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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Racing Legends: The Three Time Formula 1 World Champions

Racing Legends: The Three Time Formula 1 World Champions

Publish Date: 10/12/2023
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

With Max Verstappen sealing his third consecutive Formula 1 World Championship in Qatar last weekend, he ensured that history was made as he etched his name alongside the all-time greats. And as the Dutchman mentioned on his radio at the end of the race ‘’Yes! It’s not a bad list is it?’’ It certainly isn’t, let’s dive into some F1 history by checking out the Three Time Formula 1 World Champions so far.

Jack Brabham (1959, 1960, 1966)

Jack Brabham driving his Brabham BT19 during the 1966 Formula 1 Season

Jack Brabham driving his Brabham BT19 during the 1966 Formula 1 Season

Jack Brabham, the Australian racing legend, secured his three Formula 1 World Championships in a remarkable career that left an indelible mark on the sport. His first championship victory came in 1959, driving for the Cooper Car Company. Cooper had adopted a rear-engine design, which would revolutionise Formula 1. He won two races, but what set him apart was his ability to gather valuable points through high finishes. This shrewd approach earned him the championship ahead of more flamboyant drivers.

In 1960, Brabham repeated his success, again with Cooper. Brabham’s tactical brilliance and consistency were key and it was this that showcased his adaptability and a knack for engineering and car set-up acumen, allowing him to claim victory with five race wins.

Jack Brabham’s final championship triumph arrived in 1966. This time, he drove for his own team, Brabham, which he co-founded. He exhibited the same dedication and tireless work ethic as a driver and team owner. The Repco engine was his secret weapon, providing the power needed to clinch the title.

In his three championship victories, Jack Brabham displayed versatility, intelligence, and a profound understanding of the sport’s technical aspects. His legacy endures as a testament to the grit and determination required to reach the pinnacle of Formula 1.

Sir Jackie Stewart (1969, 1971, 1973)

Sir Jackie Stewart in his 1969 Matra MS80, they didn't call him ''The Flying Scott'' for nothing!

Sir Jackie Stewart in his 1969 Matra MS80, they didn’t call him ”The Flying Scott” for nothing!

Jackie Stewart, the “Flying Scot,” achieved his three Formula 1 World Championships with a combination of exceptional skill, consistency, and safety advocacy that reshaped the sport. Stewart’s first championship victory came in 1969, driving for Matra-Ford. His success was built on a cautious and methodical approach, which earned him a reputation for meticulous car setup and strategic race management. He secured six wins throughout the season, outperforming his rivals in a highly competitive era.

In 1971, Stewart claimed his second title, again with the then sponsored Tyrrell-Ford, showcasing his versatility and ability to adapt to evolving car designs and regulations. His five race wins that season highlighted his driving prowess, but Stewart’s advocacy for safety improvements, including better track conditions and medical facilities, set him apart as a champion on and off the track.

Stewart’s final championship win came in 1973, reinforcing his status as one of Formula 1’s all-time greats. He combined intelligent racecraft with relentless consistency, securing his place in history with three World Championships. His lasting impact on the sport extends beyond his titles, as his tireless safety efforts continued to save lives in Formula 1 and motorsport in general. Thank you Sir Jackie!

Niki Lauda (1975, 1977, 1984)

When sex was safe, and racing dangerous: Lauda was given his last rights just weeks prior to returning to racing duties under his own accord for the 1976 Italian GP

When sex was safe, and racing dangerous: Lauda was given his last rights just weeks prior to returning to racing duties under his own accord for the 1976 Italian GP

Niki Lauda, the Austrian racing legend, clinched his three Formula 1 World Championships through a combination of exceptional talent, unwavering determination, and a unique blend of calculated risk-taking. His first championship victory came in 1975, driving for Ferrari. Lauda’s disciplined approach and remarkable consistency set him apart from the rest of the field. He secured five wins during the season, often finishing strongly to maximise his points, whilst his ability to manage races and assess risks led to this well-deserved triumph.

A tragic accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix threatened to end his career. Although his remarkable comeback, driven by sheer determination, sealed his legendary status. He narrowly lost the 1976 championship to James Hunt, but his resilience and drive were truly inspiring as the following year In 1977, Lauda triumphed once again, with Ferrari to win his second World Championship.

Lauda secured his third title in 1984, this time with McLaren. His mature driving style, combined with technical expertise, allowed him to claim the championship in a highly competitive field. His intelligent racecraft and innate understanding of car setup and strategy played pivotal roles in this success.

Niki Lauda’s three World Championships are a testament to his exceptional skills, his unyielding spirit, and his ability to overcome adversity. His legacy in Formula 1 endures as a symbol of perseverance and triumph in the face of great challenges.

Nelson Piquet (1981, 1983, 1987)

Piquet driving the Brabham BT49 for the 1980 season, designed by legendary race car designer, Gordon Murray

Piquet driving the Brabham BT49 for the 1980 season, designed by legendary race car designer, Gordon Murray

Nelson Piquet, the Brazilian racing sensation, secured his three Formula 1 World Championships through a combination of skill, tactical brilliance, and adaptability. Piquet’s first championship victory came in 1981, driving for the Brabham team. He displayed exceptional car control and tire management, which were critical in the ground-effect era. Piquet clinched the title with remarkable consistency, finishing strong to accumulate the necessary points.

In 1983, Piquet secured his second championship, this time with the Brabham-BMW team. His technical expertise and understanding of the car’s engineering made him a standout driver. His ability to set up the car for different tracks and conditions allowed him to edge out his rivals.

Piquet’s final championship win came in 1987 with Williams-Honda. This marked the transition from the turbocharged era to normally aspirated engines, showcasing his adaptability. His speed and consistency, combined with his strategic racecraft, led to his third and final title.

Nelson Piquet’s three World Championships underline his versatility, intelligence, and innate understanding of the technical aspects of the sport. His success stands as a testament to his talent and adaptability in a dynamic and ever-evolving sport like Formula 1.

Ayrton Senna (1988, 1990, 1991)

Magic Senna cruising through the streets of Monaco where he won a record breaking six times. A record which has yet to be broken more than 29 years after his tragic death.

Magic Senna cruising through the streets of Monaco where he won a record breaking six times. A record which has yet to be broken more than 29 years after his tragic death.

If Nelson was a sensation, Ayrton Senna is certainly the most iconic Brazilian racing legend. He won his three Formula 1 World Championships through a combination of extraordinary talent, raw speed, and unwavering determination. His first championship victory came in 1988 while driving for McLaren-Honda. That season, Senna showcased his immense skill, earning eight race wins and often outpacing his rivals in qualifying. He became known for his extraordinary ability to extract the utmost performance from his car.

In 1990, Senna secured his second championship, again with McLaren-Honda. His rivalry with Alain Prost was legendary, and he emerged victorious with another title after a contentious season. Senna’s aggressive yet calculated driving style and fierce commitment set him apart as one of the all-time greats.

Senna’s final championship came in 1991. Despite facing stiff competition from Prost, his relentless drive and adaptability to changing circumstances allowed him to claim the title. His sixth sense for wet weather conditions and remarkable pole position record further highlighted his genius behind the wheel.

Ayrton Senna’s three World Championships are a testament to his unparalleled natural talent and a relentless pursuit of excellence. His tragically short life leaves an enduring legacy, inspiring future generations of Formula 1 drivers with his unique blend of passion, determination, and unmatched skill.

Max Verstappen (2021, 2022, 2023)

The Dutch sensation, Max Verstappen won his third consecutive title in Qatar during the sprint race on Saturday, a first in the sport's history.

The Dutch sensation, Max Verstappen won his third consecutive title in Qatar during the sprint race on Saturday, a first in the sport’s history.

The Dutchman emerged as a formidable talent in the sport, and his potential for multiple championships was evident early in his career. He entered Formula 1 in 2015 as the youngest driver in the sport’s history. His aggressive and fearless driving style immediately caught the attention of fans and experts alike. Over the years, he developed into one of the sport’s most exciting and consistent drivers, often challenging the then dominant Mercedes team.

His impressive racecraft, overtaking skills, and a never-give-up attitude made him a fan favourite for the 2021 title fight with Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen’s speed and ability to perform under pressure, and the support from his Red Bull team positioned him as that year’s champion, albeit in controversial circumstances (Yes, I’m wearing a Mercedes shirt as I’m writing this).

In 2022, under new ground effect regulations, the Red Bull team were miles ahead of the competition and this helped Max fend off an early challenge by Ferrari to claim his second World Championship with relative ease.

But if 2022 was easy, the lack of any challenge to the Red Bull outfit gave Max the opportunity to claim his third consecutive World Championship last weekend in style, and for the first time in the sports’ history, on a Saturday. There’s more to see from this young and ruthless driver, and I can’t wait to see what he does next!

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