So far, the 2012 Formula one season, with nine races left to go, seems like Ferrari’s year, or more accurately, Fernando Alonso’s year, leading the Drivers’ standings, well ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Along with Vettel (39 points behind the leader), Alonso has a chance to become the ninth driver in Formula One history to win at least three championships, just like legend Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and still driving Michael Schumacher.
Ayrton Senna – 3 Wins
The 22nd champion of the Formula One circuit, Senna’s tale is also the most tragic, finding his death on the track in San Marino during the San Marion Grand Prix, leading the race. Senna won the title three times racing for Honda – 1988, 1990, 1991. He still holds records for most consecutive pole positions, Most pole positions at the same Grand Prix, Most consecutive starts from front row, Starts from front row in every race in one season, Most races leading the entire race and Youngest triple World Champion at 31.
Nelson Piquet – 3 Wins
The first Brazilian to win three Formula One championships, Piquet actually began his life as an athlete playing tennis, later moving on to the track. He made his F-1 debut with Team Tissot Ensign in 1978, but found his great success with the Parmalat racing team. He won the titles in 1981 and 1983, before moving on to Williams and winning the third in 1987, before the rise of Senna, later moving on to Indy 500 for a bit.
Niki Lauda – 3 Wins
The Austrian with a super Italian name who was the big star on the track during the 1970’s and early 80’s. Lauda began his career racing for the March Racing team, but will always be remembered for his time with Ferrari, winning two world titles in 1975 and 1977 with the Italian team, before moving on to Parmalat and McLaren, winning his third title in 1984. Many still regard his crash during the 1976 German Grand Prix as the moment they remember the most from his career.
Sir Jackie Stewart – 3 Wins
The most succesful British driver in the history of Formula One, usually ranked among the five greatest drivers in history when such polls appear. He began racing in 1965 and won his first title in 1969 for Matra international, driving a Ford engine with a Matra chasis. In 1971 he won again for Elf Tyrell with the same Ford Cosworth engine and finished his career on a high, winning his third title in 1973.
Sir Jack Brabham – 3 Wins
The only Australian to win the title more than once, Brabham was the second racer to win the title three times and later began his own Driving team, Brabham racing, winning a title with it as well. His first championship came in 1959, driving for the Cooper Car Company, repeating that achievement in 1960. He won his third title in 1966, driving for his own racing outfit.
Alain Prost – 4 Wins
The professor was part of the great rivalries of the 1980’s with Nigel Manssel, Nelson Piquet and most of all Ayrton Senna. The two raced together for the same team (Honda-McLaren), both competing for the titles; before the days of one driver giving up for his partner on the same team. Prost won his first two titles in 1985-1986 for Marlboro-McLaren and again in 1989 for the Honda-McLaren team. He later left to Ferrari but was fired for publicly criticizing the team and the car. In 1993, making his comeback after a year off, Prost teamed up with Williams-Renault to win his fourth title before retiring from Formula One racing.
Juan Manuel Fangio – 5 Wins
Fangio was the master (actually nicknamed El Maestro) during the first decade of the competition, winning five F-1 titles, a record that held on for 46 years (from 1957) until one German legend came along. He holds the highest winning percentage in Formula One, 46%, winning 24 of 52 Formula One races he entered. He won his first title in 1951 for Alfa Romeo. The second was won by switching teams mid-season in 1954, leaving Maserati for Mercedes. He won it again with Mercedes in 1955. In 1956 he won his third straight title, this time with Ferrari, before returning to Maserati to win his fourth consecutive title.
Michael Schumacher – 7 Wins
Despite winning his first two Formula One titles with Benetton in 1994 and 1995, Schumacher will always be remembered for his dominance in the Ferrari car, thanks to his skills and the technological supremacy the car enjoyed in the late 1990’s and early 00’s, until a set of rules changed the game to create more parity, which worked quite well. Schumacher won five consecutive titles, the only man to ever do so, between 2000-2004 and continued racing for Ferrari until 2006. He returned to racing in 2010, still competing for Mercedes. He currently holds 34 different Formula One records.