Top 25 Formula 1 drivers of all-time

Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Formula 1 (Photo by Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images)
Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Formula 1 (Photo by Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images) /
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Niki Lauda, Formula 1
Niki Lauda, Formula 1 (Photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images) /

Top Formula 1 drivers of all-time: #9 – Niki Lauda

There are many reasons why three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda deserves to be considered one of the sport’s greatest drivers.

Ron Howard did all of us a favor in his 2013 film Rush, which highlighted the 1976 world championship battle between Lauda and James Hunt in which Lauda fought back from devastating injuries, to highlight many of them for those who weren’t around to witness it.

Lauda, who sadly passed away in 2019, won 25 races in 171 starts, good for a ninth place tie on the all-time wins list with Jim Clark, and he won Formula 1’s crown jewel race, the Monaco Grand Prix, twice. He is one of only seven drivers to win at least 25 races, three world titles and two Monaco Grands Prix, and he made the third fewest starts among that group.

It’s impossible to ignore the fact that even in his heroic 1976 season, which saw him miss multiple races as he recovered from his horrific crash at the Nurburgring, he didn’t come out on top in the championship battle.

So he easily could have been a four-time champion when he won his third and final title in 1984, although some do think that title is debatable given the half-points Monaco Grand Prix which effectively resulted in Alain Prost losing the championship.

Even with all the cards stacked against him in 1976, including not only questions about him continuing his racing career but questions about whether or not he would survive the accident, he only lost to Hunt by one point, and Hunt needed two wins leading up to the season finale and a Lauda retirement in the finale to win it.

Lauda, who entered the year as the reigning champion, did not win any of the four races in which he competed after the accident, while Hunt secured four victories in the final seven races.

Lauda got his first win following the accident the following season in the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami Circuit, propelling him to what would be his second championship run in three seasons. And his legendary post-race interview is still recalled to this day. Here’s how that went down, according to Formula 1.

"Later, he was asked questions by a journalist he thought he recognized. “I know you, don’t I?” he asked. “I don’t think so,” the journalist replied. But Lauda the computer read his memory bank, and recalled how cruel the man had been when he was vulnerable during the first press conference he made after his accident, when people saw for the first time the ravaged and scarred image he would forever present to the world. “I remember,” Lauda said. “You’re the guy who asked me what my wife would do now that I was ugly.” Raising his fresh-won trophy, he pointed it at the miscreant and said, “Well, you can shove this up your ass.”"