When Ayrton Senna died at Imola in '94, Michael Schumacher had just won his fifth grand prix. He had yet to score a pole position - a feat he achieved at the very next meeting in Monte Carlo - and was left to compete against Damon Hill, David Coulthard, Mika Hakkinen, Jean Alesi, etc.
With the benefit of hindsight, 1994-2001 has to be considered a weak era in Formula One's history.
Who, from that era, besides Michael Schumacher, would feature in anyone's top 10 all-time drivers list? Hakkinen on the fringes of a few lists maybe, but that's it.
IMO a great champion needs a great challenger. Senna and Prost had eachother along with Mansell and Piquet, who undoubtedly have to be held in higher regard than the likes of Hill, Villeneuve, Coulthard, etc. When Montoya and Raikkonen had their first real crack at Schumi in 2003 you sensed that the competition was getting stronger and MS needed a great car to win and could no longer over-come car deficiencies like he did in 96 and 97 against stronger competition. In 2005, when Ferrari no longer had the best package, MS was basically shut out of the championship battle for the first time since 1996 but unlike that year, there were no wins (Indy obviously doesn't count). Since Hamilton, Vettel, Kubica have all come along, I feel the bar has only been raised higher and MS has been shuffled back further down the pecking order.
Alonso and Hamilton to name but two, are simply better drivers than Schumacher ever was IMO.
Did you even watch the early 1990s? When he beat Senna and Prost in far better cars??? Vintage Schu would have no problem with Alonso and the likes if he could handle Senna, Prost, Mansell who are easily better than Alonso's peers. To compare Williams and McLaren with the Benetton (which perhaps had a better engine than McLaren did in 1993) is silly.
Or with those poor Ferrari in 1996-1997, and '98 Ferrari with its inferior tires, or the 1999 season where he would have won the title? (Sans broken leg) 2003 was largely a tyre concern, Bridgestone was far behind the non Bridgestone runners.....
Its scary if Schu had the luck in '97, '98, '99.... we would be looking at 10 time world champion, and Alonso and Hamilton are better than that?
Alonso has a long, long way to go to match Michael Schumacher. For example, do you expect him to match Schu's records at Ferrari? (Schu has 72 wins alone at Ferrari).
Edited by George Costanza, 15 July 2010 - 15:36.