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5 Times F1 Drivers Swapped Seats With Each Other

George Howson
ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
Timeless

Schumacher pulled some excellent wins out of the bag despite his poor Ferrari in 1996.
Schumacher pulled some excellent wins out of the bag despite his poor Ferrari in 1996.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Sauber's Charles Leclerc are swapping their seats for 2019 in a move that has shaken up the Formula 1 grid. With Pierre Gasly also joining a current top team (Red Bull) there will likely be some new faces gracing the F1 podium next year.

Seat swaps are nothing new to the sport, though, as up and coming drivers replace the experienced veterans. There's too many to list, but here are five of the most notable driver swaps in recent times.

#1 Michael Schumacher and Berger / Alesi, 1996

Michael Schumacher's records may be under threat from Lewis Hamilton these days, but his sensational statistics were largely forged during his time at Ferrari. After becoming the driver's world champion for the second season in a row at Benetton in 1995, Maranello came calling, and Schumacher answered. He joined the Scuderia for 1996, with the team in disarray, not winning any championship since 1982.

Ferrari's drivers in '95, Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger both went the other way to Benetton for '96. To their credit, Benetton had a great season that year, Alesi and Berger scoring 10 podiums between them, but the Enstone outfit wouldn't enjoy any major success until they were re-branded as Renault and a certain Fernando Alonso came along. Schumacher, though, re-wrote every record in the book with Ferrari, winning five of his seven titles at the team before retiring (for the first time) at the end of 2006.

#2 Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello, 2000

Rubens Barrichello scored his first win in F1 in 2000
Rubens Barrichello scored his first win in F1 in 2000

On the surface, this may not seem like a driver swap, but if you dig a little deeper, you'll find out the truth. Eddie Irvine challenged for the 1999 driver's world championship after Michael Schumacher broke his leg and missed most of the season post-Silverstone, but that didn't prevent him from being sacked by Ferrari.

In came Rubens Barrichello, a young driver who had been putting in some great performances for Jordan and then Stewart racing, but hadn't had the car to win a race yet. Once he had the machinery, he delivered, becoming the first Brazilian to win a Grand Prix since the death of Ayrton Senna, after starting all the way down in 18th in Germany. Barrichello would remain at the team until 2005, serving as an excellent wingman to Schumacher, until he was replaced by his compatriot, Felipe Massa for 2006.

Irvine replaced Rubens at Stewart, which had been re-branded as Jaguar for the year 2000 and would continue to race at the team until he retired at the end of the 2002 season. He enjoyed moderate success at Jaguar, earning two podiums, one at Monaco and another at Monza.

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