BBC’s Top 20 F1 drivers ever (list)


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    They can only really be judged on what they achieved. It is hard to judge drivers based on what could have been, rather than what they already were.


    How do you feel about Vettel losing his finger in WSR3.5, being lucky to have it stitched back and back for the next F3 race?


    @freelittlebirds Thanks for explaining your earlier comment further, but I just can’t agree. I can see what you are saying but I think it is slightly dangerous territory to be going into. Don’t get me wrong, I myself would put Jim Clark at number 1 in my personal list, but because from things I have seen and read I think he is probably the greatest example of a racing driver there has even been. I don’t factor in his early death and what he could have later achieved into such a decision.

    I can however fully appreciate what you are saying about Lauda, and it struck me the same applies to Mika Hakkinen as well. To come back from the brink of death to be a world champion not once but twice is fantastically impressive and I can certainly see why Lauda is a great. Myself I would probably put him 6th or 7th, below Stewart and Prost of the ones you mentioned but as you said everyone will have a different opinion. All Formula One drivers are brave, but when you know how bad things can really go it does take a special kind of bravery and single mindedness to reach the top again.


    @Debaser91 Lauda almost won 1976 – he lost by a single point that season to James Hunt. Had he been able to finish Germany and not lost the other 2 races, he would have won and had 4 WDCs. I guess there’s good reason they are making a movie out of that season. You’re right about Mika but what sets Lauda apart is that the injury was something that he was reminded him of on a daliy basis and surely affected him. Plus he was able to come back from retirement and win again a feat that even Schumacher hasn’t managed to do.

    @mnmracer I wasn’t aware that Vettel had lost a finger – no wonder he’s showing them off;-) “Look at my finger – just look at it”. Actually, I was surprised that Lorenzo was able to continue after the finger injury last year and he definitely needs that finger way more than Vettel – not to mention that he’s much more modest when it comes to showcasing his fingers.


    Well, as expected (by me anyway), 3rd place goes to Jim Clark.


    So it’s a head-to-head between Senna and Fangio. I’m rooting for Fangio, but I’m all but certain that Senna will take #1.


    Senna will take #1 as always. In fact, it seems that it has almost became political correctness to have Ayrton Senna on top of every greatest drivers list, not that I like it. Although I too am rooting for Fangio.

    Clark should’ve been #1 IMO. In fact, IMO Schumacher, Prost and Fangio too were better than Senna.


    I’d rather have had Jim Clark at number one, if Schumacher wasn’t to be it. He was just pure speed, that Scot.


    I know I’m in the minority, but I’ve always been a massive Gilles Villeneuve fan, and I’ve always held him in top regard. In fact in my personal list he’s my number 1 spot.


    I agree with @David-A
    Clark was easily among the fastest if not the fastest driver of all time (comparative to the rest of the field). His rivals; Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill and Jack Brabham were no slough; but he rose to the top and was head and shoulders above everyone else.

    Clark had everything Senna had, but a much better personality, he didn’t feel need to deliberately crash his rivals out of the race. Jim was a real gentleman.


    I would have Clark as number 1. When such a great driver as JYS feels he was completely second best to a driver you know the guy must be truly special. People talk about Donington 1993 (Senna), Catalunya 1996 (Schumacher), Nurburgring 1968 (Stewart), Jarama 1981 (Villeneuve), Nurburgring 1957 (Fangio) when recounting defining races from a career; all stunning performaces from truly great drivers but Monza 1967 from Clark will always be my favourite tale of F1 genius from years gone by. There were some world class drivers in that field, but when Clark had to push because of his car problem he just wiped the floor with them. To make up a lap and then retake the lead, incredible. It was a real shame he didn’t win.

    That’s actually an interesting question, anyone else out there have a favourite story or performance from a particular driver in the past?


    @debaser91 Apart from the ones you mentioned there are lots of performances that I thought were really awe-inspiring: Long Beach 1983 where the two McLaren drivers scored a 1-2 finish from 11th row of the grid. Of course they were lucky with Rosberg and Tambay’s collision, Laffite’s tyres deteriorating etc it was still no mean feat to come from so far back to win a Grand Prix.

    Monza 1976 where Niki Lauda made a brilliant comeback from the brink of death to finish 4th while he was still in pain from his accident 6 weeks earlier.

    Dijon 1979 the most epic duel in Grand Prix History between Villeneuve and Arnoux for 2nd place in a spectacle that would sadly never be seen in F1 today.

    There are many more performances that I really loved but unfortunately I don’t have the time to go through them right now. These are just some of the ones I can think of from the top of my head.


    @raymondu999 Don’t worry, you’re not alone :) In terms of raw skill and car control, Gilles was simply unmatched. He always drove the car beyond the limit, and some of his best performances could never be matched (Jarama, Watkins Glen), even by the likes of Senna, Fangio, etc.


    Monaco 1984: Senna comes 2nd in a Toleman, scything his way up the field and making awesome overtakes on no less than the likes of Niki Lauda. He was catching Prost by three seconds a lap before the race was stopped.

    But that’s all very well known. What isn’t common knowledge to the same degree is that third place was taken by Stefan Bellof, driving a truck of a Tyrell. The car was eventually disqualified from the championship for technical illegality, but it was still a crap car. Anyways, Belloc was in third while Senna was taking insane chunks out of Prost’s lead. The crazy part: Bellof was catching Senna. This kid could have been something big. He still holds the lap record at the Nürburgring, despite his tragic death at Spa.

    Monaco 1983: One year earlier, it was the reigning world champion who made a big impression. Keke Rosberg lined his normally aspirated Williams up 5th, ahead of several turbocharged cars. The race was started in partially wet conditions, but Rosberg started on the less than optimal slick tyres. He should have been dropped right from the beginning, but instead, he made his way up to the front, and utterly dominated.

    In recent times, I think that all of the WDCs have had one or more races that really demonstrated their skill.

    Schumacher: I’ll just leave this one out since I don’t know where to start.

    Button: Canada 2011 was the greatest display of changing conditions mastery that I have ever seen on live television. Some might doubt Jenson’s skill (as I and many others did earlier this year), but that performance alone showed his abilities.

    Hamilton: Silverstone 2008 and Fuji 2007 are great examples of his skill in wet conditions. In both he drove really cleanly, never making any major mistakes (unlike his rivals), and managed the situation perfectly all the way to the chequered flag.

    Alonso: I can’t actually think of any performances by Alonso that were truly stunning. He’s more the type of driver who scores good results often, rather than amazing results every once in a while. Still, he did an awesome job in Japan 2005 by going from 16th to 3rd, as well as Hockenheim and Malaysia this year. He also took that victory at Fuji in 2008 in a car that was way off the pace.

    Vettel: All of Vettel’s dominant wins have been impressive, but they don’t stand out. On the other hand, he’s had some victories that really show his calibre. Monza 2008 is quite obvious, regardless of how good the STR was that day, but I also really liked Spain 2011. During the pit stop phase he had to pass several cars in order to retain the lead, and he manoeuvered around them in spectacularly quick fashion.

    Räikkönen: The first one chronologically would be Spa 2004. He got past Schumi coming into Eau Rouge, then did an incredible job at holding him off by strategically slowing him down during the safety car period. After that, it’s obviously Suzuka 2005. 17th to 1st, what more is there to say? In his title-winning year, I was most impressed with his drive in Fuji. Ferrari ridiculously put him on the wrong tyre, putting him at the very back. He fought all the way up to 3rd, with some incredible blind overtakes coming out of other cars’ spray. And he had an awesome fight with Kovalainen in the final corners, which I can’t seem to find anywhere on the internet.

    Excuse the wall of text. I could have written way more, though. It’s just that it’s midnight and I wrote all of that on my phone :)

    Tom L.

    Dijon 1979 the most epic duel in Grand Prix History between Villeneuve and Arnoux for 2nd place in a spectacle that would sadly never be seen in F1 today

    I raise you Massa and Kubica at Fuji ’07! Not as long a battle, admittedly, but still two drivers pushing each other to the limit while racing fairly. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbb70UDFFQg


    Fangio is #2. It was announced at the end of Friday’s Inside F1 show with the usual Murray Walker video. That leaves Senna to take the top spot.


    Formula 1’s greatest drivers. Number two: Juan Manuel Fangio


    I wonder who’ll take #1.

    Damon Hill of course.

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