Fastest Formula 1 Driver: Revised Edition

When Formula 1 and AWS released their ‘Fastest Formula 1 Driver’ analysis, they broke the internet. Judging by the number of meltdowns in the comments on Facebook groups, if their goals were simply to get more people talking about F1 and to get more people taking notice of the sport, it was Mission Accomplished.

However, the results had a lot of people scratching their heads.

Heikki Kovalainen in eighth place?

Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen not on the list?

Thankfully, not everyone took the figures as gospel, and numbers began to get crunched…

So, to see how drivers stack up against each other and add some weight to the debate, the team at money.co.uk analysed the performance of drivers from the last 70 years to see how they performed across nine different factors including career win percentage, championship points per race (adjusted for the current scoring system), and 2nd and 3rd place podium finishes to rank, on balance, the best drivers of all time.

To account for manufacturer reliability and performance, they also included the percentage of races where drivers were forced to retire due to mechanical issues and the average number of points per race (adjusted) Vs teammates.

Here are the findings!

Top 10 Greatest Drivers Of All Time

Juan Manuel Fangio88.6 points
Michael Schumacher79.2 points
Lewis Hamilton75.7 points
Jim Clark65.5 points
Alberto Ascari65.3 points
Alain Prost64.2 points
Ayrton Senna 58.9 points
Jackie Stewart58.3 points
Sebastian Vettel57.9 points
Niki Lauda50.9 points

See the full list of the Top 50 Fastest Formula 1 Drivers

Top 10 Drivers By Career Win %

Juan Manuel Fangio47.1%
Alberto Ascari40.6%
Jim Clark34.7%
Lewis Hamilton34.5%
Michael Schumacher29.6%
Jackie Stewart27.3%
Alain Prost 25.6%
Ayrton Senna25.5%
Stirling Moss24.2%
Sebastian Vettel21.6%

Most Total Career Points (adjusted)

Michael Schumacher3,961 (12.9 per start)
Lewis Hamilton3952 (15.5 per start)
Sebastian Vettel3,223 (13.1 per start)
Kimi Räikkönen2,816 (8.8 per start)
Fernando Alonso 2,761 (8.8 per start)
Alain Prost2,502 (12.6 per start)
Rubens Barrichello1,906 (5.9 per start)
Ayrton Senna 1,875 (11.6 per start)
Jenson Button1,844 (6 per start)
Nico Rosberg1,757 (8.5 per start)

Most 2nd & 3rd Place Finishes

Kimi Räikkönen82
Lewis Hamilton68
Sebastian Vettel67
Fernando Alonso65
Michael Schumacher64
Rubens Barrichello57
Alain Prost55
David Coulthard49
Valtteri Bottas42
Ayrton Senna39

Least Races To First Win

Giuseppe 'Nino' Farina1
Juan Manuel Fangio2
Tony Brooks3
Emerson Fittipaldi4
Jacques Villeneuve4
Clay Regazzoni5
José Froilán González5
Lewis Hamilton6
Jacky Ickx7
Bruce McLaren7

The Methodology

The team analysed driver performance on a range of data points that are typically associated with success (detailed below) across the duration of their careers.

To mitigate manufacturer bias (i.e. cars with superior engineering) they took into consideration drivers average points per start vs their teammates.

They also looked at the % of races where drivers were forced to retire due to a mechanical fault to account for improved reliability.

Findings were scored and weighted using a min-max normalisation formula with final rankings weighted towards championship wins, reliability, and team performance to emphasise performance against peers and avoid manufacturer bias.

Win %, Championship Wins, Points Per Start, Podium %, Pole %, Fastest Laps, Mechanical DNF %, Average Points Vs Teammate

Sources

Statsf1.com, Formulapoints.com, Formula1.com, Racing-statistics.com

Caveats

Only drivers with more than 10 career points (adjusted) or 21 GP starts (length of 2019 season) were considered.

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