Worst driver ever to win a championship?

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    If we want to talk about current championships then I think this year has shown how much Button fully deserved last years championship. Brawn was only superior for the first couple of races, Red Bull was equally as fast from the 3rd or 4th race, and then was fully faster from the 6th race onwards. This year Red Bull have been simply the fastest by far from the beginning. Button capitalised when he could in the early races, made strategies work when only the strategy would win the race, gave a commanding performance in THE drivers circuit that is Monaco, and when the Brawn had lost the fight still brought the championship home. Can Red Bull and (the oh so great) Vettel say the same this year so far?

    Hamilton will one day make a “deserving” championship, of that I am sure, in fact I am sure he will make many. But 2008 was not his finest hour, that championship was simply won by the driver who failed to back away from it the most.

    Let the flaming commence…


    For some reason even I can’t quite put my finger on, I’m tempted to say Piquet, but someone with 3 titles and 25 odd wins couldn’t possibly be the worst out of the 31 drivers who have become champion.

    Probably the worst WDC is Jacques Villeneuve, because he made a right hash of it with the car that was the class of the field. Disregarding what would happen later, Schumacher was a point ahead going into Jerez. But then again, he was 39 points ahead of Frentzen, so I think the criticiscm of him is a bit harsh


    Yeh but Frentzen was just as awful that year too.

    Joao Pitol

    Denny Hulme, Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg and Damon Hill.


    I was expecting Keke would be a front-running candidate, but he shouldn’t be as he’s underrated. People are confusing luckiest driver with worst driver. Rosberg was the luckiest, but not the worst. Far from it actually.

    Do any of you people actually realize that Rosberg beat Mansell as teammates at Williams in 1985? Had he stayed with Williams for 1986-87 he’d likely be a 3 times champion. He’s FAR from the worst driver to be a champion.

    Fine, Prost beat him in 1986 convincingly, but he had 8 retirements that year, including 3 when leading a race while Prost only had 1 retirement in total.

    The least talented driver to be a champion, was Jacques Villeneuve.


    This data from the Champion of Champions series we did last year may be useful for this discussion:

    Champion of Champions in stats


    Hawthorn, Villeneuve and Surtees come to mind.


    Jacques Villeneuve. Nuff said.


    Jacques Villeneuve. Nuff said.

    Enough it has been said, especially considering you said it twice!

    Anyway, I agree with you on that. He was lucky to start his career in a dominant car, nearly lost his only title to Schumacher in a 1 sec/lap slower car, and after his championship he slowly declined before becoming an absolute joke. Got replaced by the legendary Takuma Sato, was beaten by young Massa in a Sauber, and couldn’t even get BMW to keep him for a full year.

    Most untalented champion by far in my eyes.


    @Kingshark Eeps. Don’t know how I double posted! Thanks for the heads-up, I’ll delete one.

    He didn’t even trouble Damon Hill much in 1996. Damon in my view is a worthy world champion, as he showed when he won in a Jordan, and almost in an Arrows (if memory serves) but JV… hmmph.

    It doesn’t help that he comes across to me as cocky and arrogant. Not to mention how it seems winning that world title has hyperinflated his self-perception.


    Yep. After his championship in 1997 he couldn’t win squat. However, what he was well prepared to do was bash other drivers, and of course his favorite driver to bash was no one other than Schumacher.

    And apparently Raikkonen didn’t deserve his championship either.

    As you can see I’m certainly not afraid to admit that I’ve openly disliked Jacques ever since he couldn’t back the hype on track so decided to use his big mouth to seek attention instead; which has been the case ever since he left Williams. And for anyone who wonders, I’m Canadian.


    I always call him Jacques V or JV. It feels like sacrilege to call him a Villeneuve (in Gilles’ view).

    I always remember how the BMW engineers were stunned that based on the data they were seeing, Heidfeld magically became 6 tenths quicker (compared to their theoretical baselines, I guess) when Kubica came in – ie Heidfeld was driving 6 tenths slower on purpose because he knew he didn’t have to drive full-bore to outdo JV.


    Why was Heidfeld holding anything in reserve?! Also, wasn’t Villeneuve soundly thrashed by Button in 2003, which was what truly saw him out of the door of F1? (of course, Button was a far better opponent than some others who beat him, but it’s interesting none the less)


    Very interesting post here! Not to sure i like to debate the worth of a champion based on drives 2 to 3 seasons after the event, It shows there a very talented driver but most of them aka Button 2011 and Hill Hungry 1997 they weren’t under any pressure to do anything in the races as the championship was well out of there reach

    So drivers we’ve mentioned so far.

    Jacques Villenuve – Did well in 96+97 when he had far and away the best car but did next to nothing after that, Did well in the states too but certainly would be in the top 5 for worst driver to win the championship considering 1997 how he almost lost it to Schumacher driving a dog of a car and his performances afterwards never portrayed that as a “champion of drivers”

    Damon Hill – His 94 challenge was better than his 96 win in my option. Several notable drives before and after mean i rate him higher than JV but again not a great champ but did much more in less time than other drivers. Got Respect

    Hawthorn + Surtese – Both won titles in season like the current one where several teams were up there fighting and they came out on top during very thought era’s. Again much respect here and neither of these would be votes worst by me!

    Phil Hill – Hmm hate to judge a driver i saw so little of but he has never impressed me at all. Regularly b eaten by all his team mates, Barley beat Von trips following his fatal crash. He would probably be my No1 pick for worst champion but would do with a heavy heart after how he won it.

    Keke Rosberg – Couldn’t support any argument for this guy being the worst of anything. Disgusting him being the worst champion is even mentioned here! Keke worked wonders with that Williams from 1982+83 was i the same league of Villenuve’s ferrari drives.

    Lewis Hamilton – 2008 was Massa’s season, Using his spins at Silverstone as a argument is ridiculous! His car was not set up for a totally wet race and Raikkonen also had a horror race in the same machine. Hamilton has shown plenty over his 100 races to support him as a champion but again in the same league as Damon Hill.


    I really, really want to say Button. But it is slightly unfair I think to nominate a current driver.

    I disagree with those who would place Hulme as the “worst”, he won a championship in a team that was quite literally his team-mates!

    Certainly from what I’ve read, Hawthorn was one of the most dislikeable champions, although that shouldn’t impact on any assessment of his ability.

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