When thinking about the Formula 1 Grand Prix, a lot of things come to mind; the cars, the crowds, the extravagance.
However, it’s the drivers that are the true heart of the event – and they definitely embody the spirit of Formula 1.
In preparation for the 2017 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne’s Albert Park (March 23-26), here’s look back at some of the greatest and most flamboyant Formula 1 drivers throughout history.
David Coulthard (above)
David Coulthard is a bonafide British Formula One legend. In a storied career, he notched up 13 wins and 535 career points – but he also excelled off the field as well! He’s known as a real catch off the circuit, dating a procession of models including Simone Abdelnour, Andrea Murray, Heidi Wichlinski and Ruth Taylor – before FINALLY settling down at the age of 40 in 2014 to Belgian TV presenter Karen Minier.
Indeed, Coulthard’s a hard man to tie down. He owns luxury houses all around in Monaco, Switzerland and London, as well as laying claim to his very own 45ft yacht.
Ah, the life of an F1 driver. Sure looks like hard work.
One of Britain’s great Formula 1 drivers, James Hunt both literally and figuratively lived life in the fast lane. With ten wins and 23 podium positions during his short-lived career, the reckless and entertaining driver earned himself the nickname ‘Hunt the Shunt’ while on the track.
Off the track, Hunt’s life was as colourful as his bright red overalls – which read ‘Sex, breakfast of champions.’ Known for his wild antics, he was the quintessential party boy.
Jean Alesi is a French Formula 1 driver who was known for his aggressive driving style during his active years between 1989 and 2001. Although much of his success was in the minor categories, Alesi is a driver that has lived a truly extraordinary life – especially off the track.
Jean owns a vineyard, where he lives with his wife – Japanese model, singer and actress Kumiko Goto – and considers himself a wine connoisseur. Yep, we’d love to taste his latest vintage!
Juan Manuel Fangio
Earning the title of World Champion five times, as well as runner-up twice, many consider Juan Manuel Fangio to be one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time. This makes sense, considering his nickname was El Mastero (which literally translates to ‘The Master’).
While Fangio wasn’t known for his outrageous behavour, he was kidnapped in Cuba in 1958 by Fidel Castro’s movement! Fortunately, he was able to charm his way out of the situation and was released unharmed, going on to serve as the honorary president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina from 1987 until his death in 1995.
A list of exceptional Formula 1 drivers would simply be incomplete without the addition of Michael Schumacher. The German driver was a seven-time World Champion and took home the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award twice.
While he was obviously extremely talented on the track, Schumacher was known for extravagance in his personal life. Forbes magazine named him the second highest paid athlete in the world in 2004, and before his tragic skiing accident in 2013, he was rumoured to be worth around $AUD800 million.
We hope Melbourne is ready to party, because Lewis Hamilton is competing at the 2017 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix!
Known for his party boy antics, Hamilton is one to watch both on and off the track. He’s a three-time Formula 1 World Champion, as well as the first driver in Formula 1 history to finish on the podium position after starting in 20th place or lower at least the times.
Off the track, Hamilton is known for partying with the likes of Ludacris, Trey Songz, and Kevin Hart, and regularly shares images of his extraordinary lifestyle via his Instagram page.