Twenty different drivers have won with the team, with seven of them also taking titles, but who is their greatest ever driver and who makes the top 10?
Motorsport.com have kindly ranked McLaren’s top 10 drivers, considering their success with the team and the impact they had based on their circumstances. Their records for other teams are not accounted for.
So without further ado, here’s who makes the top 10!
10. David Coulthard – 12 wins in 150 starts
The Scot was McLaren’s longest-serving driver, and after joining from Williams in 1996, he secured the team’s first wins in more than three years at Melbourne and Monza in 1997. Coulthard finished third in the Drivers’ Championship three times and was runner-up in 2001.
9. Jenson Button – 8 wins in 136 starts
Joining Lewis Hamilton for the 2010 season, Button actually scored more points over their three seasons together, while the former took more wins. In 2011, he finished runner-up in the Drivers’ Championship while his fellow Brit could only secure fifth place.
8. Kimi Raikkonen – 9 wins in 87 starts
The recently retired Finn may have won his F1 title with Ferrari, but he still achieved success with McLaren after joining in 2002. He finished just two points behind Michael Schumacher in the 2003 season, and while Ferrari were unstoppable the following year, he still secured a victory over the German despite a gearbox glitch at Spa.
7. Emerson Fittipaldi – 1 title and 5 wins in 28 starts
Fittipaldi shocked the racing world when he moved to McLaren in 1974 after winning the Championship with Lotus. In Gordon Coppuck’s M23, the Brazilian held off the likes of Niki Lauda to take the crown in his first year with the team. The following year, his four second places could only lead to second position behind the Austrian.
6. James Hunt – 1 title and 9 wins in 49 starts
Hunt got his big chance after number seven on this list made a shock switch to his brother’s team. The Englishman got the most out an ageing M23 and, after Lauda’s horrific crash, took advantage of his absence to set up a dramatic finale and took the 1976 title by a single point.
5. Niki Lauda – 1 title and 8 wins in 58 starts
Lauda returned to F1 after McLaren boss Ron Dennis relentlessly chased the retired double world champion, and the Austrian proved he still had it. His partnership with Alain Prost allowed the duo to win 12 of 16 races in the MP4/2. Lauda’s second place in the Portuguese GP gave him the Championship by half a point over his French companion.
4. Lewis Hamilton – 1 title and 21 wins in 110 starts
Hamilton’s six years at McLaren were not quite as successful as his time at Mercedes, but a sensational rookie season and the 2008 championship still rank him in the top half of this list. Despite an error in the pit-lane at Montreal, and having one win less than Felipe Massa, the Stevenage-born phenom still took home the 2008 title.
3. Mika Hakkinen – 2 titles and 20 wins in 131 starts
McLaren’s MP4-13 was the fastest car of 1998 and Hakkinen used the advantage well. Despite the team’s asymmetric braking system being banned, he beat Schumacher to the championship title after winning the Japanese GP. Success followed again the next year after Schumacher broke his leg at Silverstone, Hakkinen taking the title again even though Ferrari won the Constructors’ Championship.
2. Alain Prost – 3 titles and 30 wins in 107 starts
Alongside Lauda, the super duo had great success, winning 12 of 1984’s 16 races. Prost won the 1985 title, before repeating his success the following year after taking advantage of the Nigel Mansell-Nelson Piquet scrap. He then battled with teammate Ayrton Senna for the title over the next years, winning his third McLaren title in 1989 after the Brazilian was excluded from the Japanese GP.
1. Ayrton Senna – 3 titles and 35 wins in 96 starts
The Brazilian will forever be associated with McLaren after winning all three of his Championships with the team. He scored more wins and poles than Prost, and was ultimately the reason he left the team. Senna won his first championship with McLaren in 1988, and repeated his success in 1990 despite crashing into Prost’s Ferrari in Japan. He held the title again in ’91 after making the most of what he had to beat out a significant Williams-Renault threat. Senna ultimately had some brilliant wins and titles in a golden era for the McLaren squad.