When thinking about which drivers and countries dominate motorsport, some of the first people to come to mind are Germany’s Michael Schumacher, the UK’s Lewis Hamilton and France’s Alain Prost.
However, while these drivers have helped establish significant interest in their countries, there are several smaller nations that continue to contribute to the Formula 1 (F1) and World Rally Championship (WRC) circuit.
Nations that dominate F1
These have made a massive impact on both sports and created huge excitement in some of the world’s lesser-known provinces. The guys at SelectCarLeasing created an awesome series of infographics highlighting nations in motorsport.
The UK, US and Italy have dominated the circuit since F1’s inaugural year in 1950, featuring a combined total of 418 drivers. That figure is nearly half of the overall total of drivers that have taken part in the competition, which currently stands at 853.
This perhaps isn’t surprising given the size and the relative popularity of F1 in these countries. However, when looking at the participation rate compared to population the true hotbeds of the sport are revealed, with Switzerland steaming ahead of the competition, having had 2.9 drivers for every 1m citizens.
Europe enjoys huge dominance for participation, with eight of the top ten nations from the region, demonstrating that F1 still has some way to go before becoming a truly global sport.
The United Kingdom isn’t far behind the Swiss with 2.4 drivers for every 1m citizens and they’re followed by Belgium and New Zealand Monaco has a very large participation rate in F1 with a total of 5 drivers competing in its history, despite only having a population size of 39 000 people.
China and India have a combined population of 2.7 billion citizens but have remarkably managed just two professional drivers in F1 between them.
Out of a total of 40 nations that have competed in the sport, only 13 of these countries are home to a Driver’s Championship winner. The undeniable Kings of F1 are the UK and Germany, with a combined total of 32 wins out of a possible 69.
There has also never been a nation of under 5.5m citizens that has won a Championship. Finland remains the smallest country to have produced a driver which has claimed this coveted prize.
Nations that dominate WRC
Since it was formed in 1973, the WRC has had 1,056 drivers take part in the competition.
In terms of participation rate compared to population, Estonia comes out on top with 15.2 WRC drivers throughout its history, per 1-million citizens, while Argentina has had the most drivers in total but is eclipsed by the Estonians due to its vastly superior population size.
Understandably, WRC is very popular with Scandinavian countries and any nation which endures harsh winters.
Finland, Sweden and Norway all feature in the top 10 of participants. The alpine slopes and harsh conditions in these countries make them excellent proving grounds for rally drivers.
After only winning one WRC Championship in their history, France has now won the previous 15 in a sport largely dominated by Finland.
Although France now has 16 victories compared to Finland’s 14, Finland is still streets ahead of the competition in terms of win rate by population, with one victory for every 400 000 citizens.
As a result, one in 5.5m people in the UK has won an F1 title, in comparison to a staggering one in 33m for WRC. Since being reunified in 1990, Germany has not had a winner of WRC despite West Germany winning twice in 1980.
The countries that dominate both motorsports
Intriguingly, the overlap between F1 and WRC seems relatively minimal. Only 5 nations have won a title in both; the UK, Finland, Italy, Spain and France.
While F1 and WRC draw many similarities and often similar audiences, it’s clear that these sports enjoy markedly different support bases across the world.
And participation rate doesn’t always quite match up with wins, Estonia and Switzerland lead the way in the respective sports but, shockingly, neither has ever claimed a championship victory.