In any sport, asking anyone who the greatest of all time will always stir up different answers. It's the same deal in Formula 1 when asked who the fastest of all time is. Is it Senna, Schumacher, Hamilton, or Lauda?
According to the folks of Formula 1, it's Senna, but the rest of the top 20 list is guaranteed to stir up a lot of controversies.
Second place went to Michael Schumacher while third went to reigning champ Lewis Hamilton. From fourth onwards, the list becomes debatable, at least to the sport's fans. Max Verstappen is the fourth fastest of all time, which is rather amusing because the young Dutchman hasn't even won a title yet. He beat out two-time champ Fernando Alonso, who sits in fifth. Sixth went to another world champion, Nico Rosberg. Seventh went to Charles Leclerc, who hasn't even had five years in the sport. Eighth and ninth are also controversial with Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli taking those spots, respectively. Even more shocking is the driver in tenth place, four-time champ Sebastian Vettel.
Eleventh went to Rubens Barichello, Niko Hulkenberg ranked twelfth, while Valtteri Bottas placed thirteenth. Current McLaren drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris sit in fourteenth and fifteenth, respectively. The remaining drivers are Daniel Ricciardo, Jenson Button, Robert Kubica, Giancarlo Fisichella, and Alain Prost.
Where are the legends such as Lauda, Prost, and Hakkinen? And what's Kovalainen and Trulli doing in the top ten, beating out multiple world champions? Formula 1 explains.
The list was based on the qualifying times of all drivers from 1983 to the present. All the data was entered in the AWS (Amazon Web Services) algorithm to compare drivers’ qualifying performances over time versus their teammates to establish an ultimate ranking. It also took out outliers such as qualifying incidents, bad weather, or mechanical failures during qualifying sessions.
To make the data “more meaningful”, teammates had to have completed at least five qualifying sessions against one another before they were compared. Age was also factored in, along with sabbaticals and sport after three or more seasons out of F1, that was also considered.
Still, we're baffled why Mika Hakkinen or Kimi Raikkonen didn't even make the top 20. Then again, this list was based on software and not the sport's fans. This is the difference between letting a machine make a list over the fans. Formula 1 did say that the list isn't definitive, but the algorithm has stirred up a lot of debate nonetheless.
So, who would you put in the top 20? If it were up to us, We'd include the Flying Finns and a lot more legends in the list. We're not arguing about the number one spot though.