Can Verstappen fit into this extraordinary lineup of world champions?

Can Verstappen fit into this extraordinary lineup of world champions?

16-04-2022 09:19

Despite a victory in Saudi Arabia, Max Verstappen has a bad start to his season. The other two races the Dutchman dropped out. has dug into the statistics and can conclude that a second world title in 2022 will be a difficult task for Verstappen.

Hakkinen the last to do it

In the more than seventy years that Formula 1 has existed, it has only happened eight times that a driver dropped out twice in the first three races and still ended up winning the title. What is remarkable about that is that three of those eight drivers did not drop out per se, but were disqualified in one of the three races.

The last time a driver crashed out twice in the first three races and still became champion was in 1999. Mika Hakkinen, like Verstappen in 2022, crashed out in the first and third Grand Prix of that year. In the end, the Finn would win the world title, as he finished two points ahead of rival Eddie Irvine. Hakkinen was helped by a serious injury to Michael Schumacher, who missed much of the sixteen scheduled races in 1999.

Disqualifications in the 1980s

In the 1980s, Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost and Niki Lauda managed to fail to finish, or at least to score, two of the first three races and still become champions. Senna did this in 1988 with a dropout and a disqualification. Prost also did it that way in 1985. In 1987, Piquet won the title after failing to start in the second GP and dropping out in the third race. Lauda crashed out twice in the first three races in 1984, but still won the title. In fact, Lauda crashed out four times in the first six races of that year. In these four seasons, there were always sixteen races on the calendar.

James Hunt in 1976 (sixteen Grands Prix) and John Surtees (ten Grands Prix) in 1964 both finished just one race out of the first three Grand Prix and managed to become champions. Like Hakkinen in 1999, Hunt's title rival, Niki Lauda, missed several races due to a serious injury. Jack Brabham did it in 1960 the same way Senna and Prost did in the 1980s and had only nine races to do so (not counting the Indy 500).

Difficult task Verstappen

Verstappen's chances of winning the title are historically very slim. What must be said is that the 2022 calendar is significantly longer than any of the previously listed seasons. The Red Bull Racing driver therefore has longer to catch up with rival Charles Leclerc.

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