2015: MAX VERSTAPPEN

Model produced by: Spark

Year: 2015
Driver: Max Verstappen (Netherlands)
Team: Toro Rosso Renault
Car: Toro Rosso STR10

In 2014 Red Bull shocked the F1 world with announcing than 17 years old Max Verstappen will drive for their junior team Toro Rosso in 2015. Many doubted this decision, claiming he is far too young an inexperienced. Others argued that if he can be competitive, F1 has become to easy. In January 2015, even before the season stared, the FIA launched a new super licence system for Formula One, raising the age limit to 18 from the 2016 season onwards.

Verstappen became the youngest driver to start a World Championship race by joining the sport a year before this licence restriction, in his Grand Prix début as a full-time driver at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix at the age of 17 years, 166 days – breaking Jaime Alguersuari’s existing record by almost two years. In this first race, Verstappen won points-scoring positions until he was forced to retire due to an engine failure. However, at the subsequent race in Malaysia, Verstappen qualified sixth and finished the race in seventh place, scoring his first Formula One points aged 17 years, 180 days, breaking the record of youngest driver to score World Championship points. Since every F1 driver will have to be 18 years old from now on, this record will stay unbroken.

Despite some inevitable rookie mistake Verstappen immediately showed a lot confidence and controlled aggression behind the wheel and he started to prove he is a world champion material with some breathtaking overtaking. He scored 10 points scoring finishes despite unreliable Renault engine, with best finishing position 4th in Hungary GP and heavy rain influenced United States GP. He finished his rookie season in 12th place.

2015: SEBASTIAN VETTEL

Model produced by: LookSmart

Year: 2015
Driver: Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
Team: Ferrari
Car: Ferrari SF15-T
Results: 3 wins, 13 podiums, 1 pole, 1 fastest lap (season still in progress)

After 4 championships and dismal 2014 season Sebastian Vettel left Red Bull to join Ferrari – a team which also suffered one of the worst seasons in their history in 2014.

Mercedes started the 2015 season like they finished the previous one – in dominant fashion – which they already showed at pre-season testing. However, surprise came as early as on the 2nd race of the season. In hot conditions of Malaysia Ferrari surprised Mercedes and the F1 world – Vettel won his 2nd race for Ferrari with better tyre life and one pit stop less then faster Mercedes.

In Hungary, the 10th race of the season, Mercedes drivers locked out the front row, but Ferraris had the better start, with Vettel taking the lead into first corner. He controlled the race to the finish line and won.

Vettel’s third win came in Singapore, the night race where he usually excels. Mercedes strangely lacked pace, so he took the first and only non-Mercedes pole position of the season, dominated the race from the start to finish.

2012: KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN

Model produced by: Spark

Year: 2012
Driver: Kimi Räikkönen (Finland)
Team: Lotus F1
Car: Lotus E20
Results: 1 win, 7 podiums, 2 fastest laps

The Dark Knight rises. After two year of racing in World Rally Championship Kimi Räikkönen returned to F1 with Lotus. Therefore season featured a record 6 world champions on the grid. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Kimi Räikkonen (Lotus), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Jenson Button (McLaren) and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull).

Despite not having the fastest car (McLaren & Red Bull had that benefit), Räikkönen drove a very consistent comeback season, something not even Michael  Schumacher  managed in a Mercedes for three seasons in a row. Räikkönen finished the season in 3rd, right behind Vettel and Alonso who fought for the title until the last race, and ahead of the two faster McLarens. Räikkönen won in Abu Dhabi, stood on the podium 7 times and clocked 2 fastest laps.

In Monaco, he raced with replica of James Hunt’s helmet from 1976. A tribute to the times when F1 was pure racing.

2008: SEBASTIAN VETTEL

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 2008
Driver: Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
Team: Toro Rosso Ferrari

Note: September 14, 2008 was the day when Sebastian Vettel became the youngest race winner in F1 history. He was 21 years and 73 days old. The day before he also became the youngest pole sitter in F1 history. To make his success even greater, he achieved this in a Toro Rosso, which is former Minardi. Minardi team was known for spending years in F1 and always driving at the back of the grid. Vettel brought his team the very first pole position and win with a dominating performance on a rainy weekend at Monza. Have a look!

2007: SEBASTIAN VETTEL

Model produced by: Minichamps (Paul’s Model Art) 

Year: 2007
Driver: Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
Team: BMW Sauber
Car: BMW Sauber F1.07

Vettel became BMW Sauber third driver at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix, when former incumbent Robert Kubica was called up to replace Jacques Villeneuve for the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix. On his testing debut, Vettel set the fastest time in the second Friday Free Practice before the race. In his second testing session in the 2006 Italian Grand Prix, he set the fastest time in both Friday practice sessions.

Vettel was confirmed as BMW’s test driver for 2007. Following the serious crash of regular BMW driver Robert Kubica at the Canadian Grand Prix, Vettel substituted for him at the United States Grand Prix. He started his first ever F1 race in seventh position on the grid, finishing in eighth position to take his first World Championship point and at that time became the youngest driver ever to score a point in Formula One at the age of 19 years and 349 days (his record was later broken by Max Verstappen who was only aged 17 years and 180 days when he finished 7th at 2015 Malasian Grand Prix). A couple of weeks later BMW released Vettel to join Red Bull’s Scuderia Toro Rosso team where he soon impressed F1 world with solid performances. (Source: Wikipedia)

1985: AYRTON SENNA

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1985
Driver: Ayrton Senna (Brazil)
Team: Lotus Renault

After showing his talent in his debut season, especially at 1984 Monaco GP which was affected by heavy rain, Ayrton Senna joined Team Lotus for 1985 season. At the second round of the season, the Portuguese Grand Prix, Senna took the first pole position of his Formula 1 career. He converted it into his first victory in the race, which was held in very wet conditions, winning by over a minute. Senna added his second victory, again in the wet, at the Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and was quickly becoming the “King of Rain”. Senna finished the season 4th in the driver rankings. In terms of qualifying, however, Senna had begun to establish himself as the quickest in the field: his tally of seven poles that season was far more than that of any of the other drivers.

See the joy of Brazilian commentator when Senna won his 1st race

See Senna’s comment


1982: GILLES VILLENEUVE

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1982
Driver: Gilles Villeneuve (Canada)
Team: Scuderia Ferrari

Gilles Villeneuve, one of the most popular F1 drivers, known for his aggresive driving style, died on May 8, 1982, after crashing with the March of Jochen Mass at 225 km/h during the final qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. The accident came less than two weeks after an intense argument with his team-mate, Didier Pironi, over Pironi’s move to pass Villeneuve at the preceding San Marino Grand Prix. At the time of the crash, Pironi had set a time 0.1s faster than Villeneuve for sixth place. Villeneuve was using his final set of qualifying tyres, which were probably already past their best, and many writers say that he was attempting to improve his time on his final lap.

At the time of his death, Villeneuve was extremely popular with fans and has since become an iconic figure in the history of the sport. The number 27, the number of his Ferrari in 1981 and 1982, is still closely associated with him by fans. Villeneuve is still remembered at Grand Prix races, especially those in Italy. At the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the venue of the a corner was named after him and a Canadian flag is painted on the third slot on the starting grid, from which he started his last race. There is also a bronze bust of him at the entrance to the Ferrari test track at Fiorano. At Zolder the corner where Villeneuve died has been turned into a chicane and named after him. The racetrack on Ile Notre-Dame, Montreal, host to the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix was named Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in his honour.

See BBC’s report on his fatal crash

See more, but in French …