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The top 10 youngest race winners in F1 history

For most, the ages of 18 to 22 are spent studying at university or perhaps earning their first wage out in the real world. But for Formula 1 drivers, it is a different story.

While most of us were still trying to figure out what we wanted to do with our lives, these drivers had not only decided but had already reached the pinnacle of the sport by winning an F1 race.
While the top 10 tends to skew more towards the modern era (the four youngest are all still racing today) a special mention should be made of the three drivers to complete the feat in the 1960s and 1950s respectively.

With that in mind, Planet Sport takes a look back in time at the top 10 youngest drivers ever to have won a Formula 1 race.

10. Jacky Ickx  - France 1968

Age: 23 years, six months and six days

Two years on from his debut season, Belgian Jacky Ickx became the first from his country to win a race.

The scene was a soaking wet Rouen-Les Essarts, the last time the track was used, and he lined up third on the grid behind Jochen Rindt and Jackie Stewart. But, what should have been a day of jubilation for Ickx…became a day of mourning.

Ickx took the lead early on but behind him, Jo Schlesser saw the rear end of his Honda rip off and send him hurtling into the bank.

The car landed upside down and instantly set ablaze as the fuel tank began to leak onto the exhaust pipes. There was no chance to save the Frenchman and he died inside the cockpit.

The race would resume but a heavy atmosphere hung over the rest of the proceedings.

A sombre Ickx would go on to win but the day would always be remembered for the tragic death of Schlesser. As a mark of respect, Honda withdrew from the sport, and did not return for 38 years until 2006.

9. Robert Kubica - Canada 2008

Age: 23 years, six months and one day

Having finished no lower than fourth in all but one of the races in the 2008 up to that point, Robert Kubica headed to Canada hoping to make his homeland proud as the first Polish driver ever to race in Formula 1.
His weekend started strongly as only Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren was faster than him in qualifying - but luck was on Kubica's side during the race itself.

Hamilton got away well and was building a lead until Adrian Sutil parked his car off the track after a gearbox failure. It caught fire and out came the Safety Car leading to a mad dash into the pits.

Hamilton led both Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen going into the pits but came out before the pair of them.

With the pit-lane exit closed, Raikkonen waited alongside Kubica at the red light but Hamilton did not notice this until too late as he skidded into the back of the Ferrari driver.

Hamilton's future team-mate Nico Rosberg then went into the back of the McLaren as both Raikkonen and Hamilton were forced to retire.

This paved the way for Kubica to take the lead but then came a period of seven different race leaders. In the quick BMW Sauber, Kubica eventually built an unassailable lead to go on and take his first race win at the age of 23.

8. Kimi Raikkonen - Malaysia 2003

Age: 23 years, five months and six days

For a man who only retired last year, it seems crazy to think Kimi Raikkonen's first race win came back in 2003.
Having finished third at the opening race in Australia, Raikkonen made a poor start to the weekend as he could only put his McLaren seventh on the grid, three places behind team-mate and Championship leader David Coulthard.
As the race began, Coulthard raced with the leaders but soon Michael Schumacher clipped Jarno Trulli, all but eliminating both of them from the race. Still Raikkonen was not among the podium sitters but soon his team-mate was out with an electrical problem. The
Finn eventually moved up into second as he chased down Fernando Alonso.
Carrying a lighter fuel load, Alonso was forced to pit before the Finn and Raikkonen made the most of it. By the time he had pitted and returned to the track, he was ahead of the Spaniard. From then on it was plain sailing and Raikkonen would go on to finish half a minute ahead of the rest of the pack.
It was a memorable race for another F1 veteran as Alonso earned the first pole and podium of his career.

7. Lewis Hamilton - Canada 2007

Age: 22 years, five months and three days
The first of Lewis Hamilton's record-breaking 103 Formula 1 wins came in Montreal during his debut season in the sport. He had exploded on the scene in a manner rarely seen in sport let alone the pinnacle of motor racing.
In his first five races for McLaren, he finished no lower than third and went from being a young prodigy to genuine title contender. But still that maiden win had eluded him for the time being.

As the teams headed to Canada for the sixth round of the championship, Hamilton trailed Alonso and it was the two who lined up on the front row with the young Brit taking pole.

Having taken P1 in qualifying for the first time in his career, Hamilton held off the attack of Alonso until the Spaniard went wide and onto the grass.

Hamilton led until lap 26 when Kubica hit the back of Jarno Trulli and he drove into the grass and over a bump which launched him into a concrete wall.

Three of the wheels as well as the nose broke loose from the car and Kubica miraculously came away with just a sprained ankle and a concussion.

The next stage of the race was a series of Safety Cars with the first being deployed after Kubica's crash and then another cleared up debris caused by Christijan Albers.

On lap 55, Vitantonio Liuzzi caused the third Safety Car of the race by crashing into the wall of champions.

All this meant that Hamilton was enjoying a relatively relaxed drive up front with Alonso battling in the midfield and just Nick Heidfeld and Alexander Wurz were able to give chase.
Hamilton would go on to cross the line first and while he may not have won the Championship that year, the maiden race win at the age of 22 was a sign of what he would go on to achieve in the sport.

6. Bruce McLaren - USA 1959

Age: 22 years, three months and 12 days

The founder of one of the sport's most storied teams began his own F1 career in 1958 when he competed in the annual racing event, the New Zealand Grand Prix.

He may have been forced to retire but his performance was enough to impress and he was selected as the first recipient of the New Zealand International Grand Prix organisation's 'Driver to Europe' scheme.

He raced in F2 until 1959 when he joined the Cooper F1 team and earned his first win at the United States Grand Prix.

With some teams opting not to make the trip due to the costs involved, it gave others an opportunity but the focus was on the front where Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss or Tony Brooks could all take the title in the final race.

Meanwhile, McLaren qualified in 10th but when Moss retired in lap five with a gearbox failure, it left Brabham in the lead.

However, his luck was not any better as just a few hundred metres before the end, his car gave out. All the while, McLaren had been making his way up the grid until he was behind his team-mate when he rolled to a stop.

McLaren zoomed past to win while Brabham pushed his car over the line and assured a title win.

5. Troy Ruttman  - Indianapolis 1952

Age: 22 years, two months and 19 days

Troy Ruttman's win comes with a slight caveat. From 1950 to 1960, the Indianapolis 500 counted as a round of the World Championship so drivers like Ruttman, who were predominantly race car drivers rather than F1 drivers were given points.
However, the convention was that these drivers would not go on to compete in the rest of the rounds whilst it was also rare for F1 drivers to take part in the Indy 500.

So in 1952 when Ruttman won the Indy 500, he became the youngest driver to ever win a World Championship race, a record he held until 2003 when Fernando Alonso beat him.

One record that he does still hold is the youngest winner ever of the Indy 500, beating Joe Dawson's previous 1912 record.

To Ruttman's credit, he would go on to participate in another F1 event when he finished 10th in the 1958 French Grand Prix, becoming the first Indy 500 winner to compete in another F1 race.

4. Fernando Alonso - Hungary 2003

Age: 22 years, zero months and 26 days

As the then-youngest pole sitter and podium finisher, it seemed only a matter of time before Fernando Alonso became the youngest race winner.
That time came at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix where he delivered such a comfortable performance, you could have been forgiven for thinking this was a man with 100 wins under his belt and not one chasing his first.
Starting on pole, the 22-year-old Spaniard could not have dreamed of a better start as he broke clear of the chasing pack almost immediately. Indeed, no one aside from Raikkonen was able to put in any kind of challenge to Alonso in his Renault and soon he had built a nearly unassabile lead.
As a sign of his dominance, Alonso would go on to lap Michael Schumacher before finishing 17 seconds clear of Raikkonen. With the victory, Alonso not only became the first Spaniard to win a race but also the youngest winner ever, a record he held for five years.

3. Charles Leclerc - Belgium 2019

Age: 21 years, 10 months and 16 days

Just as Jacky Ickx's first race win was marred in tragedy, Charles Leclerc's was too. On the weekend of the Belgian Grand Prix, Leclerc's close friend Anthoine Hubert lost his life after a crash in the F2 race on the Saturday.
A day later, Leclerc was handed the monumental task of putting that to the back of his mind and competing in Sunday's grand prix.
He had put his Ferrari on pole, a spot ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel and the German battled Hamilton early on in the race, allowing Leclerc to build up a lead at the front.
The two long-time rivals fought until Max Verstappen clipped Raikkonen and out came the Safety Car. After the resumption, Leclerc again pulled away whilst Vettel and Hamilton jostled for position behind him.
While those behind him continued to battle, Leclerc produced an accomplished drive of a racer 10 years his senior. As he crossed the line, he waved to the crowd before dedicating the race to his lost friend, simply saying "this one is for Anthoine."

2. Sebastian Vettel - Italy 2008

Age: 21 years, two months and 11 days

Sebastian Vettel himself has described what happened in Monza in 2008 as a "miracle." The Toro Rosso car had no right to challenge for a podium, let alone a race win, but that is exactly what the 21-year-old German did.

In treacherous conditions, Vettel put the unfancied Toro Rosso, which was using an engine spec from the previous year, on pole before producing an expert performance of control in wet weather.

With cars crashing into each other behind him, Vettel was able to not only keep the car on track but to keep it at the front of the pack.

His victory not only made him the youngest driver to win a race but also gave Toro Rosso their first win in the sport.

Despite the rain, the achievement was celebrated widely by both the team and the fans who were delighted to see an Italian side win their home race.

1. Max Verstappen - Spain 2016

Age: 18 years, seven months and 15 days

Picture the scene. It's early May 2016 and an 18-year-old Max Verstappen has just retired from the Russian Grand Prix due to a power unit failure when he receives a call from his boss Christian Horner informing him of a decision that would change his life.

Verstappen's ascension into the Red Bull hot seat was one everyone saw coming but perhaps not even he would have predicted to arrive so soon.

He had already secured the accolades of youngest entrant in an F1 race as well as the youngest points scorer (two records he still holds) but his career took another step on its meteoric rise when he was announced as the replacement for Daniil Kvyat at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The two Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton lined up on the front row of the grid but when they took each other out, it paved the way for the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen to take the lead behind the Safety Car.

With the charging Ferrari of Vettel in his rear view mirror, it became a battle of strategy between the two teams.

Ricciardo came in first, making Verstappen the first Dutchman to ever lead a race, before the 18-year-old pitted a lap later. Vettel pitted in lap 16 but came out behind the two Red Bulls.

Still, the four-time World Champion charged after the scampering Red Bulls and by lap 28, it was time for another round of pit stop chicken.

Ricciardo came in first and Vettel did two laps later but it soon became clear that both Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen were running different strategies so opted to stay out longer than their team-mates.

Verstappen pitted in the 35th lap with Raikkonen following a lap later. Soon a gap had been built between the two front-runners, and Vettel and Ricciardo leaving one of the oldest drivers on the grid to battle for the race win with the youngest.
The Finn closed the gap to within one second but Verstappen held him off until he crossed the finish line, becoming the first Dutch winner and the youngest race winner in Formula 1 history.

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