Motorsport in general and Formula One in particular depends on good and capable machinery to achieve the best possible results. However the emphasis on the driver is never lost. To extract performance from the car is what separates the good from the bad ones. So here’s our top 10 Formula One solo seasons, celebrating the incredible performances from drivers all year long. These drivers had a stellar season compared to their teammates.
Nelson Piquet won the 1981 Championship in the Gordon Murray designed Brabham BT49C. He pipped Carlos Reutemann by 1 point. Piquet scored 3 victories and 7 podiums that year amassing 50 points. Teammate Mexican Héctor Rebaque could only score 11 points and even failed to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix. It was one of Nelson Piquet Sr’s greatest Formula One solo seasons, bagging a title was a bonus.
2. MICHELE ALBORETO 1982
In his first full season, Alboreto drove his Tyrell in a spectacular form scoring 25 points, a third place at Imola and a victory at the USA. His teammates, on the other hand, failed to score even a single point. Michele’s 25 points helped Tyrell achieve 2nd place in the constructor’s table.
3. HEINZ-HARALD FRENTZEN 1999
Frentzen was Williams’ No. 1 guy when he arrived at the team. His performance suffered against Villeneuve but moving to Eddie Jordan’s eponymous team saw a stark difference in him. In 1999, Frentzen scored 6 podiums including 2 victories for the team. He fought with Mika Hakkinen for the Drivers Champion title till the penultimate round. While Frentzen scored 54 points, teammate Damon Hill paled in comparison scoring only 7 points. Outscoring a former world champion made this one of the most memorable Formula One solo seasons.
4. EMERSON FITTIPALDI 1972
Driving for the Colin Chapman led Lotus, Fittipaldi scored 5 wins and 3 podiums. All these were achieved in 12 races to win the championship by scoring 61 points. His teammate David Walker failed to score any points. He holds the unwanted record as the only World Champion teammate to not score any points in a full season.
5. ALESSANDRO NANNINI 1989
In 1989, Italian Nannini raced for the Benetton team. He drove the old B188 before the introduction of the B189. Nannini put in consistent drives all through the year giving front runners like McLaren and Ferrari, a run for their money. Nannini scored 32 points courtesy 4 podiums and a win in the scandalous 1989 Japanese GP. Teammates Johnny Herbert and later Emanuele Pirro scored only 7 points among themselves.
6. SEBASTIAN VETTEL
When Toro Rosso switched to a new car STR3 after Turkey, Vettel’s performance improved suddenly with him scoring points in the 9 races out of the remaining 13. His stand out performance was a wet weather pole and win in Monza. It helped the sister team outscore the parent Red Bull team. Vettel’s performance was in stark contrast to teammate Sebastian Bourdais who bore the lion’s share of reliability but managed to score only 4 points.
7. JOCHEN RINDT 1970
The Chapman designed Lotus 72C was fast but fragile. But Rindt amassed a great lead over the others before his death in the Italian Grand Prix. With four races to go, teammate John Miles scored only 2 points. Miles claimed that his car had been mechanically neglected because of favouritism towards Rindt.
8. FERNANDO ALONSO 2012
In his 3rd year at Ferrari, Alonso once again all on the basis of his own merit wrangled everything out of his ill-handling F2012 to take the championship fight down to the wire. Scoring 13 podiums from the season’s 20 races Alonso eventually lost out to the superior Red Bull of Vettel by 3 points. Teammate Felipe Massa, by the way, scored less than half of Alonso’s tally and could only finish on the podium twice.
9. MICHAEL SCHUMACHER 1997
With 91 race wins throughout his career, My Top Sportsbooks are expecting Michael Schumacher be inducted to the F1 Hall of Fame in 2017. In only his second season with Ferrari, Schumacher drove the errant Ferrari 310B to two victories and three further podiums keeping himself in contention for the title until the penultimate round. Although Schumacher was later on disqualified that nullified his 78 points, it definitely overshadowed teammate Eddie Irvine’s performances who could only manage 24 points in that season.
10. AYRTON SENNA 1993
The 1993 MP4/8 powered by Ford engines was an underpowered car when compared to its rivals especially the class leading active suspension shod Williams FW15C. However Senna still scored 5 victories with the car. Teammate Michael Andretti however struggled throughout the season and got involved in a number of crashes and scored only a single podium in Italy in his last race for the team. He was replaced by the young Mika Hakkinen who also scored a 3rd place in the penultimate race in Japan. The total points of the two stood at 11 points compared to the Brazilian maestro’s 73.