1. Stirling Moss
Always has been, always will, the greatest driver to never win a world championship. He is still considered by many to be the great British Formula One driver, despite the likes of Clark and Stewart and Hill and Mansell and Hamilton. He is a true great of the sport, up there with Fangio and Clark and Senna and Stewart and Schumacher. Infact, I’d put him over Schumacher, fourth behind Fangio, Clark and Senna. Prost sixth. Stewart seventh. I think.
There were other British drivers who actually won World Championships during that era, ie. Mike Hawthorn, and later John Surtees. Hill and Clark and Stewart all have multiple titles, and are considered equals of Moss.
He finished 2nd four times, and third three times. He totalled a car at Goodwood in ‘62, left in a coma for a month and half paralysed for six more. When he returned in a private test session, he felt like he couldn’t control the car like he used to and was a few tenths slower than he used to be. He retired from racing, without having won any major sporting trophy outside of a Mille Miglia in the mid 50’s (that he won with famous motor racing journalist Denis Jenkinson).
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.
3. Kimi Raikkonen
"I know what I’m doing"
Plus there was that time he retired from the Monaco Grand Prix in 2006 and then went to his yacht instead of going back to the pits, got wasted, and fell from the top level of his yacht. And that time he was caught passed out cuddling an inflatable dolphin in the gutter. And that time he entered a snowmobile race under the name of James Hunt. And boat races with his mates dressed as a gorilla. Plus, on living in Finland, “Well, in summer there is fishing and fucking. And in winter, the fishing is bad”
Some accurate but also some interesting (see bottom right) things pop up when you search “(year) f1 car” into google image search.
Donnelly at the Principality.
Jim Clark, Nurburgring, 1964.
Dunlop Crew: Clark, Hill, Gurney and Surtees.
Monaco 1985, Ayrton Senna for Lotus-Renault.
On the run up at Eau Rouge.