The Formula 1 grid this year contains six world champions and a depth of talent that stands comparison with any era of the sport.
So at a time when the current field is blessed with so many great drivers, it seems appropriate to reflect on the great names of the past, and how the current top names compare.
BBC Sport will this year run down a list of 20 of the greatest drivers in F1 history, revealing one on the Tuesday before every grand prix, starting next week ahead of the season-opening race in Australia.
The list has been compiled by the BBC F1 team. Each member was asked to come up with their own personal list of the 20 greatest drivers since F1 started in 1950. The rankings provided were combined to produce a BBC F1 top 20, which we will count down through the season from 20 to one.
The BBC list does not pretend to be a definitive all-time top 20 - all such things are in any case subjective, given the difficulty of comparing drivers from different eras.
But what it does is highlight just what a golden age F1 is going through at the moment. Four of the 20 drivers on the list are racing in 2012. Two other current drivers only just missed out, being ranked in 22nd and 23rd places overall when the lists were combined.
That underlines why Ferrari's Fernando Alonso - inarguably one of the greatest drivers of this era - felt moved to say earlier this year that "the level of the championship [is] higher than ever".
The coming season is one to relish - both of itself and in the context of a sport with rich history. A history into which we hope to provide an interesting insight this year.
Number 01 - Ayrton Senna
Number 02 - Juan Manuel Fangio
Number 03 - Jim Clark
Number 04 - Michael Schumacher
Number 05 - Alain Prost
Number 06 - Sir Stirling Moss
Number 07 - Jackie Stewart
Number 08 - Sebastian Vettel
Number 09 - Niki Lauda
Number 10 - Fernando Alonso
Number 11 - Alberto Ascari
Number 12 - Gilles Villeneuve
Number 13 - Nigel Mansell
Number 14 - Mika Hakkinen
Number 15 - Lewis Hamilton
Number 16 - Nelson Piquet
Number 17 - Emerson Fittipaldi
Number 18 - Jack Brabham
Number 19 – Graham Hill
Number 20 – Jochen Rindt
Lets hope he can make up a few more positions by the end of the season.
Mod edit - over the course of this season, BBC are doing the a list of top 20 greatest drivers' of all time, compiled by them. Everyone in their team has been asked, with all of their top 20's being bundled into this list. By November, we shall know Number 1. Keep this thread for the top 20 list and discussion please.
Edited by D.M.N., 02 November 2012 - 18:57.
adding 8 and 9