F1’s longest winning streaks: the drivers who couldn’t stop being unbeatable
Max Verstappen landed his 10th victory in a row at Monza. Here are F1’s other purplest purple patches
Max Verstappen, Red Bull - 10 wins
The all conquering Dutchman’s run began at the Miami Grand Prix in May, the build-up to which was dominated by talk of his teammate Sergio Perez mounting a serious title challenge having qualified on pole and matched Verstappen for wins in the opening four grands prix of 2023.
What followed was crushing domination. Verstappen whooped his teammate from ninth on the grid that day and never looked back, reeling off victories galore as Perez floundered. Only in Monaco (torrential rain) and Monza (in-form Ferrari) was the two-time champ even remotely threatened. That RB19 is an all-time great car in Verstappen’s hands: how many more can he add to that streak?Advertisement - Page continues below
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull - nine wins
Picture the scene: Lewis Hamilton has just won the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix for Mercedes and vows to attack the second half of the season with everything he’s got in an unlikely bid to reel in championship leader Sebastian Vettel, sitting atop the standings with a healthy margin over Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Hamilton.
None of them got a sniff. Vettel returned after the summer break and smashed the opposition, winning every race from Belgium to Brazil as his RB9 moved into another realm. The end of that run marked his final victory for Red Bull and the end of an era that brought him four straight world titles.
Alberto Ascari, Ferrari - seven wins
The Italian legend won more than 40 per cent of all the F1 races he ever entered, so it’s little surprise that he managed to stitch together seven straight wins during his career, tragically cut short as it was when he died at Monza in 1955.
Ascari’s winning streak began in Belgium in 1952, and he won all six grands prix that year followed by the season-opener in Argentina in 1953. Now here’s where history gets in the way: the Ferrari driver didn’t attend the next race - the Indy 500 - which wasn’t a grand prix but was considered part of the F1 championship back in those days. So the streak ended at seven, but if you ignore Indy then the number would be nine, as Ascari won the subsequent GPs in the Netherlands and Belgium. Caveats, eh?Advertisement - Page continues below
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari - seven wins
Has anyone ever dominated a season quite like Michael Schumacher? In the modern era, surely only Verstappen comes close. In 2004 Schumi’s quest for a seventh world championship got off to a perfect start, as he rattled off five wins in a row before a collision with Juan Pablo Montoya saw him retire from the Monaco Grand Prix.
Not satisfied with that streak, Schumacher bounced back at the next race at the Nurburgring and just kept on winning: his seventh straight victory in Hungary made it 12 out of 13 wins for the season and by the end of August he’d been crowned world champion. That’s not the earliest he’d sealed the world title, incidentally: that happened two years beforehand when he landed the drivers’ crown with six races to spare.
We mustn't forget another Schumacher hot streak, either: the seven-time champ won the final four races of 2000 and the first pair of 2001 for a six-GP unbeaten streak broken up by the winter break.
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes - seven wins
When Lewis Hamilton was crowned world champion for a third time at the US Grand Prix in 2015, he absent mindedly tossed the second place cap to a rather dejected teammate Nico Rosberg in the cool down room. Rosberg… did not appreciate this.
And in the F1 equivalent of a John Wick movie, what followed was raw, unyielding payback. Rosberg won the final three races of the year as Hamilton lifted his foot off the gas, and when the new campaign got underway in 2016 the German driver hit the ground running, adding another four grands prix victories to his name in an unbeaten run that lasted seven long months. It gave him the platform to take the title that year too, before he performed the ultimate mic drop by retiring as world champion.
Jack Brabham, Cooper - five wins
Since Ascari, no one else had racked up five wins on the bounce in F1… until Jack Brabham ignited the afterburners in 1960. The Aussie’s season hadn’t got off to the best start, with a DNF in Argentina and a disqualification in Monaco after being deemed to have had outside assistance following a gearbox problem.
But he put all of that behind him at the Dutch Grand Prix, sticking his Cooper-Climax on the front row before prevailing with a handsome, 24-second lead over Lotus’s Innes Ireland come the chequered flag. Three pole positions and three dominant victories followed, with win number five coming in Portugal where Brabham once again trounced the opposition: only teammate Bruce McLaren finished within a minute of the soon-to-be double world champion.
Nigel Mansell, Williams - five wins
For so long the nearly man, Nigel Mansell finally found himself in a car befitting of his talent in 1992, when a certain Adrian Newey penned the Williams FW14B. Developed from the previous season’s design, it quickly became obvious that it was a class above the rest as Mansell took five straight poles and victories from the get-go.
That run encompassed wins in South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Spain and Imola, and although Mansell was on pole position for the sixth race in Monaco, ultimately he was pipped to the line by Ayrton Senna after suffering a loose wheel nut (while leading) with eight laps to go. Who remembers that iconic chase where the Brit was all over the back of the Brazilian for the last couple of laps?
A trio of wins followed a DNF in the Canadian Grand Prix; he was crowned world champion in Hungary.Advertisement - Page continues below
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes - five wins
The seven-time world champ has won more grands prix than anyone else (103 wins at the time of writing) so it’s a little surprising that he’s never put together a longer streak than five consecutive wins. He’s certainly had the machinery to do more…
Anyway, five on the bounce is something Hamilton has achieved twice: first in 2014 when wins in Italy, Singapore, Japan, Russia and the USA turned the tide in his title fight with Nico Rosberg that year, and again in 2020 when he took the chequered flag in Germany, Portugal, Imola, Turkey (where he sealed title number seven) and Bahrain. That last streak ended when Hamilton contracted Covid-19, which ruled him out of the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Four-in-a-row is something he’s achieved on five separate occasions: once in 2014, twice in 2016, and once apiece in 2018 and 2019. Hashtag blessed.
The four-win club
There are a fair few names that are conspicuous in their absence from this list. No Ayrton Senna? Won four in a row twice, in 1988 and 1991. Alain Prost? Won in Canada, France, the UK and Germany back-to-back in his final season in 1993. Fernando Alonso? He won four straight in 2006, and other than that has only managed runs of three and two in a row once apiece to date. What a stat that is.
Other members of the four-win club include Jim Clark (Lotus, 1963), Jochen Rindt (Lotus, 1970), Damon Hill (Williams, 1995-6) and Jenson Button (Brawn, 2009).
Surprisingly, there are some notable world champions who don’t qualify here either: Juan Manuel Fangio, Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda never won more than three grands prix on the spin. Mind you, reliability wasn’t as bulletproof back then as it is now.Advertisement - Page continues below