F1 World Champions List

Speed, Skill, Passion - Formula One Champions

I have already covered other motorsport, NASCAR Champions in a separate article and my fascination with NASCAR led me, naturally, to list the Formula One racing Champions as well. Two separate motor sports, both equally fascinating. I have also done a Formula One History if you would like to read it.

I have looked at each decade of Formula One racing since its inception and listed the champions for each decade.

Some of the last 6 decades have been dominated by 2 or 3 drivers and this has not made for exciting 'racing' but Formula One racing moves with the times and rule changes over the last few years have made this decade one of the most exciting yet, with Sebastian Vettel winning the Formula One Championship for the third time in succession in 2012 after two fantastic seasons with lots of exciting racing for spectators and a fantastic new Grand Prix circuit in Austin, Texas and another on the way in New Jersey.

This hub looks at all of the Formula One racing Champions since 1950.

Ascari and Hawthorn both died in car accidents in the 1950s away from the race track.
Ascari and Hawthorn both died in car accidents in the 1950s away from the race track.

1950s Formula One Racing Champions

Formula One racing's first champion, Nino Farina had the distinct disadvantage of competing as a contemporary of, arguably, one of the greatest racing drivers in any format, Juan Manuel Fangio.

Farina had been racing a long, long time and when offered the chance to drive an Alfa Romeo in the inaugural season for Grand Prix, he jumped at the chance.

In his only championship in 1950, he won 3 of the 7 races to lift the trophy.

Although, a gifted driver, he could not complete with Fangio.

Juan-Manuel Fangio was the Argentinian driver known as 'El Maestro', the Master!

Fangio was an amazingly successful driver and won the world championship five times with four different cars. Basically, his talents transferred to whatever chassis and engine he was given and he delivered.

Fangio was thrown out of his car at Monza in 1952 and broke his neck but he still came back to race again the next year.

As a driver, he was well-respected by drivers but especially by his crew to whom he paid 10% of his winnings throughout his career. He understood that it was not just the driving that won championships.

Alberto Ascari's racing career was also promising as he won 2 championships in succession. Formula One historians will always wonder what might have been - Ascari was killed in an unschduled practice session, being thrown out of his Ferrari when it skidded on a corner. He died almost immediately. His father had also died in a racing car.

The 1958 Formula One season deserves an article all on its own - Mike Hawthorn won even though he only won one race. Sterling Moss' gentlemanly behaviour probably accounted for Hawthorn winning it - he beat Moss to the championship by 1 point.

Hawthorn's career was beset with tragedy - he won at LeMans in 1955 but may have contributed to a crash which sent a car flying into the stands, killing 83 spectators.

Hawthorn retired immediately after winning the title because his friend and fellow driver Pete Collins had been killed at the German Grand Prix and he was devastated.

Another bitter rival, Luigi Musso had also been killed at the French Grand Prix, Mike Hawthorn was victorious but also strangely, a broken man. By the end of the year, he too was dead, killed in a road accident, aged just 29.

Jack Brabham won the last championship of the 50s in his usual 'quiet' way. He drove a Cooper which was the first Formula One car with an engine 'in back'. Brabham went on to repeat his success in 1960 and then went onto create his own successful formula one team.

Year
Driver
Car
1950
Giuseppe Farina
Alfa Romeo
1951
Juan Manuel Fangio
Alfa Romeo
1952
Alberto Ascari
Ferrari
1953
Alberto Ascari
Ferrari
1954
Juan Manuel Fangio
Maserati Mercedes
1955
Juan Manuel Fangio
Mercedes
1956
Juan Manuel Fangio
Ferrari
1957
Juan Manuel Fangio
Maserati
1958
Mike Hawthorn
Ferrari
1959
Jack Brabham
Cooper
Jim Clark in his prime
Jim Clark in his prime

1960s Formula One Racing Champions

Jack Brabham won his second successive Formula One championship in 1960 and another in 1966. The latter championship is the more remarkable because he won in one of his own team cars - the Brabham racing car would go on to win a number of Formula One championships with different drivers in the cockpit.

1961 winner, Phil Hill remains the only American-born winner of the Formula One Championship.

Mario Andretti won it years later but was a naturalised American, having been born in Italy. Hill was a well-respected driver and a true gentleman of the sport. He devoted his later years to collecting and showing classic cars.

Graham Hill became Formula One racing champion in 1962 and repeated the feat in 1968 - charming, charismatic, fun-loving Hill was a track favourite with spectators and other drivers alike.

He lived the high life of an F1 driver throughout his career. He remains the only driver to have won the 'Triple Crown' of motorsports - Formula One World Champion, Indianapolis 500 and the LeMans 24 hours.

Graham Hill's son, Damon went on to be a Formula One racing champion in the 1990s.

Graham Hill died in a plane crash in which he was the pilot. All six people on board were killed - Hill and five members of his racing team.

The 1963 and 65 Formula One racing champion, Jim Clark was voted the best Formula One driver of all time by The Times in 2009.

A sublimely gifted driver who excelled in almost every format, including NASCAR, IndyCar and rallying, Clark was famous for being able to drive in almost any conditions. His win in Spa, Belgium in thick fog and rain in 1963 was a master class in dealing with adverse racing conditions.

Sadly, Jim Clark died in a Formula Two invitation event at Hockenheim. His car veered off the track and hit trees; he died on his way to hospital. Nobody was certain of what caused the crash but the most likely explanation is that Clark's rear tyre was deflated.

John Surtees became Formula One Racing Champion in 1964 and remains the only driver to have been a Motorcycle and Formula One World Champion. It would be another 11 years before Ferrari would win the championship again.

New Zealander, Denny Hulme's championship win in the Brabham in 1967 was won after a hard fought campaign by Hulme, Brabham (still behind the wheel of his own car), Jim Clark and Graham Hill.

Hulme amassed enough podium positions as well as his two wins to take the trophy ahead of Brabham. He remains the only New Zealander to become Formula One Champion.

In 1969 Jackie Stewart, 'The Flying Scot' won his first of 3 Formula One Championships. Stewart was a remarkable racing driver, as famous for improving the safety of Formula One as for his driving. He won in the Matra car, the only time the 'brand' (an affiliate of Tyrrel) won a championship under that name. Stewart went on to win again in 1971 and 1973.

Year
Driver
Car
1960
Jack Brabham
Cooper
1961
Phil Hill
Ferrari
1962
Graham Hill
BRM
1963
Jim Clark
Lotus
1964
John Surtees
Ferrari
1965
Jim Clark
Lotus
1966
Jack Brabham
Brabham
1967
Denny Hulme
Brabham
1968
Graham Hill
Lotus
1969
Jackie Stewart
Matra

Grand Prix Movie - A Real Flavour of the 1960s F1 Racer

Grand Prix (1966)
Grand Prix (1966)

A surprisingly good movie from 1967 starring James Garner which really captures the noise and energy of F1 whilst also giving viewers a sense of the International flavour of F1 - it takes you all over the world and reminds us that the glamour is often tinged with tragedy.

 

1970s Formula One Champions

Jochen Rindt won the Formula One title posthumously in 1970, the only driver to ever do so and not a record anyone in F1 wants to see broken for obvious reasons.

Rindt had led the championship all year, winning 5 of the 10 races that year. He was killed in practice for the Italian Grand Prix, the fault of poorly fitted crash barriers. He was 27 years old and the second driver, along with Jim Clark to die behind the wheel of a Lotus car.

After Jackie Stewart's second win in 1971, Emerson Fittipaldi won the first of 2 championships for him, one in a Lotus, the other in a McLaren. He later drove for his bother's unsuccessful team and retired from F1 in 1980 to go and drive in CART racing in the USA where he had a decent career, eventually hanging up his helmet in 1985.

1975 saw the return of Ferrari to the winner's enclosure and in the cockpit was one of the most well-respected racing champions ever, Niki Lauda. 'The Rat' as he was called was a wily competitor and a gifted driver but his principles led to him not being respected properly.

Lauda was badly burned in a race incident at the Nurburgring in 1976, a race he had attempted to have boycotted by other teams. He accepts today that he is lucky to be alive.

The other teams would not stand behind him in his concerns for the safety of the track.

Lauda returned to racing after only 6 weeks but in the last race of the season pulled up in his Ferrari in heavy rain because he could not see due to the burn damage to his eyes.

He lost the Formula One championship by 1 point to James Hunt. Ferrari were furious with him for pulling out of the championship when they might have won it for the second year in a row.

Lauda won for Ferrari again in 1977 but left the team for McLaren before retiring (twice) to run hisown aviation company.

Mario Andretti became Formula One Champion in 1978 after an already illustrious racing career in the USA. He drove for the Lotus team and brought a wealth of driver knowledge into the design of their cars for each race, thanks to his knowledge from racing on ovals.

Andretti did not properly celebrate his title win because his teammate, Ronnie Peterson died after the race from complications of surgery after an accident during the race.

Jody Scheckter became Formula One Racing Champion in 1979, the last man to won the championship for Ferrari until Michael Schumacher 21 years later.

Scheckter had a chequered career and was seen as a promising driver but after victory in 1979, he struggled and retired before the end of the 1980 season.

Year
Driver
Car
1970
Jochen Rindt
Lotus
1971
Jackie Steart
Tyrrel
1972
Emmerson Fittipaldi
Lotus
1973
Jackie Stewart
Tyrrel
1974
Emmerson Fittipaldi
McLaren
1975
Niki Lauda
Ferrari
1976
James Hunt
McLaren
1977
Niki Lauda
Ferrari
1978
Mario Andretti
Lotus
1979
Jody Scheckter
Ferrari

RUSH - The battle between Hunt and Lauda

Rush
Rush

The movie about the battle between James Hunt and Nikki Lauder which had all F1 fans gripped until the final day of the season - Lauda was making a noise about safety and getting the F1 authorities backs up whilst Hunt was cajoling with dolly birds and drinking champagne!

 

1980s Formula One Champions

Alan Jones became F1 champion in 1980, the first man to win in a Williams car. But his co-driver in 1981 was Carlos Reutermann, a driver who would not follow team orders and felt that he was a better driver than Jones.

The two had a feisty relationship which soured considerably when Reutermann would not let Jones past him in a race, eventually costing him his second championship. Ruetermann for his own part, outsmarted Jones all year - point proved!

Nelson Piquet won in a much-improved Brabham car, a feat he would repeat in 1983. Piquet was a talented but driven driver who often rubbed other drivers up the wrong way.

Keke Rosberg's Formula One racing championship win in 1982 owed much to a consistent Williams car and his competitive driving style but these years are notorious ones for car redevelopment in the middle of the season leading to terrible inconsistencies with both chassis and engine. Rosberg's consistent 1982 car made no impact in subsequent seasons, largely to tinkering with car development.

The Williams won again in 1987 with Nelson Piquet in the cockpit but other than that the decade was dominated by the new McLaren car, first with another championship victory for Niki Lauda and then several for McLaren's new drivers, 'the professor', Alain Prost and the incomparable Ayrton Senna.

Both drivers won 4 of the remaining 5 Formula One racing championships and they weren't finished there!

Year
Driver
Car
1980
Alan Jones
Williams
1981
Nelson Piquet
Brabham
1982
Keke Rosberg
Williams
1983
Nelson Piquet
Brabham
1984
Niki Lauda
McLaren
1985
Alain Prost
McLaren
1986
Alain Prost
McLaren
1987
Nelson Piquet
Williams
1988
Ayrton Senna
McLaren
1989
Alain Prost
McLaren

1990s Formula One World Champions

The 1990s was a wonderful decade of Formula One racing with some amazing driving and at last, some consistency in the cars.

Sadly, it was also the decade which saw the deaths of a number of drivers due to safety concerns but acted as a catalyst for safety changes in Formula One as one of Formula One's best racers, Ayrton Senna lost his life in a head on collision with a concrete wall at Imola.

Senna became F1 champion again in 1990 and 91 with Nigel Mansell finally becoming champion in 1992 after a devastating blow out in the Australian Grand Prix had stolen the title from him in 1991.

In 1993, Alain Prost returned as Formula One champion in what would be his last hurrah. He has suggested that Senna's death at Imola in 1994 changed his feelings towards racing.

Michael Schumacher would begin his rise to prominence in the 1990s, first becoming champion in the Benetton in 1994 and 1995 before Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve would win back to back championships for the regenerated Williams car in 1996 and 97.

Mika Hakkinen, the quiet Fin would become Formula One champion twice in a McLaren before retiring in 2001. Maybe he could see that Michael Schumacher was in a better car and was more or less unbeatable.

Year
Driver
Car
1990
Ayrton Senna
McLaren
1991
Ayrton Senna
McLaren
1992
Nigel Mansell
Wiliams
1993
Alain Prost
Williams
1994
Michael Schumacher
Benetton
1995
Michael Schumacher
Benetton
1996
Damon Hill
Williams
1997
Jacques Villeneuve
Williams
1998
Mika Hakkinen
McLaren
1999
Mika Hakkinen
McLaren

2000s Formula One Champions - The Schumacher Years

Ultimately, people will look back on the first decade of the 21st century and the name of Michael Schumacher will be the first on their list.

Michael Schumacher was the dominant driver in that decade because he was driving a brilliant Ferrari car.

He dominated the first 5 years of the decade and in doing so, became the most successful Formula One racing driver of all time - winning 5 championships in a row between 2000 and 2004.

His run came to an end in 2005 when Fernando Alonso won the F1 championship with Renault.

Ferrari had dominated for so long that the Formula One authorities deliberately changed rules regarding tyres to give other teams a fighting chance against Ferrari.

He retired from Formula One racing first time in 2006 but returned as a Mercedes driver, reunited with Ross Brawn in 2011.

He retired for a second time at the end of the 2012 Formula One season. He still managed to finish the championship in 13th place and even made the podium during one race.

Michael Schumacher was an incredible driver whose reputation was somewhat sullied by his unsportsmanlike behaviour from time to time.

At other times though, his driving was sublime - there was nobody better in the wet and like Senna before him, Michael Schumacher always drove on the edge - that fine line between being brilliant and merely excellent!

2000s Formula One Champions - Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton & Button

Fernando Alonso proved himself to be an incredible driver when driving for Renault.

He was Formula One racing champion twice for Renault before leaving for a seat at McLaren. He returned to Renault for two less successful seasons in 2008-9 when he then got a seat at Ferrari. Many think he is still good enough to win another championship, car permitting!

His move to McLaren coincided with them bringing in their new driver, Lewis Hamilton. Alonso, rightly or wrongly expected to be McLaren's #1 driver but felt that McLaren favoured the British driver. For Hamilton's part, he too felt like he was driving the best car and should be given, at least the chance to race against Alonso.

It was an uneasy time for Alonso and he left McLaren after only one year. Hamilton went on to win the championship in 2008 whilst Alonso drove the less successful Renault.

2009 was the year for a very popular Formula One champion, Britain's Jenson Button whose old team, Honda declared their intention of leaving Formula One at the height of the recession, having run out of money.

Jenson spent the offseason with no drive until Ross Brawn stepped into the void by buying out the Honda team and renaming it Brawn GP.

At last, Jenson Button and Rubens Barichello both had a drive for 2009. In a strange season which saw him win 6 of the first 7 Grand Prix, the car then went away from both he and Barrichello and any early optimism that he might win the championship started to recede as other drivers began to catch up.

His drive at the Brazilan Grand Prix will go down in history as a master class in overtaking and also showed what a smooth driver Jenson Button could be. From fourteenth on the grid, he weaved his way through the field to finish fifth and become the 2009 Formula One Racing Champion.

In 2010, he left Brawn GP to drive for McLaren, the team he was meant to drive for many years before. He was Formula One Championship runner up in 2011.

Year
Driver
Car
2000
Michael Schumacher
Ferrari
2001
Michael Schumacher
Ferrari
2002
Michael Schumacher
Ferrari
2003
Michael Schumacher
Ferrari
2004
Michael Schumacher
Ferrari
2005
Fernando Alonso
Renault
2006
Fernando Alonso
Renault
2007
Kimi Raikkonen
Ferrari
2008
Lewis Hamilton
McLaren
2009
Jenson Button
Brawn
Sebastian Vettel signifying win number 3 in 2012
Sebastian Vettel signifying win number 3 in 2012

Formula One Champion - 2010-2012

So far, one Formula One racing driver has dominated the world champinship and that is German driver, Sebastian Vettel.

Sebastian Vettel drives a Red Bull racing car.

He won the 2010 season.

He won the 2011 Formula One Championship on the last day of the season

He again won the 2012 F1 championship on the last day of the series and again his closest competitor was Ferrari driver, Fernando Alonso.

Many consider Sebastian Vettel one of the best racing drivers in Formula One and deserving of victory #3.

However, others consider Fernando Alonso the better 'racer'. He has given Vettel a very close season in an inconsistent Ferrari.

His co-driver, Felipe Massa has not really featured in the other Ferrari showing that Alonso has the measure of his car and is still able to get the best out of the car.

But Vettel won two Formula One Championships in fine style in 2010 and 2011 and even in 2012 had a consistent if not dominant season. He is a nice young man too, well liked by fans and other drivers.

He can get frustrated during races but is a good driver in a superior car. Red Bull's #2 driver, Mark Webber has always seemed to promise so much and never quite delivered.

Rumours seem to circulate every year about Sebastian Vettel leaving Red Bull to drive for Ferrari but with Adrian Newey, the F1 car design wizard now part of Red Bull, it seemed unlikely that Vettel was going anywhere but Ferrari finally got their man after two poor seasons for the Red Bull car. So far, he has failed to excel in the Ferrari, especially when the Mercedes car is so dominant - in 2014 ans 2015 Lewis Hamilton won the world championship for Mercedes with team mate, Nico Rosberg winning the runner-up trophy - there's no love lost between the Brit and the German and this is what is keeping fans on the edge of their seats - F1 is being dominated by Nercedes but Red Bull are getting better and Ferrari and Williams are not too far behind.

So that was the run down of all of the Formula One Champions from 1950 to 2015. I hope you enjoyed it.

Many thanks for reading.


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Comments 8 comments

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Rema, thanks so much for reading and also for sharing - I hope your friend liked it!


remaniki profile image

remaniki 3 years ago from Chennai, India

Excellent hub Julie. So informative that the first thing I did after reading this hub was to send this link to a friend who is a crazy racing fan and is a quizzer too. This hub is going to help her get all the information she would need if she were to participate in a racing quiz.

Great hub. Very neatly laid-out too.

Sharing it of course. Cheers, Rema.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Paula, thanks so much for your kind comment. Alas, Google seems to spend most of its time ignoring me but I still try hard :o)


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Julie....Wow. Bless your heart and your stamina! You have obviously put some serious research and work into this. Impressive, to say the least. I'm not really a Nascar fan, but I have many friends who love it.

This is one HELL of a Google-worthy hub!! Great Job.....UP+++


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Martin, many thanks for reading - the research is a pleasure to do if the subject is interesting.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Bill, thanks for your comment - I got into it by accident because my husband likes watching it. I have not managed to work any opposite magic on him with my love of baseball though!


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Wow... talk about information packed. Thank you for researching this.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Nice job of research, Julie! Are you actually a fan of car racing? It's something I have never gotten into, although I marvel at their ability to keep from dying each and every time out. :)

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