This season could be interesting if Hamilton wins the final race of the season and Rosberg finishes 2nd or 3rd as you would have the unusual situation where the driver with most wins during the season isn't champion. Hamilton would have 10 wins to Rosberg's 9.

What I want to know is has this happened in previous seasons and can you give me some more detail?

I am aware of 2008 when Hamilton won the title with 5 wins to Massa's 6 - but Hamilton actually won the Belgian GP that year but was given a penalty that handed Massa the win, so you could argue he won the most races that season. Or at least he saw the chequered flag most times.

7 Answers 7


A similar case happened during the 1982 season, where five drivers (Didier Pironi, John Watson, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, Rene Arnoux) shared the most number of wins with two wins each, while the eventual champion (Keke Rosberg) only had one.

The circumstances behind the championship were quite bizarre, though, as Pironi suffered a career-ending accident during the German GP, five races before the end of the season. Before then, he was leading the championship comfortably.

Compared to the multiple retirements and non-scoring finishes shared between the multiple race-winners, a consistent points haul throughout the season by Rosberg played a huge part in his title victory.


It happened in 1967.

Jim Clark won four of the eleven Grands Prix but Denny Hulme was the eventual champion with only two wins.

This is in part due to Jim Clark failing to finish four races, while Denny Hulme only failed to finish twice and scoring points in all nine other races.


It happened a surprising number of times in the 1980s. In addition to 1982, as cited already, it also happened in: 1983 (Prost 4 wins; Piquet champion with 3 wins); 1984 (Prost 7 wins; Lauda champion with 5 wins); 1986 (Mansell 5 wins; Prost champion with 4 wins); 1987 (Mansell 6 wins; Piquet champion with 3 wins); 1989 (Senna 6 wins; Prost champion with 4 wins).

Going much further back in history to what has long been the most famous example, in 1958 Stirling Moss scored 4 wins but Mike Hawthorn took the title with just 1 win.

In addition to scoring the most wins without taking the title in 1967, as cited previously, the great Jim Clark also did so in 1964, with 3 wins compared to the 2 of John Surtees, who won the title.


In addition to the various instances I cited above, I forgot another one that has been regarded for many years as a classic example: 1977, when Andretti scored 4 wins but Lauda took the title with 3. It's seen as a classic example because Andretti was in the season's outstanding car (the Lotus 78, Colin Chapman's first foray into ground effect, which he would perfect the following year with the Type 79), but he also had a large number of reliability issues and in fact would ultimately finish only third in the championship, while Lauda concentrated on racking up the points in his less advanced but more reliable Ferrari 312T2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1977_Formula_One_season


Across all these examples, there are basically two distinct types: first, the ones such as Lauda in '77 where a driver is not in the best car but gets the maximum possible out of it and wins the title through stealth (the absolutely supreme example of this is usually considered to be Prost in '86, when his McLaren MP4/2 was a three-year-old design but he beat the drivers of the dominant Williams-Honda to the title). The other, less well-regarded type is where the world champion takes the title with fewer wins than his own team-mate. The reasons are variable but reliability usually plays a part. In this respect, Lauda's '84 title was less impressive than his '77 one, as he had 2 wins fewer than his McLaren team-mate Prost, but fewer reliability issues. The worst example is probably Piquet in 1987, who only won half the number of GPs won by his Williams team-mate Mansell but had considerably fewer reliability issues and also got away with various mid-race spins and other driving errors. Even the three wins Piquet managed were all inherited, despite having the most dominant car, but he still took arguably the luckiest title in F1 history! It puts the arguments about Rosberg's this year into perspective although Nico's title does undoubtedly fall into this second less impressive category.


Not sure if he is the one winning more races without being champion, but Nigel Mansell won 7 races in 1986 to lose the title to Alain Prost because, at the last race, in Adelaide, he had a bad rear wheel puncture at approximately 300 Kph on a straight line that he luckily and skillfully saved to end into a huge crash.

  • Mansell only won five races that year, not seven - but you're right, he did win the most races that year.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 8:29

The existing answers mostly mention one or two examples, but there has yet to be a comprehensive answer that mentions every example. So, from the top:

  • 1958: Mike Hawthorn won the title but Stirling Moss won the most races (4 to Hawthorn's 1). 3rd-placed Tony Brooks also won more races (3) than Hawthorn.
  • 1964: John Surtees won the title but Jim Clark won the most races (3 to Surtees' 2).
  • 1967: Denny Hulme won the title but Jim Clark won the most races (4 to Hulme's 2).
  • 1977: Niki Lauda won the title but Mario Andretti won the most races (4 to Lauda's 3).
  • 1979: Jody Scheckter won the title but Alan Jones won the most races (4 to Scheckter's 3).
  • 1982: Keke Rosberg won the title, but no less than five drivers (Didier Pironi, John Watson, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, and René Arnoux) won more races than him (2 to Rosberg's 1).
  • 1983: Nelson Piquet won the title but Alain Prost won the most races (4 to Piquet's 3).
  • 1984: Niki Lauda won the title but Alain Prost won the most races (7 to Lauda's 5).
  • 1986: Alain Prost won the title but Nigel Mansell won the most races (5 to Prost's 4).
  • 1987: Nelson Piquet won the title but Nigel Mansell won the most races (6 to Piquet's 3).
  • 1989: Alain Prost won the title but Ayrton Senna won the most races (6 to Prost's 4).
  • 2008: Lewis Hamilton won the title but Felipe Massa won the most races (6 to Hamilton's 5).
  • 2016: Nico Rosberg won the title but Lewis Hamilton won the most races (10 to Rosberg's 9).

As Lister Jaguar noted, this was very common from the late 70s through to the late 80s, due to a combination of increased competitiveness and lower reliability.

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