Just the kind of pointless exercise I like! So here goes:
Driver – Fangio. How could it be anyone else? 24 wins from 51 races, 5 championships from 7 full seasons and universally acknowledged by his competitors as the benchmark to be measured against
Non-Driver – John Cooper, for moving the engine from front to back. Many other contenders (Neubauer @ Mercedes for ramping up the level of professionalism in the sport, Ferrari for ending Alfa’s dominance and establishing his own, Tony Vandervell for making the breakthrough for British teams) but no-one else had such a long-lasting impact on the sport.
Driver – Clark. Again, I think this is a simple choice. 25 wins from 72 races, twice champion and deprived of the championship in the final race of the season on another 2 occasions, Indy 500 winner (possibly should have been twice but for issues+ with the organisers’ lap charts) and (like Fangio), almost universally acknowledged as the outstanding talent of his time.
Non–Driver – Has to be Chapman for taking the Cooper revolution further. Introduction of the monocoque chassis, introduction of wings and introducing Ford to F1, plus the aforementioned Indy 500 success
Driver – Difficult. Possibly Stewart for domination until 73, but that leaves another 6 years where he had no direct impact. Possibly Lauda for his golden period from 74 – 77. Possibly Peterson, for his mercurial talent which awed so many? I’d say Stewart, partly for his on-track exploits but equally for his push towards introducing the concept of safety into F1 in the face of some vitriolic opposition
Non-Driver – Again, a difficult one. How about Ken Tyrrell? Breaking from Matra in 70, then winning championships in 71/73, the 6 wheeler in 76? Bernie Ecclestone? As team owner he ended up with a “dream team” of Gordon Murray as chief designer, Lauda as no.1 driver and Piquet as no.2 at the end of the decade, and combined this with being head banana at FOCA and becoming the de facto “Mr F1”? Chapman again, for the Lotus 72 in the first part of the decade and the lotus 76 – 78 ground effect cars at the end? Maybe Bernie just shades it…
Driver – Nelson Piquet. Yes, controversial I know. But his record speaks for itself - 3 championships, 2 near-misses, 20 wins, 24 poles and in 3 different eras (ground effect, unlimited power turbo and limited fuel turbo) all against drivers of the calibre of Prost, Lauda, Villeneuve, Mansell’s ego, Pironi, Senna, etc. Could easily make a case for Prost as well (3 championships and 2 near misses and more wins), but Prost’s era only really began in earnest when pure speed was subordinate to the need to “nurse” the car home. Also question marks over his character when the pressure was on (Zandvoort 83 & Suzuka 89 srping to mind).
Non-driver – Tie between Ron Dennis & John Barnard. Dennis for turning McLaren into the dominant behemoth we know today (and winning races in 9 out of 10 years, including the incredible 88 season). Barnard for being the outstanding designer of the decade (even eclipsing Murray).
Driver – Senna. I wish it could be someone (anyone) else, but his was the defining presence. Whether for the right reasons on-track (Donington 93) or the wrong reasons (Japan 90), or for the legacy of his Imola accident and the track changes it led to, it was almost impossible to mention F1 in the 90’s without mentioning Senna.
Non-Driver – Frank Williams/Patrick Head for their team's dominance 1991 - 1997.
Driver – Schumacher. Unfortunately. What a rotten decade THAT was…
Non-Driver – Joint winners: Ecclestone for selling F1’s soul (or what remained of it in the new millenneum), and Hermann Tilke for failing to design a single decent track in his entire career (and assisting Bernie in ruining F1 as a result).
Edited by GrumpyOldMan, 03 December 2011 - 09:16.