GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #50 - Keke Rosberg

25-01-2020 19:00 | Updated: 26-01-2020 11:41
by Adam Newton
Column
GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #50 - Keke Rosberg

Hello and welcome to a brand new daily series from GPBlog.com, counting down the top 50 drivers of all time in Formula One! It’s 50 days until the first race of the 2020 season gets underway in Australia, so let’s start this off with our number 50, Keke Rosberg.

Keke Rosberg is often just seen as the father of Nico (come back in a few weeks for more on him) but the Finn is much more than just Nico’s dad. Rosberg Senior had a healthy F1 career of his own, winning the world championship in 1982, amazingly only taking five race wins in his career.

This incredible stat makes Rosberg the champion with the fewest race wins in his championship year with only one of those actually came in 1982!

In 1978 he became the first man from Finland to race in F1 and had a pretty quiet start to his career, racing for backmarkers such as Theodore, ATS, Wolf and Fittipaldi. In his first four seasons he only managed to score points twice, such was the unreliability of his machinery.

This all changed when he made the move to the flourishing Williams team, who had by now established themselves as a very competitive team. He finished second at the US Grand Prix West, but his Williams seemed to be slower than the Ferrari and similar in pace to the Renault and McLaren cars.

Gilles Villeneuve, a rival for the title, was tragically killed in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder and the Renaults of Alain Prost and Rene Arnoux were struggling for reliability, as was Niki Lauda, leaving Ferrari’s Didier Pironi set to run away with the title.

Pironi had scored podiums in five out of six races in the middle part of the season before a career-ending crash in Germany left him on 39 points with five races to go.

Rosberg was way down in fifth ahead of the race at Hockenheim, but as others faltered he put together a run of podiums, including his first win at the Swiss Grand Prix (held at Dijon in France, but that’s another story). P5 in the final race in Las Vegas was enough for him to fend off the challenge of John Watson and take the title.

In the following years, more wins followed but a second title never looked like materialising, a distant third his best effort in 1985. McLaren were the team to be with that year and Rosberg made the move there from Williams for the 1986 season.

However, now 37 years of age, Rosberg was unable to compete with Prost and only managed one podium as his teammate took his second title.

Rosberg retired at the end of the season after 114 races, five wins, 17 podiums and the 1982 title.

He might not have been the fastest driver of his generation, but he did what he had to do to win that title and get his place on this countdown.

Keke Rosberg, number 50.

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