Who are the best Formula One drivers of all time? That’s a hotly contested question, with plenty of different opinions as to who should be on the list and in what order they should be listed. Regardless of your own opinion, here’s our look at the top 10 F1 drivers of all time. The criteria we used to select these drivers can be found at the bottom of this article.
The German won a total of 91 races in his career, placing him at first place on the list. Michael became Formula One’s youngest world champion and its oldest champion, with many drivers placing him as one of their top drivers. He was known for being very methodical and calculating in his tactics. His driving style was often criticized by some as boring, but there’s no denying that he was one of best drivers ever to race.
(1960-1994) Races: 162; Wins: 41; Podiums: 80. One of Formula 1’s most revered drivers, Ayrton Senna won three world championships in 1988, 1990 and 1991. His talent was so immense that it allowed him to win despite driving for inferior teams throughout his career—he won two races for Toleman in 1984, three for Lotus in 1985 and five for McLaren from 1988-1990.
Even though he has just joined Formula One, Sebastian Vettel is already considered one of greatest drivers in history. In his first year racing cars, Vettel won several championships, and he was named German Junior Karting Champion. When he was 16 years old, Red Bull hired him to drive for their team. Today, he is often regarded as one of best drivers on planet Earth!
When he’s not dating supermodels, F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is crushing racetracks. In 2008, he became only the second driver to win on his debut race; in 2013, he won eleven out of nineteen races and broke Michael Schumacher’s record for most pole positions.
Alonso is a Spanish Grand Prix race car driver and one of only five men to have won two World Championships in two different categories. He has had tremendous success racing with many high-profile teams, including Minardi and Renault before landing at Ferrari where he won back-to-back championships in 2010 and 2011. Alonso, who drives for McLaren, may be just getting started: he’s just 32 years old, but he’s already placed third overall in points twice.
With four world championships, Frenchman Alain Prost is widely considered one of (if not THE) greatest Formula One drivers in history. Driving for McLaren and Renault, Prost collected his first title in 1985, when he narrowly beat out countryman and teammate (who had won at least one race that season) Jacques Laffite by just a single point.
Piquet is considered one of Formula One’s most intelligent drivers. Widely renowned as a superb qualifier, Piquet won more poles than any other driver (33) and has scored more pole positions than any other non-champion. He was also an outstanding wet weather driver, and achieved 14 podium finishes in such conditions without ever winning.
While he has been surpassed by Michael Schumacher in career wins and championships, Stewart still holds many significant records in Formula One racing, including most wins by a driver (27), most wins at different circuits (16), highest percentage of podium finishes in history (82.4%) and most races won under turbocharged engine regulations (15 out of 16). A three-time champion himself, Stewart also coached his son to two titles.
Probably one of Britain’s most successful Formula One drivers, Nigel Mansell achieved a career high in 1992 when he won his only Formula One World Championship. After spending many years racing in British, European and American open-wheel circuits, Mansell moved to IndyCar for one season before moving to Formula One. He made his debut with Lotus at the 1986 British Grand Prix and went on to win 20 Grand Prix over his 15 year career.
The legendary four-time Formula One world champion is considered one of greatest drivers to ever strap himself into a race car. He won his first championship in 1962 and went on to win three more in 1968, 1969 and 1970. Hill also scored more than 50 career wins, five Indy 500 titles and six 24 Hours of Le Mans victories.