Ranking the Top 10 German Racing Drivers in Formula 1 History

Matthew Walthert@@MatthewWalthertFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

Ranking the Top 10 German Racing Drivers in Formula 1 History

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    Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher
    Sebastian Vettel and Michael SchumacherPaul Gilham/Getty Images

    We are now in the heart of the European part of the Formula One season, and the German Grand Prix takes place this weekend at Hockenheim.

    There are four German drivers on the grid: Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg and Adrian Sutil.

    As we did two weeks ago with British drivers before the British Grand Prix, we have ranked the top German drivers in the history of the F1 World Championship. How do those four measure up to the all-time German greats? Keep going to find out.


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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Unlike the United Kingdom, which boasts 19 different grand prix winners (and 10 world champs), only seven German drivers have won a race (and only two have won the Drivers' title).

    The criteria have been modified slightly since the British version. Podium finishes and points per race are now included, to break the deadlock between a number of drivers with no victories or championships:

    • Career winning percentage
    • Points per race (using the 10-6-4-3-2-1 system for all drivers, thanks to Mark Wessel's points comparison site)
    • Podium finishes
    • World Drivers' Championships
    • Top-three finishes in the World Drivers' Championship

    Every German driver who has scored at least 10 points in their career (there are 15 of them) was ranked. The top driver in each category received 15 points, and the bottom driver received one. The overall ranking is based on their total scores.

Honourable Mentions

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    Nico Hulkenberg and Adrian Sutil.
    Nico Hulkenberg and Adrian Sutil.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Hans-Joachim Stuck, who finished third in back-to-back races in 1977 but never stood on the podium again in his six-year career, just missed the cut for our top 10.

    So did Hans Hermann, who started 18 grands prix scattered over nine seasons. Hermann finished fourth at the 1954 Swiss Grand Prix and fourth at the next race at Monza—his two best finishes.

    The two current drivers shown above, Hulkenberg and Sutil, do not have a podium between them. Although, Hulkenberg is a rising star and should move up this list in the future.

10. Timo Glock

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    Glock on his way to a second-place finish at the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix.
    Glock on his way to a second-place finish at the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix.Vincent Thian/Associated Press

    You may be surprised to see Timo Glock on a top-10 list of anything to do with F1, but he did score two second-place finishes in his career.

    At the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix, he crossed the line 11 seconds behind Heikki Kovalainen. And the following year in Singapore, Glock was just nine seconds behind Lewis Hamilton.

9. Karl Kling

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    Kling with his Mercedes teammate, Juan Manuel Fangio, and team manager Alfred Neubauer.
    Kling with his Mercedes teammate, Juan Manuel Fangio, and team manager Alfred Neubauer.Werner Kreusch/Associated Press

    Karl Kling raced only two seasons in F1: 1954 and 1955. He was a teammate of Juan Manuel Fangio at Mercedes and finished second to the great champion at the 1954 French Grand Prix.

    That season, Kling finished fifth in the Drivers' Championship, but he was already 44 years old. The Second World War had taken up most of his prime years, and he retired after the 1955 season.

8. Nick Heidfeld

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    Heidfeld in 2011, his last year in F1.
    Heidfeld in 2011, his last year in F1.Vincent Thian/Associated Press

    Nick Heidfeld had a long F1 career, starting 183 races. But he never quite made the jump from good to elite driver.

    He finished on the podium 13 times in his career, but never won a race—an F1 record. His best finish in the Drivers' standings was fifth in 2007 for BMW Sauber.

7. Jochen Mass

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    Mass at the 1977 Monaco Grand Prix, where he finished fourth.
    Mass at the 1977 Monaco Grand Prix, where he finished fourth.Tony Duffy/Getty Images

    Jochen Mass is the lowest-ranked of the grand prix winners. His lone victory came amidst tragedy at the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.

    Mass' countryman, Rolf Stommelen, suffered a rear-wing failure; his car crashed into the crowd, killing five spectators, according to grandprix.com. The race was stopped with Mass in the lead and half points were awarded.

    It was also at this race that Lella Lombardi became the first and—so far—only woman to score points in an F1 race.

    In 1977, driving for McLaren, Mass had his best season, finishing sixth in the championship behind his teammate, James Hunt.

6. Nico Rosberg

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    Rosberg at the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix.
    Rosberg at the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix.Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Nico Rosberg ranks sixth on our list, but his story is yet to be written. After eight seasons of slow improvement, he is in a dominant car this year and not backing down from his teammate and former world champ, Lewis Hamilton.

    Rosberg has six victories in his career, with three of them coming this season. He is a sure bet to add at least a couple more before the end of the season, which could also culminate in a world championship for the Wiesbaden native. He currently leads Hamilton by four points.

5. Ralf Schumacher

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    Schumacher at the 2004 Spanish Grand Prix.
    Schumacher at the 2004 Spanish Grand Prix.Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Ralf Schumacher spent his entire career in his brother's shadow, but he still managed to take six victories and 27 podiums.

    The younger Schumacher never had the kind of dominant car his brother did, although he was fourth in the Drivers' Championship in 2001 and 2002 for BMW Williams.

    He retired in 2007, after three progressively worse seasons with Toyota.

4. Heinz-Harald Frentzen

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    Frentzen driving for Jordan in 2001.
    Frentzen driving for Jordan in 2001.Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Heinz-Harald Frentzen won three races over his 10-year F1 career and finished second in the 1997 Drivers' Championship (actually third, but Michael Schumacher was disqualified).

    Frentzen was closer to the title in 1999 when he finished third, 22 points behind champ Mika Hakkinen.

    After that season, he never again had a truly competitive car before he retired in 2003.

3. Wolfgang Von Trips

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    Von Trips wins the 1961 Dutch Grand Prix for Ferrari.
    Von Trips wins the 1961 Dutch Grand Prix for Ferrari.Associated Press

    Wolfgang von Trips won two races in his career—both in his final season.

    In that year, 1961, Ferrari produced a dominant car, and von Trips battled Phil Hill all season for the Drivers' Championship. At the second-to-last race of the year, the Italian Grand Prix, von Trips and Jim Clark collided, sending the Ferrari into the crowd where the German driver and 14 spectators were killed.

    Hill won the race and the championship, while no German driver would surpass von Trips' two wins until 1994, when Michael Schumacher scored his third victory.

2. Sebastian Vettel

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    Vettel celebrating his fourth-straight championship in 2013.
    Vettel celebrating his fourth-straight championship in 2013.Mark Baker/Associated Press

    The top two drivers on this list should be no surprise. It is a near-certainty that Sebastian Vettel's streak of four straight championships will end this season, but it will take a while for any drivers on this list to catch him from behind.

    Vettel is only 27 years old and has already won 39 races. If his career continues on a similar trajectory, then he will be in the conversation for the greatest drivers, not just greatest German drivers.

    But despite his early success, even Vettel has a long way to go to catch his countryman and hero...

1. Michael Schumacher

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    Schumacher in 2004, on the way to his final world championship.
    Schumacher in 2004, on the way to his final world championship.Anonymous/Associated Press

    Michael Schumacher is not only the best German driver in F1 history, but he is also arguably the best driver, period.

    Schumacher has more victories and championships than anyone else, and, despite his mostly unsuccessful comeback with Mercedes, he still ranks highly in the points-per-race and winning percentage categories.

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