de Adamich1968 South African Grand Prix7
54Derek Bell1968 Italian Grand Prix8
55Mario Andretti1968 United States Grand Prix1
56Ignazio Giunti1970 Belgian Grand Prix8
57Clay Regazzoni1970 Dutch Grand Prix6
58Reine Wisell1970 United States Grand Prix9
59Mark Donohue1971 Canadian Grand Prix8
60Carlos Reutemann1972 Argentine Grand Prix1
61Arturo Merzario1972 British Grand Prix9
62Jody Scheckter1972 United States Grand Prix8
63Masahiro Hasemi1976 Japanese Grand Prix10
64Gilles Villeneuve1977 British Grand Prix9
65Andrea de Cesaris1980 Canadian Grand Prix8
66Teo Fabi1982 San Marino Grand Prix10
67Johnny Herbert1989 Brazilian Grand Prix10
68Michael Schumacher1991 Belgian Grand Prix7
69Eddie Irvine1993 Japanese Grand Prix8
70Michael Andretti1993 South African Grand Prix9
71Heinz-Harald Frentzen1994 Brazilian Grand Prix5
72Jos Verstappen1994 Brazilian Grand Prix9
73David Coulthard1994 Spanish Grand Prix9
74Jacques Villeneuve1996 Australian Grand Prix1
75Felipe Massa2002 Australian Grand Prix9
76Robert Kubica2006 Hungarian Grand Prix9
77Lewis Hamilton2007 Australian Grand Prix4
78Sebastian Vettel2007 Untied States Grand Prix7
79Kevin Magnussen2014 Australian Grand Prix4
80Daniil Kvyat2014 Australian Grand Prix8
81Carlos Sainz2015 Australian Grand Prix7
82Felipe Nasr2015 Australian Grand Prix10
83Lando Norris2019 Australian Grand Prix8

This article was originally published in April 2021 and has since been updated.

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