When was the podium filled with champions?

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Sebastian Vettel, Mario Andretti, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Circuit of the Americas, 2012Carlos Garza wrote in to ask:

At Austin’s inaugural race the podium featured Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

Is it true that this is the only time that these three have been on the podium together?

How many other times the three podium steps have been filled with world champions? (Which technically in Austin’s case it had four world champions if you count Mario Andretti the interviewer).

Thanks!

First of all, yes, the 2012 United States Grand Prix was the first time Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso had shared the podium. That’s remarkable given they have been three of the best and most successful drivers in Formula One in recent years.

Out of the 878 races which have counted towards the world championship so far, 26 of them have ended with three world champions in the top three finishing positions – less than three percent.

What’s even more surprising is that the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix was only the 11th time this had happened. In other words, more than half of the all-champion podiums have occured within the last three seasons.

F1 races where the podium was filled by world champions

Year Race First Second Third
1953 British Grand Prix Alberto Ascari Juan Manuel Fangio Giuseppe Farina
1965 South African Grand Prix Jim Clark John Surtees Graham Hill
1965 British Grand Prix Jim Clark Graham Hill John Surtees
1966 Dutch Grand Prix Jack Brabham Graham Hill Jim Clark
1967 Italian Grand Prix John Surtees Jack Brabham Jim Clark
1967 Mexican Grand Prix Jim Clark Jack Brabham Denny Hulme
1970 South African Grand Prix Jack Brabham Denny Hulme Jackie Stewart
1973 Brazilian Grand Prix Emerson Fittipaldi Jackie Stewart Denny Hulme
1988 Australian Grand Prix Alain Prost Ayrton Senna Nelson Piquet
1991 United States Grand Prix Ayrton Senna Alain Prost Nelson Piquet
2010 Canadian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button Fernando Alonso
2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
2011 Spanish Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
2011 Monaco Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel Fernando Alonso Jenson Button
2011 Hungarian Grand Prix Jenson Button Sebastian Vettel Fernando Alonso
2011 Italian Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel Jenson Button Fernando Alonso
2011 Japanese Grand Prix Jenson Button Fernando Alonso Sebastian Vettel
2011 Indian Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel Jenson Button Fernando Alonso
2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton Fernando Alonso Jenson Button
2012 Australian Grand Prix Jenson Button Sebastian Vettel Lewis Hamilton
2012 European Grand Prix Fernando Alonso Kimi Raikkonen Michael Schumacher
2012 German Grand Prix Fernando Alonso Jenson Button Kimi Raikkonen
2012 Belgian Grand Prix Jenson Button Sebastian Vettel Kimi Raikkonen
2012 Singapore Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel Jenson Button Fernando Alonso
2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Kimi Raikkonen Fernando Alonso Sebastian Vettel
2012 United States Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton Sebastian Vettel Fernando Alonso

As the world championship began in 1950 the first opportunity for three drivers to share the podium came at the first round of 1953. It happened at the sixth race of the year at Silverstone where Ferrari and Maserati’s drivers did battle.

Alberto Ascari, en route to his second world championship, took a crushing win from pole position. The only other driver on the lead lap, Juan Manuel Fangio, had won the title in 1951 and would claim the next four in a row.

Two laps down in third was Giuseppe Farina. The 46-year-old winner of the inaugural championship would score his final Grand Prix win at the next race.

Farina’s imminent departure, Ascari’s death in 1955 and Fangio’s retirement three years after that left a vacuum which was filled by a string of new champions so that in the mid-sixties there were five more races which featured all-champion podiums.

The last of these was the 1967 Mexican Grand Prix at which Denny Hulme beat team mate and team owner Jack Brabham to the drivers’ championship by finishing behind him in third place. That must have made for a sightly strained atmosphere on the rostrum.

Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, McLaren, Adelaide, 1988The seventies, eighties and nineties were a lean period, partly due to a higher turnover of world champions, the growing number of competitive cars and a higher rate of retirements in the turbo era.

The departure or absence of several champions in the early nineties meant 19 years passed without an all-champion podium. Nelson Piquet retired in 1991, Alain Prost skipped 1992 then retired after 1993 and Nigel Mansell retired at the end of 1992 before entering a handful of races over the following two seasons.

And, of course, Ayrton Senna was killed at Imola in 1994. At the following round in Monaco there were no world champions on the grid.

By contrast last year saw six world champions racing together for the first time ever. As most of them have enjoyed competitive cars, seeing them on the podium together has become almost commonplace.

There are so many that if one gets into trouble his place is taken by another. In Germany last year Alonso, Vettel and Button filled the top three places. Vettel was then demoted with a time penalty but another world champion – Kimi Raikkonen – was promoted to the top three.

Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Andrea Stella, Valencia, 2012There are five champions in the field this year as Michael Schumacher has retired from F1. He accumulated a record 155 podium finishes yet it wasn’t until the last of these – at Valencia in 2012 – that he shared the rostrum with two other champions.

Of course there are plenty of examples of drivers finishing on the podium before they became champion. If we include those we find a further 82 races where the top three finishers had either won the championship already or who would go on to.

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65 comments on When was the podium filled with champions?

  1. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 13th February 2013, 11:04

    Wow, huge gap from 1991 to 2010.

    • Casanova (@casanova) said on 14th February 2013, 12:46

      Keith correctly attributes this to the departure of several multiple champions during the early nineties. But the other important factor was Schumacher’s years of domination – for 13 years from 1992 to 2004, he was the only enduringly competitive champion. Mansell & Prost retired straight away, and Hakkinen after only a couple more years. Hill and Villeneuve spent their years as champions in uncompetitive cars. Of course Schumacher won the other 7 championships, and only when his hegemony came to an end with Alonso’s victory in the 2005 championship has the so-called Golden Age (as referred to by Magnificent Geoffery in today’s COTD) come about.

  2. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 13th February 2013, 11:17

    I truly think we’re living through the Golden Age right now. I think the sheer talent and ability we had on the grid over 2010/11/12 was stronger than any other period in F1’s history, including the late 60’s and the mid-to-late 80’s.

    Many years from now, future F1 fans will look back at the current era with even greater awe than we do on the eras of old.

    • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 13th February 2013, 11:31

      At the moment, its only the current world champions who have the ability to win this year. I’m not seeing any ‘amazing’ new talent, apart from Perez.

    • Driver-wise maybe, but from the racing, cars and team point of view it is questionable that we live in a golden age. I think the understanding of aero got too advanced for F1’s own good and running a development program got too expansive. Looking back to 70’s with its affordable Cosworth as a great equalizer, teams springing up in huge numbers and some very successful, very colorful field, some very outlandish cars appearing on track because people did not understand technology enough to tell good ideas from those not so good, great racing – I think this decade has a lot of catching up to do in this respect.

      • Steven (@steevkay) said on 13th February 2013, 22:10

        That’s how I feel: the current selection of talent is top notch, with a few world champions racing and generally really good midfield drivers. The cars leave some things to be desired. Now that there is so much knowledge about aerodynamics, all cars have the same general shape (obvious they’re not the same) but it prevents those cool, outlandish designs from popping up.

        All I know is that deep down, while I appreciate the technology and development that goes into each unique Formula 1 car, I love the closeness of spec series racing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with something closer to a spec series if we went back to 1000hp engines, big tyres, and simple aero.

        I have no problems with technology, but F1 has reached a point where I find it’s too much.

  3. In the 26 times Vettel,Button,Alonso shared the Podium 6 times in the Last 2 years.

  4. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 13th February 2013, 11:37

    Am I right in saying that 10 is the most combined titles that have appeared on a single podium? Looks like hat has happened 3 times (2012 Europe and the two Prost/Senna/Piquet ones).

    • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 13th February 2013, 13:07

      @geemac Looks like it to me, but the Prost/Senna/Piquet combinations had fewer than 10 titles at the time of the podiums unlike the 2012 situation. If we count ‘future’ championships then some of the others could get much higher and have a chance of getting as high as 10 (Hamilton/Vettel/Alonso).

      Indeed the Europe 2012 tally could also still grow with both Alonso and Raikkonen in a position to add to their titles.

      • Indeed my hopes for the championships for the next few years

        Raikkonen 2013 & 2014 – winning through sheer speed, consistancy and skill to earn a well deserved double and earn his place in the record books.

        Hamilton 2015 – The Mercedes deal finally pays off but Hamilton realises it was a lost cause and joins redbull for 2016

        Alonso 2016 – he get’s his title with Ferrari in his last year with the team and retires on a high

        Hamilton 2017 – winning a third title to put him even with Vettel, Alonso and Raikkonen.

        If this result turns out to be true I’d feel F1 really can go full circle. In 2018 I wouldn’t care if Vettel goes and emulates Schumacher by winning 5 titles on the trot, as by then things will be shaken up a lot, hell Max Chilton could be a contendar in a Mclaren for all we know

  5. maxthecat said on 13th February 2013, 11:41

    I think in years to come the last 3-4 seasons will be looked back on as another golden age of F1. So many World Champion’s on the grid, great racing and a few intense rivalries.

  6. magon4 (@magon4) said on 13th February 2013, 11:46

    I’m not quite sure if the basis of these stats is correct.

    What is the number of podiums when all three were WDCs at the time of the podium? Would only Abu Dhabi 2010 be eliminated from the list?

    • Vettel was the Champion of 2010 by the end of Abudhabi race. So he took top step as the Champion of 2010 than a Contender of WDC.

    • WesselV1 said on 13th February 2013, 11:55

      All those times where the champion would become champion in that particular year, it’s the last race on the calendar. So technically, 1967, 1988 and 2010 do count. I did share your skepsis at first though, but Keith has done some good research.

  7. WesselV1 said on 13th February 2013, 11:53

    And only one occasion where (at that time) double world champions shared the podium. I wonder if we’re going to see that happen in 2014.

  8. sumedh said on 13th February 2013, 12:20

    Just a random stat: 2009 German Grand Prix was the last race where none of the top 3 was a world champion

    Another question, which I think only can be answered on F1-‘Fanatic’ : Q: Has there been a podium of three non-champions who all went on to become champion later? I can only think of some podium involving Alonso and Kimi and in 2005 where they both became champions later. But can’t find a third driver.

    • KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 13th February 2013, 12:28

      You’d be looking for a Alonso/Raikkonen/Button podium before 2005…. That could be quite difficult, unfortunately I don’t have the time to look through for it!

    • Kyle (@hammerheadgb) said on 13th February 2013, 12:35

      Found it. Raikkonen, Alonso, Button – Belgian GP 2005 (the race before Alonso was crowned WDC)

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th February 2013, 12:44

      Just had a look at my notepad for some likely-looking possibilities and turned up three more – I’m sure there are others:

      1994 European Grand Prix (Jerez):

      1. Michael Schumacher
      2. Damon Hill
      3. Mika Hakkinen

      1985 Belgian Grand Prix:

      1. Ayrton Senna
      2. Nigel Mansell
      3. Alain Prost

      1980 Argentinian Grand Prix

      1. Alan Jones
      2. Nelson Piquet
      3. Keke Rosberg

  9. sumedh said on 13th February 2013, 12:28

    We should probably call Abu Dhabi has the champions’ track as in 3 of the 4 races, they have only seen WDCs on the podium. In fact, 10 of the 12 podium spots at Abu Dhabi have been filled by WDCs, one by a future WDC (Vettel in 2009) and only one by a non-WDC (Webber in 2009).

  10. Was that 1967 Mexican grand prix part of the ’67 season? If so, wouldnt that have to not count as Hulme would have not been the champion yet? Im at work and dont have a way of checking, so please someone tell me.

  11. nidzovski (@nidzovski) said on 13th February 2013, 13:26

    I saw Schumacher’s name only once or twice, which only tell us that he drove in uncompetitive era with a dominant car/team. Once again I’m not talking against Michael as a bad driver, he was one of the fastest out there, but I’m just talking about the circumstances in which he won his 7 WDC. On top of that he tarnished one or two championships by dirty moves like, either blocking some one (Hill 1994) to win it or trying to win another (Villeneuve 1997), or by using team orders when they were forbidden and most important Ferrari used team orders unnecessary like in Austrian GP 2002 when Michael had already won 5 of 6 races in the begging of the season!!! That’s the way he got to 7 WDC. If he won 4-5 WDC in different (sporty) manner he would be the all time greatest.

    • To be fair, can you really blame Schumacher for that, or diminish his performance for that?

      By the time he won his first WDC, Mansell, Piquet and Prost had retired and Senna was killed. That’s 4 multiple world champions who could not end up on a podium with him and could no longer make his career difficult. Primarily Senna would have been a fierce competitor in the mid 90s, but it was not to be.

      Williams, McLaren and Benetton/Renault were never quite as consistent as Ferrari was from 1997 on. By the time Hill won his WDC, he moved to worse teams and got a single podium and a single win in 1997 and 1998, respectively. Villeneuve was the victim of Williams’ decline when Renault and Newey left and moved to BAR, where he scored 2 podiums in 1998 and 2 in 2001. Hakkinen and Schumacher shared a fair bunch of podiums throughout 1999, 2000 and 2001, but with Hill retired and Villeneuve in a poor car, 3 WDCs on the podium was never likely, especially with Schumacher injured in 1999 and Hakkinen’s performance (as well as McLaren’s reliability) in 2001.

      There were only 2 WDCs on the grid in 2002, 2003, 3 races in 2004 and 2005, with Villeneuve never likely to score a podium. Schumacher and Alonso shared the podium a couple of times in 2006, but at the end of the season he retired, making it statistically impossible to have 3 WDCs on the podium up until the 2009 Australian GP.

      Drivers like Hill, Villeneuve and Hakkinen suffered from poor team performance and JV perhaps from personal performance, while drivers like Montoya, Ralf Schumacher, Coulthard and to lesser extents Panis, Trulli, Fisichella, Alesi, Berger and Frentzen never really had a shot at the title, mainly due to Schumacher and his team challenging for the title or keeping the drivers market in lockdown at the top teams.

      If Raikkonen won in 2003 (hardly a controversial or dominant year for Schumacher), we could have seen some cases of 3 WDSc on the podium in 2006. But that’s all a bunch of what if’s. My point is this; you shouldn’t diminish Schumacher’s performance based on his luck, where the competition changed from year to year, with Button/BAR being closest to Ferrari in 2004 even, showing just how inconsistent McLaren, Williams and Benetton/Renault were. It’s not his fault he was the only WDC on the podium for many, many races.

      • nidzovski (@nidzovski) said on 13th February 2013, 15:34

        I agree with all the facts regarding that it wasn’t his fault that the other drivers and teams were uncompetitive. But that can not explain his (numerous) dirty moves and the fact that Ferrari’s unneeded team orders. The meaning of the word “sport” was tarnished in a way, doesn’t it?

        • nidzovski (@nidzovski) said on 13th February 2013, 15:36

          I meant “But that can not explain his (numerous) dirty moves and Ferrari’s unneeded team orders.”

        • Sorry, but I don’t see how that’s exactly relevant to the uncompetitive field. I’m not defending his actions, nor Ferrari’s, though.

          As for the sport, it has suffered from controversy and ill-fated decisions before and since. I don’t think we have to put down Schumacher’s performance for that.

          • nidzovski (@nidzovski) said on 14th February 2013, 10:28

            As I’ve mentioned, Michael was one of the all time fastest drivers, I just explained my point of view regarding the curcumstances in which he won “some” of his titles. That’s all. He didn’t had to do some of the moves he did. Just to greedy man. I mean Vettel is in less competitive car compared to Michael’s time but he didn’t do anything like that. And I don’t even like his style to much :)

  12. JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 13th February 2013, 13:28

    Looking through that list it looks to me like the first triple champion podium which did not include the most recent champion was 2011 Abu Dhabi (Ham/Alo/But) followed by 2 in 2012 (European and German).

  13. Spawinte (@spawinte) said on 13th February 2013, 15:15

    When is the last time the podium was full of drivers who would NEVER win a championship? The only resource I have is the results section of F1.com which is a bit cumbersome. The only candidate I can think of off the top of my head is Monaco 96.

  14. Alonso and vettel have 12 appearances each between the two of them. Impressive stuff.

    • Even more impressive – Button has 13 appearances.

      Kimi managed 4 appearances in only 1 year of driving, so he is on that same pace of about 4 per year.

      Hamilton only 6 appearances in which he drove the same machinery as Button. He clearly has gotten his share of podiums over the past 3 years, but never when the other champions are around. What does this mean??? I would guess statistical fluke but don’t have time to analyze right now.

      This list is bound to only get bigger for the next few years.

  15. Does anyone know if there’s ever been a podium of people who never got on the podium again? I can’t seem to find it across single race winners that I remember.

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