With Kimi Raikkonen set to race NASCAR, we look at other world champions for whom F1 was not enough.
By Michael Wise
Last Updated: 31/03/11 2:31pm
One of the more unlikely sports stories to appear this week has been that concerning Kimi Raikkonen and his intention to race NASCAR later this year. Quite how the Finn - he of the mumbling, monosyllabic interview technique - might blend into the fan and sponsor-friendly world of American stock car racing remains to be seen, but the 2007 F1 world champion and current World Rally Championship competitor says he is "excited about getting to know the NASCAR world" and we can only hope he gets his chance.
Why? Because it's always interesting to see how top drivers perform when they decide, for whatever reason, to branch out and try something new. It hardly ever happens nowadays - certainly not to a Formula One world champion anyway - and there is also something of the throwback in Raikkonen and his attitude that appeals: to a time when drivers could, and did, race anything.
In the spirit of such adventure, then, skysports.com pays tribute to six other world champions for whom Formula One was not enough.
The legendary Scot won the F1 world championship in both 1963 and 1965 by putting in the sorts of dominant performances Michael Schumacher would produce in his Ferrari pomp almost 40 years later. And yet Clark was also cleaning up in other categories at the same time.
Clark won the British Touring Car title in a Lotus Cortina in 1964, having almost won the Indianapolis 500 at his first attempt the year before. He eventually won the 500 in 1965, set top-10 times during a one-off appearance in the 1966 RAC Rally and also held his own when having a go at NASCAR the following year.
However, it was Clark's desire to take on any challenge that presented itself that was ultimately to prove his undoing. Accepting a drive in a Lotus F2 car at Hockenheim in 1968, the 32-year-old was killed when it left the track and crashed into trees.
Andretti is arguably the most versatile of all the world champions. Beginning his career in the rough-and-tumble of American sprint-car racing, the Italian-born Andretti graduated to what are now known as Indycars and won the title in 1965.
He won three more in a 20-year span and yet when it comes to listing Andretti's varied achievements, we're only getting started. He won at Indianapolis in 1969 (which was to prove his only success at the Brickyard, despite being in contention countless times) having triumphed in NASCAR's Daytona 500 two years earlier, whilst in between times making his F1 debut for Lotus at the 1968 United States Grand Prix - and claiming pole position at his first attempt.
It was with Lotus that Andretti won the world championship a decade later. Yet even at the height of his F1 success, he was still flitting back and forth across the Atlantic to race Stateside. Success in Formula 5000, sportscars and even the prestigious Pike's Peak Hillclimb came Andretti's way, although Le Mans success eluded him.
Andretti's career is defined as much by its longevity as its versatility. He continued racing Indycars well into his 50s, winning his last race in 1993 before retiring from full-time racing the following year aged 54.
Try as he might, Andretti failed to win motor racing's unofficial 'triple crown', which comprises victory in the Indianapolis 500, the Le Mans 24-Hour race and the Monaco Grand Prix. Hill is the only man to achieve such a feat - one which, let's face it, will likely remain unequalled.
Winner of the F1 world championship in 1962 and 1968, Monaco proved Hill's speciality and he won there five times in all (only Ayrton Senna won more). He also won the Indianapolis 500 in 1966 ahead of Clark (although there were protests that he had only completed 199 of the race's 200 laps) and, with his single-seater career on the wane, co-drove a Matra to victory at Le Mans in 1972.
The measure of Mansell's versatility is borne out by his claiming back-to-back single seater titles - but in different top-flight series. After a couple of near misses, Mansell finally won the 1992 F1 world championship at a canter before promptly departing Williams and crossing the pond to go Indycar racing.
In doing so, Mansell threw himself in at the deep end. Yet he proved to be a remarkably quick learner and ended up winning the Indycar title at his first attempt. Indeed, he won his very first Indycar race at Surfer's Paradise before going on to take four more victories. All of them, incidentally, came on oval tracks - a discipline which Mansell had no prior experience of whatsoever.
Hulme won the world championship fairly early in his F1 career in 1967. He retired at the end of the 1974 season, having won eight grands prix in all. However, it was in Can-Am racing that the New Zealander really thrived and he won that championship in both 1968 and 1970 - the second success coming the same year his fellow Kiwi (and team boss) Bruce McLaren was killed testing one of his Can-Am cars.
Hulme also raced in the Indy 500 four times (suffered burns in a practice crash in 1970) before retirement but returned to compete in touring cars in the 1980s, scoring a notable win in the Tourist Trophy at Silverstone in 1986. Tragedy was to strike six years later, however, when the 56-year-old suffered a fatal heart attack whilst competing in the Bathurst 1000 race in Australia.
Surtees can be placed in a different category altogether, in that he was already a multiple motorcycle racing world champion when he arrived in F1. He won no fewer than seven titles on two wheels, at both 350cc (1958, 1959, 1960) and 500cc (1956, 1958, 1959, 1960) level before doing the same on four wheels in 1964. Again, a feat that will probably never be matched.
Making his F1 debut in 1960, Surtees finished second in just his second grand prix at Silverstone and won the world championship for Ferrari ahead of Hill and Clark. He also earned a third-place finish at Le Mans in 1964 and, two years later, won the inaugural Can-Am title.