The premier racing class has been around for almost 70 years, and in that time there have been a number of big names to sit on the grid. We took a closer look at a few of those in our rundown of Formula 1 legends.
Juan Manual Fangio
Italian Juan Manual Fangio is remembered for not only being one of the greatest drivers of all time but he is also remembered as a gentleman who was loved by his fans and peers alike.
Fangio began his Formula 1 career in the very first championship in 1950. He was beaten by fellow countryman Nino Farina in the first season before going on to win five world championships between 1951 and 1957, he was also runner up twice.
In total Fangio took part in 51 championship grand prix races, 24 of which were victories. Fangio's record was unbeaten for over 40 years until a young German man by the name of Michael appeared.
What makes Austrian Niki Lauda a legend is not only his three world championship titles but his undoubted courage.
Lauda joined the Ferrari team in 1974 after he told owner Enzo his 312 car was a 'piece of shit' but he could make it a winner. He was of course right and in 1975 Lauda drove the Ferrari to victory to win their first drivers title in 10 years.
Lauda was on course to win his second consecutive F1 championship the following year and was ahead of rival James Hunt before they took to the Nurburgring. The track was extremely wet and Lauda had concerns about driving in it but went ahead in what was to be a disastrous day. Lauda crashed and millions watched as his Ferrari burst into flames with Lauda trapped inside in searing temperatures of 400 degrees. It took over a minute to get him out of the car and many thought he would not survive.
Six weeks later though Lauda arrived at the Italian Grand Prix with bandages covering his horrific burns and raced. Lauda lost out on the championship to James Hunt that season after he pulled up at a rainy Fuji circuit. Lauda went on to win the championship the following year and then again in 1984 with McLaren.
The Frenchman is undoubtedly one of the greatest drivers in Formula 1 history having won four world championships. Many though might remember him more for his bitter rivalry with fellow driver Ayrton Senna. Prost began his F1 career in 1980 with McLaren, in his first season he managed to secure points but was more known for his accidents.
Prost soon ended his contract with McLaren and signed with Renault for the next season. Prost won his very first race at the French Grand Prix in front of a home crowd and coincidentally in a French car. After failing to win any titles Porst moved back to McLaren where he secured his first world championship in 1985, and then again in 1986. It was in 1988 that his young teammate Aryton Senna began to make headlines by beating his Prost and winning the championship that year, this saw the beginning of the most talked about rivalry in F1 history.
Prost and Senna's feud led to battles on the track, Prost clashed with Senna at Suzuka effectively shutting him out, and giving Prost the lead which led to him winning another title before he moved to Ferrari. In 1990 at the final race in Fuji, Senna got his revenge when he crashed into Prost deliberately, causing Prost to lost the title and Senna to win. Prost managed to comeback though and in 1993 he won his fourth and final title with Williams-Renault before he retired.
Ayrton Senna was one of those drivers you just couldn't take your eyes off. Senna was bold, fast and exciting and that along with his three world championships makes him a true F1 legend. Senna was born in Brazil in 1960, he began his driving career at the age of four with go-karting. In 1984 he joined Formula One with British constructors Toleman, before moving to Lotus in 1985. It wasn't until Senna joined McLaren that his career really took off when he began to win as much races as world champion and teammate Prost.
He won his first world championship in 1988 beating Prost by one race, which started the bitterest rivalry in the sport to date. Senna was a great driver but many also considered him to be a little crazy on the tracks, with Prost calling him at one time a 'madman'. Senna won the championship from Prost again in 1990 and then again in 1991.
After many successful years with McLaren Senna joined Williams in 1994 for what would sadly be his final season. Senna crashed into a concrete wall at the San Marino grand prix on the 1st May 1994 and tragically died from his injuries. Senna's crashed changed F1 safety for good and to date no driver has since died on the tracks at an F1 race. Senna was a gentleman, a madman, an enemy and a friend, most of all he was a brilliant driver who died doing what he loved most.
Michael Schumacher is one of those drivers that you either love or hate, but there is no denying he is the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time and therefore a legend. Schumacher began his F1 career in 1991 when he joined Jordan and went on to qualify in seventh position in his very first race.
He joined Benetton the next season which is where he won his first two world championships in 1994 and 1995. Schumacher joined the Ferrari team in 1996 and went on to win their first title for them in 21 years, this was the beginning of the most successful driver/constructor partnership in history.
Schumacher didn't win his first world championship with Ferrari until 2000, after though he went on to win again another four times back to back in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, cementing his place in Formula 1 history as one of the greatest of all time.
A special mention has to go to the best Scots driver of all time Sir Jackie Stewart. Stewart won the world championship three times and was known as one of the nicest men in the sport. He is also a massive campaigner for driver’s safety and to this day he is still a member of the Grand Prix Drivers Association.
Sir Stirling Moss will always be remembered as being the greatest Formula 1 driver never to win a world championship. Moss was runner up four times but sadly never managed to secure a title. Moss is still regarded by many as the greatest British driver of all time.
As the youngest driver to ever win a world championship Germany’s Sebastian Vettel is up there with the greatest. In 2010, at the age of 23, he became the youngest driver to win the F1 championship before taking it ever further and winning again back to back in 2011, 2012 and 2013.