My Top Ten Formula One Drivers

Billy Sexton@@billysextonAnalyst IAugust 13, 2008

It's a bit quiet on the F1 Bleacher Report page at the moment. No Grand Prix to write about. No breaking news. No scandals this season. Articles are few and far between (but still very good!).

It seems like we are all waiting for Round Two of the F1RT... I certainly am!

But in the meantime, let me treat you all to who I think are the greatest drivers ever. A lot of people have already given their opinions on who is the greatest. 

I said to myself "I'll do a 'Top Ten' one day. Settle into the community a little first, though."

And now seems the right time to produce my own article and present my views. 

The Almosts

Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) - The five time world champion who raced when F1 was unbelievebly dangerous (drivers wore very little protective equipment).
Stirling Moss (GBR) - Considered the greatest driver never to win a World Championship. Moss was runner up four consecutive times.
Gilles Villeneuve (CAN) - Also a great that never won the championship. Who can remember that legendary Villeneuve-Arnoux battle?

The Top Ten

10. Fernando Alonso (SPA)

Starts- 115
Wins- 19
Poles- 17

Some of you may be a little bit surprised that Alonso is in my Top 10, seeing that I am a Hamilton fan.

However, I think Alonso is a great driver if he has the right car underneath him. He is currently going through a difficult patch, trying to get a seat at the Scuderia Ferrari.

He holds many records, including Youngest World Champion, and I think that there is a lot more to come from Alonso.


9. Mika Hakkinen (FIN)

Starts- 161
Wins- 20
Poles- 26

The most recent and only driver to win a World Championship at McLaren Mercedes (not McLaren-Honda, etc.), Hakkinen gets the No. 9 spot on my list.

Hakkinen was noticed as a talent early on when he outqualified Ayrton Senna on his debut. Only he and Alonso managed to beat Schumacher to realistic titles (1997 doesn't count in my opinion, as Williams were too dominant.)

Also his move on Schumi at Spa 2000 is considered the greatest pass ever. If you haven't seen it, check it out here.


8. Sir Jackie Stewart (GBR)

Starts- 99
Wins- 27
Poles- 17

Jackie Stewart remains the only triple British WDC to this day. He won three championships in Tyrell cars and won by over four minutes at Nurburgring in 1968.

Since leaving F1, Stewart has helped improve safety standards by a huge amount. Any driver who has survived a horrific accident since the '70s certainly owes his life to the Scot.


7. Nigel Mansell (GBR)

Starts- 187
Wins- 31
Poles- 32

In my opinion, Nigel Mansell should have won the F1 WDC more than once.

He lost in 1986 because his tyre blew up, and he lost the following year because of his crash during qualifying for the Japanese GP.

Mansell was the driver carrying the British hopes when Senna, Prost, and Piquet were all on the scene.

His move on Piquet at Silverstone in 1987 is considered to be his greatest moment.


6. Nelson Piquet Sr. (BRA)

Starts- 204
Wins- 23
Poles- 24

Piquet was the archrival of Mansell and a triple world champion.

Piquet is very underrated for a three-time WDC, but I think that when Piquet was on form, he was almost unbeatable.

His expert kung fu-style kick at Eliseo Salazar is his famous signature move. Well, either that or his pass on Senna in Hungary.


5. Niki Lauda (AUT)

Starts- 171
Wins- 25
Poles- 24

Lauda is probably remembered as an unbelievably quick driver by die hard F1 fans; by others, he is known as the guy who almost burnt to death.

Lauda won three world championships, two with Ferrari. The Austrian contributed to much of the success of the Scuderia in the '70s. He won the title in 1975 and 1977 and was denied three in a row when he had that awful accident at the Nurburgring.

But, for me, what makes Lauda so great is that he took fourth place at Monza in 1976... a month before he had been read his last rites. Legendary.


4. Alain Prost (FRA)

Starts- 199
Wins- 51
Poles- 33

Just look at the stats.

The only French F1 WDC has about a 25 percent win rate. Nicknamed the Professor, Prost won a total of four world titles; only Fangio and Schumacher have won more.

The Prost-Senna line-up at McLaren proved to be dominant in 1988, the pair took 15 out of 16 wins, a feat still not matched to this day.

Prost is recognised for his comparison to his teammates. In all but two years he was in F1, he beat his teammate on points.

Prost retired whilst at the top, taking his fourth title in 1993. 


2 (tie). Jim Clark (GBR) and Ayrton Senna (BRA)

Starts- 72 (Clark)        161 (Senna)
Wins- 25 (Clark)          41 (Senna)
Poles- 33 (Clark)         65 (Senna)

In my opinion, there is very little to choose from between these two legends.

Looking at the stats, Senna wins hands down but we must take into account that Senna was in Formula One a lot longer than Clark was.

When Clark tragically died at Hockenheim, I think we lost a star of the present and future. When Senna was lost at Imola, I think we lost a legend of the past. He had already peaked in my opinion.

Clark was a double world champion, quick at the wheel of a Lotus, the only team he would ever drive for. He won four consecutive times at Spa, and in 1963 lapped everyone but the second-place man.

Ayrton Senna was a triple world champion and an outstanding qualifier (eight consecutive poles, still stands today). He would even hold his breath to increase blood flow to his brain.

He was the rain master. Nothing like it had ever been seen before. Senna re-defined the word ‘quality.’

Donington Park, 1993 European Grand Prix, Lap One... had God been driving that car? Senna was actually unbeatable on that day.

So, was Ayrton Senna the greatest ever? Nope! That’s this guy.


1. Michael Schumacher (GER)

Wins- 91
Poles- 68

The stats say it all for Schumacher.

Although he almost destroyed the popularity of the sport (and I have accused him of this also) he holds pretty much every record in the book.

Totally dominant in the Ferrari, Schumacher won a total of seven titles. He bought them back from the dead and  made them successful again (with the help of Ross Brawn and Jean Todt, of course).

Schumacher is recognised as a cheat, also. Damon Hill was forced to retire in the season decider in 1995 and Jacques Villeneuve got off lucky when Michael decided to ram his car into the Williams’ side pod.

His records will stand for a long time, though, and for me, that’s what makes him the greatest.

Hope you enjoyed that! Do you agree? Disagree? Do Fangio, Moss and Villeneuve deserve to be in the Top Ten?

Tell me what you think in your comments and don’t forget to rate!


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