Drivers have come and gone, eras have passed us by, but exquisite Formula one Drivers have stuck in our memories, and many more will still do so. It’s near enough impossible to compare drivers from different eras, so in no particular order, here are the seven best F1 drivers in the history of the sport.
Born in 1985, French driver Prost was nicknamed the Professor for his brilliant calculation of setup of the car and intelligence on track. Prost began his career in 1980 with McLaren, and would go on to race for Renault, Ferrari and Williams, with another spell at McLaren. Famed for his intense rivalry with Ayrton Senna, Prost won 51 races and four championships before retiring in 1993.
One of the naturally quickest drivers in Formula One history, Fernando Alonso won two world championships with Renault in 2005 and 2006. The Spanish Samurai would then move to McLaren and have a fierce rivalry with Lewis Hamilton, who was in his debut season in 2007. Alonso fell out with McLaren boss Ron Dennis over numerous controversial incidents that year, and moved back to Renault for the 2008 season. He went to Ferrari in 2010, but was unable to win the championship in his five years with the Scuderia. He re-joined McLaren in 2015 at the re-birth of McLaren’s partnership with Honda, but they spent four years as one of the slowest teams in F1, including the the first year of their parnership with Renault. Alonso, however, as he did with the terrible 2012 Ferrari, churned out some stunning results in the car, but he left the sport after the 2018 season.
Juan Manuel Fangio:
Despite only starting his career at the age of 47, Argentine maestro Fangio won five championships with Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes and Ferrari, and raced in some of the most dangerous conditions in the history of Formula One, with appalling safety equipment and temperamental cars. Despite this, he only actually on 24 races, but his elite driving style and ability to push the cars of his era were second to none, and he is the third most successful driver in the history of Formula One, despite often being the oldest driver in the field.
Born in Austria to a rich business family, Niki Lauda was never meant to be a Formula one driver. He defied his father and borrowed money from a bank to kick-start his Formula One career in 1971. He drove for March, BRM, Ferrari, Brabham and McLaren. In 1976 – having won the championship the year previous with Ferrari – at the German Grand Prix, Lauda suffered a horrific crash, losing his crash helmet and having his face and lungs severely burned. However, he would return to action in the SAME year, but lost out on the title to James Hunt. He did go on to win two more titles. After a series of health issues, Lauda died earlier this year before the Monaco Grand Prix, and the F1 paddock, including the team he worked for – Mercedes, paid emotional tributes that weekend. Rest in piece Niki, I’m sure James was happy to see you again!
One of the more obvious names that comes to mind when you think about the best drivers ever is Michael Schumacher. The German began his career in 1991 with Jordan, and went on to win seven Formula One Championships, including five in a row with Ferrari. Before Damon Hill’s sole title, Schumacher beat the Briton to the championship in Adelaide… by taking him out. He did however have immense talent and natural speed, and fully deserved his place as the most successful driver in history. He retired at the end of the 2006 season, before returning in 2010 with Mercedes, re-joining former Ferrari boss Ross Brawn in his project. His return, however, and he was outscored by team mate and eventual world champion Nico Rosberg in all of the three seasons he was back for. At the end of 2013, Schumacher suffered a horrific head injury as a result of a skiing accident, and he is currently recovering in his home having been in a medically induced coma.
A living legend in front of our very eyes. Lewis Hamilton, following his sixth championship success in the Unites States last weekend, started in Formula One in 2007 with McLaren, partnered with the brilliant Fernando Alonso. He lost out on the championship that year after THAT pit entrance incident in China, and lost out to Kimi Raikonen by a point. He took the championship from Felipe Massa the following year, overtaking Timo Glock at the final corner in Brazil under wet conditions, at the end of a thrilling race. He endured four hapless years thereon with McLaren, and moved to Mercedes in 2013. After the arrival of the turbo-hybrid era, Hamilton was involved in a spectacular rivalry with team mate Nico Rosberg, and the pair’s childhood friendship was irreparably damaged. Hamilton has since won the title in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019, with Rosberg dramatically claiming the title in 2016. Hamilton now is two titles away from being the most successful driver of all time, and nine wins away from being the highest race-winning driver of all time.
One of the best, most aggressive, most talented, and fastest drivers of all time, Senna began his career in 1984 with Toleman, and claimed a remarkable wet podium in Monaco on his debut. His talent and speed, especially under wet conditions, was imperious. He won three world titles with McLaren during his partnership with Alain Prost. The two collided two years consecutive at the Japanese Grand Prix. Senna was disqualified in 1989 after getting the marshals to push him back onto the track following the collision with Prost at the chicane. In 1990, when Prost had moved to Ferrari, Senna wiped Prost out at turn one to take one of his three titles. In 1994, he moved to Williams, but at the San Marino Grand Prix, he crashed while leading the race, and died from his injuries. It was one of the most shocking, devastating, heart-breaking moments in F1 history, and Senna will be missed.
Seven remarkable talents, but which one would you say is the GOAT? Let us know in the comments!