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

source: Getty Images
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

source: Getty Images
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.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.