Some might consider the '90s as the boom period for F1. Unlike today, at least in the early part of the '90s, different teams and drivers took home victories, a lot of that thanks to the different engine regulations from back in the day.
McLaren, Williams, Benetton and later Ferrari all became dominant in their own right. It made for spectacular viewing for those in attendance and watching at home. The momentum would continue into the 2000s with more added excitement. Some might say the boom period came to an end right around 2008, when Hamilton started to dominate the heard.
This isn’t about Lewis Hamilton or other current drivers. In this article, we look at some of the heroes from the 90s along with also shedding some light on the unsung heroes. In addition, we’ll also feature memorable drivers from the early 2000s. The big kicker is looking at the way they look today – in some cases, totally different than their glory days. Nigel Mansell just doesn’t look right without that mustache!
We’ll also give an update on what they’re currently doing, some pulled a U-turn into totally different lines of work while others stayed in the racing field, one way or another.
Enjoy the article folks and like always be sure to share it with a friend. Here’s what 13 of our favorite 90s F1 drivers look like today and 7 from the 2000s. Let’s get started!
One of the true greats in F1 history, we cannot discuss the 90s without bringing up the great Mika Hakkinen. He won his first race in 1997 and from them on there was no stopping the man from Finland. He proceeded to win back-to-back driver’s championships in 1998 and 1999. He was a runner-up to Schumacher in 2000 and his career slowly faded due to health concerns shortly after.
Nowadays, he’s conforming to the times in the tech space. Mika is the proud co-founder of a new app called, Inzdr.
Rubens really started to thrive in the 2000s getting a big break as a part of the Ferrari championship teams. However, it all began for the legendary F1 driver back in 1993, making his debut with Jordan and later teaming up with Stewart racing.
He was a runner-up in both 2002 and 2004. Despite his inability to win the big win and typically playing second fiddle to partner Schumacher, Barrichello became a big fan favorite for his infectious and lovable personality off the racing circuit. Age 46, he’s still driving but these days, he is doing so back at home over in Brazil as a stock car driver.
Sato is another lovable underdog from back in the early 2000s. He doesn’t have too many memorable finishes aside from his podium placing at the US Grand Prix back in 2004. Among the teams Sato raced with his during his F1 career; Jordan, BAR and Super Aguri.
Turning 41 just a couple of days back, Sato does his best with various charitable causes these days including his involvement alongside With You Japan Charity Program. Aside from that, you can still find him driving an Indy car.
F1 enthusiasts always remember David and his long journey with McLaren throughout the 90s and into the early 2000s. His lengthy F1 career would continue on with Red Bull racing. He finally called it a career in 2008 – a decade later, is quite obvious he’s doing well.
According to BBC, he is now quite the businessman. His recent work includes TV production, owning hotels and managing events. During his interview with BBC, David credits his Formula 1 career for his newfound success; "Having lived my life at 200 miles an hour, I'm used to making decisions at high speed and thinking quickly on my feet. That has been a real asset to me in business."
He became a hero over in Canada real quick. During his debut season with Williams, Jacques proved to the world that he was a competitor to be feared, finishing second in the championship campaign. Had it not been for lackluster F1 cars that followed, Jacques could have been up there with the best for a longer stretch of time.
Nonetheless, he is still the last driver from Canada to have won a Formula One Drivers’ Championship. Fans of the 90s driver can still find him today making sporadic appearances on various F1 related programming – given his comments in the past, he isn’t afraid to critique current drivers (we’re looking at you, Lance).
It was a memorable F1 debut for Mark Webber as he led Minardi to the team’s first points in three years. He was later shipped off to Jaguar where success was limited. His run with Red Bull finally changed things up with various podium finishes.
He finally left the racing scene in 2016 – however, he maintains a close relationship with Porsche as a sponsor. He recently tried out the new Porsche 911 GT2 R2 and given his reaction, Webber’s a big fan and advocate for the ride. He’s also the proud owner of his own apparel line – seriously, who isn’t?
The name Ralf Schumacher is finally starting to resurface. The former Jordan, Williams and Toyota driver recently conducted a couple of interviews with the likes of RAVENOL Videos and TKart Magazine. Fans are hoping for more out of the 43-year-old who kind of has a tainted reputation. According to Telegraph, Jenson Button referred to Ralf as a Diva back in the day, yikes.
Diva or not, he’s a proud dad these days, with his son David recently joining the racing circuit. Here’s to hoping the Schumacher name once again rises to the top.
He enjoyed most of his success in the 2000s, winning three F1 races. However, he made his debut in 1996 as a member of the lackluster Minardi team. It was a busy time for Giancarlo Fisichella who would move to Jordan and later Benetton before the 90s were up.
His career took an odd turn. As evidenced by his Instagram account, he works sporadically as a DJ these days – maybe he likes fast beats like fast cars.... Nonetheless, he also has various public speaking gigs along with other side projects.
Alesi is the classic example of a one-hit wonder from back in the mid-90s. To this day, it is still a talked about moment. During the Grand Prix over in Canada back in 1995, Alesi stunned the world with a first-place finish. The catch, Schumacher had electrical problems when he was just about to cross the finish line. Adding the cherry on top, it was Alesi’s 31st birthday – one he’ll never forget without a doubt.
He left F1 in the early 2000s. He remains heavily involved in the sport these days with a behind the scenes gig.
It wasn’t the easiest start to his F1 career racing with Prost, a team that is often forgotten about even from the most enthusiastic F1 fans. The same trajectory would hold true during his days with Sauber and Jordan. Things finally started to change for Nick once he joined Williams and later BMW. He is often regarded as one of the most underrated drivers of the 2000s.
After a brief career in Formula E, Nick seems to be taking it easy these days. Given his lengthy career, he earned the downtime.
Another lovable racer from Italy, Truly made his debut as a member of Minardi and later Prost. He enjoyed a lengthy Formula 1 career spanning from ’97 all the way till his final days with Caterham in 2012. Despite a long career, he had only one top finish at the Monaco Grand Prix in 2004.
Like other drivers from Italy, Trulli doesn’t shy away when discussing the current state of F1. He calls the current F1 a disappointment and hopes that changes are underway, this according to his comments with F1i.
It was a dynasty-like season for Williams during 1996 as both Villeneuve and Hill dominated the other racers. Hill won a grand total of eight races, winning the championship title in the process. Surprisingly, he was not resigned for the following season and was forced into driving slower cars from then on such as Arrows and Jordan.
He kept busy since retiring with various TV and behind the scenes gigs. Fans can catch Hill on SkyF1 as one of the top former drivers – he certainly has the credentials.
When we think of F1 and the 2000s, a name like Pablo Montoya quickly comes to mind. He had an aggressive style on the circuit – it rubbed some the wrong way while others enjoyed the theatrics involved in his racing style. He made a name for himself with both Williams and later McLaren.
Of course, he would leave F1 for a lengthy career in NASCAR. For those that aren’t aware, the 43-year-old continues to keep the dream alive, racing in the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. He’s a member of the Acura Team Penske.
What was Schumacher’s loss turned into Salo’s gain. Replacing the Ferrari driver, Salo finished on the podium twice in his six races. That turned out to be the highlight of his career – he was mainly a top ten driver in the overall championship table. Salo debuted in 1993 with Lotus and he would continue on till 2002 with the likes of Sauber and Toyota.
He had a brief stint as a reality TV personality believe or not. These days he seems to be better suited for a career behind the scenes as the director of SMP Racing.
Zonta started off in 1999 racing alongside the new B.A.R. team. In 2000, he earned the team’s first points with a sixth-place finish. For the rest of his career, Zonta was basically looked upon as a high profile replacement driver. He would also take on a role as a test driver for Renault during his final Formula 1 days.
As evidenced by his Twitter account, he’s still in the racing scene joining low profile racing leagues around the world. Age 42, the man from Brazil isn’t hanging them up just yet.
Panis might be another name regarded as a one-hit wonder in the world of F1. He won the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix as a major underdog. Somehow, he is still the last French racer to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix, now that’s pretty amazing.
These days, according to his Twitter account, Panis decided to shift gears and aid the youth – he is a self-proclaimed “athletes manager.” Panis also takes a lot of pride in his role as a father these days.
Unlike Alonso, de la Rosa didn’t enjoy the same type of success to his Spanish counterpart. However, he did earn a point in his first race, an admirable accomplishment given the rarity and difficulty involved.
F1 fans remember Pedro as the guy that joined too many racing teams. From ‘99 till 2014, de la Rosa joined seven different teams including the McLaren, Jaguar, and Ferrari. The 47-year-old is a commentator these days. He also calls himself a “movie star,” (via Twitter) but we beg to differ...
Only hardcore F1 fans remember Nigel Mansell, a former racer who enjoyed quite the career during the 80s and into the early 90s. He is currently ranked seventh for all-time wins, Mansell typically gets accolades as one of the very best ever.
Today, fans might not recognize the former Lotus and Williams driver without his signature mustache. Nonetheless, he is still very much in tune with F1. According to his recent interview with Auto Week, changing the engines and making them all similar can bring back some heavy competition similar to his time in the 80s.
Since 2013, Glock remains a member of DTM racing, taking part as a driver for BMW. Real enthusiasts might remember Glock for his brief F1 career which began in the early 2000s with Jordan. He would return in 2008, this time as a mature driver with Toyota. Success was limited and the same held true during his runs with Virgin and Marussia.
He seems to be a far better fit with DTM scoring various podium finishes – something that eluded the driver during his Formula 1 days.
He entered the F1 mix in 1993 joining Jordan. He became a popular figure for his antics both on and off the circuits. Irvine enjoyed a lengthy career with Jordan, Ferrari and his final F1 run with Jaguar. He managed decent success along with his first podium finish in 1995 with Jordan.
He’s a fun TV personality these days typically covering anything auto racing related. He also has several businesses on the side – let’s just say this F1 driver’s doing pretty well, as evidenced by all those golfing photos via social media!
Sources: Instagram, Twitter & BBC