Racing Legends and Rising Stars

The Five Racing Numbers

The number 5 holds a special place in F1 folklore thanks to Gilles Villeneuve and his memorable stint with Ferrari’s 126C2 in 1981 and ’82.

Then there’s Barry Sheene, Britain’s double 500cc world champion and 1970s cult hero. His distinctive red #7 adorning his Suzuki and Yamaha motorcycles helped him to 19 top-class victories.

Nigel Mansell

Generations of Formula 1 fans will instantly recognise the name of British hero Nigel Mansell. His number 5 was painted red to distinguish it from his teammate’s car and that became his trademark.

After some difficult years in Formula Ford, Mansell was spotted by Lotus team principal Colin Chapman. He sold his home to fund a move to the team for the 1978 and 1979 seasons.

His four years at Lotus were troubled by reliability issues and he was regularly out-performed by teammate Elio de Angelis. His return to Williams in 1991 was a much more successful affair, winning 13 races. He retained the number 5 for his subsequent return to the USA in 1994.

Gilles Villeneuve

The Canadian is considered one of F1’s greatest drivers and his foot-to-the-floor approach to racing makes him a hero. He had a rocky start to his career but he won the home Grand Prix at Montreal in ’78 and his performance in Ferrari’s first turbo car in ’81 put him firmly on the map.

His final season was hampered by friction with teammate Didier Pironi and a difficult car but he still produced two amazing wins and looked like a title contender before the tragic accident at Zolder. He was just 35. He was the eighth driver in less than a decade to die in an F1 car.

Barry Sheene

No other motorcycle racer ever captured the public imagination like Sheene did. The charming cockney charmer brought a smile to the face of millions of people and became one of motorsport’s most popular personalities of his generation.

Sheene’s dad Frank had two new Bultaco bikes to run in and invited the teen prodigy down to Brands Hatch for some laps. Within seven weeks he was back racing, and winning again.

He was a big draw with audiences and appeared in Henry Cooper Brut ads and life-size cut-outs welcomed motorists at Texaco service stations. His world championship titles came with a healthy salary from Suzuki and outside product endorsements as well as $6000 starting money per race.

Nico Hulkenberg

Hulkenberg made his Formula One debut in 2010 with Williams, but despite scoring the team’s first pole position since 2005 in Brazil, he was dropped after one season and became test and reserve driver at Force India.

He moved to Sauber the following year, before Renault poached him for three seasons from 2017, but he lost his seat to Esteban Ocon in 2020 and has spent the last two years as a reserve driver with Racing Point (now Aston Martin F1).

But Hulkenberg was given another opportunity by Haas this season. And the German has made the most of it. A consistent year, including a superb fifth at the British Grand Prix, has him in contention to finish in eighth place.

Valtteri Bottas

After a rapid rise through junior racing the Finn starred for Williams Renault and ART in GP3. He took the title the following year and earned his F1 debut the following season.

Bottas won multiple Grands Prix with Mercedes before being replaced by Russel for 2022. He now races for Alfa Romeo and leads team mate Zhou Guanyu by one point heading into the next race.

GQ caught up with Valtteri ahead of the Brazilian GP to talk about F1, his passion for gravel driving and more. Check out the interview below. The Finn boasts ten F1 wins and 67 podium appearances. He’s also the most successful Finnish driver in F1 history.

Oscar Piastri

Oscar Piastri is the latest Australian to enter Formula 1’s premier category, joining Lando Norris at McLaren. The 21-year-old has blitzed the feeder series to generate hype akin to Hamilton, Leclerc and Norris and will have more experience than most rookies when he joins the team this season.

After a tug of war with Alpine, Piastri was snapped up by the Woking-based team to partner Norris. The Australian made a decent start to the 2023 campaign, qualifying and finishing 10th in Monaco and claiming his first points finish of the year in Canada. He backed that up with another podium finish at Silverstone.

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