Two of the oldest teams in Formula One racing, McLaren and Ferrari have won a combined 51 World Championships between them, but neither constructor has celebrated a title since 2008.
In past decades two said teams have battled for the top prizes in F1 however in more recent years the pair have played second fiddle to Mercedes and Red Bull.
2021 witnessed a captivating dual for P3/P4 in the World Constructors’ Championship. As the two most successful teams in the history of F1 battled it out. Ferrari and McLaren always carry the heavy expectation of challenging for titles however in the last decade that was far easier said than done.
After dominating the sport for much of the 1980s and early 90s, McLaren fell off midway through the final decade of the century, before Ron Dennis' team added a further three honours to their trophy cabinet in 1998-99. While McLaren collected 16 world titles during the 80s-90s Ferrari were merely spectators, winning just three titles in 20 years (each of them the Constructors’ Championship in 1982, 1983 & 1999) and were without a world title for four years before the death of Enzo Ferrari in 1988.
McLaren and Ferrari’s fierce rivalry dates back almost 50 years, particularly to when Ferrari lost out on both championships to McLaren-Ford in 1974. Emerson Fittipaldi bagged his second Drivers’ crown by just three points over Ferrari's Clay Regazzoni, and McLaren beat Ferrari by eight points in the team standings to win a maiden Constructors’ Championship for Bruce McLaren‘s team.
The following year Ferrari won their third WCC and first in 11 years as the duo of Regazzoni and Niki Lauda comfortably steered the Prancing Horse clear of Brabham and McLaren by almost 20 points, as Lauda claimed his maiden WDC by 19.5 points over Fittipaldi.
1976 will always be recognised as one of the most gruelling and intense championship battles, not just for McLaren and Ferrari but for the entire sport. Lauda lost the Drivers’ title by a single point to James Hunt of McLaren.
The Ferrari-McLaren rivalry took a backseat for a couple years as Ferrari struggled to get things right following raging success in the mid-to-late 70s through Lauda and later South African Jody Scheckter – with three Drivers’ and four Constructors’ Championships for the Italian team from 1975-79.
Ferrari completed a double-Championship in Scheckter's first season in red but the team went on to end second-last (P10 of 11 teams) in 1980 with a total eight points, before rising to P5 the next year on 34 points.
Starting with Scheckter's triumph there were four consecutive maiden F1 champions until 1982, a feat that would not repeat itself for the next 27 years.
Ferrari and McLaren-Ford then renewed their rivalry as the team from Maranello edged their Woking counterparts by five points to win a 7th WCC in 1982, despite a driver from neither team winning the Drivers' equivalent.
Ferrari defended their crown in ’83 but what was to come would blow away the Prancing Horse for as long as a decade-and-a-half.
Lauda came out of retirement in 1982, signing for McLaren. Two years later McLaren ended its 18-year partnership with Ford and the team name was altered to McLaren-TAG.
Under its new guise the team won 12 of 16 races in 1984 and despite Lauda winning two races fewer than teammate Alain Prost, the Austrian racer clinched his third and final WDC by half a point over his opposite number at McLaren, which to date remains the smallest margin of championship victory in F1.
After losing two successive titles by two points or fewer, Prost finally got his hands on the WDC in 1985 and the Frenchman also successfully defended his crown the following year, pipping Nigel Mansell by two points. Lauda retired (again) and was replaced at McLaren by Keke Rosberg – father of Nico – but he, too, hung up his gloves after the 1986 season.
In 1988 Ayrton Senna moved from Lotus to McLaren-Honda, completing a star-studded lineup alongside Prost. The Brazilian won the WDC in his first season after overcoming his teammate by a mere three points.
McLaren struggled to maintain a sustainable long-term engine supplier and went through three new partnerships from 1988-94. Honda, Ford and Peugeot all came and went from the Woking base,
before the team settled with a Mercedes power unit in 1995 for two decades until 2014.
With the best two drivers on the grid both driving for the same team, McLaren were simply a class above the rest and the results attest to that. McLaren won 15 of 16 races in 1988 – eight by Senna and seven by Prost.
The high-profile pairing remained intact for just two years before a fallout between Prost and Senna after the two clashed on lap 46 of the 1989 Japanese GP which handed Prost the championship and also resulted in the Frenchman leaving for Ferrari, where he teamed with Mansell in 1990.
Now racing for different teams, Senna and Prost went at it again for the grand prize in 1990, which ended with Senna taking the title by seven points. McLaren won seven Drivers’ and six Constructors’ titles in the space of eight years, including four double-championships on the spin between 1988-91. Senna stayed with McLaren until the end of 1993, when he signed for Williams.
By this time Ferrari’s next superstar was already on the grid, they just did not know it yet. Michael Schumacher made his F1 debut with Benetton-Ford in 1991, and the German driver made his name known up and down the paddock.
22-year-old Schumacher ended P3 in 1992 and P4 the following year, before clinching consecutive World Championships in 1995-96. In 1994 Schumacher teamed with Jos Verstappen, father of current world champion Max Verstappen.
It was around this time that another future world champion was starting his F1 journey, as Mika Häkkinen spent his first full season with McLaren-Peugeot in 1994.
Ferrari had been struggling in the early 90s and went two years winless from 1992-93. After the retirement of defending champion Prost at the end of the 1993 season, and the untimely death of Senna in May 1994, Schumacher soon became the hottest property in the sport.
Schumacher switched from Benetton to Ferrari in 1996, while McLaren recruited David Coulthard to team with Häkkinen.
Schumacher was disqualified from the 1997 Championship after colliding with defending Drivers' champion Damon Hill during the season-ending European GP. Schumacher ended three points adrift of champion Jacques Villeneuve before the Ferrari driver was disqualified outright from the WDC.
Häkkinen scooped two Drivers’ titles at the back end of the 20th century, 14 points ahead of Schumacher in 1998. The following year Häkkinen won by two points over Eddie Irvine, Schumacher’s teammate at the time after the German broke his leg on on the opening lap of the 1999 British GP. Despite losing out on the WDC, Ferrari came away as Constructors’ winners in '99.
Häkkinen and Coulthard teamed together from 1996 until the end of 2001, after which the Finn retired and was replaced by fellow countryman Kimi Räikkönen who was just 23 at the time.
In 2000 Schumacher became Ferrari's first Drivers' champion in 21 years since Scheckter and all 17 races were won by either McLaren or Ferrari – a feat that would be reverberated in 2007.
Ferrari asserted their dominance at the turn of the century, finishing in the podium places at all 17 races in 2001. The following year Ferrari won 10 races in a row, with the Prancing Horse on the top step in a total 15 of 17 races.
In the 2003 season Räikkönen finished runner-up in the Drivers’ championship, missing out on the title by only two points as Schumacher claimed a fourth consecutive WDC, and record sixth overall.
Ferrari ruled the grid as they secured double-Championships in five seasons straight from 2000-04, with Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello leading the charge for the Prancing Horse.
Räikkönen and Coulthard were retained until the end of 2004 thereafter Coulthard moved to debuting team Red Bull Racing. Juan Pablo Montoya filled the vacant seat at McLaren but halfway through the 2006 season left the sport for NASCAR, and was replaced by Pedro de la Rosa.
Come 2007 neither Räikkönen nor de la Rosa remained with McLaren. The title-hopeful former signed for Ferrari to replace the retired Schumacher, as Räikkönen teamed with Felipe Massa for three years during which time each driver had a fair shot as Ferrari’s primary title challenger.
At McLaren a driver overhaul saw the Woking team recruit two-time defending Drivers' champion Fernando Alonso and rookie driver Lewis Hamilton who made his F1 debut at the 2007 Australian GP, aged 21. 2007-08 saw Ferrari and McLaren take turns winning the Drivers' title, beating one another by a single point in consecutive years.
The racing world was rocked by an espionage scandal which saw McLaren disqualified from the 2007 WCC and slapped with a hefty $100m fine for allegedly copying components of Ferrari's F2007 car.
Räikkönen won the Drivers' Championship in 2007 by one point over the McLaren pair who scored 109 points apiece. Räikkönen took the chequered flag at the season-ending Brazilian GP to clinch his first title and the Finn remains Ferrari's most recent world champion.
In 2008 the title was again decided by a showdown at Interlagos, this time McLaren came out on top. Alonso had returned to Renault, leaving McLaren to prioritise Hamilton as their #1 driver.
Hamilton won the 2008 WDC in sensational circumstances as the young Briton famously passed Toyota's Timo Glock into P5 on the final lap, with four points enough to deny race-winner Massa the Championship in his home country of Brazil.
Aged 23 years & 1 month, Hamilton became the youngest F1 world champion, four months younger than Alonso was at the time of his maiden title celebration. To date this is McLaren’s last world title, and the same can be said for Ferrari who claimed the Constructors' Championship that year.
Räikkönen took a sabbatical starting in 2010 as Alonso moved to Ferrari and narrowly missed out on two world titles to Sebastian Vettel, in Alonso’s first and third seasons in red. Ferrari were ultimately snubbed of three Drivers’ Championships in the space of five years, by a combined eight points.
2008 - Massa lost to Hamilton by 1 point.
2010 - Alonso lost to Vettel by 4 points.
2012 - Alonso lost to Vettel by 3 points.
2009 champion Jenson Button drove for McLaren in 2010 after he failed to agree a deal with Mercedes – the new guise of reigning Constructors' champions Brawn GP. The driving force of Button and Hamilton at McLaren was significant for several reasons – one being the duo were the two most-recent world champions at the time, two being a rare all-British lineup, and three being the first double-champion pairing in F1 since 1989, which also came at McLaren through Prost and Senna.
McLaren, however, were unable to tame the raging Red Bull, with Vettel at the forefront to become the new youngest champion of the world – aged 23y 4m – as Christian Horner's team would go on to win four successive double-Championships until 2013.
Schumacher returned to the grid in 2010, not to drive for Ferrari but rather for the debuting Mercedes AMG. In 2013 Hamilton swapped McLaren for Mercedes – replacing Schumacher – leaving Button to drive alongside 23-year-old Mexican driver Sergio Pérez, previously of the Ferrari Academy.
After the 2014 season McLaren ended its 20-year association with Mercedes, switching to a Honda power unit come 2015 and this coincided with the team's worst dip going back three-and-a-half decades.
McLaren had last finished outside the top five of the WCC for four successive years from 1978-81, and history repeated itself as they ended P6 and P9 twice each from 2015-18, collecting 195 points across four seasons. In context, McLaren scored 378 points in 2012 alone, and 497 the year prior.
Alonso returned to McLaren where he and Button struggled, scoring a combined 27 points in 2015 and 75 points the following year. Button was replaced by 2015 F2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne, but he and Alonso mustered only 30 points in 2017.
McLaren retained both drivers for the next season but changed engine suppliers once again, dropping Honda for Renault in 2018.
There were several administrative changes amongst the McLaren hierarchy sparked by Ron Dennis walking away from the McLaren Group midway through 2017, after 37 years at the Woking factory, the same town Dennis originally hails from.
American marketing tycoon Zak Brown joined McLaren as executive director in late 2016 and was promoted to CEO of McLaren Racing in April 2018. In May 2019, German engineer Andreas Seidl was appointed as McLaren team principal.
Ferrari have also undergone personnel changes in recent years following the team's period of success under the stewardship of Jean Todt and Ross Brawn in the early 2000s. Todt was appointed director at Ferrari in 1994 and became the first non-Italian to lead the Scuderia. In 2004 Todt was named Managing Director and two years later was elevated to CEO at Ferrari.
Todt remained with the team until the end of 2008 and a year later he was elected President of the FIA, replacing the now-deceased Max Mosley. Todt's third and final term concludes at the end of this year and there have been widespread rumours of a return to Ferrari for the Frenchman.
Stefano Domenicali was named principal ahead of the 2008 season and remained in the position for seven years. Ferrari were not as successful as they would have wanted and Domenicali was shown the door at Maranello. Domenicali more recently took up the post of Formula 1 CEO in early 2021.
With Ferrari desperate for rapid progress, Maurizio Arrivabene took over the role of team principal starting in 2015. Ferrari were ten years without a title when Arrivabene was ousted from the Ferrari set-up. Ferrari's chief technical officer, Mattia Binotto succeeded Arrivabene with Binotto promoted to team principal and managing director in early 2019.
Alonso and Massa teamed together for four years at Ferrari under Domenicali, before the returning Räikkönen replaced Massa in 2014, and Vettel was signed for the 2015 season as Alonso departed from the Scuderia. Ferrari mounted two serious title challenges towards the end of Vettel's and Räikkönen's 4-year partnership, but Mercedes generally steamrolled their opposition in the new turbo-hybrid era from 2014 onwards.
Räikkönen was replaced by Charles Leclerc in 2019, with the Finn and the Monegasque trading seats at Ferrari and Alfa Romeo/Sauber.
In 2019 Ferrari finished in the podium places for 13 consecutive races but it was nowhere near enough to thwart Mercedes from celebrating a sixth straight Constructors' crown, as the Silver Arrows finished 235 points above runners-up Ferrari.
2020 was a year to forget for Ferrari who finished outside the top four teams for the first time since 1981, and the Prancing Horse came P6 with 131 points. In what was his last year with the team, Vettel experienced a nightmare season with the SF1000 chassis as the German gathered just 33 points and ended 13th in the driver standings – his worst-ever finish in a 14-year career.
2020 was especially bad for the Tifosi as their foes at McLaren appeared to be rising from the ashes after an awful few years, taking P3 in the WCC. McLaren had a driver overhaul which saw Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr replace Alonso and Vandoorne in 2019. Upon signing for the team, Norris and Sainz boasted an average age of 21 years & 9 months.
Sainz swapped his blue McLaren overalls for Ferrari red in 2021, and in doing so was the fifth driver to switch Woking for Maranello – after Gilles Villeneuve, Gerhard Berger, Prost and Räikkönen. Sainz also became just the third Spanish driver at the Italian team after Fernando Alonso and Alfonso de Portago (mid-1950s).
McLaren returned with a Mercedes engine in 2021, after six years away from the German power unit. Daniel Ricciardo replaced Sainz and the Aussie‘s victory at Monza in September was a massive statement by McLaren who emerged victorious at Ferrari’s home GP for the first time since 2012 and just a ninth time in 38 years. Ricciardo became McLaren's first race winner since Jenson Button at Brazil in 2012. Norris finished right behind his teammate to complete the team’s first 1-2 finish since 2010 in Canada.
Two races later Norris took his maiden Pole in Russia, aged 21 years & 316 days, to become the fifth-youngest polesitter in F1 history behind the quartet of Vettel (21y 72d), Leclerc (21y 165d), Alonso (21y 236d) and Max Verstappen (21y 307d).
Norris was on course for his maiden victory before the heavens opened and the McLaren was found sliding off the track after refusing to change for intermediate tyres with just a handful of laps to go. Norris was denied victory as Hamilton took his 100th win. Ricciardo ended P4 with Norris P7 at the Sochi Autodrom.
The unexpected 1-2 finish at Monza would ultimately be the last time McLaren make an appearance on the podium, with no top-3 finishes in the final eight races of 2021. McLaren did however deliver their best points finish in nine years since Button and Hamilton racked up 378 points in 2012.
Sainz finished in the points for 15 consecutive races from the Styrian GP in June until the season finale at Abu Dhabi in mid-December, where the Spaniard came P3 behind title protagonists Verstappen and Hamilton.
In his first year with Ferrari, Sainz finished P5 in the WDC with 164,5 points – essentially the best of the rest after the two Mercedes’ and Red Bulls. Leclerc could only muster a P10 finish in Abu Dhabi which meant Norris snubbed Leclerc for P6 in the Championship by a solitary point, 160 to 159. Ricciardo ended P8 on 115 championship points.
Despite going two seasons without a win for the first time in 28 years, Ferrari finished above their bitter rivals as Mattia Binotto’s red army topped Zak Brown’s papaya orange McLaren by 48,5 points in the 2021 WCC.
Since the current point-scoring system came into effect from the 2010 season, Mercedes AMG have collected the most points of any F1 team with 6 060,5.
Red Bull Racing have won 5 372,5 points and Ferrari have fetched a total 4 618,5 points in that 12-year period.
McLaren have accrued just 2 687 points since 2010 following their blip which plagued half the decade.
Mercedes or Red Bull have claimed every Championship since 2010 and as we approach a new era in the sport the duo are yet to be knocked off their perch by Ferrari, McLaren or anybody else.
McLaren vs Ferrari in Formula One Wins Podiums WDC WCC
1980s 46-18 112-72 5-0 4-2
1990s 43-28 116-107 4-0 3-1
2000s 41-85 131-192 0-6 0-7
2010s 18-28 49-142 0-0 0-0