F1: Drivers without a single DNF in an entire season

F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Practice
Only eight drivers have completed an entire F1 season without a single DNF
Tanya Kumar

Over the years, the number of races in a complete Formula One season has increased from seven to twenty-one. However, the number of times that a driver has completed an entire season without a single 'DNF' or "Did Not Finish" is only eight.

As the Hungarian Grand Prix is about to begin, in what would be the 12th round of races of the 2018 F1 season, already every single racer has failed to finish at least once. Drivers are often hindered due to reliability issues or crashes.

Even when the F1 calendar comprised of only seven races, it was difficult for a driver to finish the whole season without retiring once. The first time such a feat was achieved was in 1961 while Lewis Hamilton managed to do so during his 2017 World Championship winning season.

It is important for any championship contender to try and garner as many Grand Prix finishes as possible to increase their chances for a title win. Here’s a list of all the drivers who have been able to finish their season without a single DNF:-

#1 Dan Gurney - 1961

Dan Gurney
Dan Gurney

Formula One championship in 1961 was vastly different from how we view it in this day and age. Only eight Grands Prix were conducted, out of which the best five results were chosen to represent the driver’s points. Only the top six finishers were awarded points, unlike the first ten that are now included in the list of point scorers.

As only five races were considered, not every driver was keen or under obligation to participate in every Grand Prix. Dan Gurney was the first driver to attempt each and every race and manage an entire season without a non-finish.

The American racer drove for Porsche and despite not scoring a win, he claimed the third position in the driver’s standings by the end of the year. He competed in every race but scored points in only five, accumulating a total of 21 which he shared with Stirling Moss. It was the best Formula One season for Porsche where they finished in third place.

#2 Richie Ginther – 1964

Richie Ginther
Richie Ginther

Richie Ginther drove for BRM in 1964, which was incidentally his last year with the team before switching to Honda. He ended the 1964 season with 23 points, sharing fourth place with Lorenzo Bandini as he managed to secure a podium finish both in Monaco and Austria.

That year, ten Grands Prix were held, from which the best six results contributed towards the championship standings. Despite not winning the title, Gunther managed to complete all ten races, securing points in only six races.

A solid team player nonetheless, the American came very close to winning the title in 1963 as he eventually finished second. He competed in every race and scored 29 conclusive points, despite retiring in France and South Africa.

#3 Michael Schumacher – 2002

Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher won his fifth driver's title in 2002

2002 was one of the years in which Michael Schumacher made sure to earn every accolade that was up for grabs. The German won his career’s fifth driver’s title in the most bullish fashion, standing on the podium in each of the seventeen races run that season.

The seven-time world champion won eleven races and achieved his championship trophy with Ferrari by scoring almost double the points of teammate Rubens Barrichello who finished runner-up. The both Prancing Horse drivers were separated by 67 points.

Michael remained untouchable throughout the entire season, clinching the championship title in France, with six Grands Prix still to go.

#4 Nick Heidfeld – 2008

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Previews
F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Previews

Nick Heidfeld completed the 2008 Formula One season without a single retirement and ended up sixth in the driver’s standings. He drove for BMW Sauber and helped the team secure third place in the constructor’s championship.

In 2008 we witnessed a closely fought battle between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa for the championship trophy, with the former securing the title by a single point. Even Kimi Räikkönen and Nick’s teammate, Robert Kubica were in the mix for a while, both ending the year by scoring 75 points.

Nick finished behind the duo with 61 points and finished runner-up in four out of the 18 Grands Prix organised that year.

#5 Kimi Räikkönen – 2012

2012 FIA Gala Prize Giving Ceremony
2012 FIA Gala Prize Giving Ceremony

In his comeback year to Formula One, Kimi Räikkönen ensured a finish in each of the twenty races that he participated in. He stood on the podium’s top step only once in Abu Dhabi but scored points in all Grands Prix except China, where he was running in second place before his tyres lost performance.

While Sebastian Vettel won his third driver’s title, the season concluded with the Finnish driver claiming third in the championship standings. Driving for Lotus, Kimi managed a stellar comeback, even ensuring a fourth place for his team in the constructor’s championship. This aided the Iceman’s decision to continue driving for Lotus in 2013.

#6 Max Chilton – 2013

F1 Grand Prix of Russia
F1 Grand Prix of Russia

Max Chilton guided his car to the finish line in each of the 19 races that were organized during his debut season without scoring a single point. The British driver retired for the first time in his Formula One career at the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix, completing 25 races without retiring.

After two seasons without scoring any points, Max was left without a seat for the 2015 season and so he turned to IndyCar series and World Endurance Championships. His best finish in 2013 came in Monaco where he finished 14th.

That year saw Sebastian Vettel claim his fourth driver’s title, his last with Red Bull Racing while Chilton finished last in 23rd.

#7 Daniel Ricciardo – 2016

F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Practice
F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Practice

2016 was a strong season for Daniel Ricciardo. He completed the year in third place, only behind the two dominant Mercedes drivers, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Out of the 21 races that were organized that year, the Australian scored points in all, barring one in Russia. His race was hampered by collision damage that the Red Bull incurred on the first lap.

The Red Bull Racing driver emerged victorious in Malaysia and earned podium finishes on seven other occasions. The Milton Keynes based outfit remained the only team to win Grands Prix in 2016 besides Mercedes, with Daniel and Max Verstappen claiming one apiece. Eventually, Daniel finished the season with 256 championship points.

#8 Lewis Hamilton – 2017

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi
F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton won his fourth driver’s title in 2017 and he was assisted in his championship winning run by the fact that he scored points in each of the 20 races that were a part of the F1 calendar.

The Briton was in a closely fought battle with rival Sebastian Vettel throughout most of the year, but Lewis’ performances in the second half of the season helped him clinch the title. The Mercedes driver triumphed at nine Grands Prix and his worst result of the season was 9th in Mexico.

Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon almost managed a perfect finish record for 2017. However, Bottas retired in Spain, while Romain Grosjean ran into Ocon’s Force India at the Brazilian Grand Prix, forcing his retirement.

Edited by Rajdeep Puri


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