Best F1 Driver Debuts Ever

  • Mark Webber drove Minardi to 5th place on his first F1 race
  • Johnny Herbert finished 4th on his F1 debut only six months after his big accident
  • Lewis Hamilton got a podium finish on his first ever Formula 1 race in 2007
best F1 driver debuts ever

George Russell could have won his first Formula 1 race replacing Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes but he wasn’t lucky this time. It would have been an amazing debut for the young Brit driving a Silver Arrow. But his performance was still impressive. Just like the following drivers in our list of the best F1 driver debuts ever. 

Driving in Formula 1 is a totally new experience for every driver. Even for more experienced and successful drivers in other categories. So taking part in the first Formula 1 race will be a memorable moment for everyone. But some of them could make an impression even on their first occasion and finish in a great position. But even a great start didn’t mean a successful career in the sport as we can see in some cases. While other drivers could continue in similar form and even become one of the greatest drivers of all time.

Best F1 driver debuts ever

7. Mark Webber

The Australian driver started his career at the team of Minardi which was one of the smallest teams in the sport’s history. Still, it was loved by many fans who could witness a small miracle in 2002. As Webber managed to drive his car to the fifth place on his first ever Formula 1 race on home soil in the Australian Grand Prix. Thanks to a big crash in the beginning of the race when eight cars had to retire. But the Aussie’s performance was superb and earned the first points for Minardi since 1999. It was just the start of a successful career for Webber in which he won 9 races and finished 3rd in the world championship three times.

6. Jean Alesi

best F1 driver debuts ever
Jean Alesi – Matti Blume, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jean Alesi had a tough job to jump into a Formula 1 car in the middle of his F3000 season without any major preparation. The French debuted in the French Grand Prix in 1989 driving for Tyrrell-Ford. He started from the 16th place but made rapid progress and at one point he was driving in the 2nd place. At the end he finished the race in 4th place only seven seconds off the podium. Alesi could get points in two other races in the season and joined Ferrari in the following year. He was very popular among the Tifosi and Charles Leclerc can be as well. Online sportsbooks in Italy hope for a better result next season with the team finishing only in 6th place in the  2020 constructors’ championship.

5. Johnny Herbert

Johnny Herbert also joined F1 from F3000 but in a more dramatic way. As the British driver suffered a huge crash in 1988 sustaining severe ankle and foot injuries. He still made his Formula 1 debut in the next season on the Brazilian Grand Prix driving for the Benetton team. Herbert couldn’t walk properly and needed help to get in and out of the car but he could finish 4th on his first race. His circumstances definitely makes his drive one of the best F1 driver debuts ever.

4. Kevin Magnussen

In the best F1 driver debuts we can find Lewis Hamilton and Kevin Magnussen who both finished in third place in their first ever F1 race

The current Haas driver had his first race in 2014, at the age of 22. Many people were surprised after his signing as he replaced Sergio Perez in the team. But the Danish Formula Renault 3.5 championship winner silenced his critics on his first race in Australia. As Magnussen outqualified his teammate, Jenson Button and started from 4th place. In the race he had a good pace and finished third just 2 second behind Daniel Ricciardo. What’s more, after Ricciardo was disqualified from the race, he was promoted to second place. Sadly the rest of his career hasn’t gone so well, he will leave F1 at the end of the season.

3. Lewis Hamilton

best F1 driver debuts ever
Lewis Hamilton – Google, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Now 7-time world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved a great result even on his first race, back in 2007. He was the GP2 champion and one of the most exciting new talents. He became the teammate of 2-time world champion Fernando Alonso at Mclaren. But Hamilton could handle pressure from the beginning of his F1 career and overtook Alonso in his first corner at the Australian GP. He was even leading the race for a few laps and finished third eventually. It was the start of a brilliant career which can continue in the 2021 F1 season with more victories. But Hamilton is likely to miss the last race in Abu Dhabi this weekend. In his absence Bottas and Verstappen are favored to win by online gambling sites in Italy. 

2. Jacques Villeneuve

The Canadian joined Formula 1 in 1996 after winning the CART championship and the Indianapolis 500 race the year before. The Williams pilot had a superb start in F1 too after taking the pole position on his first race in Australia. He was fighting with his teammate, Damon Hill all along the race. But he had to settle for second place due to an oil leak. But Villeneuve didn’t have to wait long for his first victory, which he got on his fourth race in Nurburgring. He became world champion in the following year but couldn’t achieve similar successes later.

1. Giancarlo Baghetti

One of only three Formula 1 drivers who could win his first ever F1 race is Ferrari driver Giancarlo Baghetti. But the other two drivers, Nino Farina and Johnnie Parson won the first ever F1 race and the Indianapolis 500 race in 1950 against other debutant drivers. So Baghetti achieved the biggest success on his official F1 debut when he won the French Grand Prix in 1961. Even his way of winning was special as he passed Dan Gurney’s Porsche just 100 metres from the finish. But this victory was the Italian’s only win as he was struggling with other teams later.

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