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Formula 1

The most iconic driver-engineer partnerships in F1 history

RacingNews365 has taken a look back at some of the most iconic driver-race engineer partnerships in F1 history, after the news of Charles Leclerc splitting with Xavi Marcos Padros.

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To news overview © XPBimages

Outside of the drivers and team principals, quite often, the person fans will most often hear over a grand prix weekend is the driver's race engineer. 

It might even be that the voice becomes so familiar, you could recognise it without ever actually having seen the engineer in question, but down the years, as team radio has become a more ingrained part of F1, the radio transmissions have led to some of the engineers becoming minor celebrities in their own right. 

Charles Leclerc is to lose his Ferrari engineer Xavi Marcos Padros with immediate effect from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, as he will now focus on other projects within Ferrari, with Bryan Bozzi set to take over. 

With that in mind, RacingNews365 has rounded up five of the most iconic driver-engineer partnerships, starting with the most successful.

Lewis Hamilton and Peter Bonnington

Peter Bonnington is in a unique situation among F1 race engineers, having worked with the two seven-time world champions the series has seen. 

He was race engineer to Michael Schumacher in his final season of 2012, and maintained the position when Lewis Hamilton joined in 2013.

Hamilton-Bonnington is the most successful partnership in F1 history with 82 wins and six world championships - but it could be coming to an end after the 2024 season. 

Hamilton is off to Ferrari for next season, and Bonnington's future is unclear. There is a non-compete clause in Hamilton's contract that prevents him from outright taking the man known as 'Bono' with him - who would have to resign and apply for a suitable vacancy at Ferrari if he wants to continue working with Hamilton. 

Iconic line: "Okay, Lewis, it's hammertime!"

Charles Leclerc and Xavi Marcos Padros

Padros has been Leclerc's engineer at Ferrari since the Monegasque's debut for the team at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, engineering him to his five wins to date. 

But given his re-deployment to elsewhere within Ferrari's racing machine, it has come to an immediate end, with third in Miami last time out the final outing for the pair. 

As Ferrari struggled with strategy and operations at times, Padros's requests for feedback for different strategy plans became common, although under Frederic Vasseur's leadership this has become less frequent. 

His replacement, Bozzi is another long-time Ferrari employee who has stepped up to the race engineering role. 

Iconic line: "Stand by, we are checking."

Max Verstappen and Gianpiero Lambiase

Like an old married couple, Max Verstappen and Gianpiero Lambiase have worked together since the former's promotion to Red Bull ahead of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

All of Verstappen's 58 wins and three world titles have come under Lambiase's tenure as he has re-written the record books, although the Brit-Italian keeps his driver on a tight lease and accepts no-nonsense over the radio. 

Verstappen-Lambiase is currently 24 wins behind Hamilton-Bonnington and three titles - and given he already looks to have the 2024 title wrapped up, and 2025 will be a continuation of this season, it could be a new partnership out-front in the future. 

Iconic line: "I'm not just sitting behind driving like a grandma!"

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Sebastian Vettel and Guillaume Rocquelin - Rocky

The original Red Bull partnership. 

Sebastian Vettel and Guillaume Rocquelin - known as Rocky - walked so Verstappen and Lambiase could run. 

The two had a similar relationship to their successors, with Vettel often keen to push for the fastest lap in the closing stages, just because he could and wanted to prove a point, much to Rocquelin's chagrin.

The partnership yielded 38 wins and four championships as Vettel would become the youngest-ever world champion in 2010 aged just 23. It is a record he holds to this day.

Iconic line: "Just you wait sunshine, just you wait. Du Bist Weltmeister!"

Felipe Massa and Rob Smedley

The OG pairing. 

When Felipe Massa joined Ferrari in 2006, his original engineer was Gabriele Delli Colli, but the Brazilian was struggling and so Middlesborough lad Rob Smedley was given the role - with Massa picking up two late-season wins in Turkey and at home in Sao Paulo. 

The partnership would yield 11 wins in total as Massa came oh so close to the 2008 title, being denied in the cruellest fashion after winning again in Sao Paulo. 

After that, Massa would never win again in F1, and would ultimately depart Ferrari at the end of 2013, with Smedley delivering two iconic lines to his driver, before following him to Williams for 2014, albeit in a more senior technical role. 

Iconic line 1: "Felipe baby, stay cool, we're bringing you the white visor!"

Iconic line 2: "Okay so, Fernando is faster than you, can you confirm that you understand that message?"

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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