Ecclestone's ultimate Formula 1 grid
4 November 2013 – Bernie Ecclestone has been at the helm of Formula 1 since the 1970s, during which time hundreds of drivers have put their varying skills to ultimate test at circuits all over the globe. But what about his dream grid? The 83-year-old reveals all…
Pole / Nigel Mansell
"I admire daring drivers, real racers, chargers from go who give it their all to win. And thats why I would have Nigel Mansell on pole," says Ecclestone, speaking to Gulf News. "He had all those hits." Mansell remains one of Britain's greatest F1 talents; he claimed the 1992 title with the dominant Williams FW14B, and sits sixth in the all-time winner and pole-sitter lists.
Titles - 1, Wins - 31, Podiums - 59, Poles - 32
Second / Ayrton Senna
Discussing Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher together, Ecclestone explains: "Geniuses behind the wheel of a 200mph race car, and two of the most talented and gifted drivers of all time with nerve and ice cool daring under pressure, allied to a scary will to win however great the odds staked against them." Senna, who lost his life the Imola circuit in 1994, took three world titles during his time in Formula 1, and lies second in terms of pole positions and victories.
Titles - 3, Wins - 41, Podiums - 80, Poles - 65
Third / Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher, described above as a "genius" at the wheel of a racing car, is the most successful Formula 1 driver in terms of raw statistics. He retired for a second time last year after a three-season spell at Mercedes, where he was unable to build upon the phenomenal total of seven Drivers' crowns, and 91 race victories, he secured with Benetton and Ferrari.
Titles - 7, Wins - 91, Podiums - 155, Poles - 68
Fourth / Sebastian Vettel
"Next, Sebastian Vettel, a veritable wonder boy, who could finish as the greatest and, title-wise, the most successful driver of all time," comments Ecclestone. "He would put the cat right among the pigeons in any race wherever, on whatever tracking whatever weather." At just 26, Vettel has strung together four titles, putting him level with Alain Prost and behind only Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio.
Titles - 4, Wins - 37, Podiums - 60, Poles - 43
Fifth / Jochen Rindt
"I'd travel back in time and opt for Jochen Rindt, the champion in 1970," states Ecclestone. The Austrian, who was highly successful in both single-seater and sportscar racing, tragically died during practice for the Italian Grand Prix, but ultimately became the sport's only posthumous title winner with the quintet of race victories he had achieved earlier in the campaign.
Titles - 1, Wins - 6, Podiums - 13, Poles - 10
Sixth / Ronnie Peterson
"Never the champion but a phenomenal competitor," Ecclestone says of Ronnie Peterson. In another heart-breaking tale, Peterson succumbed to injuries sustained during an opening lap crash at the 1978 Italian Grand Prix. Known as the 'Super Swede' by those involved in the sport, he was twice a runner-up in the championship, including the year of his death.
Titles - 0, Wins - 10, Podiums - 26, Poles - 14
Ecclestone, condensing the rest of his grid, says: "Alain Prost, four times champion, followed by Alan Jones, Jackie Stewart, three times champion Niki Lauda, James Hunt, Graham Hill, Fangio and Nelson Piquet. Each man a fantastic competitor."