Finishing on the podium for the first time is a big milestone for any Formula 1 driver, but occasionally, it takes several years for them to return to the top three.
Chances are, if an F1 driver scores their first podium, a second isn’t too far away. But, that’s not the case for everyone, as this list proves…
So, let’s take a look at the F1 drivers with the longest gaps between their first and second podiums.
Austrian racer Alexander Wurz had a very unusual career in F1, breaking into the sport as a replacement for the ill Gerhard Berger at Benetton in 1997. In only his third race, at Silverstone, he finished third to score the first podium of his career.
He raced for Benetton full-time from 1998 to 2000, before moving to McLaren as a test driver for several years. This, obviously, meant he wasn’t racing in F1 but he did make a return in 2005, subbing for Juan Pablo Montoya at McLaren after he was injured.
Wurz finished fourth in the San Marino Grand Prix, but Jenson Button’s disqualification elevated him to third, scoring his second F1 podium – seven years, nine months and 11 days after his first.
Quite a wait…
He then went to Williams as a test driver for 2006 before moving into a race seat for 2007, scoring one podium in Canada.
Back in the 1950s, the Indianapolis 500 was part of the Formula 1 schedule, and because it’s always been held pretty much on the exact same day, there was a gap of exactly five years between Jim Rathmann’s first and second podiums.
The American racer only competed in the Indy 500 and finished second in 1952, before matching the result in 1957. This means his F1 podiums are five years apart. He went one better and win the race in 1960, giving him his first and only F1 victory.
Jackie Oliver should arguably have scored better results in F1, but his best finishes were a pair of third places, which were four years, 10 months and 20 days apart. He scored his first podium in Mexico back in 1968 for the Lotus team.
But, after several seasons struggling with unreliable and uncompetitive cars, he picked up his second podium finish in 1973 with Shadow at the Canadian GP. He went on to form and start the Arrows F1 team, selling his last shares in 1999.
Jean-Pierre Jarier has one of the smallest gaps between his first and second F1 pole positions, just 14 days, but he had one of the largest waits to pick up a second podium. His first was scored at the 1974 Monaco Grand Prix, at the wheel of his Shadow car.
But, another podium didn’t come soon after, and Jarier had to wait four years, nine months and five days before he returned to the top three, at the 1979 South African Grand Prix, driving for Tyrrell. It was his penultimate podium in the sport.
He may have been nicknamed ‘Quick Nick’ but it took the German driver three years, 11 months and 19 days to score a second podium finish. His first was at the 2001 Brazilian GP, driving for midfield runners Sauber.
But, Sauber wasn’t as competitive in his next two seasons, and a difficult year at Jordan followed in 2004 before he switched to Williams for 2005. Big things were expected and while the team wasn’t a consistent front-runner, Heidfeld returned to the podium.
He scored his second F1 podium in Malaysia with third place, before finishing runner-up in Monaco and at the Nurburgring, before Williams started to struggle towards the end of the season.
Driving for the struggling Prost team, a podium finish looked incredibly unlikely for Jarno Trulli during the 1999 season. But, then the European GP happened. It was absolutely bonkers, with leading contenders dropping out, retiring and making mistakes.
The Stewart team’s Johnny Herbert emerged from the mayhem to win and Trulli was second, scoring his first-ever F1 podium. Trulli then joined Jordan for the next two seasons and while he was often quick in qualifying, he failed to return to the podium.
A switch to Renault improved his fortunes but it took him until his second season with the team, in 2003, to score another podium – with third at the German GP. That gives him a gap of three years, 10 months and eight days between his first and second podium finishes.