All drivers who reach Formula 1 believe they deserve to be World Champions. Many don’t ever reach such success and don’t deserve to but there are a few who were good enough to win and never did.
In this article we look at five drivers who deserved to win at least one F1 World Championship.
1. Stirling Moss
One of the best British racers to have ever graced the Formula 1 gird, Stirling Moss holds the unfortunate title of being the most successful driver never to have won the World Championship.
Moss competed in Formula 1 for seven years, finishing runner-up on four occasions and third in the other three. He won an incredible 16 races out of the 67 he competed in and won these in an era dominated by the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Mike Hawthorn and Alberto Ascari.
Over the span of his career Moss drove 84 different makes of car and whilst he spent the 1955 season with Mercedes, partnering Fangio, the rest of his F1 career was spent racing in British built cars.
Perhaps this was the reason Moss never won the title, at a time when Italian manufacturers such as Maserati and Ferrari dominated. Whatever the reason, while championship glory was never found, it did cement Moss’ place in the history of the sport.
2. Bruce McLaren
When you see the McLaren name you think “World Champions of the 80’s and 90’s”.
Although the McLaren team have had great success over the years, winning eight Constructor’s Championships and winning 12 Driver’s Championships, the same could not be said for their founder, Bruce.
The New Zealander spent the majority of his career racing for Cooper before setting up his own team in 1966.
He finished runner-up in the 1960 World Championship missing out on the title by nine points from his teammate, Jack Brabham.
McLaren was killed at Goodwood in 1970 whilst testing his new Can-Am car. At the time, he had only been running as a Constructor for a little over two years and it was a team showing a lot of potential having taken the New Zealander to third in the championship for 1969.
Had the McLaren survived the accident the world may have seen him take title glory in the years to follow.
3. Ronnie Peterson
One of the fastest drivers of his generation, Ronnie Peterson was another who failed to reach his full potential.
Although he had the speed capable of winning multiple world championships, Peterson found himself in cars that struggled with reliability. Despite this, the Swede finished runner-up in 1971 and took third place in 1973.
He was second in the championship and still in contention for the title at the time of his death at the 1978 Italian Grand Prix and had it not been for his fatal accident it is highly likely he would have gone on to win a championship at some point in his career.
4. Gilles Villeneuve
Formula 1’s maverick, Gilles Villeneuve was one driver who was not short of grit and determination as well as outright speed.
The French Canadian’s flamboyant driving style won him legendary status in the sport despite only winning six of the 67 races he competed in. Apart from his debut race with McLaren, he spent his whole career with Ferrari.
Villeneuve didn’t know how else to drive other than flat-out and sometimes this was to his demise, being involved in a number of incidents throughout his career but nobody could fault his passion.
At the Dutch Grand Prix in 1979 Villeneuve hit the wall after suffering a puncture but despite missing a wheel, he drove the car back to the pits and demanded the team to fit a new one despite being told it was beyond repair.
Villeneuve would finish runner-up in the championship that year and failed to fight for the title ever again.
He turned up to the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder still fuming about events at the San Marino Grand Prix two weeks before where his teammate Dider Peroni had double-crossed him and went against team orders to steal the win.
Villeneuve took part in the practice session at Zolder and eight minutes from the end he crashed into the rear of Jochen Mass’ car and launched into the air before landing and somersaulting down the road, killing him instantly.
5. Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica arrived on the Formula 1 scene halfway in to the 2006 season and made an immediate impact.
The Pole’s speed was clear to be seen from the off, out qualifying his teammate Nick Heidfeld on his debut and picking up his first podium in his third Grand Prix in Italy.
Kubica scored his first and only win to date at the Canadian Grand Prix in 2008 with BMW Sauber, a year after he had a huge crash at the circuit.
2008 was Kubica’s strongest season and although he finished fourth in the championship, he spent most of the year in contention for the title.
He joined Renault for 2010 and again, over performed in a car that was not strong enough to consistently fight at the front.
In 2011 Kubica set the fastest time at the first pre-season test in Valencia suggesting he would be fighting for the title, however, just three days later, he suffered a huge crash whilst taking part in a rally in Italy and suffered multiple injuries.
As a result of his injuries, doctors had to partially amputate his right forearm and it would be seven years before Kubica would compete in a Formula 1 weekend again.
Now racing for Williams, the Pole is confined to the back of the grid and is no longer competing for race wins as he once was.
Kubica should have been a world champion at some point in his career and although it is unlikely that will ever happen, perhaps he doesn’t need it.
His biggest victory was being able to ever return to Formula 1 in the first place.