Joe-Pinions: Sports

16 Sept 2011 – My Personal Top 10 F1 Drivers (Part 1: Who Didn’t Make The Cut?)

Posted in Auto Racing, Formula 1 by txtmstrjoe on 16/09/2011

Earlier this year, I wrote a three-part blogging miniseries on my personal Top 10 NFL Quarterbacks.  (Parts 1, 2, and 3)  The compilation of my ten favorite NFL quarterbacks came as a result of a random flood of thoughts deep into 2010-2011 NFL playoffs whilst driving down to my parents’ house one weekend.

It’s been forever (well, four months away feels like forever) since I wrote anything in this blog.  I’ve been terribly busy, writing and editing every day of the week to produce good content for Blog (see my contributions to this blog here).  But I’ve managed to get ahead of schedule just enough to be able to eke out some time to update some of my other blogs that also desperately need updating.

Though the 2011-2012 NFL season has just got started (and my beloved San Francisco 49ers started off the Jim Harbaugh era the best way possible by beating the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1), I decided not to reprise my weekly NFL Pick ’ems from last season.  I have to confess that I didn’t just pick games and possible outcomes out of the ether when I did those; I actually did try to put some thought behind all of those picks.  In other words, duplicating that effort would result in even a bigger slice of my private time, all of which is so precious to me.

Anyway, enough of this preamble.  I decided that my return to my sports-exclusive oriented blog should be about one of most favorite sports of all, Formula One.  I thought it would be interesting to count down my personal top ten favorite F1 drivers.

Before we get to the drivers who occupy spots #10  thru #7, I figured I’d give you some drivers who missed the cut, and briefly explain why I didn’t include them in my countdown.  Particularly keen readers will notice I have not included currently-active drivers, as their careers are still ongoing.  I’m very certain that some of today’s great stars – Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, and Sebastian Vettel – will someday take a place or two (or three) in my Top 10.

So who didn’t make the cut?

  • Juan-Manuel Fangio:  El Maestro, a five-time World Champion, seems like an automatic choice to any top ten discussion of F1 greats.  But he didn’t make my list?  Why?  Well, to be perfectly honest I simply haven’t seen enough of his driving.  This absolutely isn’t his fault, as he ruled F1 in the 1950s.  There is precious little film footage available from this era, and I find myself feeling deprived of not being able to see how this great master practiced his craft.
  • Alberto Ascari:  The last Italian World Champion was a fascinating man, but, as with Fangio, I’ve seen almost next to no film of this master at work.  He beat Fangio to the world title twice (I’m not counting Giuseppe Farina, the first F1 World Champion, who is universally considered to be nowhere close to Fangio in terms of driving ability), and he possibly could have added more to his tally of world championships had he not died at l’Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in 1955.  The Variante Ascari at Monza is named in his honor.
  • Jack Brabham:  This taciturn Australian is a three-time world champion, the first driver to score a title hat trick since Fangio.  Though he won three world titles, the name Brabham is probably more synonymous not for Sir Jack, but for the now-defunct Brabham F1 Team.  Sir Jack Brabham remains the only F1 driver to win a world title in a car bearing his own name.
  • Stirling Moss:  Moss is considered the greatest F1 driver never to have won the World Championship.  Though a near-fatal accident at Goodwood in 1962 put paid to the best portion of his racing career, he is still remembered fondly and admired as an all-time great, particularly by those fortunate to see him race at his peak.  Though I hold him in the highest esteem, I simply couldn’t add him to my top 10, as I never saw him race.  That’s my loss, for sure.
  • Gerhard Berger:  This Austrian is eternally associated with Ayrton Senna, as the two shared the McLaren team from 1990-1992.  Berger was overshadowed by the great Brazilian, but who wouldn’t have been?  People may have forgotten that Berger was a very fast driver himself.  Not only that, but he also had a very strong work ethic, never refusing opportunities to test the car.  I never thought of him as a potential World Champion, but he is undoubtedly one of my own favorites.
  • Riccardo Patrese:  Like Berger, Patrese was never seen as a potential World Champion.  But I liked Riccardo very, very much.  He had the reputation of being a very good test driver, able to provide to the designers and engineers high quality feedback.  Not only that, but he seems like a genuinely good chap, a very down-to-earth character inhabiting a world with so few of those.
  • Niki Lauda:  Niki was the hardest cut to make.  I admire this great three-time World Champion from Austria like I do very few others.  Honest to the point of bluntness, he ruffled the feathers of many of the F1 world’s most powerful figures.  He also remains one of the greatest symbols of courage in F1 history:  He survived a fiery near-fatal accident at the fearsome Nürburgring in 1976 and came back to race at Monza an unbelievably scant six weeks later, his wounds still fresh and bleeding.  He just lost the 1976 world title, but won his second crown the following year (he won his first in 1975).  Seven years later, he won the closest championship ever, beating Alain Prost to the 1984 Drivers’ World Championship by an unbelievable half-point (0.5)!
Next time, I’ll start our countdown, from #10 thru #7.
I’ll just close this post saying one final thing: Do not expect to see 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher anywhere on my Top 10 Favorite F1 Drivers list.  No iteration of this list will ever include him.  The man has no value to me.  My feelings for the man and everything he has stood for for the entirety of his Formula 1 career are too ugly to express, if I may be perfectly honest.  The only time Michael Schumacher will ever be the subject of a best-of list from me is when I enumerate my most hated sportsmen and athletes.
See you next time!
%d bloggers like this: