The winner of the first two Formula 1 races of the 2018 F1 season Sebastian Vettel has great chances to become a world champion, at least if we are to believe in the F1 history that teaches us that drivers in his situation mostly became champions in that year – MAXF1 brings you a historycal analysis who managed to win the title after winning the first two races and who failed.

Vettel, like last year, celebrated in first race of the season in Australia, but this year he won the second race of the season in Bahrain too (where, however, he celebrated last year, but then it was the third race of the season).

Of the total of 17 situations in which driver won the first two races of the season (not counting 2018 because we still don’t know the outcome), that driver became the champion in that season 13 times (76.47%).

Interestingly, in the past 11 cases where someone has won the first two races of the season, that driver has become the champion of that season, which goes even further in favor of Vettel.

In the past four seasons, Mercedes has always won one of the first two races, but Vettel ended that streak with Bahrain victory.

Also, the last time Ferrari won two races in a row was nearly eight years ago (2010) when Fernando Alonso celebrated in Italy (12 September) and in the next race in Singapore (26 September) .

Drivers who became champions after winning first two races of the season

Juan Manuel Fangio (1957)

Fangio drove the race of his life aged 47 at Nurburgring at the 1957 German GP (4 August, 1957) Photo: itsawheelthing

In 1957 Fangio won the first two races in Argentina and Monaco in Maserati, and in the season of nine races he became a convincing champion in front of Stirling Moss. It was the fourth consecutive title and fifth overall for Fangio after he celebrated in 1951, 1954, 1955 and 1956.

Jackie Stewart (1969)

Jackie Stewart Monaco GP F1 1969

Stewart won the first two races of the 1969 F1 championship in South Africa and Spain in Matra Ford and celebrated four more times until the end of the season on his way to his first world championship with 26 points lead over Jacky Ickx.

Ayrton Senna (1991)

Ayrton Senna celebrates winning his third F1 title in 1991 Japanese GP

In 1991, Senna won the first four races for McLaren Honda and eventually won the championship one race before the end of the year when Mansell spun off while chasing him.

Nigel Mansell (1992)

Nigel Mansell Williams FW14B San Marino GP Imola F1 1992 Foto Williams
Mansell on his way to fifth consecutive victory at the start of 1992 F1 season in Imola

After finishing 1986, 1987 and 1991 as a vice champion, Mansell became a convincing champion thanks to the dominant Williams Renault FW14B after he celebratied in the first five races of the season. This record was equalized by Michael Schumacher in 2004.

Michael Schumacher (1994)

Michael Schumacher Hungarian GP F1 1994 Benetton B194 on podium with Jos Verstappen Photo Ford-F1
Michael Schumacher and Jos Verstappen celebrate 1-3 victory for Benetton Ford in Budapest

In 1994, Schumacher won the first four races of the season in which Senna tragically died in the third race in Imola, but only in the last race of the season in Adelaide he won the title with the one point advantage ahead of Hill, with which he collided in a controversial incident after which both drivers retired and the German kept his crucial one point lead.

Damon Hill (1996)

Hill Japanese GP 1996 Suzuka post race Photo Williams
Damon Hill celebrates his first and only F1 title after winning in 1996 Japanese GP

Williams dominated in 1996 with their FW18 and Renault V10 engines and Hill celebrated in the first three races. Team-mate Villeneuve won the fourth race at Nurburgring to stop Hill winning sequence. Hill won the championship by winning the last race of the season in Japan.

Mika Hakkinen (1998)

Mika Hakkinen McLaren MP4-13 Japanese GP F1 1998 Suzuka
Mika Hakkinen celebrates his first F1 title with eight win of the 1998 F1 season in Japan

McLaren, Mercedes and Bridgestone were the fastest combination in the year 1998 when the cars became narrower with grooved tyres, and Hakkinen took advantage of the McLaren early advantage and celebrated in the first two races of the season. The title was won in the last race of the season in Japan where Finn won for the eight time in 1998.

Michael Schumacher (2000)

Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F1 2000) and Mika Hakkinen (McLaren Mercedes MP4-15) in the 2000 Belgian GP

The double world champion Schumacher was in his fifth season for Ferrari where they finally had a car with which they could continually fight McLaren. Germans exploited their problems with reliability and celebrated in the first three races of the season. He won the title in the penultimate race in Japan where he beat Hakkinen in a straight fight and secured first driver’s championship for Ferrari after 21 years.

Michael Schumacher (2001)

Hungarian GP F1 2001 start Photo Ferrari
Michael Schumacher celebrates his 51st victory and fourth world championship in 2001 Hungarian GP

After winning the third title, Schumacher and Ferrari won the title with ease after German celebrated in the first two races in Australia and Malaysia. Schumacher secured his fourth title already in Hungary, four races before the end.

Michael Schumacher (2004)

Schumacher and Ferrari celebrate record breaking seventh title for German driver at 2004 Belgian GP

Schumacher won the first five races of the season in 2004 and reiterated Mansell’s success from 1992. He confirmed his seventh title with second place in Belgium behind Raikkonen, next Ferrari world champion, four races before the end.

Jenson Button (2009)

Spanish GP F1 2009 podium Foto LAT
Button i Barrichello celebrate Brawn GP 1-2 at the 2009 Spanish GP

Button and Brawn shocked the F1 world and justified the status of pre-season favorites after Honda withdrew at the end of 2008, and the team was bought by Ross Brawn who secured Mercedes V8 engines without KERS. Button celebrated in the first two races in Australia and Malaysia, and after Red Bull’s 1-2 win in wet Chinese GP, Button celebrated in the next four races and laid the foundation for his first and only title.

Sebastian Vettel (2011)

Vettel Red Bull wins Italian GP F1 2011 Monza Photo Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel celebrates his second F1 victory at Monza in 2011 after bold overtaking move on Fernando Alonso in Curva Grande

Vettel completely dominated in 2011 after winning his first championship title in the last race of 2010 as he won the first two races in Australia and Malaysia before Hamilton beat him in China.

Nico Rosberg (2016)

Nico Rosberg celebrates after securing the title with second place in 2016 Abu Dhabi GP (Poto: Daimler)

After two consecutive defeats by Hamilton in the championship fight in 2014 and 2015, Rosberg was more determined than ever to take advantage of everything Hamilton offered, including reliability issues. The German won the first four races of the season before colliding with Hamilton in Spain and won the title with four consecutive second places in the last four races.

Drivers who didn’t become champions after winning first two races of the season

Emerson Fittipaldi (1973)

Emerson Fittipladi Lotus 72E Spanish GP F1 1973 Montjuic
Emerson Fittipladi (Lotus 72E) in the 1973 Spanigh GP helt at Montjuic

Fittipaldi won the first two races in Argentina and Brazil as a reigning champion. But by the end of the season Fittipaldi celebrated only one more time while Stewart in Tyrrell Ford won five times to seal his third world championship with 16 points more than Fittipaldi.

Niki Lauda (1976)

niki-lauda-ferrari-312t2-german-gp-nurburgring-f1-1976 Foto safetycast
Lauda had huge 31 point lead before the 1976 German GP, but he almost lost his life in big accident on Nurburgring (1 August, 1976) Photo: safetycast

Lauda was convincingly heading for his second consecutive title with Ferrari and celebrated in the first two races in Brazil and South Africa. After the first nine races he had more than twice as many points as the second placed Scheckter (60 versus 31, Hunt had only 26 points). But at his home race at Nurburgring Lauda suffered a serious accident that left him out of racing, missing two races and returned with fourth place in Monza. In the end, he lost from the Hunt for one point because he did not want to risk racing in extremely difficult racing conditions in the last race in Fuji.

Jacques Laffitte (1979)

Jacques Laffite Ligier Ford Argentina GP Buenos Aires F1 1979
Jacques Laffite in his Ligier JS11 on his way to victory at the 1979 Argentinian GP

Laffitte won the first two races in the Ligier Ford in 1979, but by the end of the season he scored only four more times and finished fourth in the driver’s championship. Jody Scheckter became champion in Ferrari as Maranello team will be waiting for the next drivers’ title by 2000.

Alain Prost (1982)

Renault F1 team in the 1982 Brazilian GP (Photo: Renault)

In a very strange season marked by conflicts between FOCA and FISA, and in which we saw as many as 11 different winners in 16 races, Prost won the first two races of the season for Renault, but those were his only wins in 1982. No driver won more than twice (but five of them won twice) and the champion became Rosberg with one win.


(Bold drivers didn’t become champions)

2016 Nico Rosberg Mercedes W07 4 9/20
2011 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault RB7 2 11/19
2009 Jenson Button Brawn Mercedes BGP 001 2 6/17
2004 Michael Schumacher Ferrari F2004 5 13/18
2001 Michael Schumacher Ferrari F2001 2 9/17
2000 Michael Schumacher Ferrari F1-2000 3 9/17
1998 Mika Hakkinen McLaren Mercedes MP4-13 2 8/16
1996 Damon Hill Williams Renault FW18 3 8/16
1994 Michael Schumacher Benetton Ford B194 4 8/16
1992 Nigel Mansell Williams Renault FW14B 5 9/16
1991 Ayrton Senna McLaren Honda MP4-6 4 7/16
1982 Alain Prost Renault RE30B 2 2/16
1979 Jacques Laffite Ligier Ford JS11 2 2/15
1976 Niki Lauda Ferrari F312T 2 5/16
1973 Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus 72D 2 3/15
1969 Jackie Stewart Matra Ford MS10 2 6/11
1957 Juan Manuel Fangio Maserati 250F 2 4/9
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