Today’s Formula 1 drivers are typically manscaped to within an inch of their lives, and there are an assortment of different looks up and down the grid, with a number of drivers sporting beards or some stylised facial fuzz at many a Grand Prix.
Of today’s breed, Jenson Button, Giedo van der Garde and Jean-Éric Vergne are regularly seen to be sporting beards a few millimetres long. Mark Webber will be clean-shaven in the morning and have a near full beard by lunchtime. Lewis Hamilton alternates between horrific sideburns, a chinstrap and a very precise goatee.
Rewind the clock a huge sideburns were all the rage, Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi rivalled each other for the fastest sideburns in Formula 1.
But with Movember almost underway and with the pit lane set to be awash with moustaches of various lengths, colours and textures, we thought our latest Top 10 feature should embark on a countdown ten of of Formula 1’s most famous (or infamous) furry faces…
10. Fernando Alonso
Unlike his distinctive eyebrows, Fernando’s facial fuzz has gone through several iterations over his long Formula 1 career, and he’s worked his way from being completely clean-shaven right the way to a full beard and back again.
We had the little bit of chin fluff in his Renault days, followed by some experimentation with goatees and even the odd van Dyke. Occasionally there has been an almost full beard, before it was quickly whipped off by a razor.
But perhaps nothing tops the effort witnessed during the 2012 pre-season, where, at Ferrari’s annual Wrooom! ski event (yes, there are three ‘o’s), he presented to the press with this monstrous part matador/wizard/villain van Dyke effort, capped off with a Puma toiletry bag for headwear.
Fact: Fernando has an alopecia patch on his right jawline shaped like a duck.
9. Maurice Trintignant
France’s Maurice Trintignant was certainly one of the men who set the hairy upper lip trend in modern-era Formula 1.
Over a a fifteen-year career which spanned from 1950 to 1964, Trintignant’s face and his distinctive moustache raced without the fettering of unsightly visors against lesser, clean-shaven opponents.
Perhaps proving that his furry features were something of an aerodynamic hindrance, his only two Grand Prix victories both came at Monaco.
8. Vijay Mallya
Even a beard is capable of looking like it’s gone through the design skills of Adrian Newey, and perhaps no one’s face follicles exemplify this more than Force India team principal Vijay Mallya.
Of late, Mallya has seemingly done away with the full Van Dyke, and instead opted for a moustache-and-chin-fluff approach – perhaps he was trying to avoid his creditors and his airline’s unpaid employees while attending the Indian Grand Prix…
Others before and after have tried to copy the burly beer baron – Rubens Barrichello, Mike Gascoyne, Damon Hill, to name a few – but none cam match the sheer perfection of that beard. OK, this is getting a little obsessive now…
7. Keke Rosberg
Perennially nicotine-stained on account of his many years spent smoking through his racing career, Keke Rosberg’s moustache could usually be found planted firmly above the filter of a heavily-sucked Marlboro cigarette.
People used to joke that Keke had a little hole drilled in the front of his helmet so he could have a smoke mid-race, but it also served to keep that droopy Asterix-like face fuzz in perfectly symmetrical condition.
6. Clay Regazzoni
Clay Regazzoni’s just beats his contemporary, Keke Rosberg, in the moustache stakes. While Keke sported a more walrus-like look, Clay’s was firmer, thicker. You could have shaved it off and used it to stuff cushions.
5. Graham Hill
We’re not sure if the Wacky Races villain, Dick Dastardly, was modelled on Graham Hill’s styling, but the likeness is certainly striking. Take Hill’s London Rowing Club helmet stripes and compare them with the striped scheme on Dastardly.
Take also the pencil-thin Errol Flynn style moustache sported by both, although Graham’s didn’t quite have the length of his animated counterpart.
Perhaps there the similarities end. The only trap Graham set for his rivals was into tricking them that he was a mere mortal on the race track. A record of two World Championships, fourteen wins (including a then-unheralded five at Monaco!) mark him out as one of the sport’s greatest. The moustache stuck with him – or he with it – through every one of his seventeen years in top-flight Formula 1.
4. Nigel Mansell
The man dubbed as having “the fastest moustache since Erroll Flynn” is an instant inclusion on this shortlist.
“Beneath the British helmet, his upper lip stiff, his teeth gritted and his moustache bristling, even though squashed flat by his balaclava, Mansell had nothing to ward Piquet off with except sheer skill.” – Clive James
Post-F1, Nigel opted to ditch the moustache and has remained caterpillar-free on that upper lip virtually ever since.
3. Dieter Zetsche
Dieter Zetsche is not a name you’d typically find on the lips of many Formula 1 fans, but Zetsche is Chairman of Management Board and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler AG. Basically, he’s the bigwig that Toto Wolff, Niki Lauda and Ross Brawn (for the moment at least) are answerable to.
Armed with an engineering doctorate, readers in North America might recall him as the face of the ‘Ask Dr Z’ advertising campaigns for DaimlerChrysler.
But just look at that magnificent moustache. Enough said, really…
2. Nick Heidfeld
The ultra-quiet German took his first baby steps into facial hair growing in late 2006, promptly ensuring that he didn’t look like a thirteen-year-old who’d stumbled onto a Formula 1 grid.
And it’s a look that ‘Quick Nick’ has kept ever since, ranging from a neatly trimmed goatee into a wilder ‘Wolfman’.
Few of today’s racers can sport – and keep – the facial fuzz quite as well as Nick.
1. Harald Ertl
There really could only be one winner: a journalist-turned-racer and serial facial hair aficionado.
We speak of course of the late Harald Ertl, Of course there’s that impressive bushy beard, but what’s really eye-catching is that enormous handlebar moustache.
Quite how on earth he got his head into that helmet among all those whiskers is one thing. How he didn’t singe all that fur when pulling Niki Lauda out of his fiery Ferrari at the Nurburgring is something else.
Harald may not have been the fastest moustache in Formula 1, but his certainly was the best.
This countdown was inspired by McLaren’s ‘Movember F1 Mo Bros’ project. Click here to learn more about it.
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