Top 10 drivers in Formula One history: Positions 10-7

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The run up to the United States release of “Rush” is on, and to mark the occasion, the NBC Sports team has assembled a countdown of the Top 10 drivers in the history of Formula One.

We’ll be revealing our picks for this very special list over the next couple of weeks here on MotorSportsTalk. For this opening post on the countdown, we’ll focus on positions 10 through 7. So, without further ado, let’s get started…

No. 10 – Nigel Mansell

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Nigel Mansell – Credit: Getty Images

While his polarizing personality didn’t help him at times during his F1 career, Mansell’s talent was undisputed. A hard-charging driving style helped him earn 31 career Grand Prix victories, which is tops among all British F1 drivers and puts him sixth overall on F1’s all-time wins list. In 1992, after placing second in the championship three times previously, Mansell (middle, above) took the world title with a dazzling season that began with five consecutive triumphs (he would win nine times that year). He then moved across the pond to IndyCar, where he took the 1993 crown for Newman/Haas Racing; because that year’s F1 title hadn’t yet been decided, he became the only driver in history to hold both those series’ championships at the same time.

No. 9 – Niki Lauda

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Niki Lauda – Credit: Getty Images

Lauda claimed three World Championships and 25 Grand Prix in his F1 career, but will also forever be known for his hellacious 1976 crash at the German Grand Prix – and his heroic return to the track just six weeks later in Italy, where he finished fourth despite still healing from the serious burns he sustained at the Nurburgring. He would narrowly lose out on the title that year to rival James Hunt after choosing to withdraw from the season finale in Japan due to torrential rains at the Fuji circuit – “my life is worth more than a title,” he famously said. One year later, he would earn his second championship and eventually gained another in 1984 after a season-long duel with the next driver on our list…

No. 8 – Alain Prost

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Alain Prost – Credit: Getty Images

The combination of a smooth style behind the wheel and a more cerebral approach to racing – one that earned him the nickname of “The Professor” – made Prost (above, middle) one of the top competitors in the sport during the 1980s and early 1990s. With four World Championships on his mantle, he is one of only three drivers to have at least that many (Michael Schumacher – seven; Juan Manuel Fangio – five). That alone puts him in high regard, and then you come to his dramatic and electrifying rivalry with Ayrton Senna; even the greatest need to be pushed, and in Senna’s case, that push came from Prost, who never let up in their legendary battle of wills that people still talk about today.

No. 7 – Jackie Stewart

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Jackie Stewart – Credit: Getty Images

With 27 Grand Prix wins and three World Championships, the on-track credentials of “The Flying Scot” are stellar enough. He also served as one of the sport’s more beloved drivers as well, and still enjoys a high level of popularity even today. But Stewart’s crusade for a safer Formula One paddock may ultimately be his greatest legacy. Driving in an era that saw multiple fatalities on the circuit, his battle for improved safety measures – from mandatory use of seat belts and full-face helmets to more safety barriers and runoff areas at tracks – would transform the sport and also vindicate him after having to deal with strong opposition. Indeed, every current driver owes him a major debt.

We will reveal the remaining drivers in our Top 10 after the Singapore Grand Prix on Sept. 22.

INDYCAR announces several rules and protocol changes for 2018 season

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The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series opener is still more than six weeks away (March 11, St. Petersburg, Florida).

But several rules and protocol changes that will impact much of the 17-race season were announced today by INDYCAR officials.

First is related to Indianapolis 500 qualifying on May 19-20, one week prior to the 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing:

* Driver and entrant points will be awarded to the top nine qualifiers for the race. The pole winner earns nine points and the second-fastest qualifier eight points, with awarded points decreasing by one point for each position down to one point earned by the ninth-fastest qualifier.

* Race points for the Indianapolis 500 and the 2018 season-ending Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 16, will still pay double the normal points for driver and entrant.

There are several other changes on tap for the season, as well.

Here’s a quick rundown of those changes (information courtesy of INDYCAR):

  • The qualifying order for all oval track events except the Indianapolis 500 will be determined by entrant points entering the event. The qualifying order will run in reverse order of entrant points, with the highest in entrant points qualifying last. A car without entrant points will be placed at the front of the qualifying line. If more than one car has no entrant points entering an event, a blind draw among those cars will determine their qualifying order at the front of the line. The qualifying order for the Indianapolis 500 will still be determined by a blind draw.
  • Times have been set for the series-wide open test at ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix Raceway), scheduled for Feb. 9-10. The track will be open to all cars from 3-6 p.m. and 8-11 p.m. ET both days. INDYCAR has also added four hours of track time on Feb. 8 (3-7 p.m. ET) for rookie drivers to complete their oval test assessments.
  • The series-wide open test at Portland International Raceway will be held Aug. 30, a day prior to the beginning of the Grand Prix of Portland race weekend. Indy car racing returns to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in 11 years in 2018.
  • A schedule change for the month of May will see the INDYCAR garages closed on May 13 – the day after the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – to allow teams time off for Mother’s Day. The track will not be open to the public on this day. The garages will be open on May 14, but there will be no on-track activity.
  • Practice for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 begins Tuesday, May 15 on the IMS oval, with the first two hours open for rookie orientation and veteran refreshers, then to all cars. Practice continues May 16-18, ahead of qualifications weekend May 19-20.
  • INDYCAR is granting teams that did not participate in fall manufacturer testing with the universal aero kit an additional half day of private testing. The testing is limited to one car per team and must take place in conjunction with the team’s first on-track test of 2018. Each team is permitted five hours of track time and two sets of Firestone tires.
  • Working with Firestone, INDYCAR has increased the tire allotment at five events. The race weekends at ISM Raceway (Phoenix), the Raceway at Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Texas Motor Speedway, the streets of Toronto and Iowa Speedway will see teams receive an additional set of tires. In a related change, drivers outside the top 10 in the point standings will no longer have an extra set of tires available to them for the opening practice session of a race weekend.
  • The minimum car weight for 2018 has been increased by 10 pounds – to 1,620 pounds for road and street courses and short ovals, 1,590 pounds for superspeedways (both do not include fuel, drink bottle and its contents, driver and driver equivalency weight) – to accommodate for new parts and additional on-car cameras related to the universal aero kit all competitors will run in 2018.