There have been over 700 Formula 1 racing drivers since the sport started. The list features some of the best drivers in the world, but only a few have stood the test of time. Before the 2022 season starts, NitroBetting shares a collection of the Top 10 Greatest F1 Drivers of All Time.
Top 10 Greatest F1 Drivers Of All Time
#10 – Max Verstappen
Dutch driver Max Verstappen entered Formula 1 as a prodigy. Although it might be too early to include him as one of the greatest drivers to grace the sport, there’s no doubt that his skill pushes every driver to their limits, and that includes Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen became Red Bull’s first World Champion since 2013 when Vettel was in his best form. He is the youngest winner of a Grand Prix, crossing the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix checkered flag first. The Dutchman was 18 years and 228 days old when he set the record.
On top of claiming the most recent 2021 Formula 1 Championship Title, Verstappen won 20 races in his career. This also puts him on the list of youngest-ever F1 World Champions, together with ex-teammate Sebastian Vettel, rival Lewis Hamilton, and Fernando Alonso. At the time of this writing, Verstappen scored 20 wins and 60 podium finishes in 141 career starts. He also accumulated a total of 1557.5 career points and counting. The 24-year old defends the championship title in his eighth season and is +200 to win the award in 2022.
#9 – Juan Manuel Fangio
Fangio took over the early era of the sport. He snatched five titles in the ’50s and set a record that stood for over four decades. He still holds the record for winning the most titles with multiple Constructors, earning success with Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari, and Mercedes. This is a feat that is yet to be repeated. This record is likely to stand for a few more decades looking at the grid right now. Fangio also documents the highest winning percentage in Formula 1 history at over 46%. These are numbers that no other driver can come close to right now.
The Argentine race car driver holds five championship titles from 1951, 1954, 1955, and 1967. ‘El Maestro’ raced for eight seasons, featuring 24 wins on 51 starts, 29 pole positions, and seven top-ten finishes.
#8 – Niki Lauda
Niki Lauda is one of the few successful pay drivers in the sport. There’s no question that his money brought him up the ranks faster, but there’s also no denying that he has the talent to back his talk up.
Lauda joined Ferrari in 1974 after three seasons in the sport. He snatched fourth place in the championship with two wins in his first two years. The Austrian driver often set the bar high, only to come across trouble. The season after that was better for him, claiming five wins and the first of his three world titles. What really brought his name up was his 1976 season where he suffered the infamous Nurburgring crash. He eventually recovered from the crash but also caused him to miss out on the title by a single point to rival James Hunt. He got his hands on a second title in 1977 and hung his helmet two years after, only to come back from retirement and sign with McLaren in 1982. He yielded a third title with the manufacturer in 1984 after an unforgettable battle with Alain Prost, before leaving the sport for good towards the end of 1985.
The Austrian driver finished his career with three World Titles in 1975, 1977, and 1984. He scored 25 wins in 171 races, started on pole 24 times, and recorded a total of 420.5 career points.
#7 – Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso made his name through aggressive and fearless driving. The Spaniard claimed two championships so far, which included some monumental moments along the way. It took three years before Alonso scored the first of his two world titles, dominating the grid with a 21-point lead over Kimi Raikkonen. The second title came a year after with another imposing performance and a 13-point lead over Michael Schumacher.
After signing with McLaren in 2007, Alonso came across several challenges. This included a third-place finish in 2007 right behind partner Lewis HJamilton and a point behind Kimi Raikkonen. Alonso’s stint with McLaren ended with a move to Ferrari in 2010. The Spaniard settled with a second-place finish that year and missed the 2012 title by just three points to Vettel, and another second-place finish in 2013. Alonso returned to McLaren in 2015 but failed to see much success.
At the moment, Alonso races for the midfield Alpine team and enters the 2022 season with +3300 odds to win. His best result was a fourth-place finish at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix. At the time of this writing, Fernando Alonso recorded two world championships in 2005 and 2006, including 32 wins and 22 pole positions in 333 races he appeared in. On top of that, he has 1980 career points to his name.
#6 – Jackie Stewart
Not only did Sir Jackie Stewart score three championship titles to his name, but he was also one of the first drivers that pushed for better driver safety standards. As a commanding presence in the sport, Stewart had the influence to force transition around safety in motorsport. After playing witness to accidents that saw many of his friends killed in racing, Stewart was a key component in the introduction of full-face helmets, medical units, race track barriers, runoff areas, and seatbelts in Formula 1 cars. He made an impact both on and off the track, which makes him one of the greatest race car drivers to grace the sport.
Outside his safety efforts, Stewart was a force to be reckoned with on the circuit. He secured three world titles alongside Ken Tyrrell. Jackie Stewart also achieved 27 wins in 99 races, while starting on pole 17 times. He has a total of 360 career points between 1965 and 1973.
#5 – Alain Prost
Alain Prost is often overlooked since he shared the grid with Senna. His unique driving style allowed him to close on Ayrton Senna. What Prost lacked in aggression he made up for in strategy, speed, and precision driving, giving him the nickname ‘The Professor’. His skill brought him to four World Championships and became France’s first world champion in 1985. It sparked an exciting rivalry between him and the Brazilian driver that they are best remembered for.
The year 1987 was historical for Prost as he surpassed Jackie Stewart’s 27-win record and won 15 of his 16 races with McLaren the following year. This emphasized both Senna and Prost’s skill, which the latter displayed until his retirement. By the end of his run, Prost won four World Championships, 199 races, 51 wins, and 33 pole positions. The Frenchman closed his career with 768.5 points.
#4 – Sebastian Vettel
Even though Vettel is not as dominant as he was once before, he put Red Bull on the history books with relentless pace. He was virtually unstoppable in his prime. The German racing driver started his career in 2007. In his first three years, he stood on the podium nine times with five wins. But that was only the beginning for Sebastian Vettel. Over the next four years, he dominated the sport, taking four consecutive championship titles and becoming the youngest world champion at the time. He also tied Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton for most podium finishes in a season, including most wins in a season, most pole positions in a season, most consecutive wins, most laps led in a season, most consecutive grand slams, and most victories from pole in a season.
Vettel’s pace slowed down in 2014 when the FIA implemented changes that did not complement Red Bull. This saw the team fall back. He went from nine-straight wins in his 2013 season to a winless season until 2013. The now 34-year-old driver scored 14 wins since 2013. Despite the decline, he’s still widely considered as one of the best drivers on the grid. Sebastian Vettel comes into the 2022 Formula 1 season with +8000 odds to win.
#3 – Ayrton Senna
Senna’s name is synonymous with Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. He started his Formula 1 career in 1984 with a relatively mediocre car at Toleman. After a year with the team, he moved on to Lotus in 1985 and stayed with the team until 1987. The Brazilian driver found major success in his five years with McLaren between 1988 and 1993 and moved on to Williams in 1994 before his fatal crash.
Senna is among the names modern drivers on the grid look up to. His raw talent and charisma also make him a beloved personality in the sport. Commitment and desire to test himself to the limits allowed the racing driver to achieve success in his Formula 1 career. His multiple titles attest to his skill and give us a foresight of what his career could’ve been had the accident. A crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix tragically ended his life. However, he left a legacy that many Formula 1 fans, aspiring and current drivers look up to.
The Brazilian driver scored three World Championships in 1988, 1990, and 1991. He achieved 41 wins and 65 pole positions in 161 races. On top of that, Ayrton Senna collected 610 career points.
#2 – Lewis Hamilton
British racing driver Lewis Hamilton first saw the light of Formula 1 in 2007, where he raced the Australian Grand Prix. The 37-year-old tied Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World Championships in the 2020 season. He participated in 288 races, claimed 103 podium finishes, and 103 pole positions. Hamilton accumulated a total of 4165.5 career points by the end of the 2021 season.
Lewis Hamilton is the best Formula 1 driver on paper. The Brit secured wins in 30 different countries and has won a race in all of his 15 seasons in the sport. The Brit currently tied Schumacher’s long-standing record. He was a few laps away from breaking the record, but Max Verstappen snatched the opportunity from him following a controversial final race in Abu Dhabi. Nevertheless, Hamilton still gets a few more chances at the record with a contract that runs to the end of 2023.Despite missing a World Championship title in his first season by a single point, Hamilton became the youngest world champion (then) in his second season. What makes him one of the greatest is consistency and ability to match the pace of much younger drivers.
#1 – Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher is arguably the greatest driver in Formula 1. His name is instantly associated with the sport, and there’s plenty of good reason behind that. Jordan gave the German his first seat in F1, where he debuted in the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix. Schumacher then secured his first win in 1992.
The driver won his first two titles with Benetton, but his name is closely associated with the Prancing Horse. Schumacher spent ten years of his career with Ferrari, from 1996-2006. There were struggles during his earlier years with the team, but the combination finally hit the nail on the head in 2000. What followed in the next five years featured five world titles, 48 wins, and countless records.
His return to F1 was not as dominant as his first, claiming just a single podium to his record. Nonetheless, his post concludes with seven world championships, 91 wins, 308 races, and 68 pole positions. He concluded his career at age 43 and collected a total of 1566 points.