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Who’s the greatest driver of all time?

It’s hard to believe it, but 2020 will see the 70th anniversary of Formula 1 racing. For a sport that seems so modern, and constantly changing as technology develops, it’s hard to imagine what the early days of racing must have been like. It’s also hard to imagine the challenges that the drivers must have faced without all the support that they receive today.

Over the decades there have been so many drivers who have won the hearts of their nations through their feats of speed, skill and courage that it’s almost impossible to choose one above all others. This is especially true as the different eras are hard to compare. So rather than creating a top five list, here are five drivers, each of whom were outstanding tin their respective generations and who would undoubtedly still be big favourites on online betting sites if they were still driving today and – spoiler alert – one of them still is.

Juan Manuel Fangio

The first name on the list comes from the earliest days of Formula One racing having been world champion no less than five times starting with the 1950 inaugural season and following it up with a series of four more consecutive wins between 1954 and 1957. In his career the Argentinian driver known as El Maestro competed in 52 races winning 24 of them. At over 46% this is the highest winning ratio ever. He’s also the only Argentinian ever to have won the Argentinian Grand Prix, a feat he achieved no less than four times in his remarkable career.

Jim Clark

The 1960 saw a period when Britain dominated Formula 1 thanks to teams like Lotus and Brabham. Of the many drivers who excelled in this period, many agree that Jim Clark rose above all others in a career that was tragically shortened when he died in a Formula 2 event at the Hockenheim circuit in 1968. Born to a farming family in Scotland, Clark showed early promise as a driver but it wasn’t until he was 24 that he made his F1 debut. Over his career he won the world championship twice, in 1963 and 1965, in each case scoring the maximum number of points available.

Ayrton Senna

Another driver who met a tragic end in competition was Ayrton Senna. Before he died in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix he had won a total of three world championships in 1988, 1990 and 1991. In 162 starts he achieved podium finishes in 80 of them and notched up 40 wins in total. He was famous for being the most successful driver ever at Monaco having won six times in all. He was also well known for his fearless style of driving, even in wet conditions where other drivers showed more caution. He was also involved in a famous rivalry with Alain Prost, another candidate for one of the greatest drivers of all time.

Michael Schumacher

In terms of numbers, Schumacher is the driver who stands heads and shoulders above the rest. Not only did he win the world championship seven times, five of these were consecutive between the years of 2000 and 2004. He also holds the record for the most grands prix wins ever (91) and the highest number of fastest laps (77). He enjoyed his greatest successes when driving for Ferrari in the early 00s and was even encouraged to come out of retirement to drive for arch rivals Mercedes where, at 43, he became the oldest driver since Jack Brabham in 1970 to claim a podium finish when he came third in the 2012 German Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton

No rundown of the best drivers of all time would be complete without the inclusion of Hamilton. His big break came when he was recruited by Mercedes as a replacement for Schumacher. Since then he has won five world championships, 83 grands prix and achieved 87 pole positions in the 247 races in which he’s competed. With many more years racing left in him it seems very possible that he will be the driver to overtake, or at least match, all of Schumacher’s records to write himself into the history books of F1 forever.

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