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Centurions: The men who’ve driven 100 or more races for one team

04 May 2015

In Bahrain Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg became just the 18th driver in F1 history to reach a century of world championship race starts for one team, and in Spain McLaren’s Jenson Button should become the first man to start 100 Grands Prix for two separate teams. But who are the other 17 drivers on the centurion list? Read on to find out…

Michael Schumacher - 179 race starts for Ferrari

The great German’s 11-season stint with the Prancing Horse was not only the most enduring partnership in F1 history, it was also the most successful. Incredibly Schumacher finished on the podium in 116 of his 179 race starts for Ferrari, taking 72 victories (equating to a win every 2.48 races), 32 second places and 12 thirds. The seven-time world champion came awfully close to adding to his tally of race starts for the Scuderia in 2009, having been all set to come out of retirement to replace the injured Felipe Massa until a neck problem scuppered his comeback plan.

Mark Webber - 163 race starts for Jaguar/Red Bull

Webber makes this list on his start tally for Red Bull alone (129), but the Australian also competed in 34 races for the Milton Keynes concern between 2003 and 2004 under their previous guise of Jaguar. But if his first stint for the team was largely forgettable, his second was an unabashed success. Webber scored nine wins for Red Bull between ‘07 and ‘13, including two triumphs at Monaco, and came within a gnat’s whisker of claiming world title glory in 2010.

David Coulthard - 150 race starts for McLaren

Coulthard won his first Grand Prix with Williams and ended his F1 career with an up-and-coming Red Bull team. However, it is his nine-season partnership with McLaren for which the Scot is best remembered, even if he did spend the bulk of it living in Mika Hakkinen’s shadow. From 150 starts with the Woking squad he scored a dozen victories and a total of 51 podiums, with his best championship finish coming in 2001 when he was runner-up to Michael Schumacher.

Felipe Massa - 139 race starts for Ferrari

Massa is one of four drivers on the current grid to have started more than 200 Grands Prix - 214 to be precise - and well over half of these were with Ferrari, a team with whom he had close ties even before his first race outing in red. When your team mates’ names are Schumacher, Raikkonen and Alonso, winning races is never easy, but the Brazilian nevertheless achieved the feat on 11 occasions for the Scuderia, famously missing out on the 2008 title to Lewis Hamilton by a single point. He also shares with Mika Hakkinen the unusual distinction of having a life-threatening accident partway through his century of starts.

Jacques Laffite - 132 race starts for Ligier

Though he spent several seasons at Williams, Frenchman Laffite will forever be synonymous with the blue and white of French team Ligier. Between 1977 and 1981 he won six Grands Prix at the wheel of Guy Ligier’s cars, even vying for the title in ’79. Sadly it was also in a Ligier that he broke both legs in an accident at the start of the ’86 British Grand Prix, effectively ending his F1 career, though he thankfully recovered to compete in numerous other series.

Mika Hakkinen - 131 race starts for McLaren

Hakkinen broke into F1 racing with Lotus in 1991, but it was only after joining McLaren in 1993 that the flying Finn’s Grand Prix career really took off. Despite being saddled with some less than spectacular machinery, Hakkinen scored nine podiums in his first 33 races with the Woking team, before sustaining life-threatening head injuries in a colossal smash in Australia. Remarkably, Hakkinen not only survived, he came back stronger, winning 20 races and two world titles over his final 98 races in McLaren silver.

Nick Heidfeld - 125 race starts for Sauber

Quick, reliable and metronomically consistent, ‘Quick Nick’ was in many ways the quintessential Sauber driver, so it’s perhaps unsurprisingly that he’s made more starts for the Swiss team than anyone else. The German’s first stint for the team between 2001 and 2003 yielded one podium, but his second - which spanned ‘06 to ‘10 and BMW’s short ownership - was far more successful, yielding a further eight rostrum finishes.

Giancarlo Fisichella - 119 race starts for Benetton/Renault

Having broken into F1 racing with Minardi in 1996 and then earned his stripes with Jordan in 1997, Giancarlo Fisichella sealed a plum move to Benetton for 1998. His initial stay with the Enstone team lasted for four relatively successful seasons, during which time he established a reputation that would help earn him a recall to the re-branded Renault squad in 2005 after three years away. Two wins and two constructors’ championships followed in what turned out to be the Italian’s best spell in F1 racing.

Jenson Button - 119 race starts for BAR/Honda/Brawn

Barring another pre-race disaster, Button should rack up his 100th race start for McLaren in Spain, though the Briton is already on this list by virtue of his extended tenure at the ever-evolving BAR/Honda/Brawn team between 2004 and 2009. For the record, Button made more starts when the Brackley squad was in its Honda guise (53) than when they were BAR (49) or Brawn (17), though he enjoyed considerably more success with the latter incarnation...

Sebastian Vettel - 113 race starts for Red Bull Racing

To win 38 races for a single team is a superb achievement; to do so in just 113 starts is simply remarkable - but that’s exactly what Sebastian Vettel did during his record-breaking stint with Red Bull Racing between 2009 and 2014. The question is: will the quadruple world champion enjoy such lofty success with Ferrari over the next few years?

Lewis Hamilton - 110 race starts for McLaren

Having graduated to F1 racing with McLaren backing in 2007, Lewis Hamilton went on to clock up more than a century of Grand Prix starts for the Woking team before departing for Mercedes at the end of 2012. He left with an enviable record - the third-most starts for the team (behind Coulthard and Hakkinen), the third-most wins (behind Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost), the second-most pole positions (behind Senna and tied with Hakkinen) and, of course, the 2008 world title.

Adrian Sutil - 109 race starts for Spyker/Force India

The German driver - currently Williams’ reserve - broke onto the F1 grid with Spyker in 2007, and went on to stay with the Silverstone-based concern (which became Force India in 2008) for six-straight seasons. Only current Force India racer Nico Hulkenberg has scored more points for Vijay Mallya’s squad. 

Alain Prost - 107 race starts for McLaren

‘The Professor’ spent his maiden season with McLaren in 1980, but after mixed results he swiftly departed to join compatriots Renault. When he returned three seasons later the team’s fortunes had improved considerably, and Prost duly embarked on one of the most successful spells in the sport’s history, winning 30 races and three world titles. However, acrimony with team mate Ayrton Senna eventually encouraged the Frenchman to end his six-season stint with Ron Dennis’s squad and join Ferrari for 1990.

Nelson Piquet - 106 race starts for Brabham

For several years in the early Eighties the combination of Nelson Piquet and Brabham was the most formidable on the grid. Armed with several ground-breaking cars, the Brazilian won 13 Grands Prix and two world titles across seven seasons with the Bernie Ecclestone-run team, only leaving at the end of 1985 when Williams lured him away with the promise of Honda power and a more lucrative contract.

Fernando Alonso - 105 race starts for Renault

Fernando Alonso burst onto the F1 grid with Minardi in 2001, but it was driving in the yellow and blue of Renault that he became a global superstar. Between 2003 and 2006 the Spaniard won 15 races and two drivers’ crowns, so it was perhaps inevitable that he would choose to re-join the Enstone squad - and go on to notch a century of races for the team - after his first McLaren dream turned sour. His second spell with the French marque was considerably less successful than the first, but still yielded two victories.

Pierluigi Martini - 102 race starts for Minardi

Outside of a single season with Scuderia Italia in 1992, the affable Italian made all of his world championship starts for Giancarlo Minardi’s perennial underdogs. His best results came in 1991 - during his first spell with the Faenza-based squad - when he bagged a pair of fourth places in San Marino and Portugal, though he’s perhaps best remembered for planting his unheralded black and gold car on the front row at Phoenix in 1990.

Rubens Barrichello - 102 race starts for Ferrari

Barrichello started a record 322 Grands Prix in his marathon 19-season career, but though he raced for the likes of Honda, Jordan, Stewart and Williams, the popular Brazilian is best remembered for playing wingman to Michael Schumacher at Ferrari during the German’s Noughties domination. In fact only Schumacher and Felipe Massa have started more races for the Scuderia than Barrichello, a nine-time winner in red.

Nico Rosberg - 100 race starts for Mercedes

For a while it looked like Nico Rosberg might emulate father Keke and become synonymous with Williams, but after starting a century of races for Mercedes it’s rapidly becoming hard to picture the German racing for anyone other than the Silver Arrows. For the record, only Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have scored more points with Mercedes power than Rosberg, who joined the works squad in 2010.

And close but no cigar...

Ayrton Senna - 96 races for McLaren

The legendary Brazilian’s decision to join Williams for 1994 prevented him from racking up 100 starts for McLaren, though Senna remains arguably the most iconic driver in the Woking team’s history.

Gerhard Berger - 96 races for Ferrari

The fun-loving Austrian enjoyed two stints with Ferrari either side of a spell with McLaren, eventually accumulating a tally of 96 race starts (and five wins) for the Italian team.

Nigel Mansell - 95 races for Williams

No driver has started (or won) more races for Williams than Nigel Mansell, though the 1992 world champion didn’t quite reach a century over three separate stints with Sir Frank’s team.