Whether it’s the enormous mutton chops of Emerson Fittipaldi, the debonair pencil moustache of Graham Hill or the bushier affairs sported by the likes of Nigel Mansell or Keke Rosberg, there have been plenty of F1 drivers with memorable facial hair.
But when it comes to a full-on covering of face furniture, things are a bit rarer. Thankfully there have been a few superb examples of beard cultivation, so on World Beard Day (because of course that’s a thing) we thought we’d take a look at some of the more majestic examples of proper beardage from throughout F1 history.
Nick Heidfeld may have only won a single race this century, but he definitely knew how to come out on top when it comes to beard growth. For the second half of the 2000s Nick Heidfeld’s beard was the zenith of F1 facial hair, far surpassing Jenson Button’s patchy efforts. And this was before growing a beard had become properly trendy again – once he left F1, beards a stubble starting cropping up all over the grid, surely making him something of a trend setter.
For much of the early part of his F1 career John Watson wore a glorious beard. Sadly it became lost in the sands of time following a bet he had with his team boss Roger Penske in 1976.
Roger wanted his team to be clean-shaven, but John was attached to his beard and said he’d only shave it off if he won a race. In Austria that year Watson took a somewhat unexpected victory and kept his word, shaving it off the following morning.
Danny Ric often has some kind of beard on the go, but at the 2014 United States GP he came up with something really special. Ever the joker, he paid homage to COTAs location in Texas with a special style which he dubbed “the gorgeous beard/mo” and it looked fantastic.
The best F1 beard of all time? It has to be, right? Harald Ertl was a journalist who just happened to be a pretty good racing driver. He worked his way up to F1 and though results were unmemorable, his facial hair was unforgettable. Teaming a full beard with a proper handlebar moustache was an inspired combination.
For a while the Force India boss had the most impeccably-trimmed geometric goatee around. Whether it was because of the perfectly straight edges or glistening grey tinge it was often hard to look away from. It’s a pity he’s ditched the style for a slightly wilder look these days.
In the early days of F1 the finely-trimmed moustache was de rigueur for facial hair, but Swedish driver Jo Bonnier bucked the trend with his gruff dark goatee, making him look anything but Swedish. In the days of open faced helmets it probably wasn’t a bad move, if only to keep his face warm!
Over the years Fernando Alonso has gone through various styles of beard, including a particularly hilarious one during his time at Ferrari that made him look like a bad guy from a cartoon. But perhaps his best beard isn’t the one that looks the most dramatic, but that one that made a statement.
Fernando took on a new clean-cut look when he first joined McLaren in 2007, but after the shenanigans of the Hungarian Grand Prix he was fed up trying to please Ron Dennis, so when he turned up in the paddock for the Turkish GP he paid his boss the ultimate insult: he had a beard.
Beards aren’t just fashion statements, they can serve a practical purpose too, as with sportscar ace and 70s F1 driver Henri Pescarolo. During testing for Le Mans in 1969 he had a terrible crash which left him with a badly burned face. He elected to grow a full beard to cover up his scarring, and he’s kept it pretty much ever since.
What are some of your favourite F1 driver beards? Show us in the comments!