As the highly anticipated release of season six of Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” approaches, Preply seeks to address a common challenge faced by motorsport enthusiasts worldwide: the correct pronunciation of Formula 1 driver names.

With a diverse array of talented drivers hailing from every corner of the globe, the linguistic intricacies of their names often present a hurdle for fans and commentators alike.

Preply aims to equip viewers with the confidence to pronounce these names accurately, fostering a deeper appreciation for the drivers and the sport they excel in.

With this in mind, the online language learning platform Preply gathered and analyzed Google search data for all the current Formula One drivers to reveal which are the hardest to pronounce.

Photo: Orxan Musayev/Unsplash 

Preply analyzed Google search data for ‘how to pronounce…’, ‘how to say..’, and ‘… pronunciation’ + Formula One driver names and ranked each name based on pronunciation difficulty.

Preply’s research reveals that Guanyu Zhou is the most commonly mispronounced name, with an average of 31,440 people searching for pronunciation guidance each year.

Here are the top 10 most mispronounced Formula One driver names and how to actually say them, according to Preply.

  1. Guanyu Zhou: Correct: “Jyew Gwaan-ew” Incorrect: “Joe Goo-aan-yu”
  2. Charles Leclerc: Correct: “SHARL Lu-clair” Incorrect: “CHARLS Le-clerk”
  3. Lance Stroll: Correct: “LAANS Strawl ” Incorrect: “LAANS Strol”
  4. Max Verstappen: Correct: “Max Fur-STAH-pn” Incorrect: “Max Ver-shtap-pen”
  5. Sergio Perez: Correct: “SAIR-hiro Peh-reh” Incorrect: “SUR-geo Per-ez”
  6. Daniel Ricciardo: Correct: “Dan-yil Rick-aar-doh” Incorrect: “Dan-yil Ri-chee-aa-dow”
  7. George Russell: Correct: “Ji-AWJ Ruh-sell” Incorrect: “Ji-AWJ Roo-sell”
  8. Carlos Sainz: Correct: “KAH-lo SAIN” Incorrect: “KAR-los SAINZ”
  9. Lewis Hamilton: Correct: “LOO-is Hah-muhl-tn” Incorrect: “LOO-is HAM-ill-ton”
  10. Fernando Alonso: Correct: “Fehr-nahn-doh Ah-lon-so” Incorrect: “Fer-NAN-doh Ah-lon-so”

Sylvia Johnson, Head of Methodology at Preply, commented:

“Firstly, mispronouncing someone’s name can be embarrassing. Pronouncing someone’s name correctly is a basic sign of respect and courtesy, and if you’re not sure how to pronounce it, ask. Or, in the case of celebrities, it is best to do your research and refer to videos where the celebrity has pronounced their own name.

The person whose name it is will appreciate your desire to call them by the correct name. Learning to pronounce them correctly shows cultural sensitivity and a willingness to honor a person’s heritage and background.”


To discover the most commonly mispronounced Formula One driver names, Preply collected a list of the latest season’s Formula One drivers’ names from Google search volumes were combined for ‘how to pronounce…’, ‘how to say..’, and ‘… pronunciation’ for each. The names were then ranked based on the total number of searches each year to reveal the top 10.

Pronunciations were sourced from Pronounce F1 and YouTube video clips of interviews with the drivers.

Native language experts then investigated the linguistic background of the most mispronounced names, shedding some light on exactly how to pronounce them correctly.

Photo: Orxan Musayev/Unsplash 

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