In the high-stakes world of F1, risks are part of the fun. On the track, split-second decisions and lightning-fast reflexes can mark the difference between victory and defeat. It’s all or nothing.

In such a daring sport, risk aversion isn’t an option – but some F1 drivers don’t just accept risk but welcome it with open arms. From death-defying overtakes to boundary-pushing speeds, there is no challenge these motorsport legends will back down from.

So, who are the biggest risk-takers in F1 history? That’s exactly what we’re here to talk about.

In this guide, we’ve rounded up the F1 drivers whose perilous manoeuvres have left spectators – us included – speechless over the years.  

F1 Driver #1: Max Verstappen

Known for his fearless driving style, no list of risky F1 drivers would be complete without the world champion, Max Verstappen.

If there’s anything Verstappen loves, it’s making a bold move on the tarmac. Nail-biting overtakes, intense wheel-to-wheel battles, unparalleled speeds in adverse weather conditions – there’s no risk Verstappen isn’t willing to take. Although these manoeuvres could easily carry dire results – Verstappen has managed to push these limits relatively unscathed. His impressive track record is not only a testament to his daring approach to the sport but his confidence in his racing abilities.

In 2023, Verstappen proved that his willingness to take risks on the racetrack was alive and well. At the qualifier for the Monaco Grand Prix, Verstappen has his eye on the prize: pole position. He knew it wouldn’t come easy, particularly since the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the trickiest in Formula 1, with the narrow, winding roads of Monte Carlo. However, by giving it his all and taking some calculated risks, Verstappen secured P1.

“In qualifying, we had to push fully and take all the risks. The first sector on my last lap was not ideal, maybe a bit cautious in the first corner. I knew I was behind and in that last sector, I gave everything and kissed some more walls. I am very happy to be in pole position here for the first time,” he said at the time.

Verstappen is living proof that big risks can yield big rewards. For the past three years running, he has claimed the F1 World Driver’s Championship and is a top contender to secure the victory again in 2024.

Max Verstappen: Embodying the spirit of F1’s risk-takers. Relive his daring drives and victorious moments with us.

F1 Driver #2: Michael Schumacher

Hailed as one of the most accomplished F1 drivers of all time, Michael Schumacher’s career was a rollercoaster ride.

Fiercely competitive, Schumacher was so determined to win that it drove him to take massive risks, some of which were undeniably reckless. Not to mention, some of them brought consequences to Schumacher’s career no one could have predicted.

For instance, in the 1997 World Championship, Schumacher made one of the most controversial moves in F1’s history. Driving for Ferrari, Schumacher entered the final race of the season in first place, with a one-point advantage over Jacques Villeneuve. Although he started strong, Schumacher’s coolant began to leak, indicating that he would likely not finish the race. As Villeneuve approached to overtake Schumacher, he deliberately turned in on his opponent in an attempt to stop him. Ultimately, Schumacher retired his car from the race and Villeneuve claimed the World Driver’s Championship.

While Schumacher’s dangerous manoeuvre was met with immediate criticism, the biggest blow came weeks after it happened. It was then that a disciplinary hearing deemed the action “a serious error” and disqualified Schumacher from the competition.

#3: Ayrton Senna

Revered and lovingly remembered around the globe, Ayrton Senna is one of the greatest drivers in F1 history. Known for being a risk-taker on and off the track, the Brazilian athlete displayed exceptional skill throughout his 10-year career.

From the beginning, Senna showed that his risk-taking prowess would set him apart in the league. At the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix and the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix, Senna showcased his outstanding car control in the rain, never shying away from sharp turns.

Senna himself acknowledged that risk was merely a part of the sport he loved so much. “You should know that by being a racing driver, you are under risk all the time. Being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you’re no longer a racing driver. We are competing to win, and the main motivation is to compete for victory.”

Pierre Gasly: Master of Momentum. Witness his fearless racing style that captivates and conquers the tracks.

#4: Pierre Gasly

Young and hungry, Pierre Gasly of France is another major risk-taker in Formula 1. Now driving for Alpine, Gasly has made impressive strides throughout his career, having previously driven for teams like Toro Rosso, Red Bull, and AlphaTauri. His success has been due, in large part, to his ability to take calculated risks.

One of Gasly’s biggest risks came in 2020 at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. He and his AlphaTauri team opted for an early pit stop during the race – a game-changing decision because the safety car was deployed shortly after, closing the pit lane. This meant that his opponents couldn’t pit until later on in the race, which is when he secured his first-ever Grand Prix victory.

Speaking to F1 Correspondent & Presenter Lawrence Barretto, Gasly revealed he loves to take risks on and off the racetrack.

“I do like risk, I did skydiving. I like to go fast, I just feel awake; the feeling of adrenaline inside you […] it makes you feel things you don’t feel in more normal life, in calmer situations,” he shared.

Gasly also said that his daring nature sometimes even draws him to the casino: “If I go to a casino, I would play [a bit of Roulette] and a bit of Blackjack with friends. There is risk, but I know that the money I’m going to play there is money I’m going to lose.”

From big risks that led to big rewards to those that resulted in catastrophic consequences, F1 is full of twists and turns. The 2024 F1 season is sure to be no exception, in which racers must not only battle each other but also danger itself.