Formula 1: How many drivers have ever led the standings? – Beyond the Flag

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Formula 1 (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles Leclerc earned his and Ferrari’s first Formula 1 victory since the 2019 season by winning the 2022 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday.
Leclerc led a 1-2 finish for the Scuderia ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. after a late fuel pump issue led to the retirement of Max Verstappen, Red Bull’s reigning world champion who had spent much of the race in second place.
After starting from the pole position and leading 55 of 57 laps in the season opener around the 15-turn, 3.363-mile (5.412-kilometer) road course in Sakhir, Bahrain, Leclerc took the checkered flag and now finds himself atop the driver standings for the first time in his career.
If not for a late mechanical issue, he could have found himself atop the standings after the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix, the second race of his first season in Ferrari red. Three years later, the one that got away came back to him.
A total of 771 drivers have competed in at least one Formula 1 race, so this is no small feat. Leclerc is the first new points leader since Verstappen took the lead of the standings after winning last year’s Monaco Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco. Verstappen went on to become the 34th world champion.
Prior to Verstappen, Formula 1 hadn’t seen a new points leader since Valtteri Bottas, then driving for Mercedes, became the 63rd with his season-opening victory in the 2019 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit. Bottas is one of 30 (31 including Leclerc) drivers to have led the standings but never won a world title.
Among active drivers, six drivers have led the standings at some point: Leclerc, Verstappen, Bottas, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso.
Can Leclerc become the 35th different driver to win a world championship? The 23-race 2022 season is scheduled to continue this Sunday, March 27 with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Tune in to ESPN at 1:00 p.m. ET for the live broadcast of the race, and don’t forget to start your free trial of FuboTV today!
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