Mark Webber and the Top 10 Formula 1 Drivers to Race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Former Formula One driver Mark Webber is making his return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend. His Porsche will start from fourth place, as Webber looks to finish the famous French endurance race for the first time.
There will also be 18 other former F1 race drivers in the Le Mans field, from grand prix winners, like Giancarlo Fisichella, to Stephane Sarrazin, who retired from the only F1 race he ever entered.
In honour of these 19 racers, here are the top 10 F1 drivers who have also raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
According to the website lemans-history.com, more than 300 F1 drivers have also raced at Le Mans.
Even if we restrict our ranking to F1 World Champions, there are still 20 drivers on the list.
But anyone could pull a Juan Manuel Fangio and score four DNFs at Le Mans. Therefore, since this ranking is not only about F1, but also Le Mans, the list is restricted to world champions who also have a top-10 finish in the 24 Hours.
From there, the drivers are ranked according to the number of points they scored per grand prix start, according to Mark Wessel's F1 points comparison site (using the 10-6-4-3-2-1 scoring system).
So, this list is not intended to settle arguments over who is the best F1 driver ever (I know Fangio was better than Denny Hulme!); it is meant to show that many of F1's best drivers have also raced at Le Mans—and hopefully a couple of the names will even surprise you.
John Surtees won the 1964 world championship for Ferrari. That same year, partnered with Lorenzo Bandini, he finished third in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Even with those impressive results, though, he falls just short of our top 10.
Jacques Villeneuve is well-known for his 1997 F1 championship, as well as his prior success in the United States, including a victory at the 1995 Indianapolis 500. He has also raced twice at Le Mans, though. In 2008, he narrowly missed joining Graham Hill as the only drivers to win the French race, as well as the Indy 500 and the F1 World Championship.
Mario Andretti is another multi-series star. In addition to his 1978 F1 title, he finished second in the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans (among many other motorsport accomplishments). He averaged fewer than 1.5 points per grand prix, though, so he just misses our list.
10: Graham Hill
The first driver in our top 10 is Graham Hill, winner of the 1972 Le Mans race. He is also a two-time F1 World Champion and the only driver to win the so-called Triple Crown of Motorsport.
When Hill won at Le Mans, he was partnered with Henri Pescarolo, who holds the record for most starts in the French race.
9: Jochen Rindt
Jochen Rindt won the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans partnering with two Americans: Masten Gregory (another F1 driver) and Ed Hugus.
Rindt continued to race at Le Mans for two more years, as his F1 career took off. In 1970, he won the World Championship, although he was tragically killed at the Italian Grand Prix before he clinched the title.
8: Alan Jones
Alan Jones raced twice at Le Mans, achieving a best result of sixth place at the 1984 race.
By that time, he was already an F1 World Champion, having taken the title by 13 points from Nelson Piquet in 1980.
7: Phil Hill
Phil Hill, the only American-born F1 champion, was also a master of Le Mans. He won three times at the Circuit de la Sarthe, in 1958, 1961 and 1962.
Hill partnered with the Belgian F1 driver Olivier Gendebien for all three of his Le Mans victories, all of them in Ferraris. Hill was also driving for the Ferrari F1 team when he secured the title in 1961, following the death of his teammate, Wolfgang von Trips.
6: Denny Hulme
Denny Hulme, the 1967 F1 champion, raced three times at Le Mans. In 1961, he finished 14th overall, but first in his class.
In 1966, his teammate, Ken Miles, was leading the race on the last lap. According to Road and Track, he slowed down to allow the sister Ford of Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren to catch up for a staged photo finish. It was ruled that McLaren and Amon had actually covered a greater distance in the race, since they started slightly further back, so Hulme and Miles were stuck with second place.
5: Nelson Piquet
Nelson Piquet won three World Championships during the 1980s, including the 1981 title by just one point over Carlos Reutemann.
Following his retirement from F1, Piquet raced twice at Le Mans, finishing eighth in 1996. He returned the following year, but his car did not finish the race after his teammate, JJ Lehto (another former F1 driver) had an accident.
4: Mike Hawthorn
Mike Hawthorn won the tragic 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans, when Pierre Levegh's car was launched into the crowd, killing 83 people.
Hawthorn actually played a role in the accident, when he started the fatal chain of events by braking suddenly in front of both Levegh's and Lance Macklin's cars. He was not found responsible for the crash, though.
Hawthorn continued his racing career and won the F1 title in 1958, retiring after the final race of the season. Just a few months later, though, Hawthorn was killed in an accident on a British highway.
3: Jackie Stewart
Jackie Stewart is a three-time F1 champion, taking the title in 1969, 1971 and 1973. He finished second in the championship on two other occasions and retired from F1 following his third title.
In 1965, his first year in F1, Stewart partnered with Graham Hill to finish 10th in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was the only time the Scot would ever enter the French race.
2: Jim Clark
Another Scottish World Champion, Jim Clark took the 1963 and 1965 F1 titles. He also raced three times at Le Mans, with a best finish of third in 1960.
Clark's career was tragically cut short when he was killed during a Formula Two race at Hockenheim in 1968.
1: Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher is a bit of a surprise on this list. Of course, he holds most F1 records, including most championships and victories, but he also raced once at Le Mans—and he finished fifth.
In 1991, the year of his F1 debut, Schumacher raced for Team Sauber Mercedes at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Paired with another soon-to-be F1 driver, Karl Wendlinger, and Fritz Kreutzpointner, the team finished seven laps off the pace.
Then his F1 career took off and Schumacher never raced at Le Mans again.
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