Jeremy Clarkson’s most outrageous F1 quotes: Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen be warned

Oliver Harden
Jeremy Clarkson looks like he's upset somebody again.

Jeremy Clarkson looks like he's upset somebody again. Monaco Grand Prix, 2014.

Jeremy Clarkson’s tongue has made a habit of digging him into a hole over the years, with his observations on Meghan Markle recently landing the former host of the BBC’s Top Gear in hot water.

He may be a divisive character but Clarkson last week turned his focus on the shortcomings of Formula 1 (see our recommended section below), declaring the pinnacle of motor racing to be a poor spectator sport and questioning the modern emphasis on drivers managing their pace throughout races.

With these observations far more interesting than anything to come out of the mouths of former drivers masquerading as television pundits, here’s our collection of Clarkson’s best and most outrageous F1-related quotes…

“I like him. He’s far too small, obviously, and his haircut is ridiculous.”

On former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone (2016)

“There is nothing on your Vauxhall Astra that was developed in F1. Nothing.”

F1 engineers like to think the technology behind a race-winning F1 car eventually ends up on the road. Jezza disagrees (2016)

“Every race weekend, Lewis Hamilton gets out of his car and thanks the crowd – presumably hoping we at home can’t hear them booing.”

Such a great crowd here, how you guys doin’? (The Sun, 2021)

“No, Toto. We don’t care about digital. We just want to see a crash.”

On Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff’s assertion that new F1 owners Liberty Media would transform the sport’s social media reach (2016)

“People love Max Verstappen but they’ve taken a noisy dislike to Lewis. The problem is that Lewis has changed. When he first came on to the scene he was bright and talented and normal – and everyone loved him. But then he decided to go woke and right-on and more politically correct than a student union AGM. After the murder of George Floyd, he had Mercedes paint the cars black, he talks about how he’s now green because he sold his jet and has urged everyone to be vegetarian. All this might work well on social media but in the real world, where people live, it doesn’t work at all. And this is a problem for the green movement. They get Lewis to be a mouthpiece thinking he’ll convert the rest of us. But instead, we all just want to throw something at him.”

On Hamilton embracing a variety of causes over recent years (The Sun, 2021)

“Andrew Lloyd Webber didn’t actually ask in so many words if Red Bull could improve its rear-wing design, but I could see he was thinking it.”

On the Abu Dhabi title decider capturing the imagination of everyone, including theatre impresarios (2021)

“You’ve got Lewis Hamilton, who is so hilariously on message, he’s off it. He stands there with his serious tax-dodging but knighted face telling everyone to cut their emissions, while circumnavigating the globe so that he can race a 1,000-horsepower car that was sponsored by a company whose insulation was on Grenfell Tower.”

Introducing the first of the title contenders (The Sunday Times, 2021)

“Then there’s Max Verstappen, who’s a yob. His dad, Jos, a Dutch racing driver from the 1990s, was convicted of threatening his wife and violating a restraining order.”

No bias here as Verstappen gets the Clarkson treatment too (The Sunday Times, 2021)

“For what it’s worth, I think Max is probably better as a helmsman. He just seems to be able to get more out of the car than it is capable of delivering. His qualifying lap in Saudi Arabia last weekend was probably the best driving I’ve seen. Right up to the point when he crashed.”

On the greatest lap there never was by Verstappen in Jeddah (The Sunday Times, 2021)

“I’m watching the cars on the road outside my house. It’s more interesting than this Monaco shit show.”

He wasn’t impressed with last year’s delayed race in Monaco (Twitter, 2022)

“But when it comes to wheel-to-wheel racing, Lewis probably has the edge. When the chips are down, he gets canny. He’s cleverer. More calculating. So we have a battle of maths versus violence. One of them is playing chess in Reykjavik and the other’s in a bare-knuckle cage on a hot night in Bangkok.” 

On the clash of styles between title rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton (The Sunday Times, 2021)

“The normal F1 coverage is awful. You have a bunch of guys in stupendously tight trousers talking for hours about what might happen before the race. They’re so keen to demonstrate that they’re in the inner circle that they use the same terms as the teams use, and the same acronyms, seemingly unbothered by the fact that no one in the real world knows what deg is. And take those headphones off your head, and don’t wear such big microphone packs, you buffoons.”

Wonder which TV pundits he’s referring to… (The Sunday Times, 2021)

“When they finally shut up, we get a terrible rendition of the host country’s turgid national anthem, followed by a frantic first corner, followed by a two-hour race that sounds like waves breaking on a beach. It’s Mogadon with turbocharging and is so sonorous, I never, ever, get to lap three without falling asleep.”

Not much to like about F1 really, is there? (The Sunday Times, 2021)

“It showed us the glamour and the excitement, but it also showed us the warts and the STIs.”

On the Netflix effect (The Sunday Times, 2021)

“I hope you’ll forgive the rather rambling nature of this week’s column, but this is a sport I’ve loved all my life and for the first time ever it’s socially acceptable to talk about it.”

Pre-Abu Dhabi (The Sunday Times, 2021)


“It’s almost certain that you couldn’t put up a picture like that in the BBC today. Drink, smoking, fast cars and girls are all not allowed. And yet F1 has edged its way from those days to this weekend and survived. Which means I can finish off now by saying loudly and proudly: go, Max. You may be a Belgian yob, but I’m rooting for you, boy.”

So he was on Max’s side after all… (The Sunday Times, 2021)

“That stewards’ decision is wrong. It’s like the VAR handball. What is the point of these idiots?”

During the Abu Dhabi decider (Twitter, 2021) 

“Delighted with the result but the stewards need to be banned. We’ve had enough of them. Very, very dignified from Lewis Hamilton.”

After the Abu Dhabi decider (Twitter, 2021)

“I wonder how many people would watch athletics if they thought half the competitors were not going as fast as they could. To prolong the life of their shoes.”

On Red Bull and Mercedes drivers going as slowly as possible to protect their tyres in Saudi Arabia (The Sun, 2023)

“This is the problem with Formula 1 as a live event. You have to be very lucky to see an incident, even if you do it’s usually over in a flash and there are no slow-motion replays to help you understand what caused it. This, then, is a sport that has only ever really worked on television.”

On the frustration of watching F1 from trackside (The Sunday Times, 2023)

“In the first race, you overtook Eyebrow man.”

Clarkson has a unique nickname for Fernando Alonso in conversation with Lewis Hamilton (Top Gear, 2007)

“So who do you want to be your team-mate next year? I mean, somebody useless presumably?”

To Hamilton on the identity of his 2008 team-mate (Top Gear, 2007)

“When I go to Stamford Bridge, I want to see Chelsea win. But in F1 no one has ever really cared who gets to stand on the top step. And we’ve never really known the drivers because, unless they went on to be Michael Schumacher, they were just men in helmets with silly Eurotrash names.”

On faceless F1 drivers (The Sunday Times, 2023)

“After 1973 I don’t recall going to another race until Monaco in 1985. And I missed that because I was in a police cell in in Cannes. I went again a few years ago to stay on a friend’s boat in the harbour, and missed it again because I overdid it the night before and overslept. It didn’t matter, though, because watching F1 live was dull. And I didn’t care who won… I still watched on TV every other Sunday, but deep down I knew it was a snorefest.”

Watching the Monaco Grand Prix from a yacht in the harbour is a tough life, eh? (The Sunday Times, 2023)

“I feel sorry for the poor chap these days. In the past he’d rush up and down the grid before the action started, trying to grab a few words with the Eurotrash-helmet men that no one at home knew. But we do know them now, so there’s no point. And anyway he couldn’t find a driver even if he wanted to because, post-Netflix, the grid is now invariably filled to overflowing with bewildered celebrities who don’t know who he is. And who just want to meet that guy from Haas who swears a lot.”

On the Netflix effect has changing Martin Brundle’s grid walk for the worse (The Sunday Times, 2023) recommends

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“I’ve often wondered: you know in Abu Dhabi? On the podium they’re given rosewater, not champagne. So if Kimi’s coming third, he’s thinking, ‘I’ve got to go on the podium for 20 minutes and drink rosewater.’ *mimics car problem* ‘Oh no, I’m fourth! I can go straight to my motorhome and have a beer!'”

On Kimi not really fancying a champagne-less podium in Abu Dhabi (The Grand Tour) 

“He was sort of like the knight in Monty Python with no arms and legs. He’s still going to carry on racing, even though he didn’t really have a car any more.”

On his admiration for Ferrari legend Gilles Villeneuve (Formula 1 website, 2022)

“It’s still my lucky number. I still always choose 27 whenever I’ve got the opportunity – because of Gilles Villeneuve. If I see the number 27 in any context, whether I’m betting on a horse or anything, if it’s 27 I will always bet 27 – because of Gilles Villeneuve. I definitely had pictures of his racing car on the wall. I bought a Ferrari because of Gilles Villeneuve, the 355. I loved Ferraris because of Gilles Villeneuve. And [the 355] had to be red. And I damn nearly painted 27 on the side of it…”

More Villeneuve love (Formula 1 website, 2022)

“I dashed out of the lift, raced past the bar – I was that excited – and took up my place on the balcony as the starting lights went out. There was noise and soon a snake of cars whizzed past. And then there was less noise for a while, and then they whizzed past again and I realised I didn’t actually know who was where in the line-up.” 

Watching F1 from trackside might be atmospheric, but what about knowing who’s who on the run to Turn 1? (The Sunday Times, 2023)

“When Max Verstappen first burst on to the Formula 1 scene, we all loved his exuberant style and his get-out-of-my-way yobbery. So despite the controversy, we were all thrilled when he won his first World Championship. And even more thrilled when he won his second. But then, during one brief radio message in the closing stages of last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, everyone suddenly decided that actually he was a bastard.”

On Verstappen defying Red Bull’s orders in Brazil (The Sun, 2022)

“What is important is that Max disobeyed his boss and publicly came across as a spoiled, entitled brat who simply doesn’t understand the concept of kindness. He may think he’s the best in the business and he probably is. But that car of his is so much faster than everyone else’s you could put Rachel Riley in it and she’d still win most grands prix by half an hour.”

Anyone could do Max’s job, apparently (The Sun, 2022)

“I’d rather watch these [flowers] grow than watch a Formula 1 race – and I love Formula 1 motor racing.”

On his passion for F1 being severely tested (Drivetribe, 2019)

“Get rid of the stewards. Dangerous driving is what the fans want, so if somebody does dangerous driving I’d give them an extra five Championship points.”

Nikita Mazepin approves… (Drivetribe, 2019)

“Fuck off. All of you, fuck off. I want to see Villeneuve and Arnoux wheel to wheel, last lap of the French Grand Prix. And if Ferrari don’t like that, they can fuck off as well. In fact, Mercedes can fuck off. They can all fuck off. And Ferrari saying, ‘oh, we have marketing strategies’ and Mercedes saying… oh, fuck off, the lot of you. Let’s turn it into a proper sport again and not some health-and-safety exercise.”

The swear jar was filling up a bit there… (Drivetribe, 2019)

“Sorry I was ranting a bit there but they can all fuck off, the lot of them.”

And again… (Drivetribe, 2019)


“When you get to the point when I am watching a tennis final and not Silverstone and my son – who grew up with cars obviously – is watching the cricket rather than Formula 1, something is wrong with Formula 1.”

He wasn’t the only one looking elsewhere on the day of the 2019 British Grand Prix… (Drivetribe 2019)

“The governing body needs to look at what cricket did. I’m not cricket fan, but they need to look at what cricket did. They had a five-day, boring sport and they turned it into what we saw – I didn’t see but what I’m told we saw – in the final of the World Cup: Super Overs and crowds chanting ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ and deflections and the most exciting [spectacle]. I was watching the tennis – just as exciting, the Federer-Djokovic final. And meanwhile there’s Lewis Hamilton, ‘I’ll just wait for a pit stop to come in and I’ll overtake Bottas that way’ – fuck off. All of you, fuck off.”

On Silverstone being a very poor third to the Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon finals on the same day (Drivetribe 2019)

“The world is full of people who will take risks, always has been. Put them in the cars, let them go wheel to wheel, don’t have any stewards. Have 16 races a day if that’s what it takes and you start from the back if you win one – I don’t care. Radicalise it. Totally change it.”

He might be on to something here, you know… (Drivetribe, 2019)