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On the occasion of the summer break, Max Verstappen (Red Bull) is 80 points ahead of Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), his closest rival. Given the trend of the first part of the season, the Dutchman could see himself being titled in the United States. That is 6 Grand Prix before the end of the 2022 season.
In this context, the editorial staff of Auto-Moto.com has produced a subjective top 5 of the drivers who have won the drivers’ championship the earliest in a season.
Michael Schumacher-Ferrari 2002
Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher Photo credit – Icon Sport © Grand Prix Photo
This year is synonymous with the Ferrari-Schumacher hegemony. The German is the only driver not to experience any withdrawals throughout the season, in addition to finishing exclusively on the podium except in Malaysia (2nd round of the championship) where he finished 4th.
Scuderia Ferrari is racing in the 2022 championship. Only Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW) and David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) manage to snatch a victory for the reds.
Up front, the Red Baron gave his teammate Rubens Barrichello no chance. We remember in particular the scandal of the Austrian Grand Prix, where Jean Todt asked the Brazilian, then in the lead, to slow down to give victory to Michael Schumacher.
The latter won 11 of the 17 races (64.7%) and gleaned his 5th title on July 21, 2022, during the Grand Prix de France 6 rounds from the end of the season.
Nigel Mansell – Williams 1992
Nigel MansellPhoto credit – Icon Sport © PA Images
After several years of McLaren domination, Williams manages to recover the torch, in particular thanks to a car stuffed with electronics which crushes the competition.
Nigel Mansell, ultra easy at the wheel of his Williams easily won the first 5 Grand Prix of the season, ensuring him a comfortable lead. In total, the Briton won eight of the ten races of the season. The latter ends up being crowned in Hungary, 5 events before the end of the season.
Mansell’s performance is impressive. But it is the accumulated tensions between him and Sir Frank Williams that drive the end of the season. The sulphurous mustachioed would demand a salary increase, which the leader of the team did not receive well. The following year, the latter was replaced by Alain Prost.
Michael Schumacher-Ferrari 2004
Mick Schumacher Photo Credit – Icon Sport © PictureAlliance
The 2004 season got off to a flying start for Michael Schumacher who won the first 5 races of the season, equaling Nigel Mansell’s record in 1992.
This beginning of the season is synonymous with the domination imposed by the red baron, after a slightly more complicated year in 2003. This time, no one is able to challenge him, with 7 wins in a row after his retirement in Monaco. Of the 18 races on the program, the German finished on the podium 15 times, including 13 times on the top step.
He thus won his seventh world title, the fifth in a row, 4 races from the end of this year which will close the Schumacher-Ferrari hegemony.
Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull 2013
Sebastian Vettel Credit Photo – Icon Sport © Hoch Zwei
The 2013 season was the high point of Sebastian Vettel’s career. The German’s association with Red Bull left no chance for Ferrari or McLaren, who since 2010 have been vying for the drivers’ and constructors’ titles.
That year, the context and the dynamics were favorable to the Red Bull driver who was the outgoing triple world champion. What marks the spirits is the disconcerting with which Sebastian Vettel crushes the competition (68.4% of victories).
The native of Heppenheim beat this season the record of his idol, Michael Schumacher, by winning 9 consecutive victories (Belgium, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, India, Abu Dhabi, USA and Brazil).
This blatant domination, especially against Alonso (his main rival this season), assured him of winning his last and fourth world title at the Indian Grand Prix, ie 3 races before the end of the championship.
Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes 2020
Lewis Hamilton Photo credit – Icon Sport © XPB
Usually organized in March, the start of the 2020 season was delayed to July due to the Covid-19 crisis. These several months of confinement have not disturbed the preparation of Lewis Hamilton.
The driver misses a single test after testing positive. Apart from that, he does not count any abandonment, but 17 finishes on the podium 11 on the highest step. The ratio is impressive in the same way as he obtained during the Turkish Grand Prix (3 races before the end of the season): a seventh world crown.
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Who in the history of Formula 1 managed to win the drivers’ championship the earliest in the season?