Since the inaugural season of the Formula 1 World Championships in 1950, the competition has been home to some of the greatest names in motorsport history.
Of course, like every sport, F1 has had to adapt since its birth nearly 70 years ago. With greater popularity came more recognisable figures, wider crowds, bigger races and more circuits.
Therefore, it makes it pretty hard to deduce who might be considered as the greatest F1 driver of all time and just how good others are in comparison.
However, a recent video on YouTube has been released showing the progression of how many podium finishes drivers have earned from different points in their respective racing careers.
Cleverly, the graph pictured on the right has a fair conversion method so that drivers of the past can be compared to drivers of the current. Whilst there was only a total of seven races in 1950, there are now 21, meaning the more current racers will have their points divided accordingly.
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The specific measurements of the graph are:
Left Graph: All Time podiums – real numbers
Right Graph: Adjusted for Races per Year
1950 – 1 podium = 3 points (7 Total Races)
2019 – 1 podium = 1 point (21 Total Races)
From 1950-1970 the years are heavily dominated by Juan Manuel Fangio. From 1954 right up until 1969, the Argentinian reigned far superior before eventually being overtaken by the British Graham Hill in the amount of podium finishes.
Astonishingly, though, Fangio wasn’t dethroned on the amount of cumulative podium finishes, normalised by the races per year, until 1989. For 35 years, Fangio was statistically the most successful driver in F1 history.
He was eventually overtaken by the astounding rise of Alain Prost who burst onto the leaderboard and F1 scene in 1985 when he won the championship with McLaren. The Frenchman went onto win three more championships in the following year, 1989 and 1993.
Just before the 1990s hit, Prost established himself as the most successful driver in the history of the sport. By then, the powerful British duo of Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart were beginning to slip down the pecking order and were replaced by Nigel Mansell as the most successful British driver in the late 90s.
This era also sprang the beginning of the man who is widely considered to be the best there has ever been, Michael Schumacher. As the new century hit, so did the German who finally overtook Prost in 2002. In his reign, the leaderboard seems motionless. Scarcely did other drivers burst onto the standings because the driver was so dominant.
It wasn’t until the introduction of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen of Spain and Finland respectively did the standings begin to see a noticeable change. By 2012, Fernando Alonso, in particular, had written his name amongst the big names such as Schumacher, Prost, Ayrton Senna and Fangio.
That also marked the dramatic rise of two exciting British drivers in Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. Whilst the former didn’t manage to break into the cumulative table, the latter certainly did.
In fact, from 2013, the standings portray a two-horse race between Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. In just five years, the two had risen to the top of the standings with Hamilton edging the German to second place.
The table finishes after the recent 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix. As it stands, Schumacher is the undisputed champion both cumulatively and figuratively in terms of podium finishes. Hamilton is a close second and looks better set than anyone before him to takeover the reigning champion.
Hamilton is 11 podium finishes behind Schumacher but currently has a higher percentage rate of races entered to podium finishes earned by nine percent. If Hamilton continues to race as well as he is for at least another two seasons (as he is widely expected to) there is no doubt that he will smash the seemingly impossible record.