When was the podium filled with champions?

Your Questions Answered

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. TribalTalker (@tribaltalker) said on 13th February 2013, 17:10

    We have key players like Sir Jackie Stewart to thank for the pattern of these stats. In days gone by the driver attrition rate (death or serious injury) was so high that there were many fewer active champions. Jochen Rindt in 1970 springs to mind – he doesn’t appear in Keith’s article because he died before he became the WDC.
    As @magnificent-geoffrey said above , we live in a golden age – of drivers who can continue to enthrall us for many productive years.

  2. rpiian (@rpiian) said on 13th February 2013, 17:27

    Glad I went to such a historic race! :)

    2010 Canadian GP for the win.

  3. Sebastian Vettel has been part of 12 of these podiums – that’s a fairly good strike rate!

  4. nidzovski (@nidzovski) said on 13th February 2013, 20:01

    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 :)

  5. Jimmy Clark said on 13th February 2013, 21:18

    Another great article from F1 fanatic. A big Thank you Keith and F1 fanatics.

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