Formula 1 undoubtedly offers a spotlight for greatness and legacy-building for racing drivers. However, where there is light, there is darkness also. Some drivers could not catch a break, although they enjoyed the highest spotlight, their climax never arrived.
Top 5 Drivers With The Most Grand Prix Victories To Never Win An F1 Title
Some drivers were lucky enough to win less than five races and take a World Drivers’ Championship trophy home, Keke Rosberg for example. As Rosberg won only five races in his F1 career and earned the 1982 championship with just one Grand Prix victory (his maiden win) in that year, other drivers suffered the opposite.
Here’s a top 5 list with the drivers who won the most Grands Prix but never won an F1 title.
5) Rubens Barrichello (Jordan, Stewart, Ferrari, Honda, Brawn, and Williams)
The Brazilian Rubens Barrichello is the driver with the most races entered (326) and started (322) in Formula 1 history. “Rubinho” won 11 races during his 19-year tenure in motorsport’s pinnacle racing series, in which he was a driver for six different teams.
He enjoyed the best years of his racing with Scuderia Ferrari, and probably his worst moments too. With the Italian squad, alongside Michael Schumacher, Barrichello won nine races in his six seasons with Ferrari.
The 2002 season was his best season as far as race wins go. He won 4 races and was in second place, behind his teammate who was destined to win the title. Although Barrichello was able to be runner-up in 2004 too, those second places were practically by default. Ferrari had the best cars on the grid by far and favoured Schumacher’s speed.
In 2009, after collecting one podium in three years with Honda, Brawn presented Barrichello’s only chance to compete for a title, unexpectedly. With Ross Brawn‘s team, the Brazilian won a couple of races in the 2009 season, scored one pole position and had six podiums. Although Brawn was the stronger car in the most races of the season, Barrichello saw another teammate runaway with the trophy.
The Brazilian retired after the 2011 season with 11 wins. Barrichello had 68 podiums (the most of drivers on this list), 658 career points, and 14 poles.
4) Felipe Massa (Sauber, Ferrari, and Williams)
The recently retired Felipe Massa is another decorated driver who never put together a full year of speed, consistency, and the much-needed luck to take a title.
Massa drove for Sauber, Scuderia Ferrari, and the Williams F1 team. Although “Felipinho” was Barrichello’s replacement at Ferrari in 2006, his role was slightly different. In his first year with Ferrari, Massa won two GPs, scored three poles, and recorded seven podiums.
Massa’s talent was undeniable, and his dominance at specific tracks was notable. Turkey and Brazil were his playgrounds during his first seasons at Maranello. After seeing Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen have championship-calibre seasons in 2006 and 2007 (Raikkonen won in ’07). Massa took the lead at Ferrari for the 2008 season.
The Brazilian had the best car on the grid in his hands and seemed to be destined for a first championship. Massa led the season with six victories, one more than McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, his rival. Even though Massa won the last race in Brazil, Hamilton dramatically finished fifth and beat him in the championship by one point.
Massa’s career year in 2008 represented his only real charge for a title. The Brazilian spent five more seasons at Ferrari, in which he did not win a single race, and suffered his scary accident in the 2009 Hungarian GP. He switched to Williams in 2014 and had a chance to win a race after setting pole for the Austrian GP, but his Sunday was not significant.
Massa retired in 2017 with 11 wins (all with Ferrari). Also, the Brazilian scored 16 poles (tied for first in this list) and grabbed 41 podium finishes.
3) Carlos Reutemann (Brabham, Ferrari, Lotus, and Williams)
Argentinian Carlos Alberto Reutemann was a prolific F1 racer between 1972 and 1982. Reutemann is the second most successful driver from his country, behind all-time great Juan Manuel Fangio.
Reutemann finished in the top 3 in the drivers’ championship four times in his 10-year tenure in F1. The Argentinian was third three times (1975, 1978, and 1980).
His big chance to compete for the championship presented itself in 1981 with Williams. “Lole” started the year with fantastic speed. The South American won two races and had five podiums in the first five events of the calendar. Reutemann was the championship leader with 12 points over Brazilian Nelson Piquet after that streak. However, his lead should have been more significant, but the first race in South Africa did not count as a championship race due to problems with the organization. Reutemann won the race at the Kyalami circuit.
Reutemann retired in the 1981 Monaco Grand Prix due to a gearbox issue and his year started to crumble. After he did not let 1980 champion Alan Jones win in the second GP of the season in Brazil, Jones made it clear that he would not help Reutemann in his title charge.
The Argentine arrived at the last race in Las Vegas with a one-point gap over Piquet and six over Jacques Laffite. “Lole” was on pole ahead of his teammate, but a lousy start and gearbox problems made him give his championship away to Piquet.
The Argentinian retired with 12 wins, 45 podiums, and six poles.
2) David Coulthard (Williams, McLaren, and Red Bull)
British driver David Coulthard is second on this list. The Twynholm-born driver spent most of his most significant years with McLaren-Mercedes. He achieved his first victory with Williams in the 1995 Portuguese Grand Prix. Coulthard finished third in the standings in 1995.
Coulthard drove for nine seasons for McLaren, and his best result in the WDC was second in the 2001 season. However, his points tally (65) was almost half of Schumacher’s championship-winning score of 123 points.
The British driver finished in the top 3 five times in his career but never had a clear chance to win the championship. Coulthard entered 247 races, the third most in this list, and won 13 times. His best year as far as victories go was in 1998 when his teammate Mika Hakkinen won the title, and he ended up third.
Coulthard drove for Red Bull Racing between 2005 and 2008 and was a test driver for the Austrian team in 2009. The British driver took Red Bull’s first podium in Formula 1 in the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix.
1) Stirling Moss (HW Motors, ERA, Connaught, Cooper, Maserati, Mercedes, Vanwall, and Lotus)
Stirling Moss is the most successful driver never to win a Formula 1 championship. But considering his entire career it is a really easy option to name him as a legend of the sport.
Moss was a Formula driver for 11 seasons, between 1951 and 1961. The British racer entered the sport in 1951 when he was 21 years old. His debut in F1 was in the 1951 Swiss Grand Prix. He ran for HW Motors and finished eighth in the race after taking P14 in qualifying.
Moss’ charges for the title began in 1955 with Mercedes (Daimler Benz AG). Moss was not lucky in 1955 when he scored 23 points and won his first GP on British soil. Fangio defeated Moss to the title with 41 points. The Argentinian Maestro won four of the six races in the calendar that year.
In 1956, after his first taste of a championship battle, Moss was again unlucky and lost the title to Fangio again, this time by just three points (30-27). Moss returned in 1957 with the same title-charge but fell short once again to the Argentine, who finished six races and won five.
The 1958 F1 season was Moss’ best season for wins (4), podiums (5), and points (41). The British driver led the season in victories but retired five times. Ferrari’s Mike Hawthorn took advantage and defeated Moss 42 to 41 and secured his only F1 title.
Moss’ legendary career came to an end in 1961 after seven consecutive top 3 finishes in the WDC with no luck. The British won 16 races, the most in this list. Also, he secured 16 Pole Positions (tied for most in this list), and 24 podiums in 66 starts.
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