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> My Top 50 Grand Prix Drivers
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Severin
post May 14 2020, 05:33 PM
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Now that Mack has completed his greatest F1 races countdown, he had kindly agreed for me to run down my top 50 Grand Prix drivers.

I worked on this a while back and I should stress this goes back beyond the formation of the World Championship in 1950. Hence, before Formula One was a recognised category of racing. It essentially cover right back to the first recognised Grand Prix in France in 1906. The drivers come from the post 1950 entrants however as there is much less information readily available on pre-war racing. I have long found that era to be fascinating though so have tried to read and watch as much on the great pre-war drivers as I can.

I have also tried to be as objective as possible and take in to account all aspects of a driver - car control, skill, technical ability, results and the machinery they were in. Probably the biggest emphasis is on their ability compared to their contemporaries. How good were they compared to those they faced on the track, and just how good was the quality of the grid. After all it's impossible to directly compare Sebastian Vettel against Jackie Stewart. The cars, circuits and the sport itself were totally different.

And of course, whilst statistics do come in to it the emphasis has been lowered - Lewis Hamilton may have won 25 more poles than Ayrton Senna but he competed in 89 more races than Senna. And of course the cars and teams are a factor too. There are just too many variables.

It may be noted too that I may lean in favour of certain eras of the sport. Sometimes because I feel it was more competitive at that point or that the regulations and technical aspects of the sport made drivers skills very different. A comparison of in car footage from 1974 compared to today's will show the driver in the '70s would have to wrestle with the steering and gears to control the car but today's pilots skills are more focused on precision into the corners to the level which many back in the day couldn't match. If you notice a bias towards a certain era you may well be right. Sorry. I have tried to be objective throughout.

Which brings me to the final, and key point. This is my opinion. I do not set myself up as an expert or claim to be right. This is a list of the drivers that I, from my experience, rate as the greatest having considered all aspects. There will be things I don't know and things I focus on more than others.
There will be wtf moments I'm sure and I encourage you to argue your cases. You might convince me. I changed the top 3 in this list so many times and probably will again.


Anyway, I'll post #50 tonight. Hope you enjoy
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Dobbo
post May 14 2020, 05:49 PM
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Oh excellent, I'll be following this very closely. You have a wealth of first hand knowledge of drivers in their pomp so will interesting to see your opinion on certain likely appearances!
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Severin
post May 14 2020, 07:15 PM
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50 – Rubens Barrichello



Career – 1993-2011
Teams – Jordan, Stewart, Ferrari, Honda, Brawn, Williams
WC Starts – 322
WC Wins – 11
WC Poles – 14
Best Finish – 2nd (2002, 2004)


One of the most genuinely likeable characters ever to grace the Grand Prix circuits of the world, and perhaps one of the unluckiest. Success always seemed to be snatched away from him through no fault of his own and his long run of poor luck is best exemplified by his ill fated Brazilian GP results – 12 retirements in 19 attempts. Barrichello also holds the record for most World Championship GP starts with 322.
When Rubens arrived in F1 in 1993 he did so with much expectation, and duly delivered in his debut season. He regularly out-performed more experienced team-mates and excelled in the wet but ultimately his early years were hampered by unreliable machinery at Jordan and Stewart.
He was fortunate not to be seriously hurt at Imola in 1994 but recovered to memorably take his first pole at Belgium that year. It wasn’t until 2000 when he finally had a car worthy of his talents at Ferrari. Unfortunately, the team made it clear he was to play support to Schumacher – so much so that following the outcry over the 2002 Austrian GP team orders were banned for a while. Despite a car that was designed to suit Schumacher’s unusual driving style, Barrichello managed some impressive wins, often in the wet and finished 2nd in the championship in 2004. A deteriorating relationship at Ferrari saw a difficult 2005 mark his last season with the team.
He moved to the underperforming Honda team which eventually became Brawn in 2009. He was eventual champion Jenson Button’s closest rival that year and was in the title hunt until a puncture broke his challenge at the penultimate race of the year in Brazil, a circuit which had never been kind to him. 2 years at Williams followed before his eventual departure to Indycar in 2012 for a single season, after which he returned to Brazilian stock cars and eventually the media.

Ultimately, Barrichello’s career is one of what might have been had he been given equipment worthy of his abilities more often and a little more luck. And had he been free to challenge Schumacher he would certainly have added to his tally of victories.


This post has been edited by Severin: May 15 2020, 11:36 AM
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Mack.
post May 14 2020, 07:47 PM
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Good start to this countdown. Rubens Barrichello he deserved to win more races would have if he hadn't been Ferraris No 2 driver. His win in Germany 2000 was quite emotional.
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Dobbo
post May 15 2020, 09:06 AM
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Will be interesting to see if he holds onto the most appearances record with Raikkonen currently 10 behind. No guarantees on the number of races this season plus I expect Kimi to retire afterwards.

I always liked Rubens & he was definitely shafted badly on occasions by Ferrari. I rewatched the 2009 season a few weeks back and didn't remember how close he actually could have come to winning that year. How typical at Interlagos it was all set up for him to ease to victory with all his rivals down the field and then things turned against him. 2004 was his best shot of winning that race but a poor strategy cost him that time.

Hockenheim 2000 & Silverstone 2003 among his best drives.

Also Severin he finished 2nd in 2002.


This post has been edited by Dobbo: May 15 2020, 09:08 AM
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Severin
post May 15 2020, 11:35 AM
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QUOTE(Dobbo @ May 15 2020, 10:06 AM) *
Will be interesting to see if he holds onto the most appearances record with Raikkonen currently 10 behind. No guarantees on the number of races this season plus I expect Kimi to retire afterwards.

I always liked Rubens & he was definitely shafted badly on occasions by Ferrari. I rewatched the 2009 season a few weeks back and didn't remember how close he actually could have come to winning that year. How typical at Interlagos it was all set up for him to ease to victory with all his rivals down the field and then things turned against him. 2004 was his best shot of winning that race but a poor strategy cost him that time.

Hockenheim 2000 & Silverstone 2003 among his best drives.

Also Severin he finished 2nd in 2002.

Yeah I think Kimi will probably nab that record as it stands but who knows for sure.

You're right that he finished 2nd in 2002 as well, but his points deficit to Michael was far higher than in 2004. That being said, I'll amend it to reflect the double 2nd places as it was an oversight.

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Severin
post May 15 2020, 01:22 PM
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49 – Elio De Angelis



Career – 1979-1986
Teams – Shadow, Lotus, Brabham
WC Starts – 108
WC Wins – 2
WC Poles – 3
Best Finish – 3rd (1984)


Elio De Angelis was almost my favourite current driver at one time. In mid 1982 there suddenly appeared a vacancy for the position. The utterly charming and funny young Italian was on the verge of me declaring him my favourite driver until things changed at Monaco 1984. Ironically, Elio’s career is one of always being the ‘nearly man’.
Initially earmarked to join Ferrari in 1978 as replacement for the departing Niki Lauda but the drive went to Gilles Villeneuve instead. De Angelis had his debut the following year for the Shadow team, finishing 7th in his first race and catching the eye of Colin Chapman at Lotus who put him in the team alongside Mario Andretti in 1980. He almost became the sports youngest ever winner at 21 years old when he came 2nd in the Brazilian GP that year but would have to wait until 1982 to take his first win in the Austrian GP, finishing ahead of eventual champion Keke Rosberg.
1983 was a difficult year with twelve retirements and one disqualification from fifteen races. 1984 saw him consistently score well in a season when McLaren were dominant and his four podiums that year earned him 3rd in the championship. The next season saw him partnered alongside Ayrton Senna again at Lotus. Despite a 2nd Grand Prix win he became frustrated by the team’s increasing focus behind Senna. He finished the season in 5th place, only 5pts adrift of the Brazilian.
He elected to leave the team and signed for Brabham for 1986. The season began poorly as Brabham were entering a slow but terminal decline. De Angelis managed only one finish from the first four races. Improvements were to be developed during testing at Paul Ricard in France, but in the middle of a high speed run De Angelis’s rear wing broke off. The resulting loss of downforce sent the car into a cartwheel, flipping the barrier and bursting into flames. He was unable to remove himself from the car unassisted and there were insufficient marshals at the track to help him. It took almost half an hour before a helicopter arrived to take him to the hospital in Marseille. He died the following day from smoke inhalation. A broken collar bone and light burns were the only injuries from the crash itself.
It marked the end of the original layout of the circuit, the Mistral straight being split by a chicane and the Verriere Curves where De Angelis crashed were bypassed. De Angelis was the last driver to be killed in F1 until Roland Ratzenberger eight years later. Many considered him F1's last 'gentleman driver'.

In the now famous 2016 mathematical model that assessed all F1 drivers based on their relative influence to their machine, De Angelis was ranked the 20th greatest driver of all time.


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Dobbo
post May 15 2020, 02:29 PM
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I always used to mix up Elio de Angelis with Andrea de Cesaris when I watched all the old F1 reviews but I can clearly see there was a vast difference in ability now laugh.gif

His accident was really tragic. That's really shocking that it was down to the time he was left in the car not from any impact injuries. You'd think they'd have learned from Roger Williamson in 1973.
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Severin
post May 15 2020, 08:19 PM
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QUOTE(Dobbo @ May 15 2020, 03:29 PM) *
I always used to mix up Elio de Angelis with Andrea de Cesaris when I watched all the old F1 reviews but I can clearly see there was a vast difference in ability now laugh.gif

His accident was really tragic. That's really shocking that it was down to the time he was left in the car not from any impact injuries. You'd think they'd have learned from Roger Williamson in 1973.

Ah, good old de Cesaris. He was always 'entertaining'

And yes, they should have learned from Williamson. It seems ridiculous that they didn't consider full course marshals at testing.
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Severin
post May 15 2020, 08:50 PM
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48 – Jacques Villeneuve



Career – 1996-2005
Teams – Williams, BAR, Renault, Sauber, BMW Sauber
WC Starts – 163
WC Wins – 11
WC Poles – 13
Best Finish – World Champion (1997)


Probably the first contentious inclusion but I was able to see much of his early Indycar running and he stood out for me then as an exciting prospect. Given the overall trajectory of Villeneuve’s career it’s too easy to forget just what an early impact he had, but if ever a driver started strong and trailed off into mediocrity it is Villeneuve. But even that in itself is harsh as it was a young driver called Jenson Button who effectively ended Jacques’ career in F1, and who, at the time wasn’t fully appreciated. And of course, their is THAT surname. For some it wouldn't matter what he did, it would never stand up to his father's legacy.
Villeneuve came into F1 having finished 2nd in the 1994 Indianapolis 500 in his rookie year and winning it in his 2nd attempt despite a 2 lap penalty - the so called '505'. He also took the CART title the same year by which time talks with Frank Williams were underway. Arguably, the early to mid '90s CART field was the strongest in the series history making it no small achievement. Only a three drivers have ever won the Indy 500, the Indy series itself and the F1 crown - Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti and Jacques Villenueve
The first race of the 1996 F1 season was at the all new Melbourne circuit in Australia. With all things being as close to equal as possible (given Damon Hill's established status in the team) he took pole position and almost won the race but for an oil leak that forced him to slow and allow Damon Hill to take the win. He took 4 wins in his debut year and was in title contention for 1996 until the final round when a loose wheel nut forced his retirement, as rookie season’s go it is arguably up there with Lewis Hamilton’s. Building on his early success in 1997 he took the title despite Michael Schumacher’s resurgent Ferrari team providing the challenge and a collison that got the German disqualified from the title results. It has been often noted that the Williams FW19 was the class of the field and it clearly was but it’s also worth noting he was paired with the highly rated Heinz-Harald Frentzen (who many considered Schumacher's equal in their pre-F1 days) and scored twice the number of points as the German driver.
Unfortunately, Williams designer Adrian Newey left in 1997 for McLaren, as did engine supplier Renault. This left Williams with a car that was both aerodynamically inferior to both Ferrari and McLaren, as well as being underpowered. Villeneuve became frustrated at his inability to run at the front of the field and left for his friend and manager Craig Pollock’s new BAR team for 1999. Sadly, the car was unreliable, failing on him 9 times that season – often on the starting grid. One notable event that year came when he and team mate Ricardo Zonta both attempted to take Eau Rouge without lifting off and both having spactacular crashes because of it.
Despite the BAR's issues, his loyalty to Pollock convinced him to stick with the team for a number of years. All of which showed promise but terrible reliability and were frustrating for the Canadian. In 2002 Pollock and much of the management left resulting in him feeling at odds and uncomfortable within the team set up. The following year he was outscored by a teammate for the first time since his debut season – the steadily improving Jenson Button. Villeneuve was expected to be the number one driver and was criticised by the media for being outpaced by Button. Villeneuve was replaced before the season ended.
The Canadian was without a drive for 2004 but returned at Renault for 3 races at the seasons end. Unfortunately, Fernando Alonso proved too difficult to keep up with and he left for Sauber in 2005 to partner Felipe Massa, with who he was fairly evenly matched with by the season’s end. In 2006 despite scoring regularly during the opening 12 rounds he sustained an injury in the German Grand Prix and was replaced by Robert Kubica, after which he elected to leave the team rather than have to fight the Pole for his seat. Jacques felt he had proved himself already.
Villeneuve is often maligned as one of the sports weakest champions but he consistently outperformed more experienced team mates and on the occasions his team mates bested him the drivers were soon to be highly rated in their own right, Button, Alonso and Kubica were all very gifted drivers.
He was also a victim of his own personality. His somewhat abrasive attitude and outspoken views endeared to few and turned much of the press and paddock against him. He often alienated those around him and chose close friendships and a long term project over manoeuvring himself into a top team, and he never quite had the ability to galvanise a team around him or develop a car like Schumacher or Senna could. Had the rug not been pulled from under him when Newey and Renault left Williams, his legacy might have been different.
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Dobbo
post May 16 2020, 11:00 AM
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A career that had so much more left to give. He basically done a Hamilton before Hamilton, finishing second in the standings in his debut season (and clocking up 4 race victories) then winning the title in the final race of the following season. Remarkable how their fortunes changed after such a similar initial trajectory but sometimes you're only as good as your machinery so it more misfortune than anything.

And yeah he was Alonso before Alonso, but I do like his often outspoken views he stills gives to this day.

Ultimately he lived up to his father's legacy and branded the Villeneuve name with an F1 title but those were some footsteps to follow in!
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Severin
post May 16 2020, 03:43 PM
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He also brought Danni Minogue along to many races too which was always a bonus.
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Severin
post May 16 2020, 03:46 PM
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47 – Juan Pablo Montoya



Career – 2001-2006
Teams – Williams, McLaren
WC Starts – 94
WC Wins – 7
WC Poles – 13
Best Finish – 3rd (2002 & 2003)

Montoya is one of those drivers who is best looked at whilst including his non-F1 career. He has the distinction of being one of only three drivers to win in F1, Indycar and NASCAR - the others being Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney. He has won the Indianapolis 500 (twice), the Race Of Champions, Daytona and the Monaco Grand Prix. Along with Fernando Alonso he is the only active race car driver to have won 2 legs of motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’ and winning Le Mans is not beyond his capabilities. It’s therefore something of a shame and surprise that his F1 career never quite delivered on its early promise.
He came into F1 in 2001 with a Williams team that was enjoying a slight bounce in fortunes after a poor end to the 90s. It took only until the 3rd race in Brazil for him to make his presence felt but he did so muscling his way passed Schumacher in an audacious move following a safety car period. It was the first of a number of memorable moments between the two drivers and began a period where Montoya (and for one year Raikkonen) was arguably Schumacher’s only proper rival on the track, following Hakkinen’s departure. The two came to blows on track several times and Schumacher was clearly irked by Montoya's aggressive style and attitude on a number of occasions. Sadly, the reliability of the Williams – and later the McLaren – hindered his chances every bit as much as his gift for making errors and he was never able to mount a serious title challenge.
For those who remember him though, he was an exciting and unpredictable racer who was undeniably fast, and very much a character out of the car too. The ‘only one f1 win Juan’ press conference question is still brilliant too.


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Dobbo
post May 16 2020, 04:00 PM
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Montoya was my fave driver when I first started following the Sport. I remember being so gutted when he missed out on the 03 title.

The first race I ever attended was Silverstone 05 which he won which fully cemented his place as my fave. Such a shame he missed 2 races that season through, that kinda put a halt on any title bid with what was easily the quickest (yet unfortunately unreliable) car on the grid.

He also seemed to have a habit of crashing with lapped cars, can think of Brazil 01, Turkey 05 & Belgium 05. Definitely never fulfilled his true potential!


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Mack.
post May 16 2020, 05:51 PM
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Who knows what would have happened if he had stayed at McLaren for 2007..... He was a very exciting driver, Montoya. That move in Europe 2003 with Schumacher certainly irked Schumacher.
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Severin
post May 16 2020, 06:15 PM
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46 – Stefan Bellof



Career – 1984-1985
Teams – Tyrrell
WC Starts – 20
WC Wins – 0
WC Poles – 0
Best Finish – 16th (1985)



The record books will show that Bellof only made 20 starts and scored a mere 4 points over 2 seasons back when Tyrrell were a decent mid table team, but that is far from the whole story. Many regarded him as the most promising young driver in the sport, ahead of the likes of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
The young German driver broke into F1 with an impressive reputation and record. He’d dominated the German Formula Ford Championship in 1980 and came 3rd in the German F3 series the following year. In 1983, driving a Porsche 956, he set a lap record for the Nordschleife at the Nurburgring that would stand for 35 years whilst competing in the World Endurance Championship, qualifying 6s faster than any other car from a field that included Keke Rosberg, and Jacky Ickx. Bellof claimed he could have gone faster – having made a couple of mistakes and been held up.
In 1984 he won that series as well as the DRM – now known as the DTM – both whilst also competing in F1.
Unfortunately, due weight irregularities, the Tyrell F1 team were stripped of all of the driver and teams points accumulated that year, including his most outstanding drive. In torrential rain at Monaco Bellof started the race in last place, but by the time it was red flagged because of the weather he was 3rd, with Prost leading the race and Senna in 2nd catching him by nearly 4 seconds a lap. Bellof was faster than both of the future World Champions and catching the pair. Strangely, most only recall Senna’s drive but it wasn’t even the best that day. Despite other excellent drives it would be the highlight of a brief but stunning career in F1. It earned him a meeting with Enzo Ferrari regarding a drive for the Italian team in 1986 and made Bellof the idol of a young Michael Schumacher.
Bellof’s driving style was bold and aggressive leading many in the paddock to describe him as without fear. Tragically, his aggression may have been his downfall. In a World Endurance Champ race at Spa in 1985, whilst challenging for the lead he attempted to pass Jacky Ickx on the outside going up Eau Rouge and clipped the left rear of his Porsche sending Ickx into a spin. Bellof’s car went head first through the barrier and into a secondary wall before bursting into flame. All caught on Jacky Ickx’s onboard camera. Despite immediate attention the force of the impact was so severe it took 10 minutes to remove Bellof from the car. He was pronounced dead at the trackside hospital from massive internal injuries. What was left of his car was bent at right angles and the motorsport world had lost one of its most promising stars. One who was widely considered a future world champion, most likely Germany’s first.

In a 2009 Autosport magazine poll 217 F1 drivers,past and present placed Bellof the 35th greatest F1 driver of all time.

The last word – ‘the biggest talent that I’ve ever seen’ – Jackie Stewart
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Mack.
post May 16 2020, 07:00 PM
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A lost talent there in Bellof. That is remarkable his drive in Monaco.
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Severin
post May 17 2020, 02:57 PM
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45 – Jean-Pierre Wimille



Career – 1930-1949
Teams – Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Simca-Gordini,
WC Starts – N/A
WC Wins – N/A (20 Non championship wins)
WC Poles – N/A
Best Finish – N/A (Most Successful Driver 1947, 1948)


A driver whose career spanned the years leading in to WWII and those in the immediate aftermath is all but largely forgotten these days but was undoubtedly one of the great stars of his day.
Born in Paris, 1908 his early years were steeped in racing through his father’s work as motorsport correspondent for the local press. He made his debut in 1930 in a Bugatti at the French GP from which he retired with mechanical problems. By 1932 he had scored his first two victories, both in France, and a third win came in the 1934 Algerian GP but the Bugatti was becoming increasingly uncompetitive.
In the 1935 Spanish GP, now driving an Alfa Romeo, he was passed by the legendary Achille Varzi in an Auto Union and proceeded to try and follow the Italian’s racing line as closely as possible. He finished a surprising 4th ahead of Bernd Rosemeyer’s Auto Union and declared ‘I have just learned, in a few laps following Varzi, more than all my other races put together’.
However, the German teams dominated the 1930s and Wimille refused an offer at Auto Union for political reasons, meaning that, aside from a 1936 win at the French GP he would not taste victory in a major race again before war was declared and racing was abandoned across the continent, although he did win a further seven minor Grand Prix races.
During this period Wimille twice entered the 24hr of Le Mans and twice won the race outright, again driving for Bugatti.
From 1940 until the end of the war Wimille fought in the French Resistance and eventually the Special Operations Executive working behind enemy lines to sabotage and disrupt Nazi Germany’s war effort. He served with distinction but when peace returned across Europe his desire to race again remained..
As early as September 1945 Wimille won the Paris Cup, he had started from the back of the field. Whilst not a Grand Prix it was the first officially organised race since the war ended. Wimille became a national hero and was hugely influential among aspiring young drivers – a certain Juan Manuel Fangio included.
Wimille’s driving had matured from the once somewhat erratic to a smooth and controlled delivery and he was classed as among the greatest racing drivers in the world alongside the likes of Alberto Ascari, Luigi Villoresi, Louis Chiron and Giuseppe Farina. Between 1946 and 1948 Wimille won a further eight Grand Prix.
Then, tragically in practice for the 1949 Buenos Aires GP he was killed, having lost control whilst allegedly swerving to avoid spectators who’d strayed on to the track. He was expected to be among the favourites for the following years inaugural Formula One World Championship.
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Severin
post May 17 2020, 04:30 PM
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44 – Clay Regazzoni



Career – 1970-1980
Teams – Ferrari, BRM, Ensign, Shadow, Williams
WC Starts – 132
WC Wins – 5 (+2 Non Championship wins)
WC Poles – 5
Best Finish – 2nd (1974)


Swiss driver Gianclaudio 'Clay' Regazzoni’s most notable achievements are finishing 2nd in the championship in 1974, finishing an impressive 4th in his debut race, winning for Ferrari at Monza and taking the first ever win for Williams, all quite remarkable accomplishments. He was known as a hard racer, occasionally got accused of being dangerous and had no time for the electronic aids and driver assists that would come in the ‘90s and ‘00s – ‘today everyone can brake at 100m, what do you need the courage for, what do you steal to the other? 80cm!’
1979 World Champion Jody Scheckter once commented ‘if he'd been a cowboy he'd have been the one in the black hat.’
He was initially given one time drive at the 1970 Dutch GP by Ferrari and his 4th place was enough to grant him a return to the seat for the British GP a few races later where he again finished 4th and was promptly hired full time. His maiden win came at the Italian GP on the same weekend that Jochen Rindt was killed. He eventually finished the championship in 3rd place behind Rindt and Jacky Ickx despite only driving for a little over half the races. Unfortunately, Ferrari were poor in ’71 and ’72 and Clay choose to leave for BRM in ’73. They were in an even worsestate and he scored a paltry 2 points all season. He also suffered a huge crash which almost claimed his life but for the actions of Mike Hailwood, who pulled him from the resulting fire.
Both he and the promising Niki Lauda were hired by Ferrari in 1974. Regazzoni had recommended the Austrian to Enzo Ferrari and Lauda was expected to act as his wingman. Regazzoni narrowly missed out on the title to Emerson Fittipaldi, due to a faulty shock absorber affecting the cars handling in the final race at Watkins Glen, and a typical Ferrari mix up cost him dearly in Austria. Clay had gestured of a problem with his rear tyre that the crew misread as engine trouble. Upon pitting they suddenly noticed the tyre was flat but by then he had been given the signal to leave and had to pit again. It cost him two full minutes and he finished 5th in the end. He would lose the title by a mere 3 points. To make matters worse, Lauda had turned heads in the garage so much that he wasn’t asked to assist Regazzoni’s title challenge and was often given preferential equipment over the Swiss.
1975 and 1976 saw him increasingly outclassed by Lauda, who had begun to assert himself in the team and show his class. Regazzoni knew it was over when Carlos Reutemann came in as third driver following Lauda’s accident and was treated as their priority. Regazzoni had gone from title challenger and team leader to an unwelcome third driver in 18 months. Such was his treatment that when he won at Long Beach in 1976 a journalist wrote ‘Regazzoni, by accident, must have raced in Lauda’s car’. Ironically, Regazzoni was fired by Ferrari for having ‘raced for himself’
He signed for Ensign in 1977 and then Shadow in 1978 but neither team wear worthy of his talents and so for 1979 he teamed up with Frank Williams and took the teams 1st ever win at Silverstone. By the end of the season he was 40 years old and replaced by Carlos Reutemann (just as he had been at Ferrari) and for 1980 he returned to Ensign purely for his love of racing in F1, In only the 4th race of the year he suffered terrifying accident at Long Beach in the US GP West when his brakes failed at 174mph. He went up the escape road and hit a retired car. The accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Even this didn’t stop him racing and after a long rehabilitation he completed the Dakar rally and Sebring 12 hours. He eventually retired from competitive racing in 1990 at the age of 50 and was later killed in a road traffic accident in 2006.

The last word – ‘when in doubt I keep my foot down’ – Clay Regazzoni


This post has been edited by Severin: May 17 2020, 04:31 PM
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Severin
post May 18 2020, 07:29 PM
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43 – Carlos Reutemann



Career – 1972-1982
Teams – Brabham, Ferrari, Lotus, Williams
WC Starts – 146
WC Wins – 12 (+2 Non Championship wins)
WC Poles – 6
Best Finish – 2nd (1981)


The Argentine was a hugely popular driver during his career and was almost always contending the title, yet somehow always leaving a team just before its strongest season and he ended up finishing 3rd in 1975, ’78, ’80 and coming a career best 2nd in 1981, losing by a single point having led the championship for most of the season, but gearbox problems in the final race at Las Vegas saw him lose 4th gear early on in the race and drop back through the field.
Reutemann drove for a succession of famous teams and in 1972 in his debut Grand Prix for Brabham he put the car on pole – one of only 3 drivers ever to do this. Mario Andretti and Jacques Villenueve being the others. Reutemann’s teammate; double world champion Graham Hill could only manage 16th on the grid.
He remained at Brabham until mid 1976 when he replaced Niki Lauda at Ferrari, following his fiery Nurburgring accident. When Lauda unexpectedly returned after only 3 races Reutemann was retained at the expense of Clay Regazzoni's standing in the team. In 1977 he initially outpaced his now legendary teammate but Lauda would reassert himself as the season wore on and eventually reclaim his title from James Hunt.
For 1978 he was the senior driver to the young Gilles Villeneuve, with Lauda having departed for Brabham. He won 4 races but unfortunately, the Lotus 79 dominated the year and he had to settle for 3rd behind Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson.
Following the death of Ronnie Peterson there was a vacancy at Lotus for 1979 and Carlos joined the team only to find Ferrari were ascendant, and Jody Scheckter (his replacement at Ferrari) won the title with Villeneuve a strong challenger too.
Disillusioned with Lotus he left for Williams in 1980 and had another strong season and again finished 3rd but teammate Alan Jones took the title that year. The pairing were retained for 1981 but the year would bring its own problems though as his relationship with Alan Jones became bitter. In the season opener at Long Beach, (in a move that would arguably end up costing him the title) Reutemann allowed Jones through to take the win. He refused to do so for the 2nd race in Brazil as well. As a result Jones later refused to aid the Argentine in his title fight and they barely spoke to one another. Reutemann would lose the crown by a single point to Nelson Piquet. Whilst Reutemann would suggest the gears were his big issue in the title decider at Caesar's Palace many ave noted that his setup was completely wrong and his demeanour prior to the race were those of a troubled individual. It has been put forward that Reutemann simply drove well within his limits and had deliberately lost the title. Footage of the race does suggest a lack of fight in him regardless of gear problems.
Carlos Reutemann remained at Williams for 1982, this time with eventual champion Keke Rosberg alongside him but the Falklands War had caused tensions between the UK and Argentina and Reutemann retired from F1 citing this as the main reason. Others, such as Williams Chief Designer Patrick Head have claimed ‘his heart simply wasn’t in it anymore’.

Reutemann entered in to politics after his racing career and briefly considered running for President of Argentina in 2011

The 2016 academic paper ranked Reutemann as the 27th greatest driver of all time when factoring in the influence of driver vs the car

The last word - “The night before the race I remember getting a bit of a work-out with a physio, and the guy had just done Carlos – but he didn’t know who he was. He said to me, ‘Jesus, that guy was so uptight – his back muscles were solid!’ And the next day, he just didn’t drive. Handed the championship over.'' - Mario Andretti

'He's a tormented individual' - Enzo Ferrari


This post has been edited by Severin: May 18 2020, 07:31 PM
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