It would be impossible for even the most knowledgeable car racing fan to identify a single best Formula One driver of all time. However, this does not make it any less fun for fans of Formula One to spend hours arguing on behalf of their personal picks for all-time best drivers. Now that two decades of the 21st century are nearly in the books, it is time to take a quick look at some of the best F1 drivers the century has to offer so far.
the ranking model for the following drivers considers victories, points, and competition with teammates. A weighted system is also used in an effort to limit the effect of machinery on the results.
Räikkönen is set to become the most experienced driver in Formula One in 2020. All but three of Räikkönen’s more than 20 years as an F1 driver has taken place since the turn of the century. Consistency has been his main calling card as Räikkönen has only finished out of the top ten for a racing season twice in his career. Räikkönen ranks fifth in victories and ninth in points in our system.
Alonso has won two world titles in the 21st century and has more than established himself as one of the best drivers of his generation. The success Alonso has experienced already made him a sure bet to rank high on our list of great 21st century Formula One drivers. But it turns out our weighted system favored Alonso in two other ways. First, Alonso had the biggest increase of any driver observed when his actual wins were converted to wins in our system. Also, Alonso faired better against teammates than any other driver by beating the sister car in 16 of hs 17 seasons.
Many of Schumaker’s greatest accomplishments took place before the 2000s began but he has still done enough in this century to score high on the list of 21st-century racers. Schumaker won five consecutive championships from 2000-2004 and was head and shoulders above everyone in racing over that time period. His weighted stats take a hit from Schumaker having the best car available to him but he has more than held his own against all competition.
Many racing fans will raise an eyebrow at Vettel’s ranking but these are the people who forget that he won four world titles from the years 2010-2013. Vettel scores second on our weighted list for both wins and points. He has also faired third-best of the drivers who made our list for beating his teammates.
It is difficult to look at the numbers Lewis Hamilton has put together as a Formula One racer and not seriously consider him to be the best driver of the century. Hamilton has six world titles and 83 victories since the turn of the century. The success occurred while driving for McClaren and Mercedes. Hamilton is first on a list for weighted victories and fourth in points. He is also third in rankings for beating his teammates.