F1 stats: 11 times drivers single-handedly would’ve won the Constructors’ title

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Last season Max Verstappen set a new record for the most wins in a single year and the most points scored, and yet he’s not one of the drivers who over the decades have scored enough points to alone win the Constructors’ Championship for their team.

Although Formula 1’s Drivers’ Championship began in 1950 it wasn’t until eight years later that the sport introduced a Constructors’ Championship competition.

But in the early days the sport had an unusual points-scoring system that meant only the best-placed car from each manufacturer was eligible to score points.

That meant the likes of Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Jack Brabham all achieved the feat in the 1960s while Niki Lauda did it more than once in the 1970s.

That rule changed in 1979, Formula 1 allowing more than one car from each constructor to score points at the same race thus making the times when a driver scored enough points to single-handedly win the Constructors’ Championship a lot more difficult to achieve.

There’ve only been nine drivers in 43 years – one of them having done it three times.

Alan Jones in 1980 by 1 pts

Racing for Williams in 1980, Australian driver Alan Jones won the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Nelson Piquet to become the Grove team’s first World Champion.

It was a mixed season for the Aussie as his FW07 and then the revised FW07B either finished on the podium, the driver winning five races, or retired.

That kept Piquet in the hunt, but back-to-back DNFs for the Brabham driver at the very end of the season meant Jones took the Drivers’ crown comfortably in the end.

His team secured the Constructors’ title while Ligier-Ford were second with 66 points, one fewer than Jones meaning he alone could have wrapped up the teams’ title.

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Niki Lauda in 1984 by 14.5 pts

Niki Lauda made up one half of a dominant McLaren team in 1984, the Austrian partnering Alain Prost.

While the first half of Lauda’s season seemed at times to be one retirement followed by one win, the back half was one win followed by one runner-up result.

He scored 72 points to beat Prost to the title by half a point with McLaren making it a double with the Constructors’ Championship.

Ferrari were second with 57.5 points, Lauda alone outscoring the Maranello team by 14.5 points. Prost too outscored Ferrari, 14pts ahead.

It was the first (but not the last) time both McLaren team-mates had enough points to bag a teams’ trophy.

Ayrton Senna in 1988 by 25 pts

Joining McLaren in 1988, Ayrton Senna made up one half of arguably one of the very best driver line-ups to ever grace the Formula 1 grid as he teamed up with Alain Prost.

That season’s McLaren MP4/4 with its Honda engine was the pick of the field, the car claiming all but one pole position. But it didn’t just have single-lap pace, it was also impressive in grands prix.

The team-mates won 15 of 16 races with Senna taking the title by three points ahead of Prost. Scoring 90 points and 87 respectively, McLaren easily won the Constructors’ Championship as they destroyed second-placed Ferrari who only bagged 65.

The Scuderia’s 65 meant that season Senna could have wrapped up the Constructors’ with his points-tally alone, then again so too could’ve his team-mate.

Nigel Mansell in 1992 by 9 pts

Winning five races on the trot to kick off his 1992 season in style, Nigel Mansell set himself up for a title tilt with Williams.

With the Renault RS3C 3.5 engine powering his FW14B the Briton was the pick of the field, eight wins in the first 10 races. However, swapping to the RS4 3.5 he managed just one win in the final six events.

But his early season form was enough to guarantee him the World title with 108 points, Williams also adding the Constructors’.

P2 went to McLaren with 99 points, Mansell outscoring the Woking team by nine points.

Alain Prost in 1993 by 15 pts

Sacked by Ferrari at the end of 1991 and reportedly paid a significant payment not drive for any other team, Prost returned to the Formula 1 in 1993 having signed with Williams.

He won his comeback race, P1 at the South African Grand Prix on a Sunday in which just five of the 26 starters saw the chequered flag.

That was Prost’s first of seven race wins, The Professor claiming his fifth and final Drivers’ Championship title after scoring 99 points, 16 more than arch rival Senna.

Scoring 99 points, his tally alone put him ahead of the second-best team in the teams’ championship, McLaren, who scored 84 points.

Damon Hill in 1996 by 27 pts

Damon Hill beat his Williams team-mate Jacques Villeneuve to the 1996 Drivers’ Championship title, the Briton 19 points up.

The FW18 was in a class of its own, only Michael Schumacher able to challenge the Renault-powered car when it came to pole position.

Sundays also went the team’s way, winning 12 of the 16 grands prix, and on the podium in all but two races. The team-mates only failed to score in just one race, Monaco.

As such the team wrapped up yet another Constructors’ title with Ferrari having to settle with 70 points. Both Hill and Villeneuve’s tallies were more, up by 27 and eight points respectively.

Michael Schumacher in 2001 by 21 pts

The 2001 Formula 1 season saw Michael Schumacher retain the World title he’d secured the previous year, Ferrari’s first since 1979.

The German won nine of 17 races and was only off the podium in one race that he finished, ironically that was Ferrari’s home race in Italy.

Scoring 123 points, he destroyed McLaren’s David Coulthard and in fact beat the entire McLaren team as the runner-ups only scored 102 points between both drivers.

It was the first of three seasons in which Schumi ‘won’ the double himself.

Michael Schumacher in 2002 by 52 pts

The Ferrari driver repeated the feat the following season, 2002, with an even greater margin of 52 points.

With 11 wins and 17 podium finishes, he sprayed the champagne in every single grand prix. In fact in all but one race, Malaysia, he was P2 or higher.

It was without a doubt one of the most dominant displays from one driver ever.

With 144 points, he beat the Williams team by 52.

Michael Schumacher in 2004 by 29 pts

And then he did it again in 2004 as he romped to a seventh and final Drivers’ Championship title, a record that stands today although that has since been tied by Lewis Hamilton.

Schumacher’s season began with a run of five wins, one retirement, and then seven wins. On the podium a further three times in the final five races, he brought his tally for the season to 148 points.

Both BAR-Honda drivers could only manage 119 points together as their team finished runner-up in the teams’ standings, and to Schumacher.

Sebastian Vettel in 2013 by 37 pts

2013 marked the fourth and final year of Sebastian Vettel’s championship run, the Red Bull driver winning the title with 397 points.

It was a mixed start to the season for the German with three other teams – Lotus, Ferrari and Mercedes – also in the mix for race wins.

While Vettel was P1 in the standings after round 10, the Hungarian Grand Prix, it was by no means a done deal. And then he made sure it was.

He went on a phenomenal run in the back half of the season, winning every one of the final nine races to take the title by a comfortable margin of more than 150 points ahead of Fernando Alonso.

He also beat Mercedes’ tally as runner-up in the teams’ standings by 397 points to 360.

Lewis Hamilton in 2020 by 28 pts

As 2013 signalled the final year of Vettel’s championship run, 2020 did the same for Lewis Hamilton. But what a way to end it.

Such was the pace of Mercedes’ W11, the Brackley squad secured all but two of 2020’s pole positions. Mercedes also featured on the podium at every race barring Italy and Sakhir.

But it was Hamilton who was the better of the two Mercedes team-mates.

The Briton won 11 of the 16 races in which he participated, Hamilton missing Sakhir because of Covid, and secured 14 podiums in total along with 10 pole positions.

With 347 points he beat Red Bull’s score by 28 points, the Milton Keynes squad bagging just 319 points to finish runner-up to Mercedes.

* Kimi Raikkonen could be added to the list for his 2007 title win, the Finn scoring 110 points but that year the McLaren drivers scored a combined 218 points, however, the Woking team was thrown out of the Constructors’ Championship over Spygate.

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