Over the decades, Formula One and racing fans in general have deemed various professional drivers as the best for one reason or another. However, researchers from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom used a more scientific approach in determining the best of the best. By implementing a statistical analysis system, the group deemed Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio the best Formula One driver to date.
The “gentleman racer” drove during the 1950s. During his career, Fangio won 24 out of 51 races. He also gained five world championships and had four different teams during that time. On the other hand, German Michael Schumacher won 91 times and had seven world championships under his belt. Yet, he was only ranked eight according to the analysis. Ayrton Senna and Lewis Hamilton both are three-time world champions. However, they too ranked lower than Fangio.
Given these findings, many may be wondering how the assessment came to the unusual conclusion. The complex study took many factors into account besides merely the driver’s ability. Other considerations included the speed driven during races, the reliability of the vehicle, weather conditions and the degree of support the driver received from his team. Comparing drivers from the 1950s to the current day also presented a challenge.
Drivers were evaluated based on their abilities alone and in combination with their team backing. However, drivers did and do not always work with the same team, which made it easier to study the drivers separately. Nevertheless, the research also demonstrated the importance of having a good team. The scientists found that teams often played a dominant role when drivers were successful. The function, capability and reliability of the driver’s car fall on the heads of the pit crew. If the car has a history of problems, drivers have a reduced chance of winning regardless of their skill.
Despite the fact that the study ranked the top 100 drivers, the list was void of female drivers. The reason is that not many women competed in Formula One races over the years. The few that have were not successful and did not have enough qualifying factors to make the list.