F1Single seater racing

Revealed: F1's best-ever driver

© Maserati
Written by Greg Stuart
Is it Senna? Schumacher? Vettel? Not according to a new study by the University of Sheffield...
Who is the greatest F1 driver ever? It's a classic question and, thanks to Dr Andrew Bell and his team at the University of Sheffield, it now has a definitive answer.
Dr. Bell and his researchers examined data including the F1 team the driver was racing for, how good that team was at the time, the driver’s performance relative to their team-mate and how competitive a race was. After careful scrutiny, they found that the greatest Formula One driver ever is Argentina's five-time World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio.
Vote for your favourite F1 driver of all time at the bottom of the page…

According to the University's study, the top 10 F1 drivers of all time are:

  1. Juan Manuel Fangio
  2. Alain Prost
  3. Michael Schumacher (not counting his 2010-2012 Mercedes stint, which would pull him down to eighth)
  4. Jim Clark
  5. Ayrton Senna
  6. Fernando Alonso
  7. Nelson Piquet
  8. Jackie Stewart
  9. Emerson Fittipaldi
  10. Sebastian Vettel
Prost is the second-best ever
Prost is the second-best ever
Bizarrely Christian Fittipaldi, nephew of ninth-placed two-time world champion Emerson, is ranked in 11th spot despite only notching a highest-placed finish in the Drivers’ Championship of 13th in his three-year F1 career.
According to the study: “Fittipaldi consistently outperformed his team-mates, and because he never raced for a ‘good’ team, the standard required to get a high ranking is lower.
“Of course, this model cannot say that C.Fittipaldi would have won championships had he raced for a better team… but the results suggest that in one aspect of good race driving at least – that is, keeping a relatively unreliable car on the road – he should be highly regarded.”
Niki Lauda won’t be happy with 142nd
Niki Lauda won’t be happy with 142nd
On the other end of the scale, three-time F1 champion Niki Lauda – ranked ninth in the all-time F1 winners’ list with 25 victories – finds himself down in a lowly 142nd spot, beaten by drivers including Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Nick Heidfeld and his one-time Ferrari and BRM team-mate Clay Regazzoni.
Of the other current F1 drivers in the list, Lewis Hamilton is ranked 12th, with Daniel Ricciardo in 32nd and Nico Rosberg in 49th.
Daniel Ricciardo – the 32nd best of all time!
Daniel Ricciardo – the 32nd best of all time!
You can download the whole study here. But beware – there’s a lot of maths involved!

How would you rank the top 10 F1 drivers of all time? Vote in the list below...