The best Swiss F1 drivers: Regazzoni, Siffert, Surer and Buemi

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

Surer, Buemi and Regazzoni - Swiss F1 drivers

Swiss Formula 1 driver stats

Here’s some stats based on all of the Swiss Formula 1 drivers combined:

Swiss F1 Drivers
Number of F1 drivers 31
World championship titles 0
Grand Prix competed in 387
Race wins 7
Podiums 36
Pole positions 7
Fastest laps 20
Swiss drivers on current F1 grid 0

The 4 best F1 drivers from Switzerland

As the statistics above show, there have been a total of 31 drivers from Switzerland who’ve sat in a Formula 1 car. Of those, 22 have actually competed in a Grand Prix.

I can’t go in to detail about each of the 22 as we’ll be here all day, so instead I’m going to provide an overview of the 4 standout drivers who each made their mark on the sport.

4 - Sébastien Buemi

  • Previous teams: Toro Rosso
  • First season: 2009
  • Last season: 2011
  • World championships: 0
  • Wins: 0
  • Podiums: 0
  • Pole positions: 0
  • Number of GP starts: 55
  • DOB: 31st October 1988
  • Hometown: Aigle, Switzerland

Sébastien Buemi is the most recent Swiss driver to have competed in F1. He lasted just 3 seasons in the sport, driving for Toro Rosso in each of those.

He showed a lot of promise in his first year, scoring 4 top-ten finishes including two seventh places. His second year wasn’t quite so impressive but his third year was the best with 6 top-tens, 15 points and 15th place in the championship.

Unfortunately that wasn’t enough to keep his seat and he was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo, one of the best Australian F1 drivers, the next season. He did stay on as a reserve driver for Red Bull but was never needed.

Subsequently, Buemi has gone on to have an incredibly impressive career in other forms of motorsport. He won the 2015-16 Formula E championship, dominated the FIA World Endurance category with 3 championship titles and has taken victory at the 24 hours of Le Mans 4 times. 

He’s still very much at the top of his game so I’m sure there’ll be more silverware to come.

3 - Marc Surer

  • Previous teams: Team Ensign, Team ATS, Theodore Racing Team, Arrows Racing Team, Brabham
  • First season: 1979
  • Last season: 1986
  • World championships: 0
  • Wins: 0
  • Podiums: 0
  • Pole positions: 0
  • Number of GP starts: 81
  • DOB: 18th September 1951
  • Hometown: Arisdorf, Switzerland

Marc Surer won the European Formula Two championship in 1979 and that was the final leg-up he needed to secure his place in F1, starting off with Team Ensign.

Unfortunately his career at the top wrung of the motorsport ladder got off to a bad start. He had a bad crash in qualifying for the 1980 South African Grand Prix after signing with Team ATS and broke both his ankles, putting him out until the middle of the season.

Marc Surer Swiss F1 driver

Image licensed under CC0 1.0  

After some 4th and 5th place finishes he had another bad crash at the South African GP in 1982 and again broke both ankles, putting him out for another 6 months.

1985 was his best season finishing 13th overall in the championship. He eventually retired from the sport half way through 1986 when he had a horrific crash rallying a Ford RS200 in Germany. The crash was so awful that it killed his codriver and put Marc in hospital for 6 months.

He recovered and went on to win the German Super Touring Car Championship, and then moved to coaching and commentating.

2 - Jo Siffert

  • Previous teams: Ecurie, Siffert Racing Team, Rob Walker Racing, March, BRM
  • First season: 1962
  • Last season: 1971
  • World championships: 0
  • Wins: 2
  • Podiums: 6
  • Pole positions: 2
  • Number of GP starts: 96
  • DOB: 7th July 1936
  • Hometown: Fribourg, Switzerland

Jo Siffert started racing in Formula 1 in 1962, but it wasn’t until 1968 where he got his breakthrough victory at the British Grand Prix at Brand Hatch driving a Lotus 49B for the Rob Walker Racing team.

His best season was his last, 1971, where he finished 5th in the championship with 1 win and 1 podium. At the Austrian Grand Prix he also completed a Formula 1 Grand Slam, where he qualified on pole, led every lap of the race to take victory and got the fastest lap in the process.

Jo Siffert Switzerland F1 driver

Image licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Sadly Siffert was killed at Brands Hatch, three years after he took his first victory there. His BRM suffered suspension failure, rolled over and caught fire. Siffert was unable to free himself in time.

In a show of his popularity, over 50,000 people attended his funeral in Switzerland.

1 - Clay Regazzoni

  • Previous teams: Ferrari, BRM, Ensign, Shadow Racing Team, Williams
  • First season: 1970
  • Last season: 1980
  • World championships: 0
  • Wins: 5
  • Podiums: 28
  • Pole positions: 5
  • Number of GP starts: 132
  • DOB: 5th September 1939
  • Hometown: Mendrisio, Switzerland

Regazzoni had a fairlytale start to his Formula 1 career, starting out driving for the best racecar on the grid – a Ferrari. The pace was there from the off; he took a 4th place finish at his very first race in 1970. As if things couldn’t get any better, he then took his maiden victory at the Italian Grand Prix, home of Ferrari and their adoring Tifosi. 

Despite missing the first four races of the season, he finished third in the championship in his rookie season. Who know what he could have managed had he been at the wheel of the prancing horse for the whole year.

Clay Regazzoni

Image licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

1974 was his best year overall, finishing second in the championship despite not winning a race. It wouldn’t be until 1975 that his second victory would come, again for Ferrari. That was followed up the next season with one more win at the Long Beach Grand Prix.

After a year driving for Ensign and Shadow Racing Teams each, he then jumped in the Williams for 1979. At the British Grand Prix that year he took victory, giving Frank Williams his first ever win in Formula One.

His racing career ended in 1980 after a crash at the US GP left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Clay Regazzoni was not only the most successful of all the F1 drivers from Switzerland, he an all time g

Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 312T

Image licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport travel guides based on my experience as racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who are planning on watching some racing themselves.

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