Lewis Hamilton’s 92nd Formula 1 victory means he now stands alone as the most successful driver in the 70-year history of the World Championship. Hamilton is the ninth driver to claim the record and now replaces Michael Schumacher at the top of illustrious leader board. As he is now cemented into the record books, MotorsportWeek.com takes a look those who once were in the same position as Hamilton throughout the sport’s history.
1950s – Giuseppe Farina, Juan Manuel Fangio, Johnnie Parsons and Alberto Ascari
As the record books had only just been opened up, the accolade of F1’s most successful driver changed hands a number of times throughout the first decade of the sport. In 1950, Giuseppe Farina, Juan Manuel Fangio and Johnnie Parsons (the only non-world champion to have a claim of the record) won the first three races of the Championship, leaving them joined on a single victory.
Farina briefly claimed back the record after a win at the Swiss Grand Prix, before Fangio won the next two races, putting him on top with three wins.
Fangio and Farina traded places atop the record books over the next year, with the former eventually edging out Farina at the top with six race wins by the end of the 1951 season.
However 1953 and 1954 saw a dominant period for Alberto Ascari, who won 11 of the 17 Championship races in that time for Ferrari. He claimed the record at the 1952 Dutch Grand Prix with his seventh victory.
Ascari stretched out at the top and remained F1’s most successful driver until Fangio reclaimed the record at his home race in Argentina in 1955, four months before Ascari was killed at Monza.
Fangio, who is still fondly remembered almost 70 years after his success in F1, held onto the win record and would not be challenged for the remainder of the decade – and also for much of the 1960s.
Jim Clark was a roaring symbol of success during the second decade of F1. In 1960 he made his debut with Lotus – the team he would stick with throughout his nine seasons in the sport.
Clark won his first three races during the 1962 season, when he lost out on the title to compatriot Graham Hill. The following season in 1963, Clark wasn’t challenged on his way to his maiden title, winning seven of the 10 races. It also remains the only season in F1 history in which just one nationality claimed all Championship races, with Great Britain’s Clark, Hill and John Surtees taking the spoils.
More victories followed for Clark in 1964, before he won his second and final title in 1965. A more challenging year met him in 1966 with just a single race win, before he matched Fangio’s all-time record of 24 wins at the final round of the 1967 season.
Clark took over the top of the all-time wins leaderboard after winning in South Africa, which hosted the opening round of the 1968 campaign. Not only would it be Clark’s last win, but it would prove to be his last race in F1 as three months later he died in a Formula 2 crash at Hockenheim.
Sir Jackie Stewart
Just over five years after Clark’s death, his friend Sir Jackie Stewart became F1’s kingpin, surpassing Clark’s record of 25 grand prix victories at the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix.
Stewart came close to not claiming the record, as that year proved to be his last in F1. When he made the record his own, he already had two World Championships to his name and was on course for his third – a feat he achieved three races after taking his 26th win.
Following the death of Francois Cevert ahead of the US Grand Prix, which was the final round of the season, Stewart withdrew himself from the event. Stewart had previously decided that the race at Watkins Glen would be his last, but chose not to participate after Cevert’s death.
The Scot ended his career with 27 victories and his legacy in F1 is tremendously remembered, as his achievements made him one of F1’s most successful drivers alongside his push for driver safety.
Niki Lauda was the only driver who emerged in the 1970s that threatened to strip Stewart of his win record, however the Austrian was two victories shy when he ended his career in 1985.
It was instead Lauda’s 1984 and 1985 team-mate at McLaren, Alain Prost, who would be the one to usurp Stewart.
Prost was quick to announce himself in F1, winning a race in his second season in the sport with Renault, and he claimed nine victories there prior to joining McLaren.
During the 1987 season, which was arguably Prost’s least impressive during his time at McLaren, the Frenchman took his 28th victory at the Portuguese Grand Prix, becoming F1’s most successful driver in terms of race wins and defeating Stewart’s record that had stood for 14 years.
However, Prost was far from settled with is achievements. He went on to win two more titles and profited from rapid machinery both with McLaren and Williams, either side of a spell at Ferrari.
By the time he walked away from F1 at the end of his 1993 championship-winning season, Prost had racked up 51 race wins – raising the bar ever higher.
By the time Prost retired from Formula 1, Schumacher had established himself as a future star, although he had just two race wins to Prost’s 51, claimed during his first two years at Benetton.
In 1994 and 1995 Schumacher took consecutive World Championships, winning 17 races across the two seasons.
For the 1996 season, Schumacher transferred to Ferrari to begin a new journey – one that would go down in the history books as one of the greatest team/driver partnerships in the sport.
Schumacher re-defined what it means to be an all-time great in F1. His relentless focus, alongside his natural talent and strive for peak fitness made him dominant in the early 2000s.
He won 56 per cent of all races from 2000 to 2004 and was also present on the podium 78 per cent of the time in the 85 races held in that time frame.
On September 2nd, 2001, Schumacher won at Spa-Francorchamps (the venue of his first F1 race start and maiden victory) to take his 52nd win and become F1’s all-time win leader.
Over the next five years, Schumacher stretched his advantage on the win leaderboard to a figure that was often viewed insurmountable. In 2006, he took his final win at the Chinese Grand Prix, marking his 91st victory in the sport.
Schumacher has stood as F1’s ‘most winningest’ driver for 19 years. But now a new name takes over the top of the record books for rivals to chase.
Lewis Hamilton has his 92nd race win and is still striving for more success. Will his record be beaten in future generations? It is possible of course – but that driver would once again shatter competition and implant themselves on the elusive list containing Fangio, Ascari, Stewart, Clark, Prost and Schumacher.