Awaiting Lewis Hamilton
Ferrari is the only team in the history of Formula 1 to have been continuously present from 1950 to the present day, the year of the first edition of the open-wheel international series. Analyzing the hall of fame of this competition, many drivers who have won at least one world title are of English nationality, but only two of them have crossed the coveted finish line behind the wheel of the Prancing Horse. This phenomenon reflects the relatively low presence of Britons in Maranello, as the Modena-based team prepares to welcome Lewis Hamilton in 2025, an English-born driver that the Prancing Horse has not fielded for over thirty years.
In the times of the ‘Lion’
The last Englishman to compete in a Grand Prix for Ferrari was Nigel Mansell in 1990. The ‘Lion’, signed the previous year after a four-year stint with Williams, became Gerhard Berger’s new teammate, replacing Michele Alboreto. Nigel Mansell, with performances ranging from positive to controversial, returned to Williams in 1991 after a complex season alongside Alain Prost, sparking an internal rivalry that did not help the Frenchman achieve the world championship. Major controversies arose, especially at the start of the Portuguese Grand Prix when the then #2 pushed the ‘Professor’ towards the wall despite the latter starting from the front row, favoring Ayrton Senna’s McLaren’s escape.
Other Englishmen and World Champions
When Nigel Mansell arrived in Maranello in 1989, Ferrari introduced an English driver for the first time since 1968. In that season, Derek Bell competed in his second and last Grand Prix with the Prancing Horse, interrupting a presence of compatriots dating back to 1950, excluding Jonathan Williams, who was present only in the 1967 Mexican Grand Prix. The first Englishman to drive for Ferrari was Peter Whitehead, in a decade when Enzo Ferrari also brought in Reg Parnell, Tony Brooks, Peter Collins, and Cliff Allison.
Standing out more, however, was Mike Hawthorn, who became the world champion in 1958. Following him in the next decade was John Surtees, the only driver in motorsport history to be crowned world champion in both the Motorcycle World Championship and Formula 1. After joining Ferrari in 1963, Surtees won his only Formula 1 world championship the following year. When talking about British drivers, Eddie Irvine, who arrived in Maranello more recently, cannot be forgotten. Schumacher’s teammate from 1996 to 1999 (the year he became vice-world champion), Irvine was born in Northern Ireland.