Ten of the greatest Formula 1 champions in history

Formula One is a niche sport with a great fan following. Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver in Formula One with three World Championship titles. Here are the top 10 Formula One champions of all time. 

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton is considered one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport. He is regarded as the best British driver in terms of statistics. He has four World Championship titles and 65 race victories more than any other British driver in the history of the sport. He won his first World Championship title with McLaren in 2008 before moving on to Mercedes and winning three titles with them. In terms of records, he holds most career points (2755), most wins at different circuits (26) and most all-time pole positions (75) and most grand slams in a season (3). His records speak for itself.

Michael Schumacher

He is the first poster boy of Formula 1. He is regarded as greatest driver of all time. He won seven World Championship titles, the most by any driver. Out of the 7, he won five consecutive titles from 2000 to 2004. He raced for Jordan-Ford, Benetto, Ferarari and Mercedes. He also holds various other records such as most Grand Prix wins (13), most fastest laps (77), most races in a single season (13). In December 2013, he met with a brain injury in a skiing accident. He is receiving medical treatment and private rehabilitation at his home, but news about his health is scarce.

Juan Manuel Fangio

The Argentine race driver won World Championship of Drivers five times with four different teams, a feat that has not been repeated before. However, the record stood for 47 years before it was broken by Michael Schumacher. Fangio won 24 of 53 F1 races, boasting of the highest winning percentage of 46.15 percent in the sport. Besides, Fangio is the only Argentine driver to have won the Argentine Grand Prix, winning it four times in his career, the most by any driver. Fangio died in 1995 and has a museum dedicated to him.

Sebastian Vettel

The German driver has won the World Championship titles four times from 2010 to 2013 with Red Bull Racing. He now plays for Ferrari. Vettel started his career as a test driver for BMW Sauber. He made his F1 debut in 2007 US Grand Prix. Vettel holds the numerous ‘youngest’ records. In 2008, he was the then youngest pole-sitter and race winner at 2008 Italian GP. In 2010, he became the youngest driver ever to win the World Drivers' Championship. At the moment, Vettel currently holds the fourth place in the all-time race winners (50), polesitters (54) and podium finishes (103).

Fernando Alonso

Currently, Alonso is the only Spanish driver to win a Formula One GP. He is also sixth in the list of highest GP wins with 32 victories. Alonso won two World Championship titles in 2005 and 2006. He became the then youngest at 24 years to win the World Championship title in 2005 and also the youngest double champion when he retained the title next year. Alonso showed his talent from childhood, karting at the age of 3. He won three consecutive karting championships in Spain from 1994 to 1997. At the moment, he currently races for McLaren F1 team.

Alberto Ascari

The Italian racing driver has won two Formula One World Championship titles in 1952 and 1953. He even competed in motorcycle racing before switching to cars. He had 13 wins and 17 podium finishes. He was noted as one of the safest drivers in that era for his accuracy and precision. His father Antonio was also a famous race driver. He died at the same age as his father’s, on the same day of month and in similar circumstances marking it one of the tragic coincidences in F1 history.

Alain Prost

The French driver won the World Championship titles four times, making him the third joint highest winner. He has 51 Formula One wins, making him one of the greatest F1 drivers ever. He has a record 106 podium finishes. He was part of four teams - McLaren, Renault, Ferrari and Williams. He shared a great rivalry with Ayrton Senna and had a history of controversial collisions. Prost  was nicknamed 'The Professor' for his relaxed style behind the wheel, and intellectual approach to race driving.

Niki Lauda

He is considered one of the greatest race drivers of all times. He is a three-time Formula One World Drivers’ Champions. He won the championship in 1975, 1977 and 1984. He is currently the only driver to have won championship for both Ferrari and McLaren, two most successful constructors in the sport. Lauda’s never-say-die attitude was apparent when he survived near-death experience during a crash in 1976 German GP to take part in Italian GP six week later. He has 25 F1 wins and 54 podiums finishes.   

Ayrton Senna

The Brazilian racing driver won Formula One World Championships thrice in 1988, 1990 and 1991. He is regarded as one of the greats to have graced the sport. He started with karting, before moving on to open-wheel racing to finally Formula One racing. He has 41 wins and 80 podium finishes. He played for four teams – Toleman, Lotus, McLaren, Williams. In 1988, he teamed up with Alain Prost at McLaren and the two won all but one of 16 Grand Prixs in that year. However, he and Prost shared great rivalry, with collisions determining the winner in Japanese GPs of 1989 and 1990. Senna died in an accident while leading the 1994 San Marino GP for Williams.

Mika Häkkinen

He is nicknamed the Flying Finn and won the two World Championship titles in 1998 and 1999 for McLaren. He is also regarded as one of the greatest Formula One drivers in the sport. He started his career with karting before moving on to car racing and then to Formula One. He had 20 F1 wins and 51 podium finishes. His success helped McLaren earn World Contructors’ Championship. He later moved into driver management and became brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker and Mercedes-Benz AMG.

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