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).
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
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.
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.
There 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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