There are so many criteria by which you could rank the best F1 drivers of all time, so where to begin?
The sport has evolved dramatically since the days of the 1950s in which driver safety was at a minimum and tracks were mini-marathon length, to the modern day where the cars are nimble and ultra-fast, and race on pristinely designed circuits.
It's difficult to fairly judge drivers based on their ability when the cars have changed so dramatically down through the years, so we've taken a statistical approach.
We present to you: the greatest F1 drivers of all time, ranked by most race wins.
Best F1 drivers: The top ten drivers ranked by race victories
1. Lewis Hamilton
- Race wins: 103 wins
- World championships: Seven (2008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 20200
- Race starts: 321
- First race: 2007 Australian Grand Prix
- First win: 2007 Canadian Grand Prix
- Pole positions: 104
- Podiums: 195
- Win percentage: 32.09%
Atop the pile when it comes to the best F1 drivers statistically is seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The Mercedes driver is still racing in 2023, and currently stands a huge stretch ahead of the remaining currently active drivers, with a record-equalling seven world titles and a huge tally of 103 victories. He remains the only driver to win over 100 races.
It has been over 18 months since Hamilton last won a race, and he will be desperate to add to his tally of 103. His peak came when he claimed four consecutive championships between 2017 and 2020, and fans will hope to see him charge for his eighth world title before retiring.
2. Michael Schumacher
- Race wins: 91
- World championships: Seven (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004)
- Race starts: 306
- First race: 1991 Belgian Grand Prix
- First win: 1992 Belgian Grand Prix
- Pole positions: 68
- Podiums: 155
- Win percentage: 29.74%
The only other man with seven world championship titles is the legendary Michael Schumacher.
Schumacher made his debut with the iconic Irish team Jordan in 1991, before moving to Benetton, where he would win two world championship titles in four-and-a-half years at the team.
The defining move of his career came when he moved to Ferrari in 1996. Though it took the German time to experience the highest highs with the Scuderia, he would eventually win an astonishing five successive titles in the early 2000s to cement his position right at the top of the record books.
After his first retirement in 2006, a less successful period came from 2010-12 with the returning Mercedes team. But Schumacher had done more than enough during an illustrious career to ensure he goes down as one of the greatest drivers ever to grace the sport.
3. Sebastian Vettel
- Race wins: 53
- World championships: Four (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
- Race starts: 299
- First race: 2007 US Grand Prix
- First win: 2008 Italian Grand Prix
- Pole positions: 57
- Podiums: 122
- Win percentage: 17.73%
Sebastian Vettel became the youngest world champion of all time when he took the lead of the championship for the first time in his career at the season-ending 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Just 23 at the time, Vettel had already taken a sensational pole position and victory in the uncompetitive Toro Rosso in his first full season of 2008, and would win the world title twice more in 2011 and 2012 with Red Bull.
He sealed his fourth and final title in 2013 with a remarkable nine consecutive wins at the end of the season in the dominant Red Bull RB9, before a move to Ferrari followed in 2015, where he went on to claim another 14 wins.
He ultimately retired from F1 at the end of the 2022 season, with his final race coming last year at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
4. Alain Prost
- Race wins: 51
- World championships: Four (1985, 1986, 1989, 1993)
- Race starts: 199
- First race: 1980 Argentine Grand Prix
- First win: 1981 French Grand Prix
- Pole positions: 33
- Podiums: 106
- Win percentage: 25.63%
Often overlooked for his famed rival Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost was for some time statistically the greatest driver in F1 history.
The methodical Frenchman made his bow with his native Renault team, before a career-defining move to McLaren in the mid-1980s brought back-to-back titles in 1985 and 1986. The arrival of Senna as his teammate in 1988 saw the pair come to blows, as Prost controversially won a third title in 1989.
An acrimonious spell to Ferrari led Prost to take a sabbatical, before he sensationally returned to the sport for just one year in 1993 - and won the title in style with Williams.
Prost is rightly remembered as one of the greatest ever to grace Formula 1, having won for all three of McLaren, Ferrari, and Williams, and winning world championships while teammates with Niki Lauda, Senna, and Damon Hill.
5. Max Verstappen
- Race wins: 44
- World championships: Two (2021, 2022)
- Race starts: 174
- First race: 2015 Australian Grand Prix
- First win: 2016 Spanish Grand Prix
- Pole positions: 27
- Podiums: 89
- Win percentage: 25.29%
The latest addition to this list, and one of the brightest talents to have arrived in Formula 1 in decades.
Dutchman Max Verstappen made his F1 debut at the age of just 17 with Toro Rosso and, just a year later, was a race winner, winning his very first race with the senior Red Bull team at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.
As Mercedes dominated with Lewis Hamilton throughout the late 2010s, Verstappen was made to wait for a true shot at the world championship title, before a thrilling season long battle with Hamilton for the 2021 crown.
Though the circumstances in which Verstappen came out on top on the final lap at the season ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were undoubtedly controversial, he was full worth for his first crown, and went on to claim a second in dominant style in 2022.
Five consecutive wins in the second half of 2022 cemented his dominance over the field and, with eight wins from ten in 2023, he has moved into the top five drivers of all time for career wins.
6. Ayrton Senna
- Race wins: 41
- World championships: Three (1988, 1990, 1991)
- Race starts: 161
- First race: 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix
- First win: 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix
- Pole positions: 65
- Podiums: 80
- Win percentage: 25.47%
Revered by his peers and the generations who came after him, Ayrton Senna is almost certainly the most mythical driver in F1 history.
The Brazilian entered the sport in 1984, winning his first race with Lotus the following year.
His move to McLaren in 1988 was what kick-started his championship charges, and he won his first title that same year, as his infamous rivalry with teammate Alain Prost went into full swing.
Senna won further titles in 1990 and '91, before two years of struggles with a largely uncompetitive McLaren car.
His move to Williams for 1994 was meant to see Senna return to contention for the title, but the tragic events of the San Marino Grand Prix that season saw Senna killed in a crash on race day at just 34.
A hero of just about every driver to have passed through modern Formula 1, Ayrton Senna's legacy makes him an immortal presence in F1 history.
7. Fernando Alonso
- Race wins: 32
- World championships: Two (2005, 2006)
- Race starts: 366
- First race: 2001 Australian Grand Prix
- First win: 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix
- Pole positions: 22
- Podiums: 104
- Win percentage: 8.74%
A firm fan favourite since the early 2000s, Fernando Alonso continues to do the business at the age of 42 in Formula 1.
The Spaniard won his first race at the age of just 22 years old at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix with Renault - at the time the youngest ever to achieve a race win. His time at Renault would see him end Michael Schumacher's reign of dominance with back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006, before an ill-fated move to McLaren in 2007.
Alonso lasted only one year at the team, falling out with rookie team mate Lewis Hamilton and team staff. He returned for a two-year spell at Renault, before moving to Ferrari for 2007.
Alonso would miss out on further world titles in 2010 (by four points) and 2012 (by just three points) to youngster Sebastian Vettel, before a torrid 2014 with Ferrari, and an even more difficult four year spell with McLaren from 2015-2018.
Since returning from a two-year sabbatical in 2021, Alonso has proven his worth with some stellar performances - firstly for Alpine, before a move to Aston Martin for 2023 put Alonso in the position to compete for regular podiums once more.
Will he add to his tally of career wins before his retirement?
8. Nigel Mansell
- Race wins: 31
- World championships: One (1992)
- Race starts: 187
- First race: 1980 Austrian Grand Prix
- First win: 1985 European Grand Prix
- Pole positions: 32
- Podiums: 59
- Win percentage: 16.58%
Nigel Mansell was for some time the winningest British driver in F1 history, having won 32 races to go with his world championship title.
An illustrious career saw Mansell finish runner up in the world championship standings on three separate occasions before he finally became world champion for the first time in 1992 with the dominant Williams team.
He would depart the sport at the end of 1992, only to return for short spells with Williams (1994, in which he won his final race at the Australian GP) and McLaren (in a disastrous retirement comeback which lasted only two races).
Mansell remains a cult hero in F1 history, and one of the icons of the sport for British fans.
9. Jackie Stewart
- Race wins: 27
- World championships: Three (1969, 1971, 1973)
- Race starts: 99
- First race: 1965 South African Grand Prix
- First win: 1965 Italian Grand Prix
- Pole positions: 17
- Podiums: 43
- Win percentage: 27.27%
Jackie Stewart is remembered almost as much for his tireless efforts to improve driver safety as he is for his elite driving ability on the track.
Stewart won almost a third of the races he entered, and won the world championship at a similar rate, winning three championships in his nine full seasons in Formula 1.
Rightly remembered as one of the best F1 drivers of his generation, Stewart also made a huge push to improve driver safety, including pushing for mandatory seat-belts and full helmets (extraordinary to picture the absence of either in the modern age).
After the tragic death of his teammate and Francois Cevert at the 1973 US Grand Prix, Stewart chose to retire a race early, having already sealed that year's world title.
=10. Jim Clark
- Race wins: 25
- World championships: Two (1963, 1965)
- Race starts: 72
- First race: 1960 Dutch Grand Prix
- First win: 1962 Belgian Grand Prix
- Pole positions: 33
- Podiums: 32
- Win percentage: 34.72%
Jim Clark was not only bloody fast, but was also part of one of F1's great driver-team duos.
The Englishman spent his entire career at the iconic Lotus team, alongside famed team owner and engineer Colin Chapman, whose innovations drove the partnership to two world titles in the mid-1960s.
Clark also won the famed Indianapolis 500 in the same year as winning the 1965 world title, cementing his status as a motorsport icon.
He was tragically killed in a Formula 2 crash at Hockenheim in 1968, and is still remembered as one of the best F1 drivers of all time.
=10. Niki Lauda
- Race wins: 25
- World championships: Three (1975, 1977, 1984)
- Race starts: 171
- First race: 1971 Austrian Grand Prix
- First win: 1974 Spanish Grand Prix
- Pole positions: 24
- Podiums: 54
- Win percentage: 14.62%
If it were only his heroic comeback from a life-threatening accident in 1976, Niki Lauda would be remembered as a Formula 1 legend.
But to add to his legacy, the Austrian not only won three world championship titles, but won them across a decade-long period, either side of a sabbatical, with the sport's two most iconic teams.
He won his first championship with Ferrari in 1975, before being trapped in a blazing inferno for over a minute in a terrifying accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix. Incredibly, he would return to racing just over a month later, before finishing runner up in the final standings by just one point to Englishman James Hunt.
Lauda would reclaim the title and become a two time world champion the following season, before leaving Ferrari and spending two years at Brabham.
Two years of retirement were enough for Lauda, who returned to F1 with McLaren in 1982 and ultimately retired for the last time in 1985 with three world titles to his name having won the 1984 crown.
He later served as an advisor to Mercedes F1 team, and was influential in convincing Lewis Hamilton to join the team in 2013.
|#||Driver||Race wins||Championships||Win percentage|
|1||Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain)||103||7 (2008, 2014-15, 2017-20)||32.09%|
|2||Michael Schumacher (Germany)||91||7 (1994-95, 2000-04)||29.74%|
|3||Sebastian Vettel (Germany)||53||4 (2010-13)||17.73%|
|4||Alain Prost (France)||51||4 (1985-86, 1989, 1993)||25.63%|
|5||Max Verstappen (Netherlands)||44||2 (2021-22)||25.29%|
|6||Ayrton Senna (Brazil)||41||3 (1988, 1990-91)||25.47%|
|7||Fernando Alonso (Spain)||32||2 (2004-05)||8.74%|
|8||Nigel Mansell (Great Britain)||31||1 (1992)||16.58%|
|9||Jackie Stewart (Great Britain)||27||3 (1969, 1971, 1973)||27.27%|
|=10||Jim Clark (Great Britain)||25||2 (1963, 1965)||34.72%|
|=10||Niki Lauda (Austria)||25||3 (1975, 1977, 1984)||14.62%|