Lewis Hamilton, 2018 Spanish Grand Prix.

Most successful F1 drivers

There have been many wildly successful Formula 1 drivers over the years – Senna, Hamilton, Vettel, Lauda, Schumacher… to name just a few!

But who is the most successful of them all? A difficult question to answer. And of course, before you can work out who is the most successful F1 driver you need to first define success. For instance:

  • Is it down to number of race wins?
  • Win percentage?
  • Number of fastest laps?
  • Are being the most successful and being the greatest the same thing?

Clearly, there are a variety of factors by which we can measure a driver’s success, but no single factor can define success by itself. So, enough with the half-baked theories and never-ending debates. RaceChip have collated the most important statistics, looking specifically at drivers who have competed in 50 Grands Prix or more, to come to the internet’s first numerically objective conclusion on who is the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time.

If you’d like to see the full table of data, you can do so here. Data is current as of April 2018.

Most wins in career

Driver No. of Grand Prix Total Wins
Michael Schumacher 307 91
Lewis Hamilton 212 63
Alain Prost 199 51
Sebastian Vettel 201 49
Ayrton Senna 161 41
Fernando Alonso 294 32
Nigel Mansell 187 31
Jackie Stewart 99 27
Niki Lauda 171 25
Jim Clark 72 25

Highest win percentage

Driver No. of Grand Prix Win Percentage Over Career
Juan Manuel Fangio 51 47.1%
Jim Clark 72 34.7%
Michael Schumacher 307 29.6%
Lewis Hamilton 212 29.7%
Jackie Stewart 99 27.3%
Alain Prost 199 25.6%
Ayrton Senna 161 25.5%
Stirling Moss 66 24.2%
Sebastian Vettel 201 23.4%
Damon Hill 115 19.1%

Most 2nd & 3rd places

Driver No. of Grand Prix 2nd & 3rd Places
Kimi Raikkonen 275 74
Fernando Alonso 294 65
Michael Schumacher 307 64
Rubens Barrichello 323 57
Lewis Hamilton 212 57
Alain Prost 199 55
Sebastian Vettel 201 52
David Coulthard 246 49
Ayrton Senna 161 39
Gerhard Berger 210 38

Most pole positions

Driver No. of Grand Prix Pole Position
Lewis Hamilton 212 73
Michael Schumacher 307 68
Ayrton Senna 161 65
Sebastian Vettel 201 52
Alain Prost 199 33
Jim Clark 72 33
Nigel Mansell 187 32
Nico Rosberg 206 30
Juan Manuel Fangio 51 29
Mika Hakkinen 161 26

Fastest laps over career

Driver No. of Grand Prix Fastest Laps
Michael Schumacher 307 77
Kimi Raikkonen 274 45
Alain Prost 199 41
Lewis Hamilton 212 39
Sebastian Vettel 201 33
Nigel Mansell 187 30
Jim Clark 72 28
Mika Hakkinen 161 25
Niki Lauda 171 24
Juan Manuel Fangio 51 23

Lowest crash percentage over career

Lowest Crash % No. of Grand Prix Crash %
Stirling Moss 66 1.5
Juan Manuel Fangio 51 2.0
Valtteri Bottas 97 2.1
Daniel Ricciardo 129 2.3
Dan Gurney 86 2.3
Carlos Reutemann 146 2.7
Jim Clark 72 2.8
Emerson Fittipaldi 144 3.5
Denny Hulme 112 3.6
Richie Ginther 52 3.8

Who is F1’s most successful driver?

Place Driver Final Score
1 Michael Schumacher 8.38
2 Lewis Hamilton 7.04
3 Juan Manuel Fangio 5.94
4 Sebastian Vettel 5.87
5 Alain Prost 5.67
6 Ayrton Senna 5.17
7 Jim Clark 4.73
8 Jackie Stewart 4.29
9 Fernando Alonso 3.80
10 Niki Lauda 3.62

Formula

After collecting all the data that we deemed made a successful driver, we used a formula to normalize each statistic. This allowed us to measure the drivers out of ten in each category. We then took these results and condensed them into a single average for each driver, allowing us to numerically rank them based on everything we’ve shown you. It is also important to note that we weighted the categories according to what we thought was more relevant in relation to the concept of success, and to balance out the fact that some drivers have had vastly more races.

Being a great driver and being successful are different things: the former is an internal and theoretical potency for brilliance, while the latter is a more quantifiable case of getting results. What we mean by this is that a great driver can have all the skill and instinctive ability, but if they don’t have the right team, car, engine and even luck, it will harm how successful they can actually be.

Our results were fascinating. Coming in at number one was a driver who won multiple categories in our study: with an average of 8.38 out of 10, Michael Schumacher stormed in to take first place. While most people probably saw this coming, what’s truly outstanding about this result is that even though he has by far and away the highest amount of crashes of the top ten, Schumacher is still way ahead of the competition.

Second place is similarly predictable. Lewis Hamilton reliably maintains a strong average in every statistic, giving him a final result of 7.04. He still has a long way to go before he can overtake Schumacher, but Hamilton has only been racing in Formula 1 for 12 years while Schumacher stopped after 19 years – if can maintain his high standard of driving for the foreseeable future, could Hamilton one day become the most successful driver? Only time will tell.

Juan Manuel Fangio takes third place; an understandable result considering his incredible win percentage as well as his other various appearances throughout this study. He was a driver of real skill and it would be fascinating if we could match him up against the drivers of today.

The rest of the top ten list is made up of mainstays we’ve already encountered throughout this study. The appearances of Ayrton Senna and Jim Clark in the list are impressive and make you wonder what heights they could have reached were it not for their untimely deaths in their early 30s.

Driver fact files

With these tables, it can be hard to get a rounded view of the drivers and their careers. We’ve picked out some of the category winners and looked at them a little more in depth.

Juan Manuel Fangio: highest win percentage

Juan Manuel Fangio F1 stats

Kimi Raikonnen: most 2nd & 3rd places

Kimi Raikonnen F1 stats

Lewis Hamilton: most pole positions

Lewis Hamilton F1 stats

Michael Schumacher: most Championship wins, total wins, podiums & fastest laps

Michael Schumacher F1 stats

So there you have our top ten list of The Most Successful F1 Drivers of All Time. Do you agree with our criteria for success and the results they gave us? Or do you think there are other factors that should be taken into consideration?

RaceChip

RaceChip

1 comment

Subscribe for updates

Subscribe to our Telegram Channel and follow us on Instagram and Facebook today!