Back when it was stupidly hard to overtake in Formula One cars.
8. David Coulthard
Looked over as the number 2 man to Alain Prost in 1993, he eventually got a seat at Williams after the tragic passing of Ayrton Senna. The young Scot showed promise, but a move to bring Nigel Mansell in part-time in an attempt to boost dwindling crowds, disenfranchised with the loss of all the great drivers of the 80’s and early 90’s pushed DC to the side.
He won a race in 1995, but Damon Hill had made Williams his team and DC followed the money to McLaren where he thought he’d be number one, promised that the Mercedes engine will come good. And come good it did, DC showed his end of the bargain by nearly winning at Monaco in 1996 and by winning at Australia and Italy. But unreliability relegated DC to only third in the title (Fourth if you include the disqualified Schumacher).
1998 was set to be his year, McLaren looked strong, Williams and Renault had parted ways, and McLaren had picked up the strong Bridgestone tyres. But Mika Hakkinen proved everything single of his doubters wrong and went to another level. The rest is history, Hakkinen became a double champ and DC was left in his dust. By the time Hakkinen retired, Schumacher and Ferrari became dominant and McLaren became unreliable.
He was mega at Monaco though, and he once overtook Michael Schumacher through the Adelaide hairpin at Magny-Cours while flipping him the bird. Top bloke, very quick on his day, a tad unlucky, and constantly teamed up with hugely talented team mates.
1. James Hunt
If you ever thought that anybody apart from James would top this list, you’re having a laugh. He was a rockstar that just happened to a race car driver. “Sex: Breakfast of Champions” was on a patch emblazoned on his race suit. He smoked, he drank, he rocked up to official dinners in jeans and sneakers years before Gerhard Berger, he gave no tosses more than anyone ever gave not a toss. He once turned up to a test day hung over, begrudgingly got into the car, went out and set the fastest lap of the day, then came straight back, job done. He later became a commentator and rubbished drivers he didn’t care for, stylised with his biting wit.
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”
9. Mika Hakkinen
After his big shunt at Adelaide where he nearly died, Mika went half deaf. Combine this with his sense of humour, some people thought he was a bit slow, but this was far from the truth. Great sense of humour (see his sarcastic response after being asked if his Spanish GP win in 98 was easy), amazingly fast on the track, and 2nd of the (so far) three crown princes of Finnish Cool Kings. Always playing it cool, the antithesis of the Ultimate Evil that was the horrendously uncool Michael Schumacher, Mika was the king.
Some accurate but also some interesting (see bottom right) things pop up when you search “(year) f1 car” into google image search.