Also from the 2005 Grand Prix, this incredible pass from Nando round the outside of Schumi into 130R.
That time Damon got shown the door at Williams despite winning the world title in 1996, then nearly didn’t qualify for the Melbourne Grand Prix. But then showed everyone his worth by nearly winning a race later on in the season.
A true champ.
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.
6. Gilles Villeneuve
There is so much to say about how good Gilles was, I’ll just leave it with a short story from his wiki:
During the extremely wet Friday practice session for the season-ending United States Grand Prix, Villeneuve set a time variously reported to be either 9 or 11 seconds faster than any other driver. His teammate Jody Scheckter, who was second fastest, recalled that “I scared myself rigid that day. I thought I had to be quickest. Then I saw Gilles’s time and — I still don’t really understand how it was possible. Eleven seconds!”
Gilles said that his car was misfiring that day, and that he would have gone quicker if he had been running smooth, but then added he would have probably killed himself if he had gone any quicker.
7. Francois Cevert
Before his death, he was lined up as Sir Jackie Stewart’s replacement at leader of the Tyrrell team. It wasn’t a maybe, it was a definite. Sir Jackie claims that Cevert was faster than he ever was and just needed to refine himself a little bit and he would be a true great. He had won a race, he scored points and many podiums, and he is inarguably and objectively the most attractive man to have ever raced in Formula One. He finished 2nd six times in 1973 alone. Stewart was to retire at the end of 1973, Cevert to get the #1 spot. The stage was set, Cevert would be the next Tyrrell World Champion.
Then, at Stewart’s final Grand Prix at Watkins Glen in 1973, documentary footage caught Stewart and Cevert debating whether to use 3rd or 4th gear through the Esses. Stewart chose 4th gear, less response but the car would be less nervous and easier to control. Cevert chose 3rd, higher revs and quicker response. He crashed in qualifying, Stewart retired on the spot, and Tyrrell never won another World Championship. Formula One and the world was robbed of another great gentleman and driver.
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.