Waiting for a win: F1 drivers’ victory droughts

2017 F1 season

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If you’re an F1 driver who hasn’t got a silver car underneath you, chances are you haven’t done much winning for a while.

With so few race-winning opportunities available it’s easy to forget most F1 drivers arrive in the sport as serial winners.

The 20-strong field will take to the track next month with the singular goal of winning races and championships. But some of them have endured much longer waits than others.

F1 drivers’ last wins

Gallery: F1 drivers’ last wins

Hamilton is F1’s most recent winner, but it was a bittersweet triumph as he lost the title to Nico Rosberg

While just 72 days have passed since F1’s most recent winner, Lewis Hamilton, took the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi, Felipe Massa has been waiting rather longer for another win. It’s been over three thousand days since his most recent victory, at Interlagos in 2008. Coincidentally, both drivers won races but lost championships in those races.

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In between them a roster of new talent has come into the sport. The first among which is Massa’s new team mate Lance Stroll, the only driver on the grid never to have started an F1 race before. He arrives fresh from a dominant European Formula Three campaign which he signed off with five wins on the trot.

Also returning for his first full season of F1 is Esteban Ocon. His most recent victory came in the season-opening GP3 race of 2015. Remarkably he went on to win the championship despite not winning another race all year long, though he did string together nine consecutive second place finishes.

One of Ocon’s predecessors as GP3 champion is Hamilton’s new team mate Valtteri Bottas. Given Mercedes’ form over the last few seasons it is surely a question of when, not if, he will become F1’s next race winner.

Along with Hamilton and Stroll, McLaren newcomer Stoffel Vandoorne also has the distinction of having won his most recent start, in Japan’s spectacular Super Formula series. But unless the Honda-powered package is a leap forward in competitiveness this year, the 2015 GP2 champion may have to wait a while for a follow-up success.

Felipe Massa’s last win was an emotional occasion too

NB. Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean have also enjoyed recent success in the Race of Champions. Grosjean won the event in 2012 and Vettel single-handedly won the Nations’ Cup for Germany earlier this year. As this isn’t a ‘race’ in the traditional sense it hasn’t been included.

Over to you

Will Bottas join the F1 winners’ club this year? If so, when? And who are you tipping for victories in 2017?

Have your say in the comments.

F1 statistics

Browse all F1 statistics articles

Author information

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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47 comments on “Waiting for a win: F1 drivers’ victory droughts”

  1. I remember you did an article similar to this long time ago and Heidfeld had not won a race since 1999! Since then he’s only won 1 race, according to Wikipedia, in 2014. 15 years for good ol’ Quick Nick !

    1. Less “Quick Nick” and more “Tidy Heidy”…

    2. I’m a fan of Hulkenberg but I have a mate who always refers to him as ‘the new Heidfeld’ whenever I mention him. Unfortunately he’s not even that because Heidfeld actually had quite a good record of reaching the podium which Hulkenberg unbelievably has yet to achieve. Come on Nico, sort it out!

    3. If we include class wins, Nick actually won quite a few races in the WEC in 2014 (including Le Mans) when the LMP1 category was split into a hybrid class and a privateer class, for some reason. Other than that, his only overall win since 1999 (as far as I can see) would be when Rebellion won Petit Le Mans in 2013.

  2. take to the track next week

    Next week? Is it tyre testing next week?

    1. Apologies, of course that should have said “month”.

      1. Phew. I thought I had missed something. Roll on next month!

  3. Wow, that heart-breaking day was Massa’s last win? That must hurt so much.

    A fascinating insight. Really quite surprising stats.

  4. Nerd point: On Friday 20th January it was 3,000 days since Massa’s last win and 2,000 days since Grosjean’s last win. Kicking myself for missing that one!

    Better pencil October 16th, 2019 in the diary…

    1. waiting for the stars to align I see @keithcollantine

      If you do post this one the page, tag me in with a note “@johnmilk today is your wife birthday”

      Unless Grosjean wins again and this is ruined

      1. @johnmilk
        Massa might win too, not beyond possibilities!

        1. @square-route ah! nice catch, he tricked us. Quite a lot of comments were made redundant after his return

    2. Massa won the Granja Viana 500 miles kart race on december 5, 2009, beating Barrichello, Kanaan, Zonta, Piquet Jr, Marco Andretti and many, many more

    3. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      8th February 2017, 19:59

      @keithcollantine Grosjean won in Trophee Andros in 2016

  5. Interesting to see Perez so much further down the list than Hulkenberg.

    1. @colinchapman Doesn’t count for anything as it was a Le Mans win.

      1. Implying Le Mans is irrelevant?

        1. @hugh11 Considering that both are competing against each other in FORMULA 1, I would say Hulk winning Le Mans is irrelevant in their comparison.

          1. @mashiat given that neither have won in F1 (nor have half the list) the entire list is pointless unless you consider other series.

            The WEC, especially Le Mans, is highly relevant for a driver’s career.

          2. So in that case, Perez winning in GP2 is pointless? As well as everyone else who hasn’t won in formula 1? WEC and Le Mans in particular is incredibly competitive and tough to win.

      2. @mashiat yeah, he only won the biggest race on earth.

    2. Why? The Hulk won Le Mans

  6. Didn’t Vettel win the ROC just a few weeks ago? :)

    1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      7th February 2017, 14:33

      @mike-dee excluded as mentioned in the note. Why? Maybe because the cars don’t share the same piece of track simultaneously, so there’s no need (or almost no possibility) to overtake.

      If that’s the criteria, many of Seb’s wins in 2011 (especially 2013), Rosberg and Hamilton in Mercs’ days shouldn’t count as victories, since they didn’t need to overtake.

      Arggggg, angry blurting. My apologies.

      1. @omarr-pepper @mike-dee doesn’t the ROC essentially use the WRC SSS format? It’s basically a head-to-head knockout format so winning it, whilst good, isn’t really comparable to track racing.

  7. I’m pretty sure Grosjean didn’t win GP2 race at Hungaroring in 2014 @keithcollantine

    1. it was in 2011

  8. Wow, didn’t realise before this that Ocon actually only won once in GP3 in 2015, and that was the first race. Somehow he managed 9 2nd placed finished in a row from the sprint race in Silverstone to the sprint race in Sochi without getting a victory. In only 4 races he didn’t finish on the podium, 1 of which being a DSQ, but still just one win.

    1. @hugh11 He also won the Spa GP3 feature race, but got a penalty for his VSC restart, which in the GP3 cars relied on track signage

  9. I think F1’s most recent winner is Bottas for getting Nico’s seat.

    1. COTD

  10. There’s a part of me that wants Massa to win a race so much this year. Changing his retirement plans to win a race is such a lovely story. But most of me knows that it’s very very unlikely, especially with the aero regulations being so important this year (Williams’ biggest weak point).

    Also, hearing that Stroll is the only driver to not have raced before (and Vandoorne having done one race), makes me think this must be one of F1’s most experienced grids ever (at least for the start of a season). Does anyone know the stats on that?

    1. Coincidentally I just watched the Brazil 2008 Race. I couldn’t agree more. I cannot believe that this was his last win. It really must have broken him. (plus bad Ferrari in 2009 and his accident)

      I am so sad for him and wish him so much that he’ll win in Brazil 2017 in the rain! :|

      Or let’s say in case Hülkenberg is going to win it, he’ll win Mexico! ;)

      1. Germany 2010 says hi

        1. Alonso won 2010 Germany. Massa second.

          1. Apparently you don’t get his joke, Germany was Massa’s win, if the team hadn’t ordered him to let Alonso through.

          2. Unfortunately, my brain was slower than that joke

    2. Surely that would have been 2011(?) when Schumacher and Rubens were still racing? That would have pushed the average experience up so far as to make 5 noobs irrelevant. :)

      1. @optimaximal
        So I have decided to run the figures for the experience of the 2011 and 2017 grids, at the start of the respective seasons. To keep things simple, I will round drivers who have previously competed in parts of a season to either count the entire season, if they competed in half or more races, or none of it if they competed in less than half. I will then divide the total years of experience by 24 for 2011, and 20 for 2017, as this will give the average experience per driver.

        In 2011 the grid at the opening round had a total of 127 years of combined experience, making an average of 5.29 years of experience per driver.

        In 2017 the grid at the opening round will have, assuming no changes in the lineup from now until the first race, 103 years of combined experience, making an average of 5.15 years of experience per driver.

        So 2011 was marginally more experienced. This is incredibly close, and in all likelihood the rounding methodology I used could have potentially been enough to skew the result.

        But all in all, 2017, along with 2011, is definitely one of the most experienced grids for a long while.

  11. We can only hope that the front of the pack will have more contenders this year. Not long till we find out although I expect a little more sandbagging than usual for the first testing sessions.

  12. Rosberg didn’t win a race between 2005 (GP2) and 2012 (F1)… good things happen to those that persist :) and are lucky enough to get a winning car

  13. Can’t believe Marcus Ericsson was a race winner more recently than Fernando Alonso. Clearly the Swede is a far more complete driver than the two time world champion! :P

  14. Think ERI is more lucky than a racewinner still having his sponsors from IKEA and Tetrapak behind him after so many years – many far more talented drivers should have such a opportunity…

    1. If they want a talented Swedish driver they should ditch him and go for someone like Joel Eriksson

  15. Have corrected an error in the graph: Bottas actually had a more recent victory than the GP3 race mentioned above, he won a British F3 race at Donginton Park 15 days afterwards.

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