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 1,080 Racing Drivers, 21 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 (b. 1945)

With an HPI of 65.01, Jacky Ickx is the most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages on wikipedia.

Jacques Bernard Edmon Martin Henri "Jacky" Ickx (French pronunciation: [ʒaki iks]; 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 (b. 1997)

With an HPI of 56.01, Max Verstappen is the 2nd most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 85 different languages.

Max Emilian Verstappen (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmɑks vɛrˈstɑ.pə(n)]; born 30 September 1997) is a Belgian and Dutch racing driver competing in Formula One, where he is the 2021, 2022, and 2023 World Champion. He races under the Dutch flag in Formula One for Red Bull Racing. Verstappen is the son of former Formula One driver Jos Verstappen, and former go-kart racer Sophie Kumpen. He had a successful run in karting and single-seater categories – including FIA European Formula 3 – breaking 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 ten Grands Prix during the 2021 season, Verstappen became Formula One World Drivers' Champion for the first time, being the first Dutch driver and the 34th driver to do so. He won the next two consecutive Formula One championships in 2022 and 2023. As of the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix, Verstappen has had 57 victories, 36 pole positions and 32 fastest laps. In addition to being the youngest Grand Prix winner, he holds several Formula One records, including the most wins in a season, the highest percentage of wins in a season, and the most consecutive wins. 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 (b. 1957)

With an HPI of 55.01, Thierry Boutsen is the 3rd most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Thierry Marc Boutsen (French pronunciation: [tjɛ.ʁi but.sɛn]; 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 Camille Jenatzy

4. Camille Jenatzy (1868 - 1913)

With an HPI of 54.59, Camille Jenatzy is the 4th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Camille Jenatzy (1868, Schaerbeek – 8 December 1913, Habay la Neuve) was a Belgian race car driver. He is known for breaking the land speed record three times and being the first man to break the 100 km/h barrier. He was nicknamed Le Diable Rouge ("The Red Devil") after the colour of his beard.

Photo of Willy Mairesse

5. Willy Mairesse (1928 - 1969)

With an HPI of 53.77, Willy Mairesse is the 5th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Willy Mairesse (French pronunciation: [wi.li mɛ.ʁɛs]; 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

6. Olivier Gendebien (1924 - 1998)

With an HPI of 51.87, Olivier Gendebien is the 6th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Olivier Jean Marie Fernand Gendebien (French pronunciation: [ɔ.li.vje ʒɑ̃.de.bjɛ̃]; 12 January 1924 – 2 October 1998) was a Belgian racing driver. He is a 4-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, and has been described as "one of the greatest sportscar racers of all time".

Photo of Charles de Tornaco

7. Charles de Tornaco (1927 - 1953)

With an HPI of 50.34, Charles de Tornaco is the 7th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Baron Charles Victor Raymond André Evance de Tornaco (pronounced [ʃaʁl də tor.naˈko]; 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 Arthur Legat

8. Arthur Legat (1898 - 1960)

With an HPI of 49.45, Arthur Legat is the 8th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Arthur Legat (French pronunciation: [aʁ.tyʁ lɛ.ɡa]; 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.

Photo of Georges Berger

9. Georges Berger (1918 - 1967)

With an HPI of 48.62, Georges Berger is the 9th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 20 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 Patrick Nève

10. Patrick Nève (1949 - 2017)

With an HPI of 47.11, Patrick Nève is the 10th most famous Belgian Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 22 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.

People

Pantheon has 22 people classified as Belgian racing drivers born between 1868 and 1997. Of these 22, 12 (54.55%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Belgian racing drivers include Jacky Ickx, Max Verstappen, and Thierry Boutsen. The most famous deceased Belgian racing drivers include Camille Jenatzy, Willy Mairesse, and Olivier Gendebien. As of April 2024, 1 new Belgian racing drivers have been added to Pantheon including André Milhoux.

Living Belgian Racing Drivers

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Deceased Belgian Racing Drivers

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Newly Added Belgian Racing Drivers (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Racing Drivers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 9 most globally memorable Racing Drivers since 1700.