Formula 1 paddock chatter linking Lewis Hamilton to Grand Prix racing’s most successful team, Scuderia Ferrari, has gathered pace in recent days. And why wouldn’t it? One of the sport’s most decorated drivers has revealed that, like so many, he’s a Ferrari fan. All racing drivers yearn to race in red, don’t they?
JUL 19th 2017
Super Six… Scuderia Ferrari’s British winners
With a contract to race for Mercedes for a sixth season in 2018, possibly in a bid to snare a fifth world title, the triple champion and 57-time race winner isn’t going anywhere yet. The politics and/or musical chairs of the driver market may well preclude it and, of course, he may well walk away from the sport feeling he’s done everything he can do.
Hamilton would only be the 14th British driver to compete in a World Championship Grand Prix since the team began in 1950. He’d be adding his name to a pretty exclusive list comprising Reg Parnell, Peter Whitehead, Roy Salvadori, Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins, Cliff Allison, Tony Brooks, John Surtees, Mike Parkes, Jonathan Williams, Derek Bell, Nigel Mansell and Eddie Irvine.
And in that time, just six of those men have recorded at least one win. If Hamilton were to join the Scuderia for 2019, it would be 20 years since a British driver most recently stood atop the podium for the Prancing Horse. Long overdue, you’ll probably agree. In chronological order, then, these are Ferrari’s British super six.
Mike Hawthorn – 3 wins
The ‘Farnham Flyer’ joined Ferrari for 1953 after impressing in five outings aboard a Cooper-Bristol during the first Formula 2-spec World Championship season in ’52. He won the French GP in just his fourth outing for the Scuderia, after holding off Juan Manuel Fangio’s Maserati at Reims, and ended the year fourth in the title race having finished every race in the top six. He went one better in 1954, winning in Spain and taking third in the points. After three lean years, in terms of wins, it all came together in ’58 when armed with the 2.4-litre V6 Dino. He secured seven podium finishes, including another win at Reims, and became Britain’s first World Champion.
Peter Collins – 3 wins
In a similar vein to his mate Hawthorn, Peter Collins landed a plum seat at Ferrari for 1956 after a couple of disjointed seasons in HWM, Vanwall and Maserati machinery. Once equipped with a Ferrari he reeled off a second at Monaco and two wins – at Spa and Reims – in his first four outings. The 1957 season was a frustrating one, while ’58 was bittersweet. Collins won the British GP at Silverstone, leading home Hawthorn for a 246 Dino one-two, but was killed during the next race, the German GP at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, aged just 26.
Tony Brooks – 2 wins
Tony Brooks was the first Briton to join Ferrari with winning credentials. He’d taken a famous home victory for Vanwall at Aintree in 1957’s British GP, sharing with Stirling Moss, and then won twice more, in more conventional solo fashion, at Spa, the Nürburgring and Monza in 1958. That was enough for Enzo Ferrari to invite the former dental student to join his team for ’59. And Brooks made an impressive start in the 246 Dino V6, finishing second at Monaco first time out. Two wins – at Reims and Avus – helped him secure second in the Drivers’ title race behind Jack Brabham.
John Surtees – 4 wins
That multiple motorcycle World Champion Surtees landed a seat at Ferrari for just his third full season on four wheels tells you much about the impact he made. Strong performances for Lotus (runner-up second time out in 1960) and two-second places for Lola in 1962 put him on Ferrari’s radar for F1 and the World Sportscar Championship for ’63. He was immediately comfortable at Maranello, winning the Sebring 12 Hours on debut, while in F1 he racked up top finishes and defeated the might of Jim Clark and Lotus to win in Germany. Two wins and the title followed in ’64, cementing Surtees’ unique status in racing. A politically-charged falling out with the team meant Surtees walked out on a potential world-title-winning package after winning at Spa in mid-’66.
Nigel Mansell – 3 wins
The last driver to be hired by Enzo Ferrari before his death in 1988, Nigel Mansell enjoyed a fairytale debut with Ferrari in Brazil in 1989. Pre-season testing and the build-up to his first start suggested otherwise, but the hitherto recalcitrant 640 lasted the distance to win. Another opportunistic win came in Hungary, when he outfoxed Ayrton Senna as they came up to lap a backmarker, but the balance of the year was frustrating. And the same was true of 1990, although he took a third and final win – in Portugal – with four other podium finishes. Reliability issues after taking pole at Silverstone led to a hastily delivered retirement announcement, but Mansell was back in a Williams for 1991, eventually lifting the title a year later.
Eddie Irvine – 4 wins
Hired as an understudy to double Benetton World Champion Michael Schumacher for 1996, Northern Irishman Irvine was just that. He took plenty of podium finishes, but couldn’t make the jump up to the winner’s step, while Schumacher was racking up the wins. His big break came in his final year with the Scuderia. He won the season-opening Australian GP and when Schumacher broke his leg in a lap-one off at Silverstone, missing the next six races, Irvine stepped up to the role of number-one driver and title hope. He won in Austria, Germany and Malaysia (Schumacher’s comeback race) but couldn’t quite get his car across the championship line ahead of McLaren’s Mika Häkkinen. And for 2000 he found himself replaced by a new Schumacher understudy, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello.
Photography courtesy of LAT Images
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