If we have to personalize Formula 1 in one driver, the choice most probably will be JuanManuelFangio, Argentinian driver who won the Formula 1 World Championship five times in the 1950s and that record was beaten by just one man (Michael Schumacher). But, Fangio did it with four different teams/manufacturers and that was never repeated. In total, Fangio scored 24 wins and 29 pole positions in 51 Formula 1 Championship events, what was the biggest ever percentage in the F1 history
He was also successful outside Formula 1, scoring two victories at Sebring 12 Hours (1956, 1957), one victory at Carrera Panamericana (1953) and three podiums at Mille Miglia. At 24 Hours of Le Mans, he retired in all four attempts.
Juan Manuel Fangio
Football, war and finally - racing
Born in June 1911 in Balcarce, Argentina, Fangio left school when he was just 13 years old to became a mechanic. Except cars he also liked football and could have good career in it, but after serving in the army, he definitely turned to the races.
Before World War II Fangio had some racing success across South America and in 1948 he arrived in Europe, funded by Argentine Automobil Club and Argentine government.
Video - Juan Manuel Fangio driving a Ferrari at Monaco Grand Prix
Astonishing results in Formula 1 championship
Unlike many other Formula 1 drivers, Fangio started his career at a mature age. He scored his first title in 1951 driving for Alfa Romeo team, and three years after that he won his second title driving Maserati (two race wins) and Mercedes (four race wins), in nine races in the season.
In 1955, this time with Mercedes, Fangio won his third championship scoring four race wins, while in the next year he was the champion with Ferrari. El Maestro claimed another title in 1956, again driving a Ferrari, while his last title Fangio won in 1957 behind a wheel of Maserati 250F. In his career, Fangio won 24 of 51 races and had total of 35 podiums.
Juan Manuel Fangio driving Maserati 250F
Post racing days
When he retired from racing, Fangio was dealer of Mercedes cars in Argentina. Interestingly, even before Mercedes team in Formula 1, he has acquired Mercedes concession in his homeland.
He is a member of Formula 1 Hall of Fame, as well a member of International Motorsport Hall of Fame. His influence to the popularity of Formula 1 was huge, as well a influence to the future drivers. Many of them were compared with Fangio but such comparisons are not realistic, since the qualities required for success, the levels of competition, and the rules have changed over time.
Juan Manuel Fangio in racing car (1987)
Inspiration for racers and artists
Juan Manuel Fangio, who was never married, died in Buenos Aires in 1995, at the age of 84. He was buried in his home town of Balcarce where is established automobile museum named after him.
Six statues of Fangio, sculpted by Catalan artist Joaquim Ros Sabate, stand at race venues around the world: Puerto Madero, Monte Carlo, Montmelo, Nurburgring, Stuttgart and Monza.