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F1: Top 5 French Drivers of all time

George Howson
ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
Timeless

France has had an indelible impact on motorsport and Formula 1.
France has had an indelible impact on motorsport and Formula 1.

Although there hasn't been a French winner in Formula 1 for over 20 years, the impact and influence the nation has had on the pinnacle of motorsport are irreplaceable. Motor racing began in the French Republic in the late 19th century and the first Grand Prix, (which literally translated to Grand Prize in English) took place in 1906 in the same nation.

The French GP was run almost every year aside from the war years and was on the inaugural F1 calendar in 1950. The race has moved around venues around the country over the decades and been one of the most frequent Grands Prix on the calendar, only five countries have hosted more races.

In addition, there have been some rapid drivers and mighty teams to have come out of France and succeed in Formula 1, and here are five of the best pilots from the Western European country.


#5 Jules Bianchi

Jules Bianchi's Formula 1 career was tragically cut short before his big chance came.
Jules Bianchi's Formula 1 career was tragically cut short before his big chance came.

This was an incredibly difficult one to pick. Jean Behra was a driver that was robbed of his best motor racing years by the Second World War and was incredibly quick, despite never winning an F1 race. Rene Arnoux also won seven Grands Prix during his career, but the fifth spot on this list goes to someone who shone in a very slow car.

When Sebastian Vettel won the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix, he famously stated that Jules Bianchi would've been in the Ferrari "sooner or later", and it's hard to disagree with the German. Bianchi only competed in two F1 seasons, but he left a lasting impression on everybody.

The Frenchman drove for Marussia during his whole career but had come through the Ferrari driver academy, being the first driver to be signed onto the programme. The Marussia wasn't a competitive car, in fact, it was probably the slowest on the grid during 2013 and '14.

However, that didn't stop Jules from finishing in the top ten, crossing the line eighth at the Monaco Grand Prix. A penalty demoted him to ninth, but this was the team's only ever points haul.

A tragic crash at that year's Japanese GP curtailed what was promising to be a superb career, as Bianchi became Formula 1's first fatality for over 20 years. Had Bianchi lived past his 25 years, it would've been fascinating to see how he'd stack up against Vettel and perhaps Charles Leclerc too. We've been robbed of that scenario, but we should be thankful that we got to witness an immense talent competing.

Jules Bianchi remains Formula 1's most recent, and hopefully last, fatality during a Grand Prix. If Gasly improves his performances, a spot on this list could be his in the future, but that remains to be seen.

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