Feature

IN NUMBERS: The 10 longest waits for a debut win in F1 history

Writer

Anna Francis
Share
Formula 1 header template (12).png

Lando Norris secured a long-awaited first Formula 1 race win at the Miami Grand Prix on what was his 110th start in the sport. While the Briton had to be patient for his debut victory, other drivers have faced an even longer wait to stand on the top step of the podium. Just ask some of the names below…

10: Mika Hakkinen – 96 races – First win 1997 European Grand Prix

It might seem surprising to see the name of a double world champion in this list, but Hakkinen’s first win actually only arrived in the year before he claimed his inaugural title. After making his F1 debut with Lotus in 1991, the Finn switched to McLaren in 1993, and by 1997 looked on course to finally clinch a victory.

READ MORE: Stella outlines what McLaren need to do to ‘seriously challenge’ Red Bull going forward

Nine rounds into the campaign, Hakkinen seemed to be on the way to his first win in the British Grand Prix, but an engine failure on Lap 52 of 59 forced him to retire from the lead.

His wait continued until the season-closing European Grand Prix at Jerez; while this race is perhaps better known for a controversial collision between Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher, it was also the scene of Hakkinen’s debut victory in the sport on his 96th race start.

24 Oct 1997:  Mika Hakkinen of Finland driving his McLaren-Mercedes during practise for the

Hakkinen's first victory came at the 1997 European Grand Prix

8=: Lando Norris – 110 races – First win 2024 Miami Grand Prix

Norris has been a highly-rated name in Formula 1 ever since his arrival into the sport with McLaren in 2019. The then-19-year-old grew in confidence as his career progressed and, after achieving a debut podium in 2020, his appearances on the rostrum increased in 2021.

It was also in this year that he came painfully close to clinching his first win, having seemed to have victory in the bag at the Russian Grand Prix. However, increasing rain in the latter stages saw Norris take a gamble on remaining on track with slick tyres, a move that failed to pay off. He was eventually forced to pit for intermediates and ended the race in P7.

READ MORE: Norris admits first win is a ‘weight off’ but says he never doubted victory would come

Nearly three years on, the cards were in Norris’s favour at the 2024 Miami Grand Prix, with the Briton making a perfectly-timed pit stop during a mid-race Safety Car period to emerge back on track in the lead. From there he sealed a popular first win in F1.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 05: Race winner Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates with his

Norris was overjoyed to clinch his debut F1 win in Miami

8=: Giancarlo Fisichella – 110 races – First win 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix

Italian racer Fisichella enjoyed an extensive career in Formula 1, from making his debut with Minardi in 1996 before ending his career with Ferrari in 2009 after stepping in to replace the injured Felipe Massa.

He also notched up a total of three wins, with two of these coming during his time with the championship-winning Renault team in 2005 and 2006. However, his first and perhaps most memorable victory was at the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix with Jordan, a result that arrived in unusual circumstances.

READ MORE: Vasseur believes Red Bull are no longer in their ‘comfort zone’ after Miami GP defeat

Amid torrential rain, Fisichella had overtaken the McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen for the lead on Lap 54, shortly before the race was red-flagged. Raikkonen was initially declared the winner, with the result being based on the classification at two laps prior to the stoppage. A few days later, however, a timekeeping error was cited and Fisichella was belatedly handed victory.

The podium (L to R): Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Jordan, belated race winner with Kimi Raikkonen

Fisichella was initially classed in P2 at the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix – before being handed victory in the days after the event

7: Nico Rosberg – 111 races – First win 2012 Chinese Grand Prix

Rosberg followed in the footsteps of his former world champion father, Keke Rosberg, by joining the Williams F1 team in 2006 – the same squad that Rosberg Snr had been racing for when he claimed his sole title in 1982.

The younger Rosberg did not enjoy quite the same levels of success in his four seasons with the Grove-based outfit. While he scored a maiden podium result in 2008, victory did not arrive until his 111th race start at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix in his third campaign with Mercedes.

READ MORE: Hamilton’s former team mate Rosberg gives his take on the 7-time champion’s Ferrari move – and whether it will pay off

After qualifying in pole position, the German put in a strong drive en route to his first win in Formula 1, which also marked the debut victory for Mercedes since their return to the sport as an official team in 2010.

Mercedes-AMG driver Nico Rosberg of Germany is cheered by crew members in the pit wall after

Rosberg scored his debut Formula 1 victory at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix

6: Jenson Button – 113 races – First win 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix

Back in 2000, Button made his F1 debut with Williams before a move to Benetton for 2001 resulted in a challenging spell, having ended that campaign down in 17th place of the drivers’ standings. His fortunes seemed to improve upon his switch to BAR Honda in 2003, with a career-best third in the championship in 2004 after racking up 10 podium finishes.

What still alluded him, though, was a win. For this he had to wait until his 113th start at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix, a race in which he started from down in 14th on the grid after receiving a 10-place penalty due to an engine change.

READ MORE: 'This is brave' – Jenson Button gives his verdict on Hamilton's blockbuster Ferrari move

The event got underway in wet weather and, across a chaotic 70 laps, Button capitalised on the opportunities as well as mastering the tricky conditions to take an impressive debut victory.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - AUGUST 6:  Jenson Button of Great Britain and Honda Racing celebrates victory

Button finally stood on the top step of the rostrum on his 113th start at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix

5: Jarno Trulli – 117 races – First win 2004 Monaco Grand Prix

Often best known for the so-called ‘Trulli train’ – where a queue of cars would form behind him thanks to his defensive driving – a fact that is perhaps sometimes forgotten about Trulli is that he was also a race winner, with his long-awaited victory coming on none other than the streets of Monaco.

Trulli was making his 117th start in Formula 1 when the sport visited the iconic Monte Carlo in 2004, having first made his debut back in 1997 with Minardi. The Italian had stood on the podium on three occasions prior to this weekend, but showed good pace during the early stages of the 2004 season.

READ MORE: ‘A lot of respect’ – F1 drivers praise Alonso’s endurance as he extends career with new Aston Martin deal

This culminated in a particularly commanding outing in Monaco, where Trulli secured his first pole position before crossing the line in P1 in what would prove to be his sole victory in the sport.

MONACO, MONACO:  Italian Renault driver Jarno Trulli jubilates as he crosses the finish line ahead

The 2004 Monaco Grand Prix saw Trulli claim his one and only race win in Formula 1

4: Rubens Barrichello – 124 races – First win 2000 German Grand Prix

For all of his achievements in F1, it is most likely his emotional debut win at the 2000 German Grand Prix that jumps out as a standout memory from Barrichello’s extensive career. It came after a long wait for the Brazilian, who had first appeared on the grid with Jordan back in 1993.

After scoring a handful of podiums for the Jordan and Stewart outfits, Barrichello found him consistently near the front of the pack when he joined Ferrari in 2000. Having taken three second-place finishes in the early stages of the campaign, a win did not necessarily look to be on the cards at the Hockenheimring when he qualified in P18.

READ MORE: ‘An incredible legend of the sport’ – F1 drivers pay tribute to Ayrton Senna 30 years after his tragic death

However, after working his way through the field, Barrichello benefitted further from staying out on track on slick tyres during rainfall in the latter stages. This enabled him to claim victory on his 124th race start, also making him the first Brazilian driver to win a race since Ayrton Senna in 1993.

30 Jul 2000:  Rubens Barrichello of Brazil and Ferrari kisses the Brazilian flag after winning the

Barrichello's long-awaited first victory at the Hockenheimring in 2000 proved to be an emotional one

3: Mark Webber – 130 races – First race 2009 German Grand Prix

Webber had made something of a dream debut when he arrived into Formula 1 in 2002, with the Australian scoring points in front of his home crowd for the oft-struggling Minardi team after numerous retirements helped him to cross the line in P5.

Patience was a virtue from thereon, however. Having claimed a first podium for Williams in 2005 followed by another in his debut season with Red Bull in 2007, a victory did not follow until 2009, a year in which the Milton Keynes-based squad looked increasingly strong.

READ MORE: From Seb’s stunners to Max’s magic – 10 of the best Red Bull pole positions as they join the 100 club

While team mate Sebastian Vettel had taken the win at the British Grand Prix, it was Webber who led the way at the following event in Germany. After taking his debut pole position, the driver overcame a drive-through penalty – following an early clash with Barrichello – to claim his first-ever win, leading home Vettel in a Red Bull one-two.

NURBURG, GERMANY - JULY 12:  Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull Racing celebrates with team

Webber led home a Red Bull one-two on his debut victory at the 2009 German Grand Prix

2: Carlos Sainz – 150 races – First win 2022 British Grand Prix

Arriving into Formula 1 in 2015 at Toro Rosso, Sainz’s debut perhaps did not draw the same level of attention of that experienced by his team mate Max Verstappen. The Spaniard impressed many on his ascent through the sport, though, with promising spells at Renault and McLaren in the years that followed.

Upon his debut with Ferrari in 2021, Sainz started to add to his tally of podium finishes. But it was not until the British Grand Prix in 2022 – in a milestone 150th race start – that a much longed-for win came for the Scuderia driver.

READ MORE: ‘We could have won this race’ – Sainz left frustrated after pit stop timing and penalty costs him in Miami

Sainz beat former team mate Verstappen to claim his first pole position and, despite being overtaken by the Dutchman early on, he later retook the lead and from there kept a cool head despite plenty of action going on behind, resulting in an impressive debut victory.

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, portrait celebrating his first victory in F1 podium during the

Sainz triumphed at Silverstone on his 150th F1 race start

1: Sergio Perez – 190 races – First win 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

No driver in history has waited quite as long to step on the top step of the rostrum as Perez, whose first win came on his 190th start in Formula 1.

After making his debut at the 2011 Australian Grand Prix with Sauber, Perez scored three podiums in the year that followed before catching the eye of McLaren for 2013. His stint at the team was brief, though, and he went on to join Force India in 2014 in what would prove to be a lengthy partnership.

READ MORE: Perez explains what caused dramatic Turn 1 moment where he nearly tagged Verstappen in Miami

Fast forward to the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix and a debut victory looked to potentially be on the cards for George Russell, who was chasing Perez after the Mexican had made his way through the field. However, a puncture forced Russell to make a pit stop, helping Perez to maintain the lead and cross the line to finally take victory.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - DECEMBER 06: Race winner Sergio Perez of Mexico and Racing Point celebrates his

On the 190th time of asking, Perez claimed his first victory at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

Share

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Coming Up

Coming Up

News

Perez, Magnussen and Hulkenberg share contrasting views on start pile-up in Monaco