Formula One is one of the most extreme sports, watched and adored by millions of sport-fanatics in the world. It dates back from 1907, although Nina Farina became the first Formula One Driver Champion in 1950. It is not that easy to compare Formula One racers because of the differences in the eras, such as longer schedules and frequently changed points system.
Whatever the differences are, every race is a showcase of incredible team work and advancements in racing technology, but at the end of the day, nothing would be complete without the skills of individual drivers. There are lots of great F1 drivers that can be added to this list without problem, but none of these can be taken off the list. So, find out who are the best F1 drivers of all time.
Michael Schumacher – 7 World Championships
Statistically the most successful driver in F1 history, Michael Schumacher dominated the sport the recent years. Michael Schumacher has started 361 races (including 58 from 2010 to 2012 after his retirement in 2006), 91 wins (155 podium finishes) and seven Championships. He holds the record for most World Championships and another record for five consecutive World Championships. The German driver is famed for his supreme ability to pump in quick times at crucial moments in races and his achievements came as a result of his extraordinary talent and hard work. Michael Schumacher has drove Ferrari most of his career and when both qualities got together, record were broken.
Juan Manuel Fangio – 5 World Championships
Juan Manuel Fangio was a dominant force in the early days of F1 and completed only seven full seasons. He was a true champion, a master that took five Championships in 51 races, winning 25 races of which and standing on the podium for 35 times. All five championships he won were with four different teams: Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes and Maserati. Fangio is also known by his winning percentage of 41% of all races he ever entered, a percentage that hardly could be broken. His most famous win is his comeback drive to win the 1957 German GP on the fearsome Nurburgring, in which he broke the lap record many times and his driving is often cited as the greatest grand prix drive in the history. El Maestro held the record for most World Championships until Michael Schumacher came and won seven.
Alain Prost – 4 World Championships
“Le Proesseur” was the nickname Alain Prost earned because of his relaxed and intellectual approach to his driving style. The French F1 driver was the exact definition of a F1 Champion throughout the late 80s winning 51 times of 202 races he entered and 106 appearances on the podium. Alain Prost is a four-time World Champion and is known for his rivalry with his teammate Ayrton Senna while at McLaren in 1988. Alain Prost was skilled at setting up his car for any race condition and often preserved it early in a race leaving it fresher for a challenge on final laps. Prost was Senna’s greatest nemesis, but after Senna’s death, Prost admitted that a lot of motivation came from his rivalry with Senna and “a part of him had died also” on that day.
Ayrton Senna – 3 World Championships
Ayrton Senna is the exact definition of best F1 driver of all time. The Brazilian pride started his racing career on a go-kart track and continued as a F1 driver. Senna had a 10 year long career that was truly remarkable, but unfortunately he was taken too soon from the sport when his car hit the wall in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at only 34 years old. He was so dedicated to this sport and gave more of himself in the unbending pursuit of success, and he did it: 161 Grand Prix starts, 65 pole positions, 3 driving championships and 41 wins of which some were really sensational wins, such as “the wet race”. Ayrton Senna was a man who simply had so much self-belief and couldn’t fathom the idea of being beaten. It was the key to his greatness and his biggest flaw at the same time, but however, he will always be remembered as a legend.
Sebastian Vettel – 3 World Championships
Sebastian Vettel became the youngest F1 driver to score a point in his debut in the 2007 United States Grand Prix coming out eight. He showed some promises, but rarely who would’ve predicted that the young man from Germany would win three World Championships in the following five seasons. Vettel has started 101 races winning 26 of 36 pole positions and shared the podium 46 times. The 25-year-old became only the third driver to win three world titles consecutively, along with Schumacher and Fangio. He graduated to Formula BMW single-seaters in 2003 winning 18 out of 20 races to win the title and developing a relationship with the German manufacturer who would later give him his F1 debut. Vettel is a holder of many records of only 25 and his best is yet to come as many say, but I’d like to name some: Youngest driver to score a F1 point (19 years;) youngest driver to complete a Grand Prix (19 years and 53 days): Youngest pole-sitter, podium scorer and a race winner on the 2008 Italian GP (21 years and 73 days); youngest F1 world champion (23 years and 135 days); youngest double, I mean triple world champion. His most glorious moment so far is when he overturned a 15-point deficit to Fernando Alonso at the final race of the 2010 season to win his maiden championship taking the lead of the standings for the first time that year.