When Lewis Hamilton moves to Ferrari in 2025, he will become the 12th British driver to drive for the prestigious Italian Formula 1 championship.
The allure of the Prancing Horse is one that drivers of all stripes have found hard to ignore, not least because of the team’s history in the sport that dates back to the first season of the world championship in 1950.
The fame, fortune, and glory of Tifosi await any driver who can climb the mountain and drive the famous red cars – a challenge that many have attempted but only the best have succeeded.
A number of British drivers are among those who have written their names in the history books with Ferrari, and we take a look at some of the seven-sport teammates Hamilton is looking to emulate when he arrives at Maranello…
British drivers have driven one Grand Prix for Ferrari
- Peter Whitehead (1950)
- Mike Hawthorn (1953-55, 1957-58)
- Peter Collins (1956-58)
- Tony Brooks (1959)
- Cliff Allison (1960)
- John Surtees (1963-66)
- Mike Parkes (1966-67)
- Jonathan Williams (1967)
- Derek Bell (1968)
- Nigel Mansell (1989-90)
- Eddie Irvine (1996-2000)
- Lewis Hamilton (from 2025)
Hawthorn and Collins: Success and tragedy
Although Peter Whitehead raced for Ferrari in 1950, the story of Brits at Ferrari in F1 really begins with Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins – teammates who became close friends but their stories all had tragic endings.
Hawthorn, another larger-than-life figure who wore a tie when racing, drove Ferrari from 1953 to 1955 – save for Vanwall’s two races at the start of the final seasons – when he scored two Grands. Prix wins and three more podiums.
He returned in 1957 after an unsuccessful season and immediately formed a friendship with Collins, who had brought in the year before, until the two agreed to share all the money equally. Hawthorn later threatened to quit Ferrari if the team chased its rival following the 1958 Le Mans 24 Hours.
Had it not been for handing over his car to team leader Juan Manual Fangio at the 1956 Italian Grand Prix, Collins might have become Britain’s first F1 world champion. However, his career was tragically cut short at the age of 26, dying in a crash at the 1958 German Grand Prix.
In fact, Hawthorn became Britain’s first F1 drivers’ champion that season and, at the time, the youngest world champion, but he retired at the same time still reeling from the death of his friend. Sadly, he was also killed in a road accident in January the following year.
Brooks’ season in the sun
Tony Brooks had just one race for Ferrari, but it was a year that saw him come closer to winning a world championship than at any other time in his Formula 1 career.
Nicknamed ‘The Racing Dentist’ due to the combination early in his career and learning to follow his father in dentistry, Brooks joined the Italian team in the 1959 season after Vanwall, where he won four Grand Prix, left everything. -time F1 entry.
Second place at the season-opening Monaco Grand Prix was followed by victories in France and Germany, including third at the United States Grand Prix. But retirements in the Netherlands, Italy and Britain – the latter driving in a Vanwall after being beaten by a Ferrari in Italy – and ninth place in Germany cost more.
Brooks would eventually finish the season second four points behind champion Jack Brabham but would not come close to winning the drivers’ title again and retired after a disappointing 1961 campaign.
Along with former Vanwall teammate Stirling Moss, he is considered one of the best drivers to have never won a world championship.
Surtees: Brand on two and four wheels
John Surtees was already a Grand Prix cycling champion when he began his Formula 1 career in 1960, and is still the only man to have won the world championship in both the two- and four-wheeled classes.
As his cycling success came with the Italian MV Augusta, it was perhaps inevitable that he would end up driving for Ferrari in F1 and moved to the team in the 1963 season after an impressive showing for Reg Parnell’s secret team. in the last two years.
That first year saw a single Grand Prix win and two more podiums, but a strong second half of the 1964 season that included victories in Germany and Ferrari’s home race at Monza saw Surtees reach the final race of the season in a three-way battle. about the head.
All kinds of concessions would have made Surtees, reigning champion Jim Clark or Graham Hill the champion at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, but the second place for the Ferrari driver and the failure of the fuel line saw Clark come fifth with the problems that caused. Hill to finish two rounds down and out of points saw him take the title.
He would no longer enjoy that success and left Ferrari at the start of the 1966 season as his relationship with the team soured, joining Cooper then Honda and BRM followed by starting his own team and retiring from racing in 1972.
Mansell: ‘Il Leone’
Nigel Mansell had the privilege of being the last driver chosen by Enzo Ferrari to run the team before the former owner’s death in 1988, but his two seasons with the Maranello team were mixed and low.
He immediately endeared himself to Tifosi by becoming the first Ferrari driver to win on his debut since Mario Andretti 18 years ago with his victory in the 1989 Brazilian Grand Prix and was nicknamed ‘Il Leone’ – The Lion – for his fearless approach. to the competition.
Another victory in Hungary and four other podium places helped to secure fourth place in the driver’s race, but reliability problems due to the new semi-automatic gearbox and restrictions in Canada and Portugal, which led to the cancellation of the Spanish Grand Prix, disrupted the season.
Mansell’s second year saw him clash with his new teammate and world champion Alain Prost, and in one notable incident at that year’s British Grand Prix he found the mechanics had unwittingly swapped their cars after Prost felt he had too low a machine. two.
A victory in the race in Portugal and another four podium finishes did not end Mansell’s disappointment and he announced his intention to retire at the end of the year. However, this did not last long, and he reunited with Williams where he was named world champion in 1992.
Fast Eddie: Irvine’s key role
Eddie Irvine has attracted a lot of attention for his performances both on and off the road, but this has often overshadowed the Northern Irishman’s talent, and he was a great supporter of Michael Schumacher during their four years together at Ferrari.
After being bought out of his contract by Jordan in 1995, his first race for the team the following year in Australia secured his first F1 championship, but the rest of the year was not very profitable. Five more podiums followed in 1997 and a top three finish in 1998 when he finished fourth in the championship.
The 1999 campaign saw Irvine receive top honors. After taking his first Grand Prix win in the season opener at Melbourne, Irvine found himself leading Ferrari after Schumacher broke his leg in the opening crash at Silverstone.
Back-to-back wins in Austria and Germany lifted him to the top of the drivers’ rankings at the start of August, but he was denied at the final race of the year in Japan where he finished third. two seasons behind the champion Mika Hakkinen.
Seeking the position of number one driver, Irvine left Ferrari after three unsuccessful years with Jaguar and called time on his F1 career at the end of the 2002 season. Before signing Hamilton, he was the last Briton to drive for Ferrari.
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