The greatest drivers in the world will be assembling in Bahrain in two months time to kick-start the 2021 season. With a historic 23 race season, we thought it was the right time to dive into the history of F1. F1 has been graces by some of the greatest sports personalities over the years. These drivers have taken the sport to another level, thanks to their technical prowess, competitive spirit and thirst for success.
Today we look at the drivers who have had lasting impact on the sport. These are some of the best F1 drivers in the history of F1 and their prowess on track and moulded F1 into the spectacle it is today. All the drivers we will talk about today have been regarded as the greatest driver in F1 history at some point in their career. So, let’s dive in:
Nicknamed “Le Professeur”, Alain Prost is a real student of the sport. Prost has enjoyed a very successful F1 career, with his memorable battles with Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna. In one of the most thrilling finale to the F1 season, Prost managed to beat both Mansell and Piquet in the Adelaide Grand Prix to win the world title.
Prost understood the inner workings of his car better than most F1 drivers. He was particularly noted for his ability to set up the car to bring out the best. Prost knew how to tweak the car to get the most out of it in free practice, qualifying and the grand prix. He also took a measured approach to racing.
Prost would focus on conserving his tires and keeping the brakes temperature down in the initial parts of the race. This helped him launch an aggressive attack towards the latter half of the race, with his performance of his opponents dropping off dramatically due to wear and high temperatures.
Prost pushed the bar for F1 drivers, forcing them to get more involved in the process of setting up the car and optimising the setup come race-day. Following in his footsteps, drivers have now become more cognisant of the car, constantly pushing its limit technically.
Consistency is something we struggle with all our life. Consistency was the one thing that gave Michael Schumacher an edge over the field. To put it simply, if there was ever a ranking for the best drivers in F1, it will be extremely tough for anyone else to compete with Schumacher for the top spot.
Schumacher is a seven time world champion, a joint record. What is even more astonishing is the fact that he won all the five world titles on offer from 2000 to 2004. He was, is and forever will be the poster boy for Ferrari. With him at the steering wheel, Ferrari achieved tremendous success.
Schumacher has 91 wins under his belt, including a record 13 wins in one season. He also holds the record for the most fastest laps award with 77, emphasising his exemplary tyre management and braking skills. To emphasize how consistent Michael was, he has finished on the podium a mind-boggling 155 times.
Apart from a brief spell at Mercedes after coming out of retirement, Schumacher never finished outside the top 5, finishing in the top 3 twelve times. It is because of Schumacher that the current crop of drivers focus so much on their fitness regime and maintaining peak personal health to achieve excellence consistently.
Lewis Hamilton is firsts for many things. He might probably be the first man from humble financial background to make it into F1. He is definitely the man with the most wins, most world titles, most poles, most podium finishes, etc, etc. You get the point.
Lewis Hamilton is, without a doubt, the best F1 driver of the turbo hybrid era, which is a major technological change implemented to the engines in 2014. Since the shift, Lewis Hamilton has won the world title every year, bar one in 2016. His dominance has seen him eviscerate any competition, with the battle for championships going into the final race of the season only once.
Lewis Hamilton is the definition of a perfect human being. He is focused, driven and at the top of his profession. He has made the most of the global platform provided to him by Formula 1. He has been vocal about some of the biggest environmental issues like climate change, cutting down of forests, Black Lives Matter. He also has a thriving career in the music industry. The man is just perfect!
Oh, and Lewis Hamilton is the first ever African-British driver in Formula 1 and has also been knighted. Arise Sir Lewis Hamilton!
Well, we would be remiss to not give a shout-out to Sebastian Vettel, Mika Hakkinen, Damon Hill and David Coulthard. If there ever was a top 10 of the greatest F1 drivers, they would be in it.
From Senna’s technical prowess to Schumacher’s discipline, from Prost’s tactical genius to Niki Lauda’s determination, from Fangio’s benchmark to Hamilton’s perfection, Formula 1 is where it is thanks to the influence of them and some of the best drivers in the world. It is a thrill-a-minute ride full of excitement, drama and really high quality.
At Sportskhabri, we are writing a series of articles to help you get started with Formula 1, ahead of the kick-off of the 2021 season on the 28th of March. If you haven’t read the first part you can find it here.