Statistically the greatest Formula One driver ever, Michael Schumacher is a 7 time champion winning the titles during 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004. Of the previous multiple champions the most prolific was Juan Manuel Fangio, whose record of five titles stood for five decades until it was eclipsed by the most dominant driver in the history of the sport. By the time Schumacher retired, still the man to beat after 16 seasons at the top, he had seven driving titles and held nearly every record in the book by a considerable margin. Though his ethics were sometimes questionable, his sheer brilliance behind the wheel was never in dispute.
Juan Manuel Fangio – 5 titles
Many consider Juan Manuel Fangio to be the greatest drive of all time. In 7 full Formula One seasons he was World Champion five times and runner-up twice. In his 51 championship Grands Prix he started from the front row 48 times (including 29 pole positions) and set 23 fastest race laps en route to 35 podium finishes, 24 of them victories. His superlative track record was achieved by some of the greatest displays of skill and daring ever seen. Fangio did it all with style, grace, nobility and a sense of honour never seen before or since.
Alain Prost – 4 titles
Prost learned how to win races with unreliable Renault from 1981-1983, but it was losing to McLaren team-mate Niki Lauda in 1984 that taught him that you also needed guile to win a title. Back-to-back crowns followed.
But it was Prost`s battles with Ayrton Senna, who joined McLaren in 1988, that defined his career. Their relationship hit rock bottom at Suzuka in 1989, where a collision between the two gave Prost to take his third world title. A year later, with Prost now at Ferrari, it happened again, this time with Senna clinching the crown.
After falling out with Ferrari, Prost took a year out before returning for one more year with Williams in 1993. Needless to say, he won the title.
Jack Brabham -3 titles
While renowned for his technical skill, Brabham deserved respect as a driver. His aggressive style might not have had the finesse of his rivals, but then again none of them were winning their third world title at the age of 40 - as unlikely a proposition then as it is today.
He moved to England and linked up with Cooper. The partnership yielded back-to-back championships in 1959 and 1960, and a third followed in 1966 for the eponymous team that he`d set up with compatriot and designer Ron Tauranac a few years earlier.
Jackie Stewart -3 titles
Jackie Stewart was one of those drivers who was so smooth, so precise, that he didn`t look quick unless you had a stopwatch in your hand.
But Stewart wasn`t only about speed. The 1969, 1971 and 1973 world champion is the man who set the template for his era. Always thinking, among his 27 wins are myriad examples of how he out-thought the opposition. His last lap win at Monza in 1969 is the stuff of legend and was the result of a decision to run a long fourth gear for the run to the line. But he was also an inspired virtuoso, as his incredible win in the wet at the 1968 German Grand Prix proved.
Niki Lauda-3 titles
The Austrian was regarded as a no-mark when he bought his way into Formula 1 with March after an average career in F3 and F2, but some eye-catching performances with BRM in 1973 earned him a surprise move to Ferrari.
A Ferrari driver hadn`t won the world championship since 1964 and the Austrian helped to galvanise the team into fulfilling its potential. After one season, he had displaced Clay Regazzoni as team leader and comfortably won the 1975 world championship.
Nelson Piquet Sr. -3 titles
Piquet burst onto the scene in 1979, effectively forcing Niki Lauda into retirement with some stunning qualifying performances. With Gordon Murray designing the cars it was a highly successful relationship, yielding two world titles. Piquet`s brilliance as a test driver turned the unreliable BMW turbo into a title-winner.
Ayrton Senna -3 titles
Arguably faster than any other driver of his era, as his 41 grand prix wins and three world titles proved, Senna also had a ruthless streak like no other.
Prior to his death at Imola in 1994, his incredible skill was showcased with some sensational wins, like his record six at Monaco and the famous displays of wet weather virtuosity at Estoril and Donington Park.
He will be remembered as much for his colliding with arch-rival Alain Prost - a man with whom he shared a mutual contempt after a McLaren team orders argument at Imola in `89 - at Suzuka title deciders in two successive years as for anything else.
Alberto Ascari -2 titles
Alberto Ascari is the only Italian driver who has ever won two Formula One world Titles, both of the behind the wheel of a Ferrari.
On 12th June Ascari had his debut at the Bari GP with a breathtaking victory, followed by another four cars from the Prancing Horse. In the same year the man from Milan had his debut behind the wheel of a Formula One single-seater, a new and at the same time the highest class in motorsports, with new rules and the desire to compare engine performance and aerodynamics on the race tracks.
“Ciccio”, that’s how his fellow countrymen called him, reaped a series of enormous victories: Swiss Formula One GP, followed by Silverstone and Monza. After a good start of the F1 series in 1950, in 1952 he gained the Drivers’ World Title behind the wheel of a 500 F2, repeated in ’53 with a series of fabulous victories.
Jim Clark -2 titles
Perhaps the greatest natural talent ever seen in Formula 1. Clark didn`t seem to understand why he was fast, but destroyed top fields time and again.
He formed a remarkable relationship with boss Colin Chapman, meaning he often had the fastest car. So equipped, Clark dominated and would have won more than two titles had it not been for poor reliability.
In less competitive machinery, Clark showed he could fight against the odds. His battle with a two-litre Lotus against the three-litre Brabhams at the 1966 Dutch GP went unrewarded, but he did take victory with the unfancied H16 BRM engine in the US GP that year.
The Lotus 49 and Clark made for an awesome combination and the 1968 title would surely have fallen to the Scot had he not been killed at Hockenheim in a Formula 2 race.
Graham Hill -2 titles
A thoroughly British racing driver, who started all 176 of his world championship races in British-built machinery with BRM, Lotus, Shadow, Lola and his own nascent Embassy Hill constructor.
A 14-time grand prix winner, Hill`s two titles came in very different circumstances. He won the 1962 world championship for BRM, completing the team`s odyssey from laughing stock to top of the world, while in 1968 he helped regroup Team Lotus behind him after the death of Jim Clark.
Emerson Fittipaldi -2 titles
Such was the meteoric talent of Emerson Fittipaldi possessed that having queued for Graham Hill`s autograph in the summer of 1969, less than a year later he would become a fellow Lotus driver in F1.
The Brazilian took his meticulous and deeply intense approach to his racing, combined it with a beautifully smooth but fast style, and became the youngest grand prix winner in 1970, and then the youngest world champion in `72. He transported this overwhelming ability to McLaren in 1973 and then gave the team its first world title a year later.
Mika Häkkinen -2 titles
One of the few to beat Michael Schumacher in a straight fight, Hakkinen was twice crowned world champion at the end of the `90s for McLaren. His `98 title came after a nerve-jangling head-to-head with Schumacher at Suzuka, while the second, in `99, should have been easier after Schu broke his leg at Silverstone, but was punctuated by errors - most famously at Monza. Again, a masterful performance in Japan sealed the deal.
His greatest win came at Spa in 2000, when he defeated Schumacher with a dazzling pass a lap after the German had edged him onto the grass at 200mph.
Fernando Alonso -2 titles
The Michael Schumacher juggernaut was unstoppable in the first part of the 2000s, but it was brought to a halt by Spain`s first world champion in 2005.
Despite the unquestionable determination and pure speed, Alonso is far from perfect - witness an explosive season on and off the track at McLaren in 2007.
But after returning to an ailing Renault team he had them back to winning ways by the end of 2008.
Sebastian Vettel -2 titles
F1`s youngest points scorer, F1 youngest race winner and a championship contender in his second full season. Success has come quickly to Sebastian Vettel, whose youthful, enthusiastic personality belies a steely, focused will to win.
His maiden victory in torrential conditions in Monza behind the wheel of a Toro Rosso marked him out as F1`s latest rainmeister and made the whole paddock sit up and take notice.
But there were still some who doubted his outright credentials as a megastar. These were dispelled in emphatic fashion at Red Bull this year. He trounced team-mate Mark Webber 15:2 in qualifying and his wins at Silverstone and Suzuka were the work of a world-class talent.