Some say Formula 1 drivers are crazy – after all they drive around a racetrack at speeds well over 100 mph. But there’s method in their madness; the very best of them drove with such elegance and grace that even those who didn’t approve of their death-defying driving had to applaud. Here are the 5 greatest F1 drivers.
5. JACKIE STEWART
The ‘Flying Scot’ is widely regarded as the greatest British Formula 1 driver ever and enraptured British audiences with his daring driving and ready wit. The Dumbarton born driver dominated the F1 scene in the late 60s and early 70s and also competed in Can-Am, a now defunct North American competition.
Championships: 3 – Race wins: 27 – Podiums: 43
4. NIKI LAUDA
Lauda has recently become a household name once again due to the film Rush a recent biopic about his rivalry with James Hunt. His long career was one that was less about flash and more about consistency, he was a true gentleman of the sport and was praised for his determination after almost dying in the 1976 German Grand Prix.
Championships: 3 – Race wins: 25 – Podiums: 54
3. ALAIN PROST
French driver Prost was nicknamed ‘The Professor’ for his highly technical and intellectual approach to driving. Although he finished a lowly 15th on his debut season, effectively getting fired from McLaren as a result, he returned to them and won three championships with their cars, after which he won another with Williams.
Championships: 4 – Race wins: 51 – Podiums: 106
2. MICHAEL SCHUMACHER
Schumacher might have slightly ruined his legacy with an ill advised return to racing in 2010 after initially retiring in 2007, but he remains the most successful F1 driver with an astonishing seven championships – two more than Juan Manuel Faggio who won five when Formula 1 was in its infancy. He was not without his critics when he was racing, and like Wladimir Klitschko he was not plying his trade in an era of greats, but his record stands for itself.
Championships: 7 – Race wins: 91 – Podiums: 155
1. AYRTON SENNA
The word genius is probably used too often when describing top sportsmen, but in Senna’s case it is wholly justified. His rivalry with Alain Prost made all others before it pale in comparison and his speed and ability in wet conditions will probably never be matched. His legacy sadly includes the macabre as he was the last F1 driver to die during a race, due to injuries suffered as the result of a crash.
Championships: 3 – Race wins: 41 – Podiums: 80