Top 5 Formula 1 Drivers of the 1990s
After the slightly brutal 1970s and a bit dissolute 1980s, Formula 1 in the 1990s was established as the sharpest and most intense competition with many drivers achieving a status of superstars.
Just like in the previous two stories about the drivers from the previous two decades, we don’t want to rate or strictly classify them as that is unnecessary. Some of the drivers from this list already were stars and champions during the 1980s but reached their peak during the 1990s.
Many names could be added to this list: Jacques Villeneuve for example, the first Canadian who won the F1 title, or Gerhard Berger and Riccardo Patrese who missed reaching the top of the standings, and they both were excellent drivers, each in his own way.
However, this is our choice of five Formula 1 drivers who earned their place in the hall of fame and the history of the sports.
When Damon, the son of famous Graham Hill, debuted in Formula 1, he was already 32 years old. During his relatively short spell in Formula, Damon Hill managed to win the title, finishing the season twice as a runner-up and once in the third place in the Drivers’ championship, all driving for Williams.
After a horrible rookie season with Brabham in 1992, Hill got a chance with Williams in the following year and had immediately made an impact. He was third that year, mainly thanks to the excellent results in the second half of the year. In 1994, he was a vice-champion, finishing only a point behind Michael Schumacher, while in 1995, the Brit again assumed the position of runner-up and again losing to the German. Finally, in his fourth and final attempt with Williams, Hill won the title ahead of Jacques Villeneuve.
During his Formula 1 career, Damon Hill started in 115 races, scored 22 wins and 42 podiums, collecting a total of 360 points. He also scored 20 pole positions and 19 fastest laps.
His career was pretty successful in the 1980s when he won many races and was a vice-champion twice, losing to Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet, but in the next decade, the man with the most famous mustaches in Formula 1 finally climbed to the throne.
In 1991, Nigel Mansell finished the season again as a runner-up, this time losing to Ayrton Senna. It looked like he will end his career without a title but in 1992, the man from Upton-upon-Severn was unstoppable. He won the opening five races that year and later scored another four wins. Mansell was 2nd in three races that year and retired from four, two of them being the last two of the season, but by then, he had already secured the title.
Interestingly, that year was Nigel’s last full-time season in Formula 1. He had a brief return in 1994 and 1995 and even managed to win one race. In his career, Mansell recorded 187 starts, 31 wins, 59 podiums, 32 pole positions and 30 fastest laps with a total of 480 points scored.
Finland always had excellent rally drivers but Mika Hakkinen proved that the country of 1000 lakes also has drivers capable of dominating the tracks.
Hakkinen had to go a long way before he was able to become a champion. Since his F1 debut in 1991, Hakkinen couldn’t win the race until 1997, in the season’s closing race at Jerez Circuit. McLaren team had a lot of patience considering that Hakkinen became their driver back in 1993. However, it was worth the wait as Hakkinen won two titles in a row in 1998 and 1999, adding to it a vice-champion honour in 2000.
During his 11 years long F1 career, Hakkinen started 161 races, won 20 and had 51 podiums, as well as having recorded 25 fastest laps and 26 pole positions, in addition to 420 points scored.
In terms of results, the German is definitely the most successful Formula 1 driver of all times. He won seven titles and two of them were scored during the ’90s, both of which with the Benetton team.
His qualities could be seen in 1992, barely two seasons through the series. Michael Schumacher finished 3rd that year. Two years later, Michael Schumacher won his first title, winning half of the races that year and repeating that success in 1995. Until the end of the decade, Schumacher also finished 3rd in 1996 and 2nd in 1998 driving for Ferrari, the team with which he scored another five titles in the 2000s.
During his long career, Schumacher started in 306 Grand Prix races. He scored 91 wins, 155 podiums, 77 fastest laps, 68 pole positions and collected a total of 1566 points, which is the fourth best result in the history of Formula 1.
For many, Ayrton Senna is definitely the best Formula 1 driver of all times, one of the synonyms of the sports and a kind of a superhero. The Formula 1 career of the Brazilian driver started in 1984, and four years later, he won his first championship title driving for the McLaren team.
After his 2nd position in the 1989 championship, Senna had won two consecutive titles in 1990 and 1991, again as the driver of McLaren. His fiery rivalry with Alain Prost was one of the biggest in the history of Formula 1 and had marked many seasons in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Senna scored 41 wins out of 161 starts in his career. He also had 80 podiums, 65 pole positions, and 19 fastest laps, scoring a total of 610 points.
Senna was, without any doubt, one of the greatest, but his death earned him a deity status. Fatal crash at Imola Circuit during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix ended one exceptional career, but that was the birth of the legend that will never fade.