Ranking the Top 10 Number 2 Drivers in Formula 1 History

Fraser Masefield@@fmasefieldContributor ISeptember 2, 2013

Ranking the Top 10 Number 2 Drivers in Formula 1 History

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    With the announcement that Daniel Ricciardo will join Sebastian Vettel at the Red Bull team expected during or shortly after the Italian Grand Prix weekend, the young Australian will already be thinking about how he will match up against the three-time world champion.

    The man he will be replacing, countryman Mark Webber, has already told FoxSports that Ricciardo will be joining Red Bull next year.

    The chances are he will be very much the No. 2 driver in the team but that’s not necessarily such a bad thing as he continues to find his feet in the sport and he will be learning from one of the greats.

    Here then are 10 of the best No. 2 drivers and a list that should give Ricciardo some comfort.

10. Eddie Irvine (to Michael Schumacher in '96-'99)

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    "He's not only the best driver in the world, he's also the best No. 2 in the world," said Irvine of Schumacher when the German came back from a broken leg to help him win the inaugural 1999 Malaysian Grand Prix and put him firmly in the title hunt.

    In reality it was Irvine, not Schumacher, who was the perfect No. 2. “No, no one would miss having to put up with being in the same team as the best driver every other weekend,” Irvine told metro.co.uk.

    “I once described being Michael’s teammate as being hit on the head with a baseball bat once a fortnight. Let me make it clear, I didn’t not like him as a person, but professionally it was tough being in a team that was built around him.”

9. Riccardo Patrese (to Nigel Mansell in '91 and '92)

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    After two mixed seasons at Ferrari, Nigel Mansell returned to Williams in 1991 to partner Ricardo Patrese at a team expected to contend for both the drivers' and constructors' championships.

    Wins in Mexico and Portugal gave Patrese his most competitive ever F1 season but the Italian thus never threatened Mansell or Ayrton Senna.

    Williams totally dominated the 1992 season and Patrese continued to deliver in his role of second driver, even moving out of the way for Mansell while leading comfortably at that year's French Grand Prix.

    Patrese took only one win at the Japanese Grand Prix and had eight other podium finishes, including six second-place results, while Mansell recorded nine wins en-route to dominating the championship.

8. David Coulthard (to Mika Hakkinen in '98 and '99)

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    When David Coulthard joined Finn Mika Hakkinen at McLaren in 1996, many predicted a titanic battle between the two and a coin flip as to whom would come out on top.

    The first signs of trouble for Coulthard surfaced at the 1998 Australian Grand Prix when the Scot was forced to concede the lead and win after a pre-race team agreement deemed that whoever led into the first corner would take the victory.

    Coulthard went on to win only one race that season and spent most of the season in a supporting role as Hakkinen clinched the title. 1999 followed a similar pattern, with DC winning just twice as Hakkinen secured back-to-back titles.

7. Damon Hill (to Alain Prost in '93)

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    If ever there was an example of a driver making the most out of his talent, the prize must go to Damon Hill.

    A test-driver for Williams in 1991, Hill's big break came in securing a team-drive alongside then three-time world champion Alain Prost in 1993. Hill ably supported Prost to his fourth and final drivers' title and surprised many at the time with 10 podium finishes including three wins.

    Three years later it was Hill who was the team leader, and he went on to win the drivers' title from rookie teammate Jacques Villeneuve.

6. Mark Webber (to Sebastian Vettel 2007-Present)

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    It’s an open secret that the pair have never exactly hit it off and their on-track battles date back to 2010 when the pair collided in Turkey.

    Later that year, at Silverstone, Red Bull decided to give Vettel Webber’s new front wing after the German’s broke during practice. Webber was furious, but, despite Vettel taking pole with his car part, the Australian went on to win the race declaring; “Not bad for a No. 2 driver” when he crossed the line.

    Things blew up again in Malaysia this year when Vettel refused to obey team orders to pass Webber and take the race win.

    But one thing does remain clear from their years together at the team. That Vettel has been the undoubted No. 1 with 31 race wins to Webber’s 9.

    It’s also clear from Red Bull’s hat-trick of constructors’ titles that Webber has been an extremely good foil for the triple world champ.

5. Martin Brundle (to Michael Schumacher in '92)

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    Of all Michael Schumacher's teammates, the driver that was able to match him on the most regular basis was Martin Brundle.

    Brundle, who famously lost out in the 1983 Formula 3 title to Ayrton Senna on the final laps of the final race, outdrove the German at Imola, Montreal, Magny-Cours and Silverstone and scored a notable second place at Monza during the 1992 season.

    Brundle was also close to winning in Canada before transmission failure ended his cause when closing on leader Gerhard Berger.

    "The fastest guy I raced against was Mika Hakkinen. The most naturally gifted was Ayrton Senna—and in my view also the greatest. The most complete was Schumacher," confirmed Brundle.

4. Gerhard Berger (to Ayrton Senna in '90, '91, '92)

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    Gerhard Berger's arrival as Ayrton Senna's teammate in 1990 was met with great anticipation as the experienced Austrian had proven genuinely quick during his time at Benetton and Ferrari.

    True to form, Berger was often quicker than predecessor Alain Prost in relation to Senna in qualifying. But he rarely matched the Brazilian's pace during races. Accordingly, Berger took only three wins in his three seasons against Senna, including a gifted 1991 Japanese Grand Prix by the newly crowned champ.

    During his three years at McLaren, Berger secured four pole positions and out-qualified Senna eight times.

    Perhaps most notably, Berger achieved what no other of Senna's teammates accomplished by becoming great friends with the Brazilian.

    Many accounts tell of ingenious practical jokes thought up by the Austrian to placate Senna's supremely focused attitude.

3. Rubens Barrichello (to Michael Schumacher in 2000-2005)

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    Unquestionably Michael Schumacher's most consistent teammate was Rubens Barrichello. The popular Brazilian supported Schumacher to drivers' titles from 2000-2004 and helped Ferrari win the constructors' championship on no fewer than five occasions.

    Although he rarely threatened his teammate, Barrichello enjoyed his most successful season in 2002, when he won four races for the team and finished a career best second place in the drivers' championship.

    But the year was marked by controversy when Ferrari team orders required Barrichello to let Schumacher pass him on the final straight of the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix for victory. Schumacher exchanged places with Barrichello at the podium ceremony and gave him the winner's trophy.

    The drivers were fined for disrupting podium protocol and Ferrari's conduct led to the FIA banning team orders in 2003.

2. Francois Cevert (to Jackie Stewart in 1973)

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    Few Formula One aficionados disagree that Sir Jackie Stewart's supremely talented young French teammate would have gone on to be world champion had tragedy at Watkins Glen not robbed the sport of one of its future stars.

    Even as Cevert began to draw even with Stewart's driving abilities, the Scot was secretly planning to retire after the last race of the season in the United States and hand over the mantle of Tyrrell team leader.

    Leading up to the final race of the 1973 season, Cevert had finished second six times, three times behind Stewart.

    But with Stewart having already clinched his third world championship, Cevert was killed during Saturday morning qualifying while battling for pole position with Ronnie Peterson.

1. Sir Stirling Moss (to Juan Manuel Fangio in 1955)

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    Sir Stirling Moss is one driver who never settled for second-best, but even he admits it may have been the case against the great Juan Manuel Fangio. Moss finished second to the Argentine in the 1955 championship, winning the British Grand Prix and finishing second in Belgium and Holland.

    Such was the aura of Fangio, Moss himself doubted whether he allowed him to win his home Grand Prix. He dramatically passed Fangio at the last corner to record a famous first win in front of his home crowd at Aintree.

    Moss even asked afterwards, "Did you let me win?" to which Fangio replied, "No. You were just better than me."

    But if the question of pure sportsmanship was the basis of the decision, then Moss wins hands down. This noble attitude cost him the 1958 Formula One world championship.

    When rival Mike Hawthorn was threatened with a penalty in the Portuguese Grand Prix for reversing in the track after spinning his car, Moss defended his rival's actions. Hawthorn went on to beat Moss by a single point, even though he had only won one race that year to Moss's four. It made Hawthorn Britain's first world champion.