There have been 104 different men that have tasted victory at the wheel of a Formula One racing car, but only 33 of them only won a single time. Out of those, who makes the Top 5? Hang on tight – the Badgerometer has roared into life!

Vittorio Brambilla

The’ Monza Gurilla’ reached the dizzy height of the top step of the podium at the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix in treacherous conditions. Brambilla made a perfect start too, gaining several places to slot in behind Niki Lauda and James Hunt into third place. Third soon became first as Lauda struggled with his Ferrari in the wet and Hunt suffered a misfiring engine. The race was brought to a premature end on lap 29 due to the worsening conditions and Brambilla took the chequered flag.

With his March team was celebrating on the pit wall, Brambilla lost control and stuffed it into the barrier moments after crossing the line. At the age of 37, he was the oldest driver in the race.

Innes Ireland

Robert McGregor Innes Ireland did in fact win four races in F1 machinery – but only one of them was in a World Championship sanctioned race. The one that counted was the 1961 United States GP at Watkins Glen driving a works Lotus. Ireland jumped from eighth to third at the start as Stirling Moss led the field away, followed by Jack Brabham. Fortunately for Ireland, both the flying Moss and Brabham suffered mechanical issues (as did Graham Hill and Roy Salvadori as they both tried to chase Ireland down). Innes took the flag ahead of home hero Dan Gurney.

This could have been the first of many victories for the Scot for Lotus if it wasn’t for him angering team boss, Colin Chapman. At the previous race, he gave his car up for Moss at the Italian GP (Moss drove for the rival Rob Walker team, a customer of Team Lotus) and he was sacked at the end of 1961. He went on to drive for British Racing Partnership with only one points paying finish in three seasons.

Jean Alesi

The likeable Frenchman looked set for stardom from the start of his first full season in F1 in 1990. At the first race at Phoenix, he went wheel to wheel with Ayrton Senna for several laps as he tried to defend his lead in the underfunded Tyrrell, eventually conceding and finishing 2nd. Another 2nd place followed in Monaco, and suddenly Jean Alesi was the hottest prospect in the sport.

After that stunning debut season Tyrrell, Williams and Ferrari all claimed to have an Alesi signed contract  for 1991. Ferrari, who narrowly missed out on the drivers title with Prost the year before, won the battle for his signature – although he must have been ruing his decision as Williams went on to dominate from midway through 1991. 

After many seasons at the Italian marque with little success – and even less luck – the day finally came when the top step beckoned him. After a rain-affected Canadian Grand Prix in 1995 – five years after bursting onto the scene – and on his 31st birthday, Jean finally got that elusive win, all topped off with a track invasion. Magic.

Photo: The Cahier Archive

Photo: The Cahier Archive

Robert Kubica

‘Bobby K’ replaced former World Champ, Jacques Villeneuve, mid way through 2006 at BMW Sauber, and within a few races he’d already stepped foot onto the podium. With momentum building for both, it all came to a crashing halt after the Poles monumental shunt in Montreal in 2007.

Up until that point, Kubica looked all set for stardom with the German marque. It would take another 12 months, but that win would come, at exactly the same venue in 2008.

After a frustrating year in 2009 for both Kubica and the team, BMW withdrew from F1 and the Pole joined the rival factory team, Renault. After only one year into his new partnership, Kubica was severely injured in a rallying accident before the start of the 2011 season.

Many say that if he hadn’t have had his accident, he’d be driving for Ferrari now and certainly not in the one win club. In all honesty, Robert Kubica really shouldn’t be on this list.

Photo: The Cahier Archive

Photo: The Cahier Archive

François Cevert

With perhaps with the exception of Robert Kubica, Francois Cevert wasn’t only better than what his one win would suggest, he was on the path to win a World Championship. The protégé of Ken Tyrrell, the Frenchman served his F1 apprenticeship under triple world champion, Jackie Stewart.

Cevert’s one and only victory came at the 1971 US GP at Watkins Glen, the final race of the year where he held off a late charge from Jacky Ickx.

The Frenchman had several opportunities to take more wins up to, and including, 1973. On six occasions that season he finished second, three times to his team leader Stewart, who acknowledged that at times the Frenchman had been a very “obedient” teammate. It was all building up to the metaphorical handing-of-the-torch from the teacher to the student, then tragedy stuck.

On the morning of Saturday qualifying for the 1973 US GP at Watkins Glen, Francois Cervert lost control of his Tyrrell at the Esses and slammed into a barrier head-on, killing him instantly. A star was lost.

Do you agree with our top 5? Tell us who you’d pick and why in the comments below.

Gary Marshall

Gary Marshall

Gary Marshall

Latest posts by Gary Marshall (see all)

  1. Nice article Gary. I’d have to say that I recon Jean Alesi was also better than his one win would suggest. Look forward to reading more from you and hope you’re keeping well. All the best

Let us know what YOU think...