/Longest Dominations as Race Leader in Formula One History

Longest Dominations as Race Leader in Formula One History

Longest at Longest Dominations as Race Leader in Formula One History

A couple of years ago, Sebastian Vettel managed four consecutive wins, starting with the Singapore Grand Prix, leading for a total number of 690 miles (1,111 km). While this performance is definitely impressive, throughout Formula One’s 60-year history we have even more impressive stuff and it looks like Alberto Ascari’s record set in 1952 will stay where it is for a long time.

As you can imagine, this list includes legendary drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark or Juan Manuel Fangio, so you bet it’s going to be interesting. Now let’s check out the longest race dominations in Formula One:

10.  Jim Clark – 479 miles / 771 km (1963-1964)

Before the last two races of the 1963 Formula One season, the British driver was already World Champion mathematically when he secured the pole position for the Mexico Grand Prix. The race went down in history as the only race a Formula One car used the number 13 (by Mexican driver Moises Solana), but it also marked the beginning of an impressive domination by Clark. He led the entire race from start to finish and repeated the performance at the next race, the South African Grand Prix. History seemed to repeat itself at the first race of the 1964 season, the Monaco Grand Prix, but a problem with the car’s engine forced Clark to lose the lead in the 36th lap and ended his domination at 479 miles (771 km) and 186 laps.

Jim Clark at Longest Dominations as Race Leader in Formula One History

9. Jack Brabham – 526 miles / 846 km (1960)

Jack Brabham started his domination at the fourth race of the 1960 Formula One season, when he became race leader at Zandvoort (Dutch Grand Prix) after overtaking Stirling Moss. He went on to win the race and did the same on the next one, the Belgian Grand Prix. Unfortunately, Brabham’s performance in Belgium was overshadowed by what many consider one of the darkest weekends in Formula One history. Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey both lost their lives after crashing in the same corner, Burnenville, while Stirling Moss and Mike Taylor suffered serious injuries and were lucky to be alive (Moss also crashed in Burnenville and missed the following three races, while Taylor had a horrible crash at 160 mph that ended his Formula One career).

Jack Brabham at Longest Dominations as Race Leader in Formula One History

In the following race, Brabham once again secured pole position and even though he eventually won the race, lost the lead in the third lap and ended his leading streak at 526 miles (846 km) and 114 laps. At the end of the season, Brabham became World Champion, winning a total of 5 out of 10 races.

8. Juan Manuel Fangio – 582 miles / 937 km (1955)

The Argentine won the World Championship twice and he started the 1955 season with another win for Mercedes, but the domination began at the fourth race of the season, the Belgian Grand Prix. Fangio started the race in pole position, didn’t leave first place until the end of the race and did the same in the following race, the Dutch Grand Prix. However, at the British Grand Prix, he lost the lead in the second lap, when his team mate, Stirling Moss, passed in front of hime. His total balance is 582 consecutive miles (937 km) and 138 laps as race leader which helped him win his third consecutive World Championship.

Juan Manuel Fangio 600x475 at Longest Dominations as Race Leader in Formula One History

7. Ayrton Senna – 608 miles / 978 km (1989)

The 1989 season was one of the most dramatic seasons in Formula One history. During this season, Ayrton Senna, which was reigning World Champion, showed his driving skills to everyone by winning 13 pole positions out of the total 16 races. The McLaren driver also had an amazing streak of three races he won after starting from pole position (San Marino, Monaco and Mexico) and without giving up the lead for a single lap.

Ayrton Senna 600x375 at Longest Dominations as Race Leader in Formula One History

His streak ended at the United States Grand Prix, when Senna was forced to pit stop to change battery and plugs and lost the lead to his team mate, Alain Prost. Ten laps later, the Brazilian abandoned the race completely, marking his first retirement due to engine failure since driving a car powered by a Honda engine. Despite a great run during the rest of the season, Senna had to settle for the second place at the end of 1989, with Alain Prost becoming World Champion for the third time.

6. Nigel Mansell – 631 miles / 1016 km (1992)

14 pole positions out of 16 races and five consecutive wins in the first five races of the season made Nigel Mansell dominate the 1992 Formula One season. However, the British driver was race leader for “only” 631 consecutive miles (1016 km), starting with the 32nd lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix, when he overtook Riccardo Padrese and continuing with the races in Spain and San Marino. Unfortunately, during the Monaco Grand Prix, a loose wheel nut forced him to do a pit stop entry in the 70th lap and, with only 8 laps to go and Ayrton Senna took advantage of the “gift” and went on to win the race, ending the British driver’s domination as race leader at 631 miles (1016 km) and 235 laps.

Nigel Mansell 600x399 at Longest Dominations as Race Leader in Formula One History

5. Sebastian Vettel – 690 miles / 1111 km (2012)

Vettel only won one race out of the first thirteen in the 2012 Formula One season and his domination in the last four races took everyone by surprise. The Red Bull driver climbed to the first place in the 23nd lap of the Singapore Grand Prix, after Lewis Hamilton, who was leading the race, was forced to retire by a gearbox failure. Following this race, the German driver dominated the end of the season, with indisputable wins in Japan, South Korea and India.

Sebastian Vettel 600x450 at Longest Dominations as Race Leader in Formula One History

During this streak, there was a moment when everyone thought the domination was over, at the South Korean Grand Prix, when Vettel didn’t secure the pole position, which went to his team mate, Mark Webber. However, the German passed him in the first corner, so the streak continued. It ended at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Vettel qualified third but was forced to start from the pit lane after getting a penalty for not having enough fuel to return to the pits. This marked the end of his domination, with a total number of 690 consecutive miles (1111 km) and 205 laps as race leader.

4. Jim Clark – 715 miles / 1150 km (1965)

And here we have Jim Clark again, this time with a performance from the 1965 Formula One season. Even though pole position was won by Graham Hill, Clark won the Belgian Grand Prix after leading the entire race and he kept going this way during the following two races, at Charade (French Grand Prix) and Silverstone (British Grand Prix). Even though the Lotus driver won the next race too, the Dutch Grand Prix, his streak ended here, with Hill starting from pole position and leading the first part of the race.

At the end of this period, Clark was in first place for 715 consecutive miles (1150 km) and 152 laps. And just like in 1963, he became World Champion at the end of the season, after one more win in Germany.

3. Jim Clark – 762 miles / 1226 km (1963)

The British driver is the only Formula One driver to have three performances on this list. This one was set in the first part of the 1963 season (the same year he set the 479-mile record) during the Belgian and French Grand Prix. Following Graham Hill’s win in the first race of the season, the Monaco Grand Prix, Clark came back at Spa-Franchorchamps by winning the pole position and leading the race from start to finish. The same happened at the next race, the Dutch Grand Prix and his streak ended at Reims-Gueux (French Grand Prix), with a total of 762 miles (1226 km) and 165 laps.

2. Ayrton Senna – 892 miles / 1435 km (1988)

The other driver to have multiple entries on this list is Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian driver achieving an impressive run in the 1988 season, which ended with his first World Championship title. The amazing dominance started with a beautiful maneuver on the 14th lap of the British Grand Prix which saw the Brazilian driver “stealing” the lead from Gerhard Berger and also lapping his team mate and rival, Alain Prost.

After that race, nobody could stop the McLaren driver from winning the following three races, Hockenheim, Hungaroring and Spa-Franchorchamps. However, his streak ended at the Italian Grand Prix, when Senna was forced to retire after trying to lap Jean-Louis Schlesser and colliding with him. This happened when there were only two laps to go and it was the only race in the 1988 Formula One season that was not won by a McLaren, Senna or Prost winning every other race. The Brazilian’s impressive streak also ended, the final balance being 892 consecutive miles and 265 laps as race leader.

1. Alberto Ascari – 1289 miles / 2075 km (1952)

The first place on our list goes to Alberto Ascari, which had an amazing streak of six consecutive wins in the last six races of the 1952 season, on his way to the first of his two World Championships. The “assault” started at the Belgian Grand Prix and continued until the Dutch Grand Prix, with the Italian driver dominating the races at Spa-Franchorchamps (Belgium), Rouen-Les-Essarts (France), Silverstone (United Kingdom), Nurburgring (Germany) and Zandvoort (The Netherlands).

Alberto Ascari 600x300 at Longest Dominations as Race Leader in Formula One History

Even though Ascari was also in pole position at the final race of the season, the Italian Grand Prix, he lost the lead in the first lap to Jose Froilan Gonzalez, but a slow pit stop by the Argentine allowed Ascari to get back in first place and win the race eventually. However, his dominance ended, with a total of 1289 consecutive miles (2075 km) and 305 laps as race leader, an incredible performance which we might not see being matched ever again.

(Journalist) – Vlad Balan is an automotive journalist from Eastern Europe and he has been blogging about cars, reporting from auto shows, taking interviews or test driving cars since 2007.