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The Most Famous

RACING DRIVERS from Belgium

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This page contains a list of the greatest Belgian Racing Drivers. The pantheon dataset contains 888 Racing Drivers, 20 of which were born in Belgium. This makes Belgium the birth place of the 13th most number of Racing Drivers behind Finland and Australia.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Belgian Racing Drivers of all time. This list of famous Belgian Racing Drivers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Belgian Racing Drivers.

Photo of Jacky Ickx

1. Jacky Ickx (1945 - )

With an HPI of 64.66, Jacky Ickx is the most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 32 different languages on wikipedia.

Jacques Bernard "Jacky" Ickx (French pronunciation: ​[ʒaki ɪks]; born 1 January 1945) is a Belgian former racing driver who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans six times (second-highest of all time) and achieved eight wins and 25 podium finishes in Formula One. He greatly contributed to several World Championships for Makes and World Sports Car championships: Ford (1968), Ferrari (1972), Porsche (1976–1977) and (1982–1985) by his 37 major World Sports Car wins. He also won the Can-Am Championship in 1979 and the 1983 Paris–Dakar Rally. Ickx twice finished as championship runner-up in Formula One, in the consecutive years of 1969 and 1970. He won the majority of his races for Scuderia Ferrari, for which he was the team's leading driver for several seasons in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Photo of Max Verstappen

2. Max Verstappen (1997 - )

With an HPI of 54.79, Max Verstappen is the 2nd most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 62 different languages.

Max Emilian Verstappen (Dutch: [ˈmɑks vɛrˈstɑ.pə(n)]; born 30 September 1997) is a Belgian-Dutch racing driver and the 2021 and 2022 Formula One World Champion. He competes under the Dutch flag in Formula One with Red Bull Racing. Verstappen is the son of racing drivers Jos Verstappen, who also competed in Formula One, and Sophie Kumpen. He had a successful run in junior karting and single-seater categories – including KF3, WSK World Series, KZ2 and European Formula 3 – beating several records. At the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, when he was aged 17 years, 166 days, he became the youngest driver to compete in Formula One. After spending the 2015 season with Scuderia Toro Rosso, Verstappen started his 2016 campaign with the Italian team before being promoted to parent team Red Bull Racing after four races as a replacement for Daniil Kvyat. At the age of 18, he won the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix on his debut for Red Bull Racing, becoming the youngest-ever driver and the first Dutch driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix. After winning the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Verstappen became the first Dutch driver to win the Formula One World Championship, and the 34th Formula One World Drivers' Champion. He won his second consecutive Formula One championship the next season. As of the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Verstappen has achieved 35 victories and 20 pole positions. He scored the first hat-trick of his career at the 2021 French Grand Prix and his first grand slam at the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix. He scored his second grand slam at the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Verstappen is set to remain at Red Bull until at least the end of the 2028 season after signing a contract extension.

Photo of Thierry Boutsen

3. Thierry Boutsen (1957 - )

With an HPI of 54.63, Thierry Boutsen is the 3rd most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Thierry Marc Boutsen (born 13 July 1957) is a Belgian former racing driver who raced for the Arrows, Benetton, Williams, Ligier and Jordan teams in Formula One. He competed in 164 World Championship Grands Prix (163 starts), winning three races, achieving 15 podiums and scoring 132 career points. His best finish in the World Drivers' Championship was fourth in 1988 whilst driving for Benetton. He also twice finished second in the 24 Hours of Le Mans sportscar race (in 1993 in a Peugeot 905 and in 1996 in a Porsche 911 GT1).

Photo of Willy Mairesse

4. Willy Mairesse (1928 - 1969)

With an HPI of 53.46, Willy Mairesse is the 4th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Willy Mairesse (1 October 1928 – 2 September 1969) was a Formula One and sports-car driver from Belgium. He participated in 13 World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 19 June 1960. He achieved one podium and scored a total of seven championship points. He committed suicide in a hotel room in Ostend after a crash at the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans forced an end to his career.Peter Revson once described the intensity of Mairesse before a race at Spa, Belgium. Revson looked into his car and saw Mairesse's "furrowed" face, beetled brows, and eyes which were almost tilted and their colour changed. "It was almost like looking at the devil."

Photo of Olivier Gendebien

5. Olivier Gendebien (1924 - 1998)

With an HPI of 52.11, Olivier Gendebien is the 5th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Olivier Jean Marie Fernand Gendebien (12 January 1924 – 2 October 1998) was a Belgian racing driver who was called "one of the greatest sportscar racers of all time".

Photo of Georges Berger

6. Georges Berger (1918 - 1967)

With an HPI of 49.35, Georges Berger is the 6th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Georges Berger (14 September 1918 in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, near Brussels – 23 August 1967 at the Nürburgring) was a racing driver who raced a Gordini in his two World Championship Formula One Grands Prix. He initially competed during the 1950s in a Formula 2 BMW-engined Jicey with which he finished third in the Grand Prix des Frontières at Chimay. In 1953 he raced for the Simca-Gordini team and finished fifth at the same track. He entered the same car (a 1.5-litre 4 cylinder Gordini type 15) in the Belgian Grand Prix but retired after only three laps with engine failure. The following year he raced a Gordini with nothing more than a fourth position at Rouen. After this he faded from single-seater racing. Later in his career he shared the winning Ferrari at the 1960 Tour de France automobile. He was killed racing a Porsche 911 in the 1967 84-hour Marathon de la Route at Nürburgring.

Photo of Charles de Tornaco

7. Charles de Tornaco (1927 - 1953)

With an HPI of 48.73, Charles de Tornaco is the 7th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Charles de Tornaco (7 June 1927 – 18 September 1953) was a racing driver from Belgium. He participated in 4 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 22 June 1952. He scored no championship points. De Tornaco was the co-founder of Ecurie Belgique, which later became Ecurie Francorchamps, and most of his racing career was with this team, driving Ferraris. In practice for the Modena Grand Prix in 1953, de Tornaco rolled his car and suffered serious head and neck injuries. There were no adequate medical facilities present, and he died on his way to hospital in a private saloon car.

Photo of Jacques Swaters

8. Jacques Swaters (1926 - 2010)

With an HPI of 46.77, Jacques Swaters is the 8th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  Her biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

Jacques Swaters (30 October 1926 – 10 December 2010) was a racing driver from Belgium and former team owner of Ecurie Francorchamps and Ecurie Nationale Belge.

Photo of Patrick Nève

9. Patrick Nève (1949 - 2017)

With an HPI of 46.06, Patrick Nève is the 9th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Patrick Marie Ghislain Pierre Simon Stanislas Nève de Mévergnies (13 October 1949 – 12 March 2017) was a Belgian racing driver. He participated in 14 Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 16 May 1976. He was notable for being the first driver for Williams Grand Prix Engineering. He scored no championship points. His younger brother, Guy, was also a racing driver.

Photo of Arthur Legat

10. Arthur Legat (1898 - 1960)

With an HPI of 46.02, Arthur Legat is the 10th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

Arthur Legat (1 November 1898 – 23 February 1960) was a Belgian racing driver. He participated in two Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 22 June 1952. He scored no championship points. Legat won the Grand Prix des Frontières at Chimay in 1931 and 1932 with a Bugatti.

Pantheon has 20 people classified as racing drivers born between 1898 and 1997. Of these 20, 11 (55.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living racing drivers include Jacky Ickx, Max Verstappen, and Thierry Boutsen. The most famous deceased racing drivers include Willy Mairesse, Olivier Gendebien, and Georges Berger.

Living Racing Drivers

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Deceased Racing Drivers

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Which Racing Drivers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 8 most globally memorable Racing Drivers since 1700.