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Who are the top 10 US drivers in F1 history?

We look at the top 10 best American drivers in Formula One over the years

We look at the top 10 best American drivers in Formula One over the years
Clive RoseGetty Images

With Formula One growing its TV audience in the United States and Logan Sargeant becoming the 151st American driver to start a world championship race with his Formula 1 debut for Williams this year, the U.S. is back on the F1 map.

And while it seems like there has been plenty of American racers, the vast majority of them had only competed in the Indianapolis 500 when it paid world championship points from 1950-1960. That’s due to the misguided endeavor to legitimize the world championship tag. Indy 500 was always, of course, a separate world from Formula One.


So let’s take a look at some of the most outstanding American drivers in F1 history.

Top 10 American drivers in Formula 1


The New Jersey native won the 1972 Indy 500. He then embarked upon a full-time F1 campaign the year after, where he struggled for speed at the beginning. After fifth-place finishes in Sweden and Britain, however, he showed substantial mid-season improvement.


Donohue had a short and sweet F1 career, but one with a high ranking.

Driving a Penske-run McLaren, Donohue scored a podium first time out in the 1971 Canadian GP.

He started only 14 world championship races before traveling to the Osterreichring for what should have been his 15th world championship F1 start. It was then when Donohue crashed his Roger Penske car that resulted in his death two days later due to a cerebral hemorrhage.

Many have wondered over the years what could’ve happened to Donohue had he been given a true shot at the game.


That’s another name that rings a tragedy bell. Schell wasn’t a F1 star per say, but he was a respected competitor regarded as solid and reliable. Even though his F1 victories were limited to non-championship races, he did finish second in the 1958 Dutch Grand Prix, and lead points-paying races.

Sadly, he died while in practice for the International Trophy at Silverstone after clipping a low wall. His Cooper T51 was thrown into the air, bringing a tragic end to a career that should not be overlooked.


The Kansas-born driver had plenty of talent and proved it in his very first F1 race at Monaco, where he finished third behind the wheel of a Maserati. Two fourth-place finishes at Pescara and Monza were good enough for sixth in the 1957 championship, yet this was as strong as his career got.

Gregory also won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1965 sharing a Ferrari with 1970 world champion Jochen Rindt and Ed Hugus, his compatriot.


Eddie Cheever spent over 10 years competing in F1 and still holds the record for the most Grand Prix starts by an American. He made 132 from 143 entries.


Richie Ginther recorded 52 F1 starts throughout the 1960s, racing for teams like Ferrari, BRM and Cooper. His Honda encounter, however, was the one that cemented his spot in the history books, winning his first and only Grand Prix victory.


Revson began his F1 career in the early 1960s after racing sportscars while attending the University of Hawaii.

In 1972, Revson went full-time in F1 with McLaren and made it onto the podium just a year later, with a pair of victories in 1973. Later, however, team chiefs picked former champion Emerson Fittipaldi as the better option for 1974, persuading Revson to join Shadow. Sadly, that’s when Revson’s F1 career, and life, was tragically cut short by a testing crash.


Born in Florida and raised in California, Hill became the first American to claim F1′s ultimate prize, representing Jaguar at first and then signing for Ferrari. Hill started out as a mechanic before leaving to Europe to follow his racing dreams.

Hill went on take what would be the third and final race win of his F1 career and, with it, the title. Unfortunately, his victory wasn’t fully celebrated as it coincided with the worst tragedy in Formula One history, the death of his teammate and close rival Wolfgang von Trips, which also killed 15 spectators.


Gurney is recognized as one of America’s best drivers across 86 Grands Prix from 1950s-1970s, racing for Ferrari, BRM, Porsche, Brabham and McLaren. At the same time, Gurney also formed his own team: the Anglo American Racers (AAR).

Gurney also drove to the 1961 title with a runner-up finish in his second race for Ferrari at the 1959 German Grand Prix. Even though he left the team right before they unleashed their potent 156,

Additionally, Gurney started a tradition that has been long celebrated in the racing world- the tradition of spraying champagne on the podium. His first celebration with a champagne bottle came at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans, which was a victory for the New York native.


Born in Italy in 1940, Andretti, who sits at the top of our list, moved to Pennsylvania when he was 15 before starting his racing career.

He quickly racked up 12 race victories, 19 podiums, 18 pole positions and a world title, during a Grand Prix career that started in the 1960s all the way to the 1980s. It did not take long for the Italian to challenge for the F1 crown, which he earned in 1978 while dealing with the death of team mate Ronnie Peterson.


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