“Magnificent Max! Viva Verstappen! I thought I’d seen it all in Formula 1, but I very clearly hadn’t…”
To become a grand prix driver is something that few achieve. To win an F1 race in your very first year is rare indeed. Precious few have done so, but since I’ve been lucky enough to see most of them, here are my top-six first-year winners.
In date order, the first is Juan Manuel Fangio, Argentina’s five-time world champion, and winner of three of 1950’s seven races. Next is the great Jackie Stewart, who not only won the 1965 Italian GP in his debut year but who also went on to win three world championships. Then it is Emerson Fittipaldi who won the 1970 American GP at Watkins Glen for Lotus and Juan Pablo Montoya who, in 2001, won for Williams in Italy. Finally, two outstanding achievers in their debut years: Jacques Villeneuve, who won four races and finished second in the 1996 championship just one point behind his Williams team-mate Damon Hill, and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who won four races in his first year to finish second to Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen in 2007.
While all these year-one achievers, except Montoya, won championships, other great champions, such as Fernando Alonso, Jack