Hi Lucas- sorry for my slow reply, work is getting in the way of my F1!!
Top 5 F1 drivers I have met!! VERY tough one mate- did you mean in overall celebrity or who was a ‘top bloke’ as the lists would be different?
I have 2 seperate periods (SO different) in meeting the lads- 1) Adelaide back in the 80′s & 90′s when I was a kid and now the past few years in Melbourne & Japan (Suzuka a one off really) at this stage;).
The top 5 for ‘wow’ (the one’s that would give me goose bumps) freaked me out factor would be:
1) Ayrton Senna- 1988 to 1993- many various- My childhood hero (and adult) and I knew this guy was special- also a gent- the Senna you saw on the TV when Senna V Prost exploded was not the real man. I met him maybe 15-20 times and its was always very special! In little old Adelaide back in the day there was no real security and we got great access to the drivers and most really enjoyed the fan interaction- we even got invited to and ‘after party’ from Johnny Herbert- but at 15 didnt think I would get in!!
2) Mark Webber- 1st one i ‘snuck’ into the Paddock at Melbourne- a few since, top bloke. If Mark is pre-occupied he is polite and moves on, if not is chatty.
3) Nigel Mansell- wow factor- maybe 1989 in Adelaide (the first time), I was 13- a big personality and I was pretty pumped. I met him maybe 5 times, just a funny POM hey!!
4) Alain Prost- as per above (but not funny like Nige)- I was a Senna fan but still tickeled pink to meet The Professor. Not chatty at all.
5) Gerhard Berger- again more so as I was a young fella but stoked to meet Gerhard a few times- Prost was hard, Gerhard it depended on the day.
Top Bloke Top 5:
These are the drivers I met who were “normal”, no up themselves or made the extra effort:
1) Daniel Riccardio: I met him in Japan last year and we had a great chat- I thought I was at my local footy club (sorry, soccer…. sorry….. European footy……sorry…. football :)- no- AFL!! Being Aussie we got chatting real fast (especially in Japan) but a TOP young bloke and was very interested into what we were doing. It was more talkin to a mate you havent seen for a while rather than a F1 driver. Being older I guess you ‘talk’ to the guys rather that ‘idolise’ as I did as a kid.
2) Phillpe Alliott- (WHO??) – A short stocky Frenchman who raced mid to back grid tier in the late 80′s early 90′s. I asked where he was driving nexy year and he told he “I have just signed the contract, you will hear about it tomorrow” (but keep it a secret)….. and its was was right!
3) Senna- as per above- was happy to be human when others are PR robots!!
4) Pedro De La Rosa- This guy is gold- he shakes your hand like Arnold would but such a top bloke hey. I met him in Japan after the race last year and again as Ferrari tester this year at Melbourne- gave some good insight as his work as the test driver and feedback to the team!!
5) Bruno Senna & Pastor Maldonardo- Bottas stuffed up this team- they could have been a stand up comedy at any Paddock Club around the planet!! Williams (usually) get the drivers to do an apperance on Fri and Sat between sessions (at the pit walk)- and they bounced off one another well- funny lads!!
A few I have met as “non-current drivers” are:
Sir Stirling Moss- great bloke, back in Adelaide in the 80′/90′s- I dont think he attends for a fair while.
Sir Jackie- as per previous post- I love this guy, what a legend!!
Murray Walker- ok not a driver B4 people post- awesome!!
Keke Rosberg- he was a bit rude, on a few occasions (but thats OK), his son is my 2IC if Dan gets the job, if not my new Fav!!(Looks like Dan gets the nod and Niko my 2nd hey!!)
Niki Lauda- Rude in the 80′s but great now- the old fella’s seem to get softer LOL
James Hunt- This guy was just a lad , bloody cheeky fella. I first met him in 1987 then for a few year after. I cant remembered when he passed (??) but it dropped me- the James & Murray combo is what reminds me of F1 the most!!
Sorry for the long post!! :)