A couple of days ago I set about looking back through the record books to see if the podium at the recent Italian Grand Prix had ever been achieved before. The particularly nice symmetry that adorned the Monza celebrations was seeing the three new 2008 winners all on the rostrum together; Kubica, Kovalainen and Vettel. The first article was meant to cover each applicable season, but there are quite a few to get through, so the post was split and this is the second instalment.
As before, we can only look at the third new winner of the season because up until that point, there wouldn’t have been enough new winners. However, as realised in the last post, occasionally the podiums prior to the third feature one or two future maiden-winners, so they are worth a brief look. So far, we’ve covered Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella in 2003, David Coulthard, Johnny Herbert and Jean Alesi in 1995, and the 1982 season where five new winners graced the podium. As of yet though, there has been no previous encounter of all the newbies together on a new-winners rostrum.
1977: Gunnar Nilsson, Jacques Laffite & Alan Jones
Swedish racer Gunnar Nilsson won his first and only race in Belgium in 1977, driving his Lotus around the Zolder track and beating Niki Lauda by 14 seconds. Also on the podium was fellow Swede Ronnie Peterson in the similarly-powered Tyrrell. Both drivers though had won previously in 1974 and 1973 respectively.
The second new winner of the ’77 campaign was Jacques Laffite, winning the very next round held at the Scandinavian Raceway in Sweden. Unfortunately, neither Swede could manage the top step of the podium, and the honours went to the French driver in his Ligier. Laffite was joined in the celebrations by Jochen Mass and Carlos Reutemann, who both again had won previously.
The third and most important win of the year with regards to this article, came from Australian driver Alan Jones at the Austrian Grand Prix. Controlling his Shadow-Ford around the devilishly-challenging Österreichring, Jones took the chequered flag by 20 seconds from Niki Lauda and Hans Joachim Stuck. Lauda had of course won before, and Stuck, despite coming close on occasion, never won a race in his Formula One career.
1975: James Hunt, Carlos Pace, Jochen Mass & Vittorio Brambilla
It was only two years prior to the Nilsson/Laffite/Jones triumph that four new drivers entered the record books, the first of which was one-time winner Carlos Pace. The Brazilian took victory in on home ground at Interlagos, and shared the champagne with fellow countryman Emerson Fittipaldi and German pilot Jochen Mass. Jochen, at the time of climbing onto the podium, was yet to take his first grand prix win.
It wouldn’t be long though, as Jochen Mass secured victory just two races later in Spain, edging out Jacky Ickx around the Parc Montjuïc circuit in Barcelona. Finishing third was Carlos Reutemann, and by 1975, both drivers were already seasoned winners. New-winner number three was the ever popular James Hunt, taking the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort in his Hesketh-Ford. However, he too was joined by well-seasoned racers; Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni.
The fourth and final new-winner of the year was Vittorio Brambilla, and like Carlos Pace before him, his maiden win would also be his only win. Taking the chequered flag in Austria by 27 seconds, the Italian driver beat James Hunt to the top step. However, lining up third was fellow Briton Tom Pryce, a man who despite being obviously quick, never managed a victory before his untimely death at the 1977 South African Grand Prix.
1974: Carlos Reutemann, Niki Lauda & Jody Scheckter
1974 saw three to-be big names join the roll of honour, each winner going on to became famous drivers of their era. In their careers, Reutemann took 12 wins, Lauda 25 (and 3 titles) and Scheckter managed 10 wins and one world championship. Also worthy of a mention is that all three remain prominent public figures, Lauda and Scheckter with racing and Reutemann became a politician in his home country of Argentina.
It is their maiden wins that concern us most here though, and Reutemann was the first of the 1974 season. Winning in South Africa from Jean-Pierre Beltoise by over half a minute, Reutemann was perhaps gifted his first victory as Lauda (who was leading until 3 laps from the end) was forced to retire with oil pressure problems. Joining Reutemann on the rostrum was Mike Hailwood who finished third. However, neither Beltoise or Hailwood would win a race in their careers.
New-winner number two was Niki Lauda, who took the top step at the very next race in Spain. Lauda took pole but lost the lead at the start. However, a quick pitstop from his Ferrari team put him back in contention and the Austrian led his team mate to the chequered flag. Unfortunately for us, Lauda’s team mate was Clay Regazzoni and third place went to Emerson Fittipaldi. Both Regazzoni and Fittipaldi took their first wins in 1970.
The third winner, who incidentally claimed his first points at the Spanish Grand prix that saw Niki Lauda win for the first time, was Jody Scheckter. The popular South African won the British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch that year, but his accompaniment on the podium was Emerson Fittipaldi and Jacky Ickx.
So after looking at six seasons (in total so far) where new-winners were plentiful, there has been no instance of the perfect podium. However, there is still 1959, 1961, 1962 and 1971 to look at, which I’ll get around to later in the week.