5 Legendary Drivers Who Won Both the F1 Drivers' Title and the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Throughout the last 100 years, many legendary drivers competed in both the Formula 1 championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, only five won the F1 Drivers' title and the famous endurance race.
Formula 1 and Le Mans Champions 15 photos
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Autoevolution
Mike HawthornMike Hawthorn Driving for Ferrari in Formula 1Mike Hawthorn Driving for Jaguar at Le MansJochen RindtJochen Rindt Driving for Lotus in Formula 1Jochen Rindt Driving for NART at Le MansPhil Hill and his Ferrari 330 TRI/LM Spyder at Le MansPhil Hill Driving for Ferrari in Formula 1Graham HillGraham Hill Driving for Lotus in Formula 1Graham Hill Driving for Matra-Simca at Le MansFernando AlonsoFernando Alonso Driving for Renault in Formula 1Fernando Alonso Driving for Toyota at Le Mans
Now the oldest, most prestigious race of its kind, the 24 Hours of Le Mans was held for the first time in the spring of 1923. The idea behind the event was to offer drivers and motorsport fans a fundamentally different alternative to a traditional Grand Prix (later, Formula 1) race, prioritizing reliability and fuel efficiency rather than speed.

Though endurance racing has always been a different, more demanding experience than Formula 1, many established drivers have competed in both disciplines throughout the last 100 years.

Of those, drivers like Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell, or, more recently, Sébastien Buemi managed to win the prestigious 24-hour race multiple times but had average careers in Formula 1.

Similarly, Formula 1 champs like Michael Schumacher or Jenson Button competed at Le Mans but never got to add an overall win to their resumes.

However, these five icons managed to win both Le Mans and the F1 Drivers' Championship, earning a place on the front pages of motorsport history books.

Mike Hawthorn

Mike Hawthorn
Photo: The Cahier Archive via Wikimedia Commons
Englishman John Michael Hawthorn started racing in local sports car competitions in 1950. Two years later, he switched to single-seaters, where he showed a lot of promise and caught the eye of Enzo Ferrari, who offered him the chance to test a Prancing Horse.

He debuted at Spa, the third race of the 1952 season, and ultimately finished the campaign fourth, driving a Cooper-Bristol.

Hawthorn became a F1 works driver for Ferrari in 1953, and although he had brief stints with Vanwall, British Racing Motors (BRM), and a non-works Maserati team, he spent most of his career driving a Prancing Horse, with which he became champion in 1958.

But he also took a short break from Formula 1 in 1955, joining fellow British team Jaguar in its effort to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Sharing the beautiful D-Type with Ivor Bueb, Hawthorn crossed the finish line first, and after claiming the 1958 Formula 1 title, he became the first driver to win both Le Mans and the F1 Drivers' Championship.

Unfortunately, this legendary driver's story has a tragic ending. Profoundly impacted by the death of his teammate and friend Peter Collins at Nürburgring four rounds before the end of the 1958 season, Hawthorn decided to retire after lifting the trophy. Only three months into his retirement, the 29-year-old reigning Formula 1 champion passed away in a car crash.

Jochen Rindt

Jochen Rindt
Photo: Joost Evers via Wikimedia Commons
German-born Karl Jochen Rindt made a name for himself in Formula Junior and Formula 2 during the early 1960s, then arrived in Formula 1 in 1964.

He spent his F1 career driving for Cooper, Brabham, and Lotus but also took part in sports car racing events, including Le Mans, where he competed four times during the second part of the 1960s.

Rindt's best result at the legendary 24-hour race came in 1965 while driving a Ferrari 250 LM for Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing Team (NART). That year the Ford vs. Ferrari battle entered its second round, but much to everyone's surprise, both manufacturers' works prototypes were plagued by various mechanical issues that forced all of them to retire.

In what became one of motorsport's biggest upsets, the no. 21 Ferrari shared by Rindt and American Masten 'Kansas City Flash' Gregory finished the race first.

Jochen Rindt died in September 1970, at the age of 28, while driving a Lotus 72 during a practice session at Monza. With a sizable lead in the standings and only three rounds left, he became the only driver in the history of Formula 1 to receive the World Drivers' Championship posthumously after the 1970 season ended.

Phil Hill

Phil Hill and his Ferrari 330 TRI/LM Spyder at Le Mans
Photo: Ferrari
Born in Miami, Florida, in 1927, Phil Hill started racing in the US at a young age, but he became a motorsport legend across the Pacific, where he competed in Formula 1 and the World Sportscar Championship.

Hill drove for many teams during his illustrious career, including Shelby American, but his greatest achievements came behind the wheel of a Ferrari.

Hill was one of those rare drivers who raced in the World Sportscar Championship and Formula 1 simultaneously. The American competed at Le Mans fourteen times, winning the race on three occasions (1958, 1961, and 1962).

In the world's premier single-seat competition, he won the Drivers' Championship in 1961 as a Scuderia Ferrari driver - despite only winning two races that season. That made him the first and only American-born driver to win the coveted F1 title.

Even more impressive, Phill Hill is the only driver in the history of motorsport to win the Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship, the 24-Hours of Le Mans race, and the World Sportscar Championship in the same season.

Graham Hill

Graham Hill
Photo: Fotocollectie Anefo via Wikimedia Commons
Unlike the other illustrious drivers on this list, Graham Hill didn't begin racing at a young age. He got his driver's license at 24 and started his motorsport career a year later. Despite that, the British driver was a rare talent who rose to fame quickly.

He competed in 176 Formula 1 races from 1958 to 1975, winning the Drivers' Championship in 1963 with BRM and 1968 with Lotus.

Hill also loved the 24-Hours of Le Mans, where he competed ten times. His only victory came in 1972, at age 43 when he crossed the finish line behind the wheel of a Matra-Simca MS670.

A versatile driver who raced in many competitions based in Europe and North America, Graham Hill is the only person to win the three most legendary races in motorsport (aka the Triple Crown): the Monaco Grand Prix, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Indianapolis 500.

Hill raced until the ripe age of 46 and would have probably continued to do so, having not been for a plane crash that claimed his life in 1970.

While driving for Williams, his son, Damon, carried the torch and won the Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship in 1996. Damon Hill also tried to follow in his dad's footsteps at Le Mans in 1989 but didn't get to finish the race.

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso
Photo: Toyota Motor Company
Fernando Alonso, the only active driver on our list, was born in Oviedo, Spain, in 1981 and began kart racing only three years later.

By the age of 20, he was one of the most promising young drivers on the planet, making his Formula 1 debut with Minardi. A 2002 season as a Renault test driver followed, then, in 2003, he got a permanent seat with the team.

Two years later, Alonso won his first Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship with Renault and defended it the following season after an epic battle with the legendary Michael Schumacher.

In an era when professional drivers usually focus on a single discipline, the Spaniard - who currently competes in Formula 1 for Aston Martin - is one of the very few who was successful in several competitions, like the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), where he won the Drivers' title with Toyota in his debut season (2018-2019).

Co-driving the TS050 Hybrid with Sébastien Buemi, and Kazuki Nakajima, Alonso also won the 24-Hours of Le Mans in 2018 and 2019. That makes him the only driver in motorsport history to win the Formula 1 Drivers' Championship and the 24-Hours of Le Mans twice.
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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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