Photo courtesy of FIA
On the evening of December 4, The FIA formally introduced the Formula 1 Hall of Fame by inaugurating its first class: each of the 33 men who have won at least one F1 title since the formula’s inception in 1950. The event was held, appropriately enough, at the headquarters of the Automobile Club de France, the organization that put on the very first event known as a Grand Prix, nears Le Mans in 1906.
In a “glittering ceremony” according to F1, nine world champions along with family or representatives of the remaining 24 drivers, were feted. The ceremony began with the honoring of the 17 drivers who claimed but a single title, starting with the very first Formula 1 champ, Giuseppe Farina and finishing with 2016 title winner Nico Rosberg. Single-title winners in attendance included not only Rosberg, but also Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve.
The event then moved on to two-time winners, including Damon Hill’s father Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Alberto Ascari, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mika Hakkinen and Fernando Alonso, one of two active driver to attend and the 2005 and 2006 champion. Logically, the three-time winners were next, a list that includes Jack Brabham, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Niki Lauda and Jackie Stewart, the latter of whom was in attendance.
Four-time winners include the recently crowned 2017 champion, Lewis Hamilton, Alain Prost and 2010-2013 title winner Sebastian Vettel, who was in attendance and who was quoted as saying, “It’s been incredible to see all these names, all these faces. Obviously a lot of them I only know from what I have read, what I have seen, but I think it’s a great idea. There’s so much history in the sports, it’s still so alive, and thanks to events like tonight’s, we’ll keep it like that. I love racing but as you get older you change your way of thinking and I think your appreciation for things and definitely for things like tonight grows.”
The second-to-last honoree of the evening was five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio, who scored an incredible 24 wins in the 52 official grands prix he entered in the 1950s, an enviable and unmatched winning percentage, bested only by his capturing 29 pole positions in those 52 races.
With Michael Schumacher still privately rehabilitating from a traumatic head injury that occurred during a ski vacation four years ago—an injury it seems likely he will never truly recover from—the fierce competitor was represented by his long-time manager Sabine Kehm, whom Formula 1 quoted as saying, “We all know Michael should be here and I am totally sure he would love to be here. He always had the highest respect for everyone in this room and he would be very honored. What made Michael so special, what made him so successful was, as with everybody in this room, a love and passion for this sport.”
The Hall of Fame currently listed the ACF as its home, but with FIA president Jean Todt hinting at a similar hall of fame for endurance racing and other FIA-sanctioned series based in Geneva beginning in 2019, a permanent solution could possibly be in the works.