In a previous article I tried to give some direction as to which driver has been the best in F1 history. Next up: Who is the most popular driver?

This is a deeply personal matter. Though looking at the opion of many fans combined, gives us some general guidance. This year there have been two large surveys (by motorsport.com and autosport.com) which asked the question directly.

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Roughly one year ago I started tracking the drivers that you are looking for on this site. Since then, over 100.000 drivers have been looked up. This means you took the effort to view the career page of a specific driver. In absolute volumes this reaches the same level of magnitude as these surveys; though probably the demographic of the audience here is probably less broad. More interestingly though, it doesn't ask the 'popularity'-question directly, but it infers it based on behavior.

Translating the view-rate of drivers on this site directly to their popularity might be a stretch, though I feel it is a proper indication of the interest of the fans for these particular drivers. Even though you might not particularly like a certain driver, you do deem him worthy of your attention.

Therefore I thought it would be nice to share this insight with you. Please note that the majority of traffic to this site is generated within Europe and America. And this overview is off course not limited to just the current crop of drivers, but covers every formula 1 driver in history.

Before we go there, let us have a quick look at the results of the two surveys:

  1. motorsport.com (in cooperation with the GDPA) with 215.000 responses.
    Outcome current: 1. Kimi Raikonnen 2. Fernando Alonso 3. Jenson Button.
    Outcome all time: 1. Ayrton Senna 2. Michael Schumacher 3. Alain Prost
  2. autosport.com with 35.000 responses.
    Outcome: 1. Lewis Hamilton 2. Kimi Raikonnen 3. Fernando Alonso.

Now the list generated by your actions:

Top 10 drivers

  1. Michael Schumacher (16% of top 10)
  2. Lewis Hamilton (15% of top 10)
  3. Kimi Raikonnen (13% of top 10)
  4. Fernando Alonso (10% of top 10)
  5. Sebastian Vettel (9% of top 10)
  6. Alain Prost (9% of top 10)
  7. Ayrton Senna (8% of top 10)
  8. Jenson Button (7% of top 10)
  9. Juan Manuel Fangio (7% of top 10)
  10. Alan Jones (6% of top 10)

On top we have Michael Schumacher. The recordbreaker keeps capturing people's imagination and you are still very interested in his achievements. Michael being on top makes sense as he tops about every list out there, so he is sure to generate a lot of traffic.

Next up, the current world champion: Lewis Hamilton. His popularity combined with his stellar performance in the past and present season was always likely to put him high on the list; he just got trumped by Michael though.

And Kimi completing the top 3 is a testamony to his broad and very active fan-base around the world; this is also reflected in the outcome of the afore mentioned surveys.

Some concluding notes which amongst others underpin the broad interest on Formula 1 history and its drivers of this site's users:

  • very few current drivers in the top 50. I expected to see many currently active drivers in the top 50. The very best are still ranking very high, but of the top 50 only 8 are currently driving in formula 1 (see the top 50 list at the bottom of this article).
  • the breadth of the longtail. The top 50 only covers 17% of the total traffic.
  • The top 3 of the current drivers exactly matches that of the autosport.com survey (while Lewis Hamilton is somewhat strangely missing from the motorsport.com top 3). The statistics from this site in a way confirm the outcome of these surveys, in that the popularity translates to behavior of the fans in looking for that specific driver.
  • Though Ayrton Senna evokes emotion (as the motorsport.com survey indicates), it doesn't translate directly in viewing behavior as both Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost rank higher.

Next the top 10 list of most popular driver currently active in the 2015 season.

Top 10 active drivers (in season 2015):

  1. Lewis Hamilton (rank 2)
  2. Kimi Raikonnen (rank 3)
  3. Fernando Alonso (rank 4)
  4. Sebastian Vettel (rank 5)
  5. Jenson Button (rank 8)
  6. Nico Rosberg (rank 12)
  7. Felipe Massa (rank 13)
  8. Daniil Kyvat (rank 44)
  9. Valterri Bottas (rank 58)
  10. Max Verstappen (rank 60)

Interesting to see the meteoric rise of Max Verstappen; he gets the fans highly engaged whilst not even having completed a single season. And Nico also gets some love for trying to make life difficult for Hamilton.

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For those of you interested I will end the article with the full top 50 most 'popular'-drivers in formula 1 history according to your own surf behavior. Let me know down in the comments below how you feel about this list.

The top 50 drivers:

  1. Michael Schumacher
  2. Lewis Hamilton
  3. Kimi Raikonnen
  4. Fernando Alonso
  5. Sebastian Vettel
  6. Alain Prost
  7. Ayrton Senna
  8. Jenson Button
  9. Juan Manuel Fangio
  10. Alan Jones
  11. Rubens Barrichello
  12. Nico Rosberg
  13. Felipe Massa
  14. Niki Lauda
  15. Damon Hill
  16. Nelson Piquet
  17. Nigel Mansell
  18. Jacky Ickx
  19. Jackie Stewart
  20. Mark Webber
  21. Mika Hakkinen
  22. David Coulthard
  23. Ralf Schumacher
  24. Rene Arnoux
  25. Thierry Boutsen
  26. Emerson Fittipaldi
  27. Jarno Trulli
  28. Graham Hill
  29. Jean Alesi
  30. Bruce McLaren
  31. Jack Brabham
  32. Clay Regazzoni
  33. Jos Verstappen
  34. Heinz-Harald Frentzen
  35. Jody Scheckter
  36. Michele Alboreto
  37. Denny Hulme
  38. Adrian Sutil
  39. Ronnie Peterson
  40. Carlos Reutemann
  41. Jacques Villeneuve
  42. Riccardo Patrese
  43. Jim Clark
  44. Daniil Kvyat
  45. John Watson
  46. A J Foyt
  47. Eddie Irvine
  48. Nick Heidfeld
  49. Juan Pablo Montoya
  50. John Surtees