Times past, Formula One was thought of as more than just the world’s premier motor racing series. It was like the automobile olympics, teams competing in their national colours – Italian rosso corsa, British racing green, and the bleu de France.
That spirit of national pride is still preserved in modern Formula One, evocative of the classic racing of the Fifties and Sixties. Ferrari continue to don the red of Italy while Mercedes have returned the German ‘silver arrows’ livery to the grid. The top three drivers’ national flags are flown above the podium at each race; the winning driver’s national anthem, and that of their team, are played before the trophy presentation.
But which anthems have we heard the most often? Some nations have developed a taste for Formula One, producing whole crops of talented drivers who enjoy success in the sport. Other countries have produced just one or two absolute gems, whose efforts have carved a path where others might yet follow.
Britain, Germany, Brazil and France emerge as major factories for F1 race winners, if we begin by totalling all Grand Prix victories since the beginning of the World Championship in 1950.
That gives us a good overview of success, and a country’s presence at the top of the sport. But if we look at the number of distinct Grand Prix winners in each country, the picture changes.
Italy (15) springs into second place, with the UK (19) not so far ahead in first on this front. Germany (seven) and Brazil (six) fall to earth somewhat on this measurement, with the United States (five), Finland (five) and Australia (four) not far behind.
We can do the same with F1 drivers’ championships, to see which countries have accounted for the greatest glory in Formula One.
Britain (17), Germany (12) and Brazil (eight) retain supremacy in this metric, but France (four) and Italy (three) fall away somewhat – unable to convert race winners into world champions.
But this time if we look at each country’s distinct number of champion drivers, the picture alters more dramatically.
Nobody can live with Britain’s tally (10) in this regard. Half a dozen British champions took a solitary world title (Mike Hawthorn , John Surtees , James Hunt , Nigel Mansell , Damon Hill , Jenson Button ). Lewis Hamilton is poised to become the most successful of his country’s four multiple champions (Hamilton [three], Jackie Stewart [three], Graham Hill [two], Jim Clark [two]), should he win the 2017 drivers’ crown.
Brazil (eight) has produced race-winners such as Rubens Barrichello (11) and Felipe Massa (11) who fell just short of the ultimate prize, leaning instead on Emerson Fittipaldi (two titles), Nelson Piquet (three titles) and Ayrton Senna (three titles) for their tally of world crowns.
Germany is uber-reliant on the mighty records of Michael Schumacher (seven titles, 91 wins), though Sebastian Vettel (four titles, 46 wins) and Nico Rosberg (one title, 23 wins) have maintained cracking form in the years since the former’s retirement.
Finland is right up there this time, pegging Brazil and Germany for second spot with three champion drivers (Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen). France has produced a solitary world champion: the great ‘Professor’ Alain Prost (four titles). Italy, despite fanatical home support for the front-running Ferrari team, hasn’t won a drivers’ crown since taking three of the first world titles (Giuseppe Farina , Alberto Ascari [1952, 1953]) 64 years ago.
All of this data has been condensed into the below table – Formula One’s nation-by-nation rankings, which you’re free to sort yourself by whichever metric you choose.
Will look to keep this updated but give me a nudge if you see anything amiss!
Credit for featured image: Morio (Wikimedia Commons)