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The story of Formula One is a saga of men striving for perfection in controlling a car at speed, in skating on the edge of adhesion and becoming one with their machines. These profiles reveal a part of that story, for some of the best ever to drive in the F1 series.
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Mario Andretti

Andretti Mario Andretti won just about everything there is to win in motorsport, from the Indy and Daytona 500s, the USAC and IndyCar championships, Sebring and Le Mans (almost), to the F1 World Championship itself. Growing up in the shadows of Monza, this naturalized American legend epitomizes the Formula One saga.

  Jim Clark

Clark Scotsman Jimmy Clark may have been the most naturally talented driver to have graced the Formula One stage. A personal favorite, he remains one of the all-time best statistically almost 50 years after his death. Whether Clark, a private and soft-spoken man, would have prospered in the modern era of F1 sponsorship and downforce will never be known, but his absence ended a time of relative innocence in Formula One. As Chris Amon said in 1968, “If it could happen to him, what chance did the rest of us have?”

  Juan Manuel Fangio

Fangio Known simply as “The Maestro,” this shy Argentine stood for decades as a standard of Grand Prix excellence that most believed could never be matched. While he drove in an era of different cars and values, Fangio’s sheer talent dominated F1 racing without regard to the technical qualities of his rides, and in a very real sense saved Formula One after the 1955 tragedy at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

 Emerson Fittipaldi

Fittipaldi Brazil’s first Formula One World Champion, Emerson Fittipaldi ignited a South American passion for F1 that extends to today. As a young driver, “Emmo” was a charismatic two-time champion with Lotus and McLaren, but suffered a long string of disappointing seasons in his own car before making a successful move to the U.S. IndyCar series in the 1980s.

 Niki Lauda

Lauda Niki Lauda is a classic F1 combination of courage and calculation. This three-time World Champion survived one of the worst, fiery crashes ever seen in Formula One only to walk away from a near-certain 4th title in 1976. His triumphant second career in the mid-1980s with McLaren saw Lauda as the elder statesman of F1 and the tutor of young Alain Prost.

 Nigel Mansell

Mansell Nigel Mansell salvaged his F1 career by mortgaging his home, illustrating the determination that on the track earned him the sobriquet “Il Leone” from the Tifosi and the enduring allegiance of British Formula One fans. Perhaps Mansell’s crowning achievement was his back-to-back championships in F1 and IndyCar, a feat sure never to be repeated. But for a brush of the wall in the closing laps of the 1993 Indianapolis 500, Mansell came within a hair’s breadth of becoming just the 4th Formula One World Champion in history to drink the fabled milk of Indy.

 Nelson Piquet

Piquet Nelson Piquet’s remarkable Formula One career included three World Championships with two different teams, highlighted by some fantastic duels between the Brazilian, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell. A master at testing and car development, Piquet remained a title-contending force in Grand Prix motor racing for more than a decade.

 Alain Prost

Prost Frenchman Alain Prost was a four-time F1 world champion — three times in the turbocharged McLaren-Honda of the mid-1980s — but his legacy may forever remain in the shadow of teammates Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna. Nicknamed “The Professor,” Prost missed another title by a margin of just 1/2 point (to Lauda in 1984) and, until finally bested by Michael Schumacher in the 2002 season, posted the most GP wins of any Formula One driver in history.

 Michael Schumacher

Schumacher Michael Schumacher never had a real chance to test his mettle against the legendary Senna or Prost, yet his exuberant passion, quickness and dominance made him the all-time leader in Formula One. By triumphantly regaining the World Championship for the prancing horse at Ferrari, seven-time World Champion “Schumi” established a legacy of excellence ranking with the immortals of F1. Schumacher elicited strong emotions, both love and hatred, from Formula One fans. He dominated the new century with a winning streak that literally rewrote the F1 record book, but rarely pulled away from confrontation on the track, either.

 Ayrton Senna

Senna Tamburello will forever be remembered as the final corner in Aryton Senna’s glorious F1 career. Just as his genius, artistry and aggressiveness marked him as a the brightest star of Formula One for a decade, so too did his untimely death usher in a renewed concern for driver safety. Senna’s last race was the 1994 San Marino GP, where he crashed and died — after taking his final pole — while leading the race on lap seven, the only F1 World Champion ever to perish during a Grand Prix. A highly religious man, Senna ironically had a premonition the evening before the race that he would die.

 Jackie Stewart

Stewart Jackie Stewart’s career spanned the classic and modern eras of Formula One. This three-time World Champion with the trademark tartan helmet held the record for most GP wins (27) for more than a decade, and his business acumen made him a sponsor’s dream in the transition to today’s highly commercial, big-budget F1 motor racing. A fixture for years on American television racing broadcasts, Stewart later founded a Grand Prix organization — named after himself like so many others — that after several iterations became the current Red Bull Racing F1 team.

 Sebastian Vettel

Vettel Sebastian Vettel vaulted into the role of Formula One Wunderkind in the 21st century. Combining an infectious smile with brilliant racecraft and a massive will to win, young Seb took the F1 circus by storm in 2010 and, four World Championships later, shows few signs of letting go.

 Gilles Villeneuve

Villeneuve Gilles Villeneuve’s brief Formula One career launched a Grand Prix legend — of courage, aggressiveness and emotion — that remains vivid today. Although he did not live long enough to win the World Championship, Gilles will forever be remembered for his daring exploits in the scarlet #27 Ferrari, a holy number in the grails of F1 history.


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