Formula One is one of the most popular and followed sports around the globe. The high level of attention and exposure of the sport has certainly inspired few event companies to offer services and activities, such as pit stop challenges, to help other businesses improve their employees’ performance and make them a team player.
But the F1 sport has a glorious history of different teams, rivalries and emotions, and it is worth knowing a little about it. As the popular saying goes “experience is everything”, right?
However, we wish this was true in the world of Formula One sport, especially when we have had athletes who have defied the odds right from the beginning of their career. And there have been so many amazing rookie seasons over the years to prove this right.
This article tells you about the top three most impressive rookie F1 drivers of all time.
#3: Jackie Stewart, 1965
Imagine being thrown in at the deep end and put in one of the best cars on the track against the man who has won a world championship. Not only is this situation overwhelming but it is also one of the most standout instances in the history of F1.
Well, this is exactly something Sir Jackie Stewart did during his debut F1 season of 1965.
Stewart was signed by BRM to partner the 1962 world champion Graham Hill. He was expected to act as a decent backup for Hill, but the viewers got to witness something else. Sir Jackie hit the ground running and scored a point in very his first race in South Africa before standing on the podium in Monaco in the next round.
After 3 more podium finish in his next 4 races, before his incredible win at Monza, Stewart was just a point behind Hill with two races remaining. He stood third overall. However, Jim Clark won the championship that year. Nevertheless, Stewart’s future success was written after that year as he moved to Tyrrell for 1968 and won 3 championships in six seasons.
#2: Jacques Villeneuve, 1996
Villeneuve is a last name that certainly gives goosebumps to F1 fans, as two top drivers have shared that surname in the same sport. Gilles is known to be one of the fastest drivers to have ever driven a F1 car and one of the best to never win the title.
His son, Jacques, on the other hand won this in 1997 but right after his debut season in 1996 that saw him go so close to the champion’s trophy. After he won the Champ Car series in 1995, Villeneuve shifted to Formula One and began his career in the Williams team who had the dominant car of the season.
In fact, Jacques would have won in his first race if it weren’t his team orders to allow Damon Hill through and the Canadian later fading due to an oil leak. He secured his first win at the Nurburgring in his fourth race and added three more wins to his tally before the end of the season.
During the final round in Japan, he had an outside shot for the title as he was just 9 points behind Hill with 10 to play for. But, it just wasn’t to be as Jacques’ day unravelled when one of the wheels of his car detached midway through the race effectively handing the title to Hill. however, he had an amazing first term in Formula One.
#1: Lewis Hamilton, 2007
Hamilton’s first season in Formula One is statistically the best for any driver in the history of the sport. There is no driver who won the Drivers’ World Championship in their first season, but Lewis came closest to it and missed out the title by a single point in the end.
Fernando Alonso, the Double World Champion who joined Mclaren in 2007 was partnered by Hamilton who had been a junior driver in the team since he was a teenager. Hamilton began this season with 9 straight podium finishes (setting a record) and the led the championship after Spain (Round 4) at the age of 22 (another record).
During this season, he also set the record for the most pole positions (6) for any debutant, most wins in a debut season (4) and the most points in an opening season (109).