Top 10 Formula 1 drivers' cars
They're best known for the machines they use on track, but F1 drivers also have to get around on the roads like the rest of us...
Ayrton Senna - Ford Escort Mk3
There are some drivers who become synonymous with a vehicle, and for Ayrton Senna that is the Honda NSX. But his association with Honda is well-trodden ground, and Senna actually put his name and face to a car long before then.
In 1984, Senna’s first season in F1 with Toleman, he helped promote the third generation of the Ford Escort in his home country, as well as owning one himself. The advert summarised the car in four sentences, translated into English, which most Senna fans would relate to his whole life: ‘Look at the face of the brave. Feel the machine inside. Hear the beating heart. Emotion in every way.’
Senna later had a relationship with Audi selling cars in Brazil, as well as worldwide promotion of the NSX, which was famously redesigned to accommodate his feedback.
Nico Rosberg - Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
The 2016 world champion has had his fair share of Mercedes-Benz company cars, but as a passionate classic car fan it is an old Merc he purchased personally that is the pick of the bunch in his garage.
The white gullwing Mercedes-Benz 300 SL looks no different to when it left the factory in 1955, although the leather seats look a little worn after six decades and 30,000 miles of use. Rosberg is on top of the complexities of the car, and has shown the multi-stage start-up ritual on his YouTube channel. Rosberg occasionally drives the car around Monaco, once with Prince Albert in the passenger seat, and despite all the modern day supercars that parade around the principality, it would be difficult to find anything as classy (just don’t catch him on a day when he’s driving a Renault Twizy).
Jenson Button - Ferrari F40
Button owned several supercars before getting his hands on a Ferrari F40, the car that had been a staple of his bedroom wall as a child.
He spent a long time searching for one of the 1311 produced to call his own, ruling out several examples due to their poor condition, before eventually settling on one that met his standards, which included the roof having the original weave paint.
With no F1 commitments and a slimmer racing in Japan, Button actually has time to drive his dream car, making the most of its twin turbo 2.9-litre V8 engine.
Lewis Hamilton - Pagani Zonda 760LH
As a Mercedes-Benz driver in Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton is rarely photographed in anything else. There have been rare times the paparazzi caught him with his Pagani Zonda 760LH, which is powered by a Mercedes-Benz V12 engine, naturally. The Englishman’s ever-expanding collection of cars are financial investments rather than the dream driving garage of an F1 driver.
Hamilton has publically admitted that some of the more lucrative vehicles he owns are ill-handling and not even fun to drive, including this one-off Zonda that carries his initials. Insisting on a manual gearbox rather than the standard Tiptronic, the gloss purple supercar also ended up in a prang near his Monte Carlo residence in 2015.
Hamilton also owns a 1966 Shelby Cobra 427, which was looked over by Carroll Shelby himself shortly before his death in 2012.
Alain Prost - Opel Kadett GT/E
Often known as ‘The Professor’ for his calculated approach to racing, Alain Prost rarely made errors in his professional career. But one car Prost did crash was one he described as his ‘dream car’: the Opel Kadett GT/E.
The family car had rally underpinnings, with its front grille designed to hold a selection of high energy lamps for those hitting the night time forest stages. But those rally underpinnings are what got Prost into trouble, sliding off on gravel and into a ditch, which he describes as his 'first and only accident with a car'. Aside from his Formula 1 accidents, of course.
Prost may have been on to something though. A year after the Kadett GT/E came out, Opel’s German rival Volkswagen released the Golf Mk1 GTI, one of the ultimate bedroom poster cars and the start of the hot hatch revolution.
Juan Manuel Fangio - IKA Torino
Juan Manuel Fangio was famous for changing cars at the right time in Formula 1, winning five titles in the 1950s driving for Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari.
He didn’t pick one of the European greats for his everyday transport though, choosing an Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA) Torino. The mid-sized car may have originated from Argentina, but it also had a motorsport pedigree in Europe, winning the gruelling 84-hour Marathon de la Route endurance race at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 1969. Fangio was involved with that success, and was gifted his own 1970 Torino 380S as a result.
The Torino came with a variety of straight-six engines that put out an impressive amount of power, and it was styled by legendary Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina. Fangio drove his model until he became the mid-1970s where his Mercedes-Benz links meant he had to loan out the car. It stayed with the Fangio family until 2013, when it was sold through Silverstone Auctions.
Jim Clark - Lotus Elan
The relationship between Jim Clark and Team Lotus boss Colin Chapman is legendary, and even before he was one of F1’s leading drivers he was being rewarded.
In 1962 Lotus started production of the Elan, otherwise known as the Type 26, with the very first production model going into the hands of Clark. With the registration plate ‘997 NUR’, the Elan can still be seen on display today, often celebrating Clark’s life.
Featuring a 1498cc straight-four engine, the Lotus came in kit form as was the norm with Lotus cars at the time. The Elan stayed in production for over a decade, proving to be one of Lotus' most popular vehicles.
Adrian Sutil - Gemballa Mirage GT
F1 driver, classic pianist, model and Capri Sun ambassador. Adrian Sutil was an oddity on the F1 grid during his seven years at Spyker, Force India and Sauber. Less publicised than his orange juice pouch obsession is a hobby of collecting modified Porsches. The German had a partnership with tuner Techart, giving him easy access to the likes of specced up 911 Turbos and GT2s.
It was the product of rival tuner Gemballa that was the most impressive though, with its Porsche Carrera GT-based Mirage GT. The car was finished in dark blue and has a raunchy V10 engine. The car could be easily spotted thanks to its German registration plate ‘ M GT 611’.
Heikko Kovalainen - Lotus Evora
Not to be outdone by his 1960s and ‘70s counterparts, former McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen received a Lotus Evora upon arrival at Lotus in 2010. The car had top-end sports car performance figures, but had lost some of the romance of its predecessors with its Toyota-sourced engine.
Kovalainen’s car was built left-hand-drive, and had a light blue stripe going down the centre of the otherwise white car. Perhaps Lotus engineers were not aware that the Finnish flag also includes a perpendicular blue line?
Mika Hakkinen - McLaren P1
After winning two titles with McLaren at the end of the 1990s, Mika Hakkinen became a global superstar. McLaren’s engine supplier Mercedes-Benz pinched that star status after Hakkinen’s F1 retirement, and it wasn’t until last year that the Finn properly rejoined the McLaren fold.
Hakkinen had kept his ties with his choice of road car though, and in 2015 took delivery of McLaren Automotive’s latest creation: the P1. Hakkinen’s car was one of 11 prototypes that were then converted into production cars, and its performance figures are astounding, with its 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine and electric motor generating 903bhp.
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