The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary British Racing Drivers of all time. This list of famous British 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 British Racing Drivers.
With an HPI of 71.00, James Hunt is the most famous British Racing Driver. His biography has been translated into 49 different languages on wikipedia.
James Simon Wallis Hunt (29 August 1947 – 15 June 1993) was a British racing driver who won the Formula One World Championship in 1976. After retiring from racing in 1979, Hunt became a media commentator and businessman. Beginning his racing career in touring car racing, Hunt progressed into Formula Three, where he attracted the attention of the Hesketh Racing team and soon came under their wing. Hunt's often reckless and action-packed exploits on track earned him the nickname "Hunt the Shunt" (shunt, as a British motor-racing term, means "crash"). Hunt entered Formula One in 1973, driving a March 731 entered by the Hesketh Racing team. He went on to win for Hesketh, driving their own Hesketh 308 car, in both World Championship and non-championship races, before joining the McLaren team at the end of 1975. In his first year with McLaren, Hunt won the 1976 World Drivers' Championship, and he remained with the team for a further two years, although with less success, before moving to the Wolf team in early 1979. Following a string of races in which he failed to finish, Hunt retired from driving halfway through the 1979 season. After retiring from motor racing, he established a career as a motor racing commentator for the BBC. He died from a heart attack aged 45.
With an HPI of 70.43, Ken Miles is the 2nd most famous British Racing Driver. His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.
Kenneth Henry Jarvis Miles (1 November 1918 – 17 August 1966) was a British-American sports car racing engineer and driver best known for his motorsport career in the US and with American teams on the international scene. He is an inductee to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
With an HPI of 67.17, Jackie Stewart is the 3rd most famous British Racing Driver. His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.
Sir John Young Stewart OBE (born 11 June 1939), known as Jackie Stewart, is a British former Formula One racing driver from Scotland. Nicknamed the "Flying Scot", he competed in Formula One between 1965 and 1973, winning three World Drivers' Championships and twice finishing as runner-up over those nine seasons. Outside of Formula One, he narrowly missed out on a win at his first attempt at the Indianapolis 500 in 1966, and competed in the Can-Am series in 1970 and 1971. Between 1997 and 1999, in partnership with his son, Paul, he was team principal of the Stewart Grand Prix Formula One racing team. After retiring from racing, Stewart was an ABC network television sports commentator for both auto racing, covering the Indianapolis 500 for over a decade, and for several summer Olympics covering many events. Stewart also served as a television commercial spokesman for both the Ford Motor Company and Heineken beer. Stewart was also instrumental in improving the safety of motor racing, campaigning for better medical facilities and track improvements at motor racing circuits. After John Surtees' death in 2017, he is the last surviving Formula One World Champion from the 1960s. He is also the oldest living Formula One winner after Tony Brooks' death on 3 May 2022.
With an HPI of 66.12, Jim Clark is the 4th most famous British Racing Driver. His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.
James Clark Jr. OBE (4 March 1936 – 7 April 1968) was a British Formula One racing driver from Scotland, who won two World Championships, in 1963 and 1965. A versatile driver, he competed in sports cars, touring cars and in the Indianapolis 500, which he won in 1965. He was particularly associated with the Lotus marque. Clark was killed in a Formula Two racing accident in 1968 in Hockenheim, West Germany. At the time of his death, aged 32, he had won more Grand Prix races (25) and achieved more Grand Prix pole positions (33) than any other driver. In 2009, The Times placed Clark at the top of a list of the greatest-ever Formula One drivers.
With an HPI of 65.75, Graham Hill is the 5th most famous British Racing Driver. His biography has been translated into 49 different languages.
Norman Graham Hill (15 February 1929 – 29 November 1975) was a British racing driver and team owner, who was the Formula One World Champion twice, winning in 1962 and 1968 as well as being runner up on three occasions (1963, 1964 and 1965). Despite not passing his driving test until 1953 when he was already 24 years of age, and only entering the world of motorsports a year later, Hill would go on to become one of the greatest drivers of his generation. Hill is most celebrated for being the only driver ever to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport, an achievement which he defined as winning the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Formula One World Drivers' Championship. While several of his peers have also espoused this definition, including fellow F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, the achievement is today most commonly defined as including the Monaco Grand Prix rather than the Formula One World Championship. By this newer definition, Hill is still the only driver to have ever won the Triple Crown, winning at Monaco with such frequency in the 1960s (5x; 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969) that he became known as "Mr. Monaco". Hill crashed at the 1969 United States Grand Prix and was seriously injured, breaking both his legs and ending his season. Although he would recover and continue to race until 1975, Hill's career would never again reach the same heights, and the Monaco Grand Prix victory earlier in 1969 would be his last victory in Formula One. Wins in the most prestigious races of all three of the major disciplines of motor racing cemented Hill's position as one of the most complete drivers in the history of the sport. Hill was also a well liked television personality and was frequently seen on television screens in the 1970s in a non-sporting capacity, appearing on a variety of programmes including panel games. Upon leaving Brabham, Hill set up his own team in 1973, operating under the name Embassy Hill. Hill continued to race, however after failing to qualify for the 1975 Monaco Grand Prix he retired from driving to concentrate on the day-to-day operations of the team. That same year Hill and five other members of the Embassy Hill team were killed when the aeroplane Hill was piloting from France crashed in fog at night on Arkley golf course while attempting to land at Elstree Airfield in north London.Hill and his son Damon were the first father and son pair to win Formula One World Championships. Hill's grandson Josh, Damon's son, also raced his way through the ranks until he retired from Formula Three in 2013 at the age of 22.
With an HPI of 64.34, Nigel Mansell is the 6th most famous British Racing Driver. His biography has been translated into 51 different languages.
Nigel Ernest James Mansell, (; born 8 August 1953) is a British retired racing driver who won both the Formula One World Championship (1992) and the CART Indy Car World Series (1993). Mansell was the reigning F1 champion when he moved over to CART, becoming the first person to win the CART title in his debut season, and making him the only person to hold both the World Drivers' Championship and the American open-wheel National Championship simultaneously. His career in Formula One spanned 15 seasons, with his final two full seasons of top-level racing being spent in the CART series. Mansell is the second most successful British Formula One driver of all time in terms of race wins with 31 victories, (behind Lewis Hamilton with 103 wins), and is eighth overall on the Formula One race winners list, behind Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso. He held the record for the most poles set in a single season, which was broken in 2011 by Sebastian Vettel. He was rated in the top 10 Formula One drivers of all time by longtime Formula One commentator Murray Walker. In 2008, ESPN.com ranked him 24th on their "Top 25 Drivers of All Time" list. He was also ranked No. 9 of the 50 greatest F1 drivers of all time by the Times Online on a list that also included such drivers as Prost, Senna, Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark.Mansell raced in the Grand Prix Masters series in 2005, and won the championship title. He later signed a one-off race deal for the Scuderia Ecosse GT race team to drive their number 63 Ferrari F430 GT2 car at Silverstone on 6 May 2007. He has since competed in additional sports car races with his sons Leo and Greg, including the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans, and was inducted to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005.
With an HPI of 63.81, Mike Hawthorn is the 7th most famous British Racing Driver. His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.
John Michael Hawthorn (10 April 1929 – 22 January 1959) was a British racing driver. He became the United Kingdom's first Formula One World Champion driver in 1958, whereupon he announced his retirement, having been profoundly affected by the death of his teammate and friend Peter Collins two months earlier in the 1958 German Grand Prix. Hawthorn also won the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans, but was haunted by his involvement in the disastrous crash that marred the race. Hawthorn died in a road accident three months after retiring. With a total of three career World Championship Grand Prix wins Hawthorn has the lowest number of Grand Prix wins scored by any Formula One World Champion.
With an HPI of 62.71, John Surtees is the 8th most famous British Racing Driver. His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.
John Surtees, (11 February 1934 – 10 March 2017) was a British Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and Formula One driver. On his way to become a seven-time Grand Prix motorcycle World Champion, he won his first title in 1956, and followed with three consecutive doubles between 1958 and 1960, winning six World Championships in both the 500 and 350cc classes. Surtees then made the move to the pinnacle of Motorsport, the Formula 1 World Championship, and in 1964 made motor racing history by becoming the F1 World Champion. To this day Surtees remains the only person to have won World Championships on both two and four wheels. He founded the Surtees Racing Organisation team that competed as a constructor in Formula One, Formula 2 and Formula 5000 from 1970 to 1978. He was also the ambassador of the Racing Steps Foundation. As of 2023, John Surtees is Ferrari's most recent British World Champion.
With an HPI of 62.36, Stirling Moss is the 9th most famous British Racing Driver. His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.
Sir Stirling Craufurd Moss (17 September 1929 – 12 April 2020) was a British Formula One racing driver. An inductee into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, he won 212 of the 529 races he entered across several categories of competition and has been described as "the greatest driver never to win the World Championship". In a seven-year span between 1955 and 1961 Moss finished as championship runner-up four times and in third place another three times.
With an HPI of 61.52, Lewis Hamilton is the 10th most famous British Racing Driver. His biography has been translated into 82 different languages.
Sir Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton (born 7 January 1985) is a British racing driver currently competing in Formula One, driving for Mercedes. In Formula One, Hamilton has won a joint-record seven World Drivers' Championship titles (tied with Michael Schumacher), and holds the records for the most wins (103), pole positions (103), and podium finishes (191), among others. Born and raised in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, Hamilton joined the McLaren young driver programme in 1998. This led to a Formula One drive with McLaren from 2007 to 2012, making Hamilton the first, and so far only, black driver to race in the series. In his inaugural season, Hamilton set numerous records as he finished runner-up to Kimi Räikkönen by one point. The following season, he won his maiden title in dramatic fashion—making a crucial overtake on the last lap of the last race of the season—to become the then-youngest ever Formula One World Champion. After six years with McLaren, Hamilton signed with Mercedes in 2013. Changes to the regulations for 2014 mandating the use of turbo-hybrid engines saw the start of a highly successful period for Hamilton, during which he won six further drivers' titles. Consecutive titles came in 2014 and 2015 during an intense rivalry with teammate Nico Rosberg. Following Rosberg's retirement in 2016, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel became Hamilton's closest rival in two championship battles, in which Hamilton twice overturned mid-season point deficits to claim consecutive titles again in 2017 and 2018. His third and fourth consecutive titles followed in 2019 and 2020 to equal Schumacher's record of seven drivers' titles. Hamilton has been credited with furthering Formula One's global following by appealing to a broader audience outside the sport, in part due to his high-profile lifestyle, environmental and social activism, and exploits in music and fashion. He has also become a prominent advocate in support of activism to combat racism and push for increased diversity in motorsport. Hamilton was listed in the 2020 issue of Time as one of the 100 most influential people globally, and was knighted in the 2021 New Year Honours.
Pantheon has 169 people classified as racing drivers born between 1906 and 1999. Of these 169, 78 (46.15%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living racing drivers include Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell, and Lewis Hamilton. The most famous deceased racing drivers include James Hunt, Ken Miles, and Jim Clark. As of April 2022, 17 new racing drivers have been added to Pantheon including Joey Dunlop, Bill Ivy, and Leslie Graham.
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Which Racing Drivers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Racing Drivers since 1700.