2. Ronnie Peterson
Depending on who you ask, people are either 100% convinced Ronnie was following team orders and deliberately never challenged Mario in 78, or they are 100% convinced Mario was just quicker. Ronnie always claimed no such team orders existed, and Andretti had won everything else he had ever entered so it isn’t too farfetched to believe someone of his quality was actually quicker than Ronnie. But that would have made him the first driver to in the history of the world to be quicker than Ronnie.
Opposite lock, all the time, full control. The man was quickness embodied. Go to youtube, look up on-board videos of him. He was sure to be king, if only he had had the car. He finally had the car in 1978… but he had Mario as his team-mate. It was Mario’s time, and Ronnie was sure to get his…
Ronnie had his legs broken at a start-line crash at Monza that year. He survived, with extensive surgery and rehabilitation ahead of him… but the surgeon’s didn’t take care to prevent a fat embolism from forming and he died of renal failure by the next morning.
A combination of “should’ve won in his career” and a death robbing us of another great driver. Formula One is a harsh mistress.