Best driver never to win a championship

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    Due a few comments in the sad article about Kubica being injured (and because trying to meet university deadlines is depressing) I thought I’d start this to see who people think is the best driver never to win and why. I’m expecting drivers like Villeneuve to make an appearance pretty early on.

    I’ll start if off with Stirling Moss. Being often referred to as ‘the best driver never to win a championship’ is a fairly sure sign he deserved to win one. If he’d had the same reliability as his rivals it is incredibly likely he’d have been the first Brit to win the title, and be a double champion even before his career was cut short. Only this year did Vettel and Hamilton pass his number of wins.

    So who agrees, disagrees and has their own idea of the best? This could be because because you think their talent generally means they should have picked one up but failed to do so because of the cars, reliability or a career cut short.



    Stirling Moss it is, by a long way, for so consistently getting so close. His number of poles and wins compared to the number of starts he had are very strong too.


    Sir Stirling Moss. He drove for the teams he did not because he felt they would give him the best chance of winning, but because he liked those teams so much he wanted to be the one to take them to glory. I respect that far more than a driver who hops from team to team just because they will make winning easier for them.


    James Brickles

    Probably not the best driver never to win a championship but I’d like to nominate Martin Brundle in this category.

    He’s a very underrated driver and regarded by some as Michael Schumacher’s toughest teammate (prior to Nico Rosberg). He ran Senna very close in the 1983 British F3 series and was enjoying a good maiden season before he broke his ankles and feet at Dallas. He was particularly good at street circuits such as Monaco, Adelaide and Detroit, the circuits that really test a driver’s skill and stamina.

    He had the opportunity to join Williams for the 1993 season but Damon Hill got the nod instead, and we all know Williams took both driver’s and constructor’s championship. Had Martin got the drive, then he would’ve definitely won a few races and might have even come close to Alain Prost.


    Craig Woollard

    I thought about this a while back, and came up with a list. While my laptop is in the repair shop, one has no access to this list. But I’ll try and remember who was on it at least

    Moss and Brundle were on that list. Kubica, Cevert, Pironi, Villeneuve, Watson, Montoya, Arnoux and Reutemann I am sure were the others.


    Craig Woollard

    My top 10 anyway… Moss was obviously first choice.



    Gerhard Berger anyone? He was a great driver with a good turn of speed who kept Senna, Prost and Mansell very honest in the 80’s and 90’s.



    Nick Heidfeld, obviously!




    Ill go with you on Gerhard Berger he was a darn good driver, and Jean Alesi is anonther one who would have been champion if things had been diferent.



    Good call @johnf1fanatic, I forgot about Alesi. If he’d followed his head instead of his heart and joined Williams in 1991 instead of Ferrari he would have undoubtedly been a WDC.



    Agree about Alesi, in the more modern era he was one of if not the, most spectacular drivers to watch, had more podiums without winning than just about anyone else, Ferrari reliability certainly robbed him of quite a few possible victories, as did his own temperament occassionally, he also had a habit of slaughtering the competition in wet conditions…anyone remember his sauber performance at spa in qualifying?

    The man Schumacher described as having the best car control of any driver – certainly he gets my vote. Gerhard Berger was also a great driver, remember him bouncing back from the death of his father to take a brilliant win (in germany i think)…those were the days!


    James Brickles

    Jean Alesi was awesome in 1995, but his car wasn’t. It cost him at least 3 or 4 other victories aside from his Canadian GP win.

    Spa – suspension problem on lap 4 whilst leading.
    Monza – Wheel bearing failure 8 laps from home.
    Nurburgring – Traffic really wasn’t on his side and that allowed Schumacher to pass and win.
    Suzuka – Driveshaft failure ruined a frankly epic drive.



    I agree strongly with Sir Stirling; but I think Villeneuve (not the schmuck who actually became world champion; but rather his father; who was a far greater driver than the son ever was/will be) deserves a hell of a shout too.

    These things are hard to say though. Had JB retired at the end of 2008, would we even have considered him for this list? Probably not. But he was good enough to win a championship – which, almost by default; means that had he not won one he would be contender of “best to never win one”



    Surprised no one has mentioned Ronnie Peterson, excellent driver in the 1970’s who finished second twice and third once in the championship. He was the no.2 to Andretti in 1978 and was quicker than him a lot of the time but played his part in the team, probably thinking he would get another chance to be champion, which he unfortunately didn’t before he was killed.

    I don’t know enough about it but Gilles Villeneuve while undoubtedly spectacular and brave did have a championship winning car in 1979 and lost to his teammate Jody Scheckter. Anyone who knows, was it similar to Peterson and Andretti in ’78?

    If so it would probably explain why Gilles reacted the way he did in 1982 after Imola when Pironi played his games. He’d played his part as the second driver before to Scheckter and now Pironi wasn’t showing the same respect to him.

    Berger was a good not great driver, don’t think he was world title material although he was incredibly likeable. He had the world championship car for two years in ’90 and ’91 and was nowhere challenging. Same for Alesi, although he never had a car truly capable of winning the championship. Maybe if they’d been driving the 95, 96 or 97 Williams instead of Hill and Villeneuve they would have had a shot though, who knows.



    This should be “best driver never to win a championship apart from Stirling Moss”, because he’s obviously the leading candidate. I think Gilles Villeneuve is my choice for the next best.

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