- Ask Steven
Fallen championsSteven LynchJuly 29, 2014
With Daniel Ricciardo having won twice now, to Sebastian Vettel's none, how often has the reigning F1 world champion failed to win a race the following season? asked Raymond Clarke
Well, we're only halfway through the season, so it's a bit early to write Sebastian Vettel off yet - he was a rather unlucky in Hungary, for example.
However, if Vettel does fail to win this year he'll be in good company: there have been no fewer than 16 occasions when the world champion failed to win a race the following year.
There have been many reasons for this. The saddest is the death of the driver concerned, a fate which befell Mike Hawthorn (the 1958 world champion) and Jochen Rindt (1970).
Jackie Stewart retired after winning the title in 1973, and Alain Prost did likewise after taking the crown in 1993.
The occasionally controversial driver-selection policy at Williams accounted for Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill, who were not retained after winning the title in 1992 and 1996 respectively.
Juan Manuel Fangio, who won the title in 1951, missed the following season with injury - then, after winning his fifth championship in 1957, he retired midway through the following season.
The remainder mostly found their car was less competitive the year after they won the title, often because of changes to the regulations. This accounted for Alberto Ascari in 1954 (he moved teams after taking the title in 1953, but his new car wasn't ready till late in the season), Jack Brabham in 1961, Phil Hill in 1962, John Surtees in 1965, Mario Andretti in 1979, Jody Scheckter in 1980 (he collected only two points that season, after winning the title in 1979), Nelson Piquet in 1988 (when McLaren won every race bar one), and Jacques Villeneuve in 1998.
Ascari, Fangio, Hawthorn, Phil Hill, Surtees, Rindt, Stewart, Andretti, Scheckter, Villeneuve and Prost never won another world championship Grand Prix after winning the title (for the final time in some cases).
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