When Daniel Ricciardo triumphed at the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 12, 2021, it ended a personal win drought of 66 races, one of the longest among the 111 drivers in history with multiple victories.
The win was the first for McLaren in 3,213 days, but that’s a list for another day. And, yes, a few of the drivers on this list deserve asterisks after having stepped away from Formula 1 only to return and add to their career wins list.
Here’s the list of drivers who waited the largest number of Grands Prix between trips to the top step of the victory podium:
Regazzoni won with Ferrari at Long Beach in early 1976 but his relationship with the outfit deteriorated and at the end of the year he left. Two seasons followed in uncompetitive machinery, with Ensign and Shadow, before he joined the blossoming Williams squad for 1979. Regazzoni won Williams’ home race at Silverstone that year, giving the team its maiden victory. It also proved to be the last of five career F1 wins for the Swiss driver.
McLaren won the 1962 Monaco Grand Prix with Cooper but then faced a six-year wait for his next Grand Prix triumph in Formula 1. He came close on occasion, four times finishing runner-up, but the prolonged wait for the next victory eventually ended in Belgium in 1968, and with his own eponymous team. It was the first championship victory for McLaren—and another 182, and counting, have since followed.
The first of two appearances for Räikkönen on this list, although this one gets an asterisk. Räikkönen picked up Ferrari’s sole win in Belgium in an uncompetitive 2009 for the team and departed at season’s end. He spent two years in World Rally prior to returning in 2012 with Lotus, winning in Abu Dhabi, having famously radioed the team to leave him alone. A total of 60 Formula 1 races passed in that time though to Räikkönen’s credit he only participated in 22 of them.
Ricciardo dominated Formula 1’s visit to Monaco in 2018 with Red Bull but failed to add to his win total prior to leaving the team at the end of the year. Two seasons followed in Renault colors, but the team remained rooted in the midfield, restricting Ricciardo to just two podiums. Ricciardo joined McLaren for 2021 but endured a modest first half of the year until a standout display at Monza ended his and the team’s lengthy drought.
Herbert was teammate to Michael Schumacher during Benetton’s 1995 title-winning campaign and twice won, but was replaced for 1996, instead finding refuge at midfield team Sauber. After three years, Herbert switched to Sir Jackie Stewart’s team and claimed a shock win from 14th on the grid at a rain race at the Nurburgring. It was one of only three points finishes for Herbert in the whole 1999 season.
Watson took the first, and only, win for Roger Penske’s short-lived Formula 1 team in Austria in 1976 and after two years with Brabham he joined a McLaren team that was in the doldrums. After a couple of trying seasons Watson triumphed on the team’s home turf at Silverstone in 1981 in the MP4/1, the first victory for a carbon fiber monocoque car.
Andretti took his first championship win in Kyalami in 1971 with Ferrari but it would be over five years prior to his next victory. However, during that period Andretti raced in multiple series, prioritizing USAC, and such missed several Grands Prix. After signing up with Lotus in 1976 and recommitting to Formula 1, Andretti scored a win at the season-ending rain-drenched Fuji round.
Barrichello partnered with Michael Schumacher throughout Ferrari’s dominant years and aptly filled his role as number two. His final win with Ferrari came upon Formula 1’s first visit to China, in 2004, and a spell with Honda yielded little in the way of results. Honda’s collapse after 2008 almost ended Barrichello’s career but he was retained after Ross Brawn rescued the operation. Brawn then shocked the paddock, winning both titles, with Barrichello returning to the top step at Valencia and Monza in 2009, as teammate to eventual champion Jenson Button.
Patrese was victorious in 1983’s finale at Kyalami but thereafter endured difficult seasons with Alfa Romeo and Brabham that were derailed by chronic unreliability. A move to Williams in 1988 coincided with a miserable year for the team but its move to Renault power for 1989 rejuvenated its prospects and Patrese returned to the podium. Finally, at Imola in 1990, Patrese added a second career victory to his name. In terms of time duration, at six years, six months and 28 days, it is the longest gap on the calendar between victories.
Räikkönen is back on the list. He won 2013’s opener in Melbourne for Lotus and returned to Ferrari in 2014, just as the team regressed. Räikkönen was effectively cast as support act to Sebastian Vettel for four seasons and victory remained elusive on several occasions. In that period of 114 races Räikkönen scored 30 podiums, showing his speed, but the last step remained elusive. Finally, Räikkönen converted at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin in 2018 to take another win, which proved to be his final F1 victory, ahead of his impending retirement.
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