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Which F1 driver has led the world championship the longest? 

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Whereas some drivers take the title lengthy earlier than the ultimate spherical – not too long ago Max Verstappen took each the 2022 and 2023 titles with a number of races left to go – others can sit on the prime of the desk however nonetheless by no means declare the crown. Valtteri Bottas is a type of unlucky drivers, having led the championship for simply 24 days in 2019 earlier than the season was ultimately gained by Lewis Hamilton.  

Nevertheless, some drivers have been capable of retain the lead for a complete season and even longer. Though main the championship for the longest is arguably probably the most spectacular document a driver can maintain, probably the most consecutive days led also can inform us a lot a few driver and the seasons they held the title.  
  
Listed here are the drivers who’ve consecutively led the championship chase for probably the most variety of days. 

Prime F1 drivers who’ve spent probably the most consecutive days main the drivers’ championship  

Winter breaks have been considered for each driver’s management run, together with if a driver misplaced their run on the primary race of the season. This makes figures according to the drivers whose tallies have continued to build up from one season and into the subsequent.

Variety of consecutive races main drivers’ championship: 37  
Complete days main the drivers’ championship: 2562 
Complete variety of races main the drivers’ championship: 121  

Photograph by: Motorsport Images

Michael Schumacher is probably the most profitable Formulation 1 driver in terms of main the drivers’ world championship. The German collectively holds the document for probably the most titles with seven alongside Lewis Hamilton and has the document for many consecutive drivers’ championships with 5 between 2000-04.  
  
Schumacher seems twice within the prime 10 drivers to have led the title for the longest time consecutively, showing within the prime place with 896 days and third with 630 days. His longest interval of heading the standings got here between the 2000 USA Grand Prix and the 2003 Australian GP, and consisted of 37 races.   
  
The 2000 season was Schumacher’s third drivers’ championship victory and his first with Ferrari, after becoming a member of the staff in 1996. After profitable 5 of the primary eight races of the yr, he was struck by a bout of dangerous luck and had three consecutive DNFs on the French, Austrian and German GPs. However over the next six races he by no means completed decrease than second, and on the 2000 United States GP Schumacher retook the lead within the drivers’ championship, earlier than profitable the final two races and taking the title on the Japanese GP. 

PLUS: Michael Schumacher’s top 10 F1 wins
  
Schumacher continued to prime the drivers’ championship throughout the entire of 2001, profitable 9 races and taking 5 second locations. He solely had two retirements and one fourth place end – on the San Marino, German and Italian GPs respectively.   
  
He took his fourth drivers’ championship on the Hungarian GP with 4 races left to go. Solely 10 factors had been awarded for a victory then and Schumacher went into the occasion 37 factors forward of David Coulthard, who completed the race in third, giving the title to Schumacher. He additionally took the document for many profession wins, after taking his 52nd on the Belgian GP, breaking Alain Prost’s document from 1993.  
  
In 2002, Schumacher took his fifth drivers’ championship and equalled Juan Manuel Fangio’s document. He scored 11 of Ferrari’s 15 wins that yr and took the title with six races remaining, making it the document for the earliest level in a season {that a} driver has clinched the championship.   
  
His run of consecutive days holding the drivers’ championship got here to an finish in the course of the 2003 Australian GP – the primary race of the season – when Schumacher completed fourth. There was heavy rain on race day, however the monitor dried shortly, which resulted in irregular tyre put on on each Ferraris. Later within the race Schumacher broken the move diverters on his automotive by driving over a kerb and was proven a black-and-orange flag, forcing him to return to the pits for repairs.   
  
The pitstop value Schumacher a spot on the rostrum, his first non-podium end for the reason that 2001 Italian GP. It was additionally the primary time a Ferrari had not completed on the rostrum for the reason that 1999 European GP and ended their 53 consecutive podium finishes.  

Read also: Top 10 Ferrari F1 drivers 

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Max Verstappen – 735 days  

Variety of consecutive races main drivers’ championship: 46  
Complete days main the drivers’ championship: 987
Complete variety of races main the drivers’ championship: 60 

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen has led the world drivers’ championship for the reason that 2022 Spanish GP and is quickly approaching the document that’s held by Michael Schumacher. The Dutchman took the benefit within the 2022 championship six races into the season after profitable 4 out of these races, taking the lead from Charles Leclerc.  
  
His run on main the drivers’ championship got here simply months after Verstappen signed a five-year contract extension with Red Bull Racing to stick with the staff till 2028. The now-three-time world champion gained 15 races that season, which began with a heated battle between himself and Ferrari’s Leclerc.  
  
The tally broke his earlier document of 13 race wins in a season that he shared with each Michael Schumacher in 2004 and Sebastian Vettel in 2013. He additionally scored 454 championship factors, which broke Lewis Hamilton’s earlier document of 413, set in 2019.  
  
Verstappen beat his personal championship factors document in 2023, when he continued his lead of the drivers’ championship. He scored 575 factors and took 19 wins out of 23 races, additionally breaking his personal document for many wins in a single season.   
  
He has led the world drivers’ championship for a complete of 987 days, placing him ninth of the drivers who’ve led probably the most days of all time, which can proceed to extend for the foreseeable future. 

Michael Schumacher – 630 days  

Variety of consecutive races main drivers’ championship: 27  
Complete days main the drivers’ championship: 2562  
Complete variety of races main the drivers’ championship: 121

Photograph by: Lyndon McNeil

  Michael Schumacher is one in all two drivers on this prime 10 and seems twice within the prime three. His second run got here between the 2003 Canadian and 2005 Australian GPs, throughout his 5 consecutive drivers’ championships.   
  
In 2003 he gained six out of 16 races and claimed the document for many drivers’ championships when he took the title for the sixth time, beating Juan Manuel Fangio’s 46-year document of 5 championships.  

New laws and a brand new factors system tightened the competitors on the grid, with Schumacher dealing with a good battle with McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen and Williams’s Juan Pablo Montoya. He wanted only one level to take the crown on the last race, and scored that by ending in eighth place (with factors solely being awarded to the highest eight drivers on the time). 
  
Schumacher set a brand new document initially of 2004, when he gained 12 of the primary 13 races within the mighty Ferrari F2004, with only one retirement as a result of a crash on the Monaco GP; whereas below a security automotive, Schumacher and Montoya clashed within the tunnel, placing the Ferrari out. 

Schumacher gained the subsequent seven races and a second place at Spa secured his last F1 crown. After a retirement on the inaugural race of the 2005 Australian GP, his run of consecutively holding the drivers’ championship title got here to an finish.  

Ayrton Senna – 581 days  

Variety of consecutive races main drivers’ championship: 24  
Complete days main the drivers’ championship: 1092 
Complete variety of races main the drivers’ championship: 49 

Photograph by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images

Three-time world champion Ayrton Senna had his longest run main the world championship throughout his final two title challenges with McLaren. The lead started on the 1990 German GP following six podium finishes initially of the season. After a beforehand tight battle with Alain Prost in 1989, the battle continued when the Frenchman moved to Ferrari.  

Learn additionally: Top 10 F1 rivalries
  
The Brazilian’s run holding the factors lead continued by means of the whole lot of 1991, the place he turned the youngest three-time world champion at 31 years {old} – a document that was later crushed by Sebastian Vettel in 2012 on the age of 25.  
  
Senna took seven wins in 1991 and an additional 5 podiums, together with his important competitor Nigel Mansell scoring 5 wins for Williams. His championship lead got here to an finish in the course of the first race of the 1992 season in the course of the South African GP, the place he completed third, giving Mansell the lead as Williams-Renault lastly surpassed McLaren-Honda. 

PLUS: How Senna won his greatest title 

Alberto Ascari – 574 days  

Variety of consecutive races main drivers’ championship: 15  
Complete days main the drivers’ championship: 574 
Complete variety of races main the drivers’ championship: 15  

Photograph by: Motorsport Images

 Alberto Ascari solely had one spell on the prime of the world drivers’ championship however, after holding the lead from the 1952 Belgian GP and all through 1953, he makes this checklist. Having come near the 1951 crown, the Ferrari driver gained six out of the seven grands prix in 1952, when the world championship switched to F2 laws. The only real race he didn’t win was the one one he didn’t compete in – the season-opening Swiss GP – as he was collaborating in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, which additionally counted for factors that season. 
  
The Italian gained the primary three races initially of 1953 (excluding the Indy 500) and claimed one other two later within the yr to safe his second consecutive drivers’ championship.   
  
His time on the prime got here to an finish with the completion of the season, after a dispute over his wage noticed the Italian depart Ferrari for Lancia. Ascari entered simply 4 races out of 9 in 1954 however retired from every race as Lancia struggled to get its revolutionary D50 race prepared. 

Learn additionally: The rise and fall of Ferrari’s first great champion

Variety of consecutive races main drivers’ championship: 33  
Complete days main the drivers’ championship: 959 
Complete variety of races main the drivers’ championship: 52  

Photograph by: Motorsport Images

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso held onto the drivers’ championship lead for 540 days between the 2005 Malaysian GP and the 2006 Chinese language GP. The Spaniard has additionally spent 959 days whole on the prime of the standings, placing him tenth general.  
  
After ending third on the opening race of the 2005 season in Australia, Alonso took pole on the Malaysian GP and dominated the race, which began his longest run as drivers’ standings chief. Regulation adjustments in 2005 meant that groups weren’t allowed to alter tyres throughout a race and engines had for use for 2 races earlier than they could possibly be modified. This resulted in an intense duel between Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen at McLaren, however the Renault in the end proved extra dependable. 

PLUS: Fast failures – F1s quickest runner-up
  
His championship win in 2005 made the Spaniard the record-holder for the youngest drivers’ champion, at 24 years and 57 days {old}. This document was later crushed by Lewis Hamilton in 2008 when he was 23 years and 300 days {old} after which by Sebastian Vettel in 2010 at 23 years and 133 days {old}.  
  
Alonso stayed with Renault for the 2006 season and gained six out of the primary 9 races. Bother was brewing for Alonso and Renault although, because the FIA imposed a ban on the staff’s mass damper gadget after the French GP, serving to Ferrari and Michael Schumacher shut the hole. The pair had been in a heated battle for the title in 2006, which Alonso had been main till the fifteenth race of the season – Italian GP at Monza – the place an engine failure resulted in retirement, his second of the yr.  
  
A win by Schumacher put the German again on the prime of the championship. Each drivers had been tied on factors going into the penultimate race at Suzuka, which was gained by Alonso and noticed Schumacher retire as a result of engine failure. The Spaniard wanted only one level to take his second drivers’ championship on the season finale and, with a race victory, he turned the youngest double world champion.  

Lewis Hamilton – 546 days 

Variety of consecutive races main drivers’ championship: 25  
Complete days main the drivers’ championship: 2436 
Complete variety of races main the drivers’ championship: 126 

Photograph by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Regardless of Lewis Hamilton being second on the checklist of whole variety of days main the drivers’ championship, he ‘solely’ consecutively held the lead for 546 days. This run started on the 2014 Singapore GP, taking the lead from team-mate Nico Rosberg with 5 races left that yr. Hamilton gained 11 races out of 19, with Rosberg profitable one other 5 for Mercedes.   
  
The British driver dominated the 2015 season, ending on the rostrum 17 instances and securing 10 wins. The Mercedes drivers had been as soon as once more locked right into a fierce battle for the drivers’ championship, which got here to a head at the USA GP the place Rosberg slid off the monitor, leading to Hamilton taking the lead and in flip securing his third drivers’ title.   
  
Hamilton’s consecutive run as drivers’ championship chief got here to an finish after the Brit got here second to his team-mate Nico Rosberg on the 2016 season opener – the Australian GP.  

Juan Manuel Fangio – 532 days 

Variety of consecutive races main drivers’ championship: 10  
Complete days main the drivers’ championship: 1673 
Complete variety of races main the drivers’ championship: 34  

Photograph by: Motorsport Images

Juan Manuel Fangio is without doubt one of the most profitable Formulation 1 drivers in terms of whole days main the drivers’ championship, sitting in fourth place with 1673 days. The Argentinian started his longest consecutive run holding the title on the 1956 German GP – the penultimate race of the season – the place he took the championship lead from Ferrari team-mate Peter Collins.   
  
In 1956, he took three victories and two additional second locations. Through the season finale in Italy, Collins had an opportunity of the crown however, with 15 laps remaining, he handed his automotive to Fangio after a steering-arm failure on his staff chief’s D50. This resulted within the pair sharing the six factors for second place, handing Fangio his fourth world title.  
  
Fangio held the lead for the total 1957 season after profitable 4 races and taking two second locations within the last two races, which secured him his final championship victory.  
  
His championship run got here to an finish initially of 1958 with the Argentinian GP, as he was unable to place his Maserati on the rostrum.   

Niki Lauda – 518 days  

Variety of consecutive races main drivers’ championship: 24  
Complete days main the drivers’ championship: 1029 
Complete variety of races main the drivers’ championship: 42  

Photograph by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images

Niki Lauda held the lead of the world championship between the 1975 Belgian GP and the 1976 United States GP, throughout his time with Ferrari. He additionally has the seventh-most days main the drivers’ championship, with 1029.  
  
After a sluggish begin in 1975, Lauda’s first win of the yr got here on the Monaco GP and was the primary of 5 that season, in addition to three different podium finishes.  

Learn additionally: Niki Lauda’s greatest F1 races
  
The Austrian took his first drivers’ championship title at that yr’s 1975 Italian GP – the penultimate race of the yr – after beating competitors from Emerson Fittipaldi at McLaren. Alongside his team-mate Clay Regazzoni, the pair had been capable of safe Ferrari their first constructors’ championship in 11 years.   
  
Lauda bought off to a powerful begin in 1976 with 4 wins out of the primary seven races and took podium finishes on the different races earlier than a retirement on the French GP as a result of an engine failure.   
  
Nevertheless, the German GP on the Nurburgring would show to be one that just about value the Austrian not solely his profession, however his life.  
  
The Nurburgring was notoriously harmful on the time, and Lauda had urged the opposite drivers to boycott the race as a result of lack of security sources, however the majority voted for the GP to go forward.  
  
On the second lap, Lauda swerved off the monitor, hitting an embankment that brought on his Ferrari to burst into flames and he was then hit Brett Lunger’s Surtees. The Austrian was trapped inside his automotive earlier than he was pulled out by Wolf-Williams driver Arturo Merzario.   
  
Lauda was carrying a modified helmet that didn’t match him correctly, exposing his face to the hearth, which resulted in extreme burns to his head and fingers. Regardless of the accident he missed simply two races earlier than making his return to F1 on the Italian Grand Prix, the place he raced with bandages over his burns.   
  
The Austrian completed fourth on his return however, after coming eighth in Canada and third within the US, he famously withdrew from the appallingly moist Japanese GP finale, dropping the title to James Hunt by a single level. 

=10 Juan Manuel Fangio – 490 days 

Variety of consecutive races main drivers’ championship: 10  
Complete days main the drivers’ championship: 1673 
Complete variety of races main the drivers’ championship: 34  

Juan Manuel Fangio makes a second look on the highest 10 with a run between the 1954 Argentinian GP and the 1955 Monaco GP.  

The win on the first race in 1954 began his run of main the world championship and was the primary of 4 victories in his residence GP. Fangio claimed six out of eight races within the 1954 championship regardless of beginning with Maserati and transferring to Mercedes following two wins within the 250F. 

The Mercedes-Benz staff entered mid-season with the W196 and, regardless of the streamlined model of the automotive being often known as troublesome to drive, Fangio nonetheless claimed the win on the French GP on its debut, although he did not do nicely at Silverstone the next race. Mercedes then launched an open-wheel model of the automotive on the German GP, and Fangio managed to win the next three races. 

It was not a straightforward victory in Monza for Fangio as he fought with the Ferrari of reigning world champion Alberto Ascari and Stirling Moss in a non-public Maserati. He seemed weak till Ascari confronted engine issues and Moss’s oil tank break up, leading to Fangio taking the victory. 

PLUS: Stirling Moss’s top 10 greatest drives

His six wins and an additional third place secured Fangio his second drivers’ championship after initially taking the title in 1951 with Alfa Romeo. Fangio misplaced his driver’s championship-leading streak on the 1955 Monaco after initially main the race earlier than being pressured to retire with transmission bother. His retirement left Fangio with only a single level for the quickest lap and dropped him down into second within the drivers’ championship behind Maurice Trintignant by one and a 3rd factors.  

Regardless of dropping the consecutive run within the management throughout this race, he later went on to assert his third drivers’ championship and his second consecutive title. 

=10.  Sebastian Vettel – 490  

Variety of consecutive races main drivers’ championship: 20  
Complete days main the drivers’ championship: 1267 
Complete variety of races main the drivers’ championship: 63 

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Sebastian Vettel equalled Juan Manuel Fangio’s consecutive drivers’ management with a run of 490 days. The German’s run started on the 2010 season finale in Abu Dhabi when he began the race in third place within the drivers’ championship behind chief Fernando Alonso and Vettel’s Pink Bull team-mate Mark Webber.

Vettel certified on the entrance of the grid and managed to retain his lead all through nearly all of the race – briefly dropping the lead after a pitstop earlier than regaining the place once more on lap 40. When crossing the road, Vettel turned the youngest F1 world champion and began his consecutive run within the lead. 

Learn additionally: Sebastian Vettel’s top 10 F1 wins
  
He continued his main streak with Pink Bull throughout your complete 2011 season, taking 11 wins and an additional six podiums in the course of the 19-race yr, leading to his second consecutive drivers’ championship victory.  

Learn additionally: How Vettel’s 2011 campaign ranks in Formula 1 history

Vettel’s consecutive driver’s championship run got here to an finish on the 2012 Australian GP, after being unable to catch the McLaren of Jenson Button. After qualifying in sixth, he was capable of leap to 3rd by the tip of lap 11, following a retirement from Michael Schumacher. As a result of a security automotive pitstop, he was capable of declare second place and managed to carry off the opposite McLaren of Lewis Hamilton to retain the place. 

Regardless of dropping his championship run to Button in the course of the opening race of the 2012 season, Vettel was still able to take the championship victory at the Brazilian GP finale by ending sixth.  

F1 drivers with the very best whole days main the championship

Alongside consecutively main the championship race for the very best variety of days, most of the prime 10 drivers have additionally secured their place within the whole variety of days holding the factors lead.   
  
Right here’s the highest 10 drivers with the very best whole days main the championship:   

Driver   

Complete days    

Complete races   

Michael Schumacher    

2562  

121   

Lewis Hamilton   

2436  

126   

Alain Prost   

1708  

79   

Juan Manuel Fangio   

1673  

34   

Sebastian Vettel   

1267  

63   

Ayrton Senna  

1092  

49  

Niki Lauda  

1029  

42  

Jim Clark  

1016  

22  

Max Verstappen  

987 

60  

Fernando Alonso  

959  

52  



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