The definitive-until-we-decide-otherwise countdown of the greatest F1 moustaches, sideburns, Van Dykes, goatees, soul patches, mutton chops, whiskers, facefuzz and, of course, beards.
10. Joe Fry/Baron Emmanuel “Toulo” de Graffenried
The ones that started it all? We believe they might be. Joe and Toulo participated in the first F1 World Championship race, the 1950 British Grand Prix, and though their results were not stellar – six laps down in 10th and DNF respectively – they stood apart from all other entrants. These brave men, racing with their faces unfettered by the crash helmets and fireproof balaclavas of today, bore their moustaches proudly in a field of lesser, clean-shaven men. To hell with any possible aerodynamic inefficiency – they were pioneers.
9. Vijay Mallya
There’s no reason why the levels of precision involved in F1 today cannot extend to a person’s personal grooming, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more exquisitely carved Van Dyke beard than the one adorning the face of Force India team owner Vijay. Hardly the only man to choose the Van Dyke as facial decoration – Gascoyne, Bonnier, Barrichello, Pescarolo, Massa and Hill (Junior) to name but a few have all gone this route before – but something about Vijay’s really impresses us; perhaps it’s the way the sunlight glints from that silvery stubble— sorry, this is getting a bit weird now, we’ll stop.
8. Keke Rosberg/Nigel Mansell/Clay Regazzoni
It’s a dead heat between Nigel, Keke and Clay for their solid, thick and lustrous moustache-based facefuzz efforts. Each driver put their own spins on the concept of the lip fringe; Nigel’s fine caterpillar, Clay’s expansive draught excluder and Keke’s Asterix look all legendary in their own ways. All three lose beardpoints, however, for their periods of clean-shavenness. We can only assume that these were the result of mid-life crises.
7. Lewis Hamilton
So you wanna be a rap superstar, live large, a big house, five cars? Perhaps there’s a good reason why Cypress Hill fail to mention the necessity of a chinstrap in their song “(Rap) Superstar”. Yes, Lewis Hamilton’s recent adventures in fuzz forming deserve a place in the top ten for their comedy value. The chinstrap has been absent from Lewis’s face of late, broken up into sideburns and a rather minimalist goatee, but do we actually miss it? Maybe we do. A little bit. Brap brap.
6. Graham Hill
Possibly taking fashion cues from the nefarious villains of the silent film era, Graham’s finely honed Errol Flynn moustache is truly iconic, as much a part of his legend as his wit, his London Rowing Club helmet colours and his five (count ‘em!) victories at Monaco. The quintessential Englishman’s tenure in Formula One spanned almost seventeen years; amidst changing cars and changing fashions, other, lesser facial agriculture might have wilted. Faded away. Not Graham’s – his tenacious moustache endured all. We salute it.
5. Ivan Capelli
A controversial choice, this. Ivan remained disappointingly clean-shaven throughout his ninety-eight race F1 career; under normal circumstances this would mean there was no place for him in our top ten. However, his beardular activities – “fuzztivities”, if you will – since then have been absolutely superlative. Not content to stick to one style, Ivan has become a beard artist, going from fuzz-free to goatee to Van Dyke to unhindered beardliness and lots more inbetween. A willingness to experiment and entertain earns him a high placing on this countdown. Where might this follicular prowess come from? Well, his surname is Italian for ‘hair’…
4. Emerson Fittipaldi
The fastest sideburns in the world? Possibly. The greatest sideburns in F1 history? Undoubtedly. Emmo saw Wee Jackie Stewart’s sideburns, saw how fast he was going, and came to the zen-like conclusion that, to have greater speed, he must have greater sideburns. Last year Emerson regrew his mighty mutton chops to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his first Grand Prix victory; we like to think that he was also celebrating the mighty power of the ‘burns. Honorable mentions in this category include Graham Hill, Ronnie Peterson, François Cevert and most other people from the seventies.
3. Nick Heidfeld
Rumour has it that Nick’s Latin name is Capillus Capillus. Taking his first tentative steps into beard-dom in late 2006, Nick has fully embraced his follicular calling for almost half a decade. Other so-called “men” in modern F1 fear a beard as mighty as his; amongst the drivers his closest challenger is Jenson Button, whose everpresent stubble can only wither in the face of such…alright, maybe we’re overselling it. But one thing is true – Nick’s beard is certainly highest in the current wanking ranking.
Interestingly, an early prototype of the “Heidbeard” was run by the Germanically named Italian Siegfried Stohr during his brief tenure at Arrows in 1981. Sadly we must report that he is no longer loyal to the beard cause.
2. Fernando Alonso
If Lewis gets a place on the countdown on comedy value, so too must Fernando. What look was he going for? What did he see in the mirror as he gradually sculpted it? Matador? Magician? Villainous villain? At Ferrari and Ducati’s annual media event at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in northern Italy, Fernando emerged from this year’s winter break with a Van Dyke and admirably terrible sunglasses. A month later it was gone – the man himself claiming his mother didn’t like it – but the affection for terrible sunglasses remained. His other attempts at beardliness, though frequent, have been largely poor in comparison.
1. Harald Ertl
Journalist, racing driver, beard cultivator. There really is no-one else worthy of the number one spot on this list, because this is about much more than a bushy, impressive beard – this is about a bushy, impressive beard with a vast handlebar moustache. Did a breathtakingly bewhiskered Harald have extra courage to help pull Niki Lauda from the burning wreck of his Ferrari at the Nurburgring in 1976? Did his beard ever stick out of the bottom of his helmet? We may never know*. Harald Ertl is the honorary patron saint of #F1BEARDWATCH. Long may he watch over us.
*We haven’t checked. Probably not.
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