13/11/2018

The Best F1 Drivers of All Time

Who are the best drivers to have raced in Formula One? It’s a question that is often asked by racing fans from all over the globe. But, with so many talented drivers to have achieved great things on the circuit over the years, it’s a question that certainly isn’t easy to answer. The following article will look at Karting Nation’s Top 10. So, in no particular order, here they are:

Niki Lauda

Former Austrian driver Niki Lauda is considered to be one the greatest F1 drivers of all time. Throughout his driving career, he was able to storm to three championship wins in 1975, 1977, and 1984 respectively. In total, Lauda was able to earn 25 wins and 54 podium finishes.

In the 1976 German Grand Prix, Lauda was seriously injured in a severe crash in which his Ferrari burst into flames. Luckily, he was able to survive and make a full recovery within six weeks.

In recent years, Lauda continues to play a part by working as a pundit for German TV. As well as this, he owns 10% of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team and acts as a non-executive chairman for them.

Sebastian Vettel

The winner of four consecutive Driver’s Championship titles between 2010 and 2013, Sebastian Vettel is undoubtedly one of the best drivers of recent times. Each of the German’s title wins came with his last team Red Bull.

However, since he moved to Ferrari in 2015, Vettel has failed to replicate the success he enjoyed in terms of title wins – falling behind the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the race for the title.

At the time of writing, Vettel has earned a total of 52 wins in his career – finishing on the podium a total of 110 times.

Jim Clark

Despite only winning 2 championships in total, Jim Clark is highly regarded as one of the greatest ever drivers to have driven within Formula One. Throughout his career, he was able to earn more Grand Prix wins and pole positions than any other driver.

Clark still had great things ahead of him by this point. However, his career was unfortunately cut short after his tragic death at the age of 32. He was taking part in a Formula Two race at the Hockenheimring in Germany in 1968 and his vehicle veered off the track and ploughed into some trees. His injuries were so severe, that he unfortunately lost his life before he even reached the hospital.

Clark’s death deeply affected some of the big names of his generation. This included the likes of Jackie Stewart, Dan Gurney, and Jack Brabham. But, despite losing his life at such a young age, Jim Clark undoubtedly left a lasting legacy in the world of racing.

Alain Prost

Between the years of 1987 and 2001, French driver Alain Prost held the record for the most Grand Prix victories with a total of 51 wins. So, it’s safe to say that he’s well-regarded in the world of Formula One. He was also able to earn a total of 106 podium finishes throughout his F1 career.

The legendary Michael Schumacher was the man to take overtake Prost’s record in 2001. The German then went on to win a total of 91 races in his career – a record which Lewis Hamilton is the closest to equalling or even overtaking.

Prost is famous for his intense rivalries with other racers throughout the duration of his time in F1. This included the likes of Ayrton Senna, in addition to Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet. It is said that his biggest influences were Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark.

Sir Jackie Stewart

Aptly nicknamed the ‘Flying Scot’, Sir Jackie Stewart is undoubtedly amongst the finest drivers to have raced within F1. With a career lasting between 1965-1973, he was able to make 99 starts, which equated to 27 wins, 43 podiums, and 17 pole positions. In 1969, 1971, and 1973, Stewart was able to storm to the championship.

Stewart grew up in a family that was keen on motorsport. His father had been an amateur motorcycle racer and his brother Jimmy was a racing driver who competed in the 1953 British Grand Prix. However, Stewart was actually gifted at clay pigeon shooting in his youth – winning the British, Irish, Welsh, Scottish and European championships.

Later in his life, Stewart came to realise that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his racing driver brother. Eventually, he went on to make his debut in the Formula One championship and build the successful career he’s now renowned for.

Stewart is also credited with improving the safety of motor racing and has campaigned for it many times over the years.

Juan Manuel Fangio

Juan Manuel Fangio is well known for his feats in the Formula One – especially as he was able to dominate the first decade of the sport after its inception in 1950.

The Argentinian racer, who sadly passed away in 1995, is famous for holding the record for the most championships won with a total of 5. He was able to able to hold this record for an astonishing 47 years before Michael Schumacher was able to overtake him to become the most successful Formula One driver of all time.

Fangio was able to earn his titles with four different teams. This is an achievement which is yet to be replicated even in the 21st century. Throughout his career, Fangio also boasted a total of 24 wins, 35 podiums, and 29 pole positions. He was even said to be the idol of the late, great Ayrton Senna!

Nelson Piquet

Despite starting with a brief career in tennis from the age of 11, Nelson Piquet came to realise that his true passion lay within racing. He started off his career in kart racing when he turned 14 years old, and he eventually took the steps to take his career to the next level. This came after he had returned to Brazil and became a national karting champion in 1971 and 1972.

Further down the line, Piquet made his F1 debut in Germany in 1979. From that point, he was able to go on to earn 3 championships in 1981, 1983, 1987. This saw Piquet earn a total of 23 wins in his career, alongside 60 podium finishes and 24 pole positions. Due to his achievements, Piquet is regarded by many as one of the best drivers to have ever graced the circuit.

In more recent years, Piquet has gone on to manage various businesses, as well as two of his sons Nelson Piquet Jr. and Pedro Piquet, who decided to follow in their father’s footsteps and enter the world of professional racing.

Lewis Hamilton

Ever since he was a young boy, Lewis Hamilton has had a deep passion for racing. He began his career in karting, and after making a name for himself he soon caught the attention of Ron Dennis, founder of the McLaren Group. This was after Hamilton was signed up to the McLaren young driver support programme.

After he climbed up the racing ladder, Hamilton made his debut within Formula One with McLaren in 2007. Ever since then, his career has gone from strength to strength. Just one year on from his debut, he was able to storm to his first Driver’s Championship title in the 2008 F1 season. After a few years of finishing either fourth or fifth in the driver standings, Hamilton stormed to the title a further three times.

Fast forward to the present day, Hamilton won his most recent Driver’s Championship in Mexico City back in October 2018, taking his total number of championships to five – equalling Juan Manuel Fangio’s record. At the time of writing, Lewis Hamilton has a total of 71 wins under his belt, along with 81 pole positions and 132 podium finishes.

Ayrton Senna

Legendary Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna is an F1 driver which true racing fans will never forget. Thanks to his achievements on the F1 circuit, Senna was highly regarded to be one of the best drivers amongst the F1 racing elite. With 162 entries in total, he was able to win 3 championships in 1988, 1990, and 1991. He won 41 races throughout his career and finished on the podium 80 times.

At the age of 34, Senna unfortunately passed away after he was involved in a serious crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Roland Ratzenberger had also lost his life in qualifying the day previous. However, the race still went ahead as normal. The impact from the crash was so severe that Senna was killed instantly, and this led to a review of safety within the sport.

Michael Schumacher

Without a doubt the most decorated driver the sport of F1 has ever seen, Michael Schumacher’s achievements on the circuit are truly outstanding. After all, he was able to storm to a total of seven Driver’s Championship titles including an impressive run of five consistent championship wins between 2000 and 2004.

Throughout his Formula One career, Michael Schumacher was able to claim victory on 91 occasions, and finished on the podium a total of 155 times. The German racer made the decision to retire at the end of the 2006 season. In spite of this, he made a comeback in 2010 with Mercedes for a period of two years. However, Schumacher failed to replicate the success he had enjoyed in previous years, and didn’t win a single race in 58 appearances.

In 2013, Schumacher was unfortunately involved in a serious accident whilst out skiing in the French Alps. It has been reported that he was paralysed as a result of the accident. However, Schumacher’s family are understandably keeping his situation private and away from the public eye as they help him to recover.

Final Thoughts

Well, that concludes our Top 10 Best F1 drivers of all time list, folks! Each of the names we’ve mentioned deserve a spot thanks to their tremendous achievements on the circuit. With Schumacher, Senna, and more having earned themselves a lasting legacy, Vettel and Hamilton continue to make history as they go head to head in the race for the 2018 Formula One title. Do you think we have missed any one off the list? If so, let us know on Facebook or in the comments below!

You can keep an eye out for the remainder of our 2018 Grand Prix preview blogs to keep up to date with all of the action on the F1 circuit. Or, alternatively, you could head straight to your nearest circuit and get in touch with your budding professional racer. We have almost 90 circuits throughout the UK and Ireland to choose from. So, you’ll never be too far away from getting your fix of awesome racing action! Click the following link to discover your nearest venue.

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