From Schumacher to Hamilton and Martini – Which F1 drivers have spent the most seasons with one team?
Incredibly, the 2023 season will be the 11th campaign of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ trophy laden partnership together. In the highly competitive world of Formula 1, any driver keeping his seat for more than a few years is an achievement – but which racers have spent the most seasons with a single team?
To answer that question we’ve dived into the history books and come up with our list of the longest lasting driver-team combinations. We’ve decided that multiple spells with the same team count, and even if a driver didn’t complete the entire season with the squad, that year can still count towards their total. Clear? Right, then let’s get going…
11 seasons – Michael Schumacher and Ferrari: 1996-2006
Hamilton has yet to turn a wheel for Mercedes this year, and until he does, this is one Formula 1 record Michael Schumacher still holds.
Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996 from Benetton – where he had just won back-to-back world championships – and by the time he left in 2006 after a record 11 seasons at the same team, he had made 179 starts behind the wheel of the scarlet cars.
During his epic stint with Ferrari, he achieved 116 podiums – 72 of which were wins – to go with 58 pole positions, 53 fastest laps and five drivers' world championships.
10 seasons – Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes: 2013-Present
Back in 2012 Hamilton made what, at the time, seemed like a very bold decision to switch from McLaren to Mercedes. But it's fair to say it paid off in spades. Since then, the Briton has started 200 races for the Silver Arrows, amassing 82 wins, 77 poles, and six drivers’ titles, while playing his part in eight constructors' championship wins.
2022 didn't yield the success both Mercedes and Hamilton had become accustomed to over the last decade. But they will have their eyes set firmly on a return to the top in their record-equalling 11th season together – and there's every chance the seven-time champ signs on for at least one more year with the team meaning he could take this record outright in 2024.
9 seasons – Mark Webber and Jaguar/Red Bull: 2003-2004, 2007-2013
A slightly controversial entry here, given Webber's time at the Milton Keynes team started when they were Jaguar (two seasons early in his F1 career), before he returned three years later after they were rebranded as Red Bull Racing. In total, he made 163 race starts for the team – 129 of those coming in Red Bull colours.
The Australian played a key role in Red Bull's early success, winning nine races for the team, while helping them seal four consecutive constructors' titles – from 2010 to 2013 – although he could never quite capture that drivers' championship.
9 seasons – David Coulthard and McLaren: 1996-2004
Coulthard started 150 races across nine seasons at McLaren, after joining from Williams in 1996. In that time, he won 12 Grands Prix, claimed 51 podiums, and also helped the Woking-based team win their last constructors’ title to date – all the way back in 1999.
However, the Scot could never quite capture that elusive drivers' championship – his career-best finish coming as a runner-up behind Schumacher in 2001 – while his long-time team mate Mika Hakkinen won the title in 1998 and 1999.
9 seasons – Jim Clark and Lotus: 1960-1968
Clark made 72 race starts in his nine-season career in Formula 1 and all came behind the wheel of a Lotus as part of his legendary partnership with team boss Colin Chapman.
The Briton won 25 races, achieved 33 pole positions, and earned two world championships during that time. Clark still holds the record of being the only world championship-winning driver to have driven for just one team.
9 seasons – Jacques Laffite and Ligier: 1976-1982, 1985-1986
A French driver racing for a French team is always a fascinating story, and Laffite did just that 132 times over nine seasons for Equipe Ligier, split across two stints. He stood on the rostrum on 32 occasions – including six times on the top step – during his time with the team.
Though they could never quite get that coveted championship – the closest being when he finished fourth in 1979 – Laffite will forever be synonymous with the blue and white of Ligier.
9 seasons – Mika Hakkinen and McLaren: 1993-2001
After two years racing for Lotus, Mika Hakkinen joined McLaren in 1993, initially as test driver – but he found himself in a race seat late in the year after Michael Andretti left mid-way through the season, leaving the Finn to partner Ayrton Senna for the final three races.
Hakkinen went on to make 131 race starts during his spell in McLaren silver – winning two drivers' championships in 1998 and 1999, achieving 20 race wins, 26 pole positions and 51 podium finishes in total – before taking a sabbatical at the end of the 2001 season, which turned into retirement.
8 seasons – Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari: 2007-2009, 2014-2018
Raikkonen made 151 race starts across his two stints with Ferrari, with the first yielding rather more success than the second. The Finn's first three seasons with the Scuderia saw him achieve nine race victories, 26 podiums, and five pole positions, along with the world championship in 2007 – Ferrari’s last drivers' title to date.
He re-joined the team in 2014, but failed to achieve as much success the second time round, with the Finn departing the team at the end of the 2018 campaign, with just one victory – at the 2018 United States Grand Prix – to show for his second stint.
8 seasons – Max Verstappen and Red Bull: 2016-Present
It scarcely seems believable but the 2023 season will mark Max Verstappen's eighth with Red Bull. Before the 2022 campaign the Dutchman signed a contract extension with the team that will take him to the end of the 2028 season, and given he's still only 25-years-old, he could well blow this list out of the water by the time he's finished driving.
Verstappen joined Red Bull as a teenager in the middle of the 2016 season – famously winning on his maiden outing for the team in Barcelona – and has since started 140 races for the Milton Keynes-based squad, the most starts for any driver in their history. He has won 35 races during that time, clinched 77 podiums and two back-to-back world championships – in 2021 and 2022.
8 seasons – Felipe Massa and Ferrari: 2006-2013
After joining Ferrari at the start of the 2006 season, Massa would go on to make 139 race starts over eight seasons for the Scuderia. He achieved 11 victories and 36 podiums while partnering three world champion drivers – Schumacher, Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso – during his time with the team.
While he never did secure the drivers’ championship – famously losing out in dramatic fashion to Hamilton at Interlagos in 2008 – he played a major part in Ferrari’s last two constructors’ winning teams, in 2007 and 2008.
8 seasons – Nick Heidfeld and Sauber: 2001-2003, 2006-2010
Heidfeld’s first spell with Sauber yielded one podium in three seasons, before he departed the team to drive for Jordan and then Williams. He returned for a more successful second spell – this time with the team owned by BMW.
Over the course of four seasons, he recorded eight podiums before leaving at the end of 2009. The German returned to replace Pedro de la Rosa for five races at the end of the 2010 season – taking his total race starts with the team to 125.
8 seasons – Fernando Alonso and Renault/Alpine: 2003-2006, 2008-2009, 2021-2022
Alonso’s first four seasons with Renault saw him win 15 races over two years on his way to two world titles – in 2005 and 2006. He left the team for McLaren, but returned in 2008 for a second spell with the French squad. However, they were unable to achieve as much success this time round, with Alonso only able to secure two victories over the next two years.
Alonso retired in 2018 but returned to the sport with Alpine (as the Renault team had been rebranded) in 2021. Over the next two seasons, he took part in 44 races for the team to add to his previous 105, before departing for Aston Martin at the end of the 2022 campaign.
8 seasons – Perluigi Martini and Minardi: 1985, 1988-1991, 1993-1995
Martini had three different stints with Italian minnows Minardi, adding up to eight seasons and 102 race starts for the Faenza-based squad. His best result came in the 1991 season – when he finished 11th in the championship.
He never got on the podium – with career-best P4 finishes at the 1991 San Marino and Portuguese Grands Prix – but his name will forever be synonymous with the fan-favourite Minardi team.
Honourable mention – Bruce McLaren and Cooper: 1958-1965
The hugely talented New Zealander Bruce McLaren spent seven seasons as a Cooper factory driver between 1959 and 1965, though he also raced a Cooper in 1958 when he first came to Europe – albeit an F2 car rather than F1 machinery.
But he still sneaks on to our list because he raced the F2 Cooper in both the German and Moroccan Grands Prix, when F1 and F2 cars competed together – remarkably coming home fifth at the Nurburgring event as the leading F2 finisher.