January 19, 2024 | Sammy Tran

The Best Formula 1 Drivers in History


Top 10 Formula 1 Drivers

Everyone has their favorite Formula 1 driver, and each driver is known for their own personal victories—which makes “the best F1 driver” a continuous debate among fans.

Let’s take a closer look and find out who really is the best F1 driver, statistically speaking.

Best%20F1%20Drivers%20Split%20Gallery

10. Niki Lauda - 25 wins

First race: 1971 Austrian Grand Prix

World Championships: 3 (1975, 1977, 1984)

Number of races: 171

Number of wins: 25

Number of pole positions: 24

Career points: 420.5

Niki Lauda’s money helped him enter Formula 1, as he started as a pay driver. However, it was his undeniable talent that kept him there.

After three seasons, Lauda joined Ferrari for the 1974 season and claimed two wins and fourth place in the championship. In 1975 he took five wins and the first of his three world titles.Niki Lauda, driving his Scuderia FerrariChristian Sinclair, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Niki Lauda Cont'd

In 1976, Lauda suffered a life-threatening crash at the Nurburgring. Luckily, he bounced back and in 1977 he took his second title and retired two years later.

Lauda returned with Mclaren in 1982 and earned a third crown in 1984 before his final retirement in 1985.Niki Lauda - Ferrari at 1977 MonacoMartin Lee, Flickr

9. Jackie Stewart - 27 wins

First race: 1965 South African Grand Prix

World Championships: 3 (1969, 1971, 1973)

Number of races: 99

Number of wins: 27

Number of pole positions: 17

Career points: 360

Jackie Stewart is known for his talent on the track, claiming three world titles. But that’s not all he’s known for.

Stewart was one of the first drivers to advocate for better driver safety standards. As a dominant force in the sport, he had the credibility that was needed to change the culture around safety.

Stewart was a key partner in the introduction of full-face helmets, seatbelts, travelling medical units, safety barriers, runoff areas, and more.

Jackie Stewart talks with TeamGillfoto, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

8. Nigel Mansell - 31 wins

First race: 1980 Austrian Grand Prix

World Championships: 1 (1992)

Number of races: 187

Number of wins: 31

Number of pole positions: 32

Career points: 482

Nigel Mansell’s career had many reliability issues. His entire 1988 season consisted of two second-place finishes, two races missed because of chicken pox, and 12 retirements.

In 1992, he started by taking five consecutive wins and going on to claim four more, as well as taking an additional three second-place finishes. He became the fifth-oldest person to take the title, at the age of 39.Nigel Mansell in his John Player Special Lotus-Renaulttwm1340, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

7. Fernando Alonso - 32 wins

First race: 2001 Australian Grand Prix

World Championships: 2 (2005-06)

Number of races: 380

Number of wins: 32

Number of pole positions: 22

Career points: 2267

Two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso, has a reputation of being a fearless, aggressive racer.

He spent three years racing before taking a win with a 21-point lead over Kimi Raikkonen. The following year he took the title with a 13-point lead over Michael Shumacher.

In 2007, he moved to McLaren to partner with Lewis Hamilton where he finished the season in third. In 2010, he moved to Ferrari where he started in the lead but finished in second behind Vitaly Petrov.Race winner Fernando Alonso at press conference 2011Bertho RF1, Flickr

Fernando Alonso Cont'd

Alonso missed the 2012 title by only three points, and took second once more in 2013.

In 2015, he moved back to McLaren. However, after four tough years he left again.

It wasn’t until 2023 that things started to look up. Alonso opened the season with two third places in the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, giving him his 100th career podium.

Even with a few years of bad luck, Alonso has still taken 32 wins, 22 pole positions and 23 fastest laps, and continues to be a fan favorite.Fernando ALONSO celebrating on the podium.cristiano barni, Shutterstock

6. Ayrton Senna - 41 wins

First race: 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix

World Championships: 3 (1988, 1990-91)

Number of races: 161

Number of wins: 41

Number of pole positions: 65

Career points: 610

Ayrton Senna holds a special place in the hearts of many motorsport fans. His impressive three titles remain a testament of what he was capable of prior to his passing at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994.

He is known for his desire to push boundaries and his commitment to the sport.Ayrton Senna at San Marino/Imola Grand Prix in 1989.Gabriele, CC BY 2.0 , Wikimedia Commons

5. Alain Prost - 51 wins

First race: 1980 Argentinian Grand Prix

World Championships: 4 (1985-86, 1989, 1993)

Number of races: 199

Number of wins: 51

Number of pole positions: 33

Career points: 768.5

Alain Prost is best known for his bitter feud with Ayrton Senna. However, his precision driving style is ultimately what helped secure his place as France’s first world champion in 1985.

Later, in 1987, he beat Jackie Stewart’s record of 27 wins, and the following year he won 15 out of 16 races across the season.

He retired at 38 years old, after taking his fourth and final title.Alain ProstJerry Lewis-Evans, Flickr

4. Sebastian Vettel - 53 wins

First race: 2007 United States Grand Prix

World Championships: 4 (2010-13)

Number of races: 300

Number of wins: 53

Number of pole positions: 57

Career points: 3098

Sebastian Vettel may have slowed down toward the end of his career, but there was a time when he was virtually unbeatable.

His career started in 2007 and within the first three years he took nine podiums and five wins. Over the next four years he won four consecutive championships, and became the face of F1 as well as the youngest world champion.

He also holds the record for most pole positions in a season, most podium finishes in a season, most wins in a season, most laps in a season, most consecutive wins, and most consecutive grand slams.Sebastian Vettel 2019.10.11Takayuki Suzuki, Flickr

Sebastian Vettel Cont'd

Sadly, the 2014 regulation changes didn’t suit him or his team and he fell through the cracks. He went from nine consecutive wins in the final races of 2013 to not winning a single race until 2015.

Since then, he’s only taken 14 wins.

Despite that, he was still widely considered one of the best F1 drivers until his retirement in 2022.Sebastian Vettel at the 2018 British Grand PrixEngyles, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

3. Max Verstappen - 54 wins

First race: 2015 Australian Grand Prix

World championships: 3 (2021, 2022, 2023)

Number of races: 185

Number of wins: 54

Number of pole positions: 32

Career points: 2586.5

Max Verstappen is the son of former F1 driver Jos. He only spent one year racing cars before making his F1 debut. His early career is best known for his third-place finish in the 2014 European Formula 3 campaign in the championship behind Tom Blomqvist and title-winner Esteban Ocon.

During that one season he took 10 wins from 32 races, including six consecutive wins—which was enough to move him up to F1. He took a seat at Red Bull sister team Toro Rosso for 2015 and became the youngest-ever grand prix driver.

Verstappen’s second season had him called up to the senior Red Bull team only five races into the 2016 season where he took his first win immediately at the Spanish GP.Max Verstappen at the 2016 Spanish Grand PrixLala_77, CC BY-SA 2.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Max Verstappen Cont'd

By the end of the 2020 season he had taken nine wins.

In 2021, he fought for the title against Hamilton. It all came down to the final lap of the race, where Verstappen ended with his first title since karting in 2013.

The 2022 championships posed some challenges, including reliability trouble leading to two failed opening three rounds. However, he took the title with ease in his RB18.

He took the 2023 title as well, breaking records for wins and points quite easily.Verstappen on the podiumGoverno do Estado de São Paulo, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

2. Michael Schumacher - 91 wins

First race: 1991 Belgian Grand Prix

World Championships: 7 (1994-95, 2000-04)

Number of races: 308

Number of wins: 91

Number of pole positions: 68

Career points: 1566

Michael Shumacher is a top fan-favorite. Especially since before Hamilton, he was the face of domination in Formula 1 with seven world championships (five of them being consecutive), a large number of wins, and an unparalleled competitive streak.Michael Schumacher - Ferrari during practiceMartin Lee, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Michael Shumacher Cont'd

Shumacher is well known for his time with Ferrari, even though he took two wins with Benetton. He joined the Ferrari team in 1996, but in 2000 he struck gold and the in next five years he got five world titles, 48 wins, and his name listed for almost every record possible.

Although his second F1 stint wasn’t as successful, with only a single podium to add to his collection, his overall 91 wins, 155 podiums and 68 pole positions still rank him pretty high up.

Michael Schumacher: Ferrari F300formulanone, Flickr

1. Lewis Hamilton - 103 wins

First race: 2007 Australian Grand Prix

World Championships: 7 (2008, 2014-15, 2017-20)

Number of races: 332

Number of wins: 103

Number of pole positions: 104

Career points: 4639.5

And finally, Lewis Hamilton takes the cake in terms of career wins and total career points. He has taken wins in 30 different countries, won a race in nearly every season he’s competed in, and is tied with Michael Shumacher on world championships.

Hamilton holds numerous Formula 1 records, and became the youngest world champion in only his second season.Lewis Hamilton driving his Mercedes F1Takayuki Suzuki, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it. Our version of the top 10 best Formula 1 drivers in history, based on statistics. Based on the data, Lewis Hamilton comes out on top. 

Who do you think is the best Formula 1 driver in history?

Lewis Hamilton Silverstone 2018Jen_ross83, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons


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