Ten of the best… early Grand Prix winners

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Montreal, 2007, 3Which ten drivers scored their first Grand Prix win right at the start of their careers?

Lewis Hamilton scored his first race win at his sixth attempt last week. Find out how many others beat him to it – including the first ever to win for Ferrari.

Giuseppi Farina

Races taken to achieve first victory: one

Farina, the first world champion, gets on the list by default: He won the first ever world championship Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1950.

Giancarlo Baghetti

Races taken to achieve first victory: one

Baghetti had already won two non-championship races before his first championship round. That came at the 1961 French Grand Prix – and astonishingly, he won that too.

He qualified 12th while his three Ferrari team mates shared the front row. But the hot day forced many cars out, and Stirling Moss and Phil Hill collided. Baghetti nosed ahead of the Porsches of Dan Gurney and Jo Bonnier, and won the race.

That was Baghetti’s only victory.

Juan Manuel Fangio

Races taken to achieve first victory: two

Fangio was the second world championship Grand Prix winner of all time, following Farina with a victory at Monaco.

He won 24 races in his career for an astonishing win rate of 47.06%, and five championships which stood as a record until 2003.

Tony Brooks

Races taken to achieve first victory: three

Very highly rated by Stirling Moss and one of the great drivers never to be champion. Brooks first Grand Prix victory, in the 1957 British Grand Prix at Aintree, was a shared victory with Moss.

Emerson Fittipaldi

Races taken to achieve first victory: four

The Brazilian made his Grand Prix debut at the British round in 1970. His fourth race should have come at Monza, but his Lotus team withdrew following the death of Jochen Rindt, and missed the following round at Mosport in Canada too.

When Fittipaldi finally made his fourth start it came at Watkins Glen in America. He won, and two years later became the sport’s youngest ever champion.

Ludovico Scarfiotti

Races taken to achieve first victory: four

Scarfiotti never did more than three Grands Prix in a single season. He made his debut in the 1963 Dutch Grand Prix, and three years later took his first win at the fourth attempt.

He was killed in 1968 while practicising for a hill climb with only 10 race starts to his name.

Jacques Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve, Williams-Renault, Nurburgring, 1996Races taken to achieve first victory: four

Villeneuve is the only driver of recent times to have had a start to a career anything like as amazing as Hamilton’s. He nearly won his first race, but his committed defence from team mate Damon Hill damaged an oil line on his car, and he had to drop behind his team mate.

Three races later victory was his at the Nurburgring, and he would keep Hill on his toes right until the final round.

Jose Froilan Gonzalez

Races taken to achieve first victory: five

Despite his large physique – the press dubbed him the Pampas Bull – Gonzales was a footballer, swimmer and and cyclist before he took to the tracks.

But this man who looked so unlike the drivers of today graced the Scuderia Ferrari with its first ever Grand Prix win. Appropriately he defeated their Alfa Romeo rivals – Enzo Ferrari’s former employers – at Silverstone in 1951.

It was the first of 195 Ferrari victories to date.

Clay Regazzoni

Races taken to achieve first victory: five

Win number 44 for the Scuderia came at their home race in 1970 – the same event that saw the death of Rindt. It was Clay Regazzoni that won on the joyless day, at only his fifth attempt.

Ten years later Regazzoni was paralysed in a crash in the United States Grand Prix West. He continued racing hand operated cars, but was killed in a car accident in December last year.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Montreal, 2007Races taken to achieve first victory: six

What more is there to add to the gigantic volumes already being written on the remarkable Lewis Hamilton?

At Montreal this year he scored his first win. Only nine drivers won their first race earlier than he – and one or two of those had luck and circumstance on their side.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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2 comments on “Ten of the best… early Grand Prix winners”

  1. I can’t pass on this one!

    I remember Tony Brooks surrendering his Vanwall to Stirling Moss when Moss’s car failed. Could you imagine Hamilton giving up his car to Alonso? The truly sad part is the archives record Brooks as “retired” and Moss with the “win”. There isn’t even a footnote to explain the real facts.

    And this statement about Hamilton: “At Montreal this year he scored his first win. Only nine drivers won their first race earlier than he – and one or two of those had luck and circumstance on their side.” This must be a tongue in cheek remark, surely you don’t think 10 years of grooming and millions of pounds
    expense are NOT luck and circumstance. I’d like to see Hamilton do a few races in a Renault or a Toro Rosso or even last years McLaren !!!

  2. No – but nor has he had non-championship races to hone his skill, as Baghetti did. You might consider that the 1960s equivalent of McLaren’s Grand Prix simulator? Plus, a fair few of Baghetti’s rivals retired on his debut race.

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