Aspiring F1 drivers have three dreams: the first is to become an F1 driver, the second is to win a race, and the third and most important is to be a world champion. Winning the championship means that your name will be remembered forever, and you will go down in history.

However, these dreams are extremely difficult. The vast majority do not become F1 drivers, and most of the talented, lucky ones who make it to F1 do not win races, let alone the world championship.

Today, we will pay tribute to those extremely talented and skilled drivers but did not win a world championship. We had relied on their performances and statistics when they were in F1 to make this top. We must consider the years that each driver has been in the category and that during the first decades, there were many fewer races than today.

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These are our top 10 best F1 drivers never to win a championship:

1. Stirling Moss

  • Active years: 1951-1961
  • Entries: 67
  • Wins: 16
  • Podiums: 24
  • Pole Positions: 16
  • Championship runner-up four times (1955, 1956, 1957, and 1958) and 3rd three times (1959, 1960, and 1961)

Sir Stirling Moss is the “knight without a crown.” He is the second driver with most wins in F1 without having won a title, behind Max Verstappen (so far), and is considered one of the best drivers of all time.

He grew up in a family linked to motorsports, as his father was an amateur driver who came to race in the Indy 500, and soon he got into the world of racing. He raced in numerous competitions with good results and many victories, such as twelve in the World Endurance Championship, and was one of the drivers of the first generation of F1.

He did not get a podium until 1954, at which point he began to stand out and achieve outstanding results and many victories and podiums per season, getting second in the championship four times in a row. In 1958, he was closest to winning the championship, as Mike Hawthorn beat him by a single point.

In his last three years in F1, he was third in each of them, as he was a very regular driver and fast and reckless. He retired from motor racing in 1962 after an accident at the Goodwood circuit, which left him in a coma for a month and half a year with the left side of his body paralyzed.

Stirling Moss has undoubtedly been one of the most classy drivers and one who made his mark in F1.

2. David Coulthard

  • Active years: 1994-2008
  • Entries: 247
  • Wins: 13
  • Podiums: 62
  • Pole Positions: 12
  • Championship runner-up in 2001 and 3rd four times (1995, 1997, 1998, and 2000)

David Coulthard is the fifth driver in history with the most points in his career and the first of those who have not won a world championship. His career stands out for its remarkable consistency, as he was 7 times in the top five of the championship.

He made his F1 debut in 1994 with Williams and achieved his first victory at the 1995 Portuguese GP, a year in which he finished third in the championship while he was still very young. After Williams, he drove for McLaren from 1996 to 2004, where he went through several phases.

Until 2000 he served as the second driver for Mika Häkkinen, who won the world title in 1998 and 1999. Coulthard achieved solid results, being third in the championship 3 times. Little by little, he got closer to his teammate, and in 2001 he became the team leader. That was his best year, as he finished second in the championship before his pace got worse the following years.

In 2005, Coulthard joined the new Red Bull team and took the first podium in the team’s history at the 2006 Monaco GP. 2005 was the first year he had been outside of the top 10 in the championship since coming to F1. His subsequent years until he retired in 2008 were not bad but not good either, as he did not have a very competitive car.

3. Ronnie Peterson

  • Active years: 1970-1978
  • Entries: 123
  • Wins: 10
  • Podiums: 26
  • Pole Positions: 14
  • Championship runner-up twice (1971 and 1978) and 3rd in 1973

Ronnie Peterson was one of the best drivers of the 70s and was admired by Jackie Stewart and Gilles Villeneuve. He even inspired George Harrison, a member of the Beatles, to compose the song “Faster.”

He raced for March, Lotus, and Tyrrell. In his first year, his race debut was his best result, with seventh place in Monaco. The following year, in 1971, he got his first podium in Monaco with a second place. In 1973 he went to Lotus, achieving good results, which forced Emerson Fittipaldi to go to McLaren, as there was a lot of tension with two first drivers.

1975, 1976, and 1977 were not good years for him as he did not have very competitive cars. In 1978 he returned to Lotus, led by Mario Andretti, who was the first driver, and they finished first and second in the championship. Peterson died that season due to a crash in the Italian GP, in which 11 out of the 24 cars were involved.

James Hunt tried to avoid Riccardo Patrese and collided with Peterson, who crashed into the guardrail, and his car caught fire. Hunt got him out of the car, unconscious and with two broken legs, and he died days later at the hospital.

Many said he was the fastest of all drivers and earned the nickname “Superswede.”

4. Carlos Reutemann

  • Active years: 1972-1982
  • Entries: 146
  • Wins: 12
  • Podiums: 45
  • Pole Positions: 6
  • Championship runner-up in 1981 and 3rd three times (1975, 1978, and 1980)

Carlos Reutemann is one of the greatest protagonists of one of the most competitive eras in F1 and again excited Argentina 20 years after Fangio’s titles. Reutemann had humble origins and gave everything to get to F1. He raced for Brabham, Ferrari, Lotus, and Williams. During his first years at Brabham, he achieved several podiums and four victories.

In 1976, Reutemann was hired by Enzo Ferrari to replace Niki Lauda after his accident at Nurburgring, which angered the Austrian driver, thus precipitating his return to F1 just 38 days after his near-fatal accident. Reutemann continued that season at Ferrari in a third car and continued with the team in 1977 and 1978.

In 1978, he left Ferrari due to discrepancies with some team members and joined Williams, where he stayed until he retired in 1982. In Williams, he did good performances and brushed the title in 1981, when he finished second in the championship, just one point behind Nelson Piquet.

Reutemann was leading the championship with two races to go, and a change in the tire brand caused him to lose speed, according to him. His last seasons were fraught with a bad atmosphere in the team, as he did not accept being Alan Jones’ second driver. After motorsport, he turned to politics.

5. Tony Brooks

  • Active years: 1956-1961
  • Entries: 39
  • Wins: 6
  • Podiums: 10
  • Pole Positions: 3
  • Championship runner-up in 1959 and 3rd in 1958

Tony Brooks was one of the best drivers of the 1950s. Brooks started his racing career as a hobby while studying dentistry at the University of Manchester, and that is why he was called the “Racing Dentist.”

He achieved his first podium and his first victory in his second year in F1 in 1957. 1958 and 1959 were the peak years of his career. In 1958 he finished third with Vanwall despite getting 3 victories, as he had many reliability problems, and in 1959 he was the Ferrari’s star driver and finished second in the championship.

If the cards had been played differently, Brooks could have won a championship. He was always aware of the danger of F1, as he lost many friends and teammates, so he was very cautious and retired at 29 years old.

He won 46% of the races he finished between 1956 and 1958, which is quite remarkable, and as a curious fact, he is the only winning driver of the 50s that still lives.

6. Gilles Villeneuve

  • Active years: 1977-1982
  • Entries: 68
  • Wins: 6
  • Podiums: 13
  • Pole Positions: 2
  • Championship runner-up in 1979

Gilles Villeneuve began racing in snow races, which gave him reflections and confidence in the rain. He made his F1 debut in 1977 with McLaren, showing his talent, although surprisingly, they did not renew him, and Ferrari took the opportunity to sign him in 1978. Gilles had an obsession with victory and competed for everything.

He achieved his first victory in 1978 at the Canadian GP, and his best year was 1979, in which he achieved 3 victories and the runner-up. He was vital for his teammate Jody Scheckter win the drivers’ championship and Ferrari, the constructors’ championship.

1980, 1981, and 1982 were terrible and sacrificial years for Ferrari, testing the V6 turbo engine. At the 1980 Italian GP in Imola, a puncture caused him to collide with the wall at high speed, and although the chassis broke into pieces, he managed to escape unscathed.

In 1981, Scheckter left the team, and Villeneuve became the Ferrari leader (even though the Canadian was already faster before he left). Although the team was still not very competitive, he achieved two victories and third place.

In 1982 Villeneuve began a fierce battle with Didier Pironi, his new teammate. Still, it did not last long because in the fifth race, the Belgian GP, Villeneuve, collided in practice with Johen Mass at 200 km/h, causing his car to fly and disintegrate, ending Gilles’ life.

Gilles Villeneuve died as he lived, to the limit, as he was passionate about risk. His record does not do him justice, as he consistently outperformed mediocre Ferraris.

7. Jacky Ickx

  • Active years: 1966-1979
  • Entries: 122
  • Wins: 8
  • Podiums: 25
  • Pole Positions: 13
  • Championship runner-up two times (1969 and 1970)

Jacky Ickx is the best Belgian driver of all time and one of the most complete of all. His F1 career has been somewhat overshadowed by his results in other categories, such as his six victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (second-highest of all time) and other prestigious endurance races.

Ickx raced in the 1966 German GP as a Formula Two driver and was known as “L’enfant terrible” as he qualified third, behind only Clark and Hume, ahead of all F1 drivers. His driving in wet also earned him the honorary title of “rainmaster,” and he is considered one of the best drivers in the rain of all time.

Ickx had a long F1 career, and his peak years were between 1968 and 1972, with Brabham and Ferrari. In both years that he was runner-up, 1969 with Brabham and 1970 with Ferrari, he started the championship very weak but progressively improved race after race.

In 1969 he could not beat Jackie Stewart, and in 1970, the championship leader, Jochen Rindt, died in an accident at the Italian GP, with 4 races remaining, but Ickx, the only driver who had a chance to overcome him, could not. Rindt thus became the only post-mortem F1 world champion driver.

From 1973, Ickx’s F1 career declined due to the very uncompetitive cars he had, while he gradually focused on other categories, especially endurance. Ickx is considered one of the most versatile drivers of all time, as he adapted very well to a wide variety of very different cars.

8. Didier Pironi

  • Active years: 1978-1982
  • Entries: 72
  • Wins: 3
  • Podiums: 13
  • Pole Positions: 4
  • Championship runner-up in 1982

Didier Pironi was a very talented driver, winning almost everything in the lower categories, but his excessive ambition and risks led him to a fatal fate. Apart from F1, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1978 in an Alpine-Renault car.

Pironi made his F1 debut in 1978 with Tyrrell, and in two seasons, he achieved 2 podiums with a midfield car, thus showing his talent and potential. In 1980 he drove for Ligier, with whom he achieved his first win at the Belgian GP and three podiums.

In 1981, Pironi signed for Ferrari, being Gilles Villeneuve’s new teammate, of whom he became a great friend. The 1981 Ferrari was not very competitive, and also Pironi agreed to be the second driver of the team.

In 1982 things changed, and Ferrari had a competitive car. At the San Marino GP in Imola, Villeneuve led the race, and Pironi was second, both well ahead of the rest. The team told them to slow down to save fuel, and Pironi took the opportunity to overtake Villeneuve and win the race. Because of this, Villeneuve got very angry and even said that he would never speak to Pironi again, prophetic words considering that he died in the next GP.

Many consider that Villeneuve’s anger with Pironi caused his death, as the Canadian was very angry with him and only wanted to beat him.

Pironi had a solid 1982 season and was fighting for the championship. Still, at the German GP, with 5 races remaining, he collided with Alain Prost in the rain due to poor visibility and had an accident similar to Villeneuve. His car flew out and was destroyed, and Pironi, among other injuries, broke his legs and never returned to F1, finishing second that year.

In 1987, Pironi entered the nautical racing competition and died in an accident while his wife was pregnant with twins.

9. Rubens Barrichello

  • Active years: 1993-2011
  • Entries: 326
  • Wins: 11
  • Podiums: 68
  • Pole Positions: 14
  • Championship runner-up two times (2002 and 2004) and 3rd twice (2001 and 2009)

Rubens Barrichello is the third driver with the most races in history, with 323, only behind Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen.

Barrichello made his F1 debut with Jordan with a midfield car and had good performances that stunned everyone. He got his first podium at the Pacific GP in 1994. The next race, at the San Marino GP in Imola, he had a serious accident in which he broke his nose the same weekend as the death of Ayrton Senna. He did not fully recover during the year but took pole position at the Belgian GP, the youngest driver to do so.

Barrichello did good performances for Jordan and Stewart until 1999, getting several podiums. In 2000 he joined Ferrari to be Michael Schumacher’s second driver. During his time in the “Cavallino Rampante,” he achieved 9 victories and 46 podiums, some involved in controversy over team orders.

His first victory was at the 2000 German GP, after 128 GPs, becoming the driver with the most races contested before obtaining a victory. In 2006 he joined Honda due to his poor performance, and until 2008 he only beat Jenson Button in the final year, taking third place at the British GP under the rain.

In 2009, under the renamed Brawn GP, he had a competitive car, especially during the first half of the season. He managed to be third in the championship, with 4 podiums and 2 victories, while his teammate Button won the world title. His last 2 years in F1 were at Williams, with whom he regularly scored points in 2010, while 2011 was a disastrous year for the team.

Barrichello will be especially remembered for his longevity in the category and his consistency.

10. Felipe Massa

  • Active years: 2002, 2004-2017
  • Entries: 272
  • Wins: 11
  • Podiums: 41
  • Pole Positions: 16
  • Championship runner-up in 2008 and 3rd in 2006

Felipe Massa, like Barrichello, spent many years in F1, and in his prime, he was one of the best drivers of his generation.

He made his F1 debut in 2002 with Sauber, and after a year away, he returned in 2004, having good and solid performances, and in 2005 he beat his teammate Jacques Villeneuve, 1997 world champion, which attracted the eyes of the big teams.

In 2006, Massa signed for Ferrari to be Schumacher’s second driver, where he would get his first podiums and victories. In 2007, after Schumacher’s retirement, he started the year well but went into decline, helping his teammate Räikkönen win the championship.

Without a doubt, 2008 was Felipe Massa’s best year. He had a great fight with Hamilton for the championship. He lost it by just one point after Hamilton overtook Timo Glock in the last corner of the last race, at the Brazilian GP, a sad ending for the Brazilian driver in front of his crowd.

Here is a video review of the 2008 Brazilian GP, where we lived one of the most dramatic moments in modern F1:

In 2009, during the Hungarian GP, a piece of a car in front hit Massa’s helmet, and he had a very serious accident that kept him from racing until 2010. From that moment on, Massa was never the same driver again. From 2010 to 2013, he worked as Fernando Alonso’s second driver, and in 2014 he signed for Williams.

He had good seasons in 2014 and 2015, with 2 podiums each, reminiscent of the old Massa, although 2016 and 2017 were not so good, due, in part, to the car’s lack of competitiveness.

Felipe Massa has been one of the drivers who has raced the most GP in F1 and, even though he could have won a world title, the ups and downs of fate prevented him from doing so.


It was not easy to make this top, as comparing drivers from different eras with different cars and circumstances is very difficult and complex.

Sure we have missed many names, such as Mark Webber, Gerhard Berger, or Clay Regazzoni, but these drivers have undoubtedly left their mark on F1 and have contributed to making this sport what it is today, one of the greatest shows in the world.


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