If you want to be a Formula One driver, there are a few traits you need to be a success. Top driving skills for a start. Combine that with incredible reaction times so that you can navigate turns at breakneck speed. And of course, you need a big dose of courage to be driving that fast, pushing yourself to the very edge at over 100mph.
But does the flag next to your name make any difference? As of the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix, there have been 771 drivers who have competed in a Formula One race. Those drivers have come from 41 different countries in total. So which nationality gives you the best chance of success? Let’s take a look.
If you want to be an F1 driver, then the best chance is if you have the Union Jack on your helmet. The UK has produced the most drivers, with 164 different competitors. The very first F1 race had 9 British drivers on the grid.
Somewhat surprisingly, the US is on the list in second place with 158. But there’s an explanation for this. Between 1950 and 1960, the iconic Indianapolis 500 was part of the competition, attracting a whole host of drivers from the states. Many of these drivers only entered this one race, and didn’t compete in the competition as a whole.
Italy is the real second most productive nation on the list with 99 drivers, followed closely by France with 71 and Germany with 53.
The fewest drivers? Chile, China, Czech Republic, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Morocco, and Poland have all just had a single driver.
Through numbers alone, it’s no surprise to see that the UK has had the most F1 championship winners, with 10 drivers claiming 20 championship titles, however only four of those drivers have won more than once – Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Lewis Hamilton. Brazil have the biggest percentage of multiple winners, with all three champions having claimed more than a single title, Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna.
Germany has two out of three multiple winners, with Michael Schumacher and Sebastien Vettel both having periods of domination across consecutive seasons.
If you want to break it down into percentages, then there’s a 6% chance of you being an F1 champion if you’re a British driver. Your chances don’t get much better if you’re German, with just a 5.7% chance of following in your compatriot Schumacher’s footsteps.
So which nationality gives you the best chance? Well if you are able to make it as an F1 driver, you should be Finnish. Out of the 9 racers from this country, 3 have been F1 champion, with Mika Hakkinen winning twice. So there’s a 33.3% chance of you becoming champion if you’re a driver from Finland. Austria (12.5%) and Australia (12%) are your next best bets.
Just don’t be Italian. Despite the famous Ferrari racing team, you only have a 2% chance of F1 success.