Formula 1's top 5 debut seasons
After the usual suspects like Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Vettel the most followed drivers on the grid are the rookies. Everybody is excited as to how the new lad will perform. Although having performed well in the feeder series such as GP2, Formula Renault 3.5 (a necessity if you have to make it into F1, on most occasions even if you have lots of cash), it is not a given that he will be able to live up to the demands of the pinnacle of motorsport.
But when one does and outruns everybody’s expectations, he becomes a true star. Such was definitely the case with Lewis Hamilton when he missed out on the championship by just a single point. Apart from Hamilton, there have been others who have put in equally good performances during their debut season and here we take a look at them:-
Most fans will be able to identify themselves with Hamilton the most, so it is appropriate that we begin with him. And why not. A spectacular record of 4 wins, 6 poles and 12 podiums- 9 of them being in his first 9 races! Had it not been for the intra-team battles at McLaren, he could have become the first and only rookie champion till date. Many would argue that he had the fastest car most of the time but still being a match to the defending double-world champion is no walk in the park. Although he was the victim of some rookie mistakes such as running into the gravel at the pit-entry in China, nobody can belittle his stupendous achievements during that year.
He raced in only 8 of the 13 races during the 1970 season and still came 3rd in the championship, just 7 points behind teammate Jacky Ickx who competed in all the races. He stood on the podium 4 times with one of them being a win- the best that a rookie could ever imagine: for Ferrari at Monza in front of the adoring Tifosi. Had Regazzoni competed in all the races of the season, he definitely would have given Ickx as well as Rindt a run for their money. Another guy who had the golden opportunity to become world champion in his very first season.