It's a classic question and Formula One fans certainly have their own opinions. When Lewis Hamilton matched Michael Schumacher's pole record at the Belgian GP, it reignited the debate as to who is the best Formula One driver of all time. Formula One drivers have been racing around the globe for years and there are so many drivers who stand out from the crowd, but who really are the biggest and bravest racing drivers?
Here's our list of top ten Formula One racing drivers of all time:
1. Ayrton Senna
Some say that no driver in history was more dominant than Ayrton Senna. Born in 1960, the Brazilian racing driver won three world championships for McLaren in 1988, 1990, and 1991 and successfully had 41 race wins before his tragic death in 1994. Regarded as one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time, Senna sadly passed away in an accident while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix for Williams. Senna dedicated himself to his sport, he was determined to test the limits of human endeavor and physical capability.
2. Michael Schumacher
If we're not counting his Mercedes stint in 2010-2012, then Michael Schumacher is definitely up there on the list. A brilliant driver with great talent and skill in many opinions, Michael Schumacher won five consecutive world championships with 56 victories in a total of seven years from 2000 to 2006. During his career, Schumacher's particular excellence was his ability to operate at his peak on every lap, which can be proven by his constant wins. It's clear that Schumacher is one of the greatest, racking a total of seven titles and 91 wins, he was a hard-working and exceptionally talented driver.
3. Juan Manuel Fangio
Juan Manuel Fangio's success in Formula One came when he was in his forties when he won his first world title in 1951. Although he lost the inaugural Formula One championship title to Giuseppe Farina in 1950, Fangio set records that were so immense, it's likely they'll never be beaten. Competing in 51 Formula One Grands Prix, the Argentine won 24 of those, set 28 pole positions, 23 fastest laps, and won five world championships.
4. Jim Clark
In Clark's era, the Belgian Grand Prix track was something else. Quite possibly one of the greatest natural talented drivers ever seen in any form of motor racing, Jim Clark didn't have to block other drivers to stay in front. Although driver fatalities were commonplace in the 1960s, no one ever thought that it would happen to Clark, so when he passed away, it was quite a shock to his fellow drivers. Some say that Clark deserved more than two championships before his tragic death as he was a star of the 1960s and a driver that could win in anything.
5. Lewis Hamilton
Entering the Formula One scene in 2007, Lewis Hamilton's raw ability to perform in a racing car is fascinating. Very few can compare with Hamilton and he is one of the fastest drivers ever to race in Formula One. With impressive statistics and ability to overtake, Hamilton is a dazzling driver and although he has his weaknesses, Hamilton is a triple world champion who recently equaled Schumacher’s record of 68 poles.
6. Sir Jackie Stewart
Sir Jackie Stewart, a skilled and intelligent driver who was also a dominant figure of his era. His legacy endures 27 Grand Prix wins in 99 races and three world championships. Stewart had such an impact on his sport and until his retirement at the end of 1973, he was a force to be reckoned with in his own right and one of the greatest drivers to ever race in Formula One.
7. Alain Prost
The curly-haired Frenchman should have won at least five world championships in some people's opinions, but he did successfully manage four. Prost was an excellent development driver and to a certain degree, it could be said that he was also undervalued. His driving was silky smooth and his precision was something else, which allowed him to get on the power. Leaving behind great memories, Prost is a legacy that deserves the utmost respect.
8. Sebastian Vettel
Winning the last race in 2010 resulted in Vettel becoming champion for the first time. This Red Bull driver undoubtedly had an excellent career as he managed to bag 22 Grand Prix victories at a rate of more than one in four races, 33 pole positions, and the youngest double world champion in history. Vettel has the whole package and without a doubt belongs among the very best.
9. Fernando Alonso
Having the ability to pound out lap after lap in every Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso is definitely up there with Ayrton Senna in terms of talent. Alonso's abilities won him two world titles, 30 Grand Prix victories, and fifth in the all-time winners' list. Beating Schumacher in head to head in 2006, Alonso was a very consistent driver and dynamic natural leader who always got the best out of his machinery.
10. Gilles Villeneuve
Villeneuve is a name that should also be ranked with the greatest drivers. With incredible nerve and determination, Gilles Villeneuve had six Grand Prix wins during his career, which spanned a little over four years. He was a man who drove a Grand Prix car to its limits and left impressions on those who witnessed as he thrilled millions of spectators from around the world.