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Top 20 Greatest F1 Drivers of all time - BBC list [split]


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#1 Kvothe

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 09:58

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

http://www.bbc.co.uk...rmula1/18096591

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


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#2 slmk

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 11:07

Lewis voted the 15th Greatest driver of all time by the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...rmula1/18096591

Lets hope he can make up a few more positions by the end of the season.


Button is probably in from of him though... :confused:

Tough but fair, by the BBC...

#3 Kvothe

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 11:15

Button is probably in from of him though... :confused:

Tough but fair, by the BBC...


I doubt that, I only expect Alonso and possibly Vettel to be in front of him and the latter only because of his stats.

Definitely fair, I didn't think they'd include any current drivers.

#4 Markn93

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 11:22

I think it's fair, and I wouldn't begrude Fernando a top 10 place, or Vettel either, although I don't necessarily agree I can see how he merits it.

I expect Lewis to be top 5 by the time all is said and done :)

#5 TheBunk

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 11:29

Lewis voted the 15th Greatest driver of all time by the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...rmula1/18096591

Lets hope he can make up a few more positions by the end of the season.



"Hamilton did win the championship the following year but only by the skin of his teeth after making far too many mistakes in a battle with an inferior opponent - Ferrari's Felipe Massa."

Ever the humble chief F1 writer, that Andrew Benson :) And no, I dont wanna go into a debate whether this is true or not, but its just so unnecessary to explicitly put down other drivers to lift Hamilton.

#6 Coops3

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 11:42

I think it's fair, and I wouldn't begrude Fernando a top 10 place, or Vettel either, although I don't necessarily agree I can see how he merits it.

I expect Lewis to be top 5 by the time all is said and done :)


Hear hear. I quite enjoyed reading Andrew Benson's article, I thought it was pretty good.

#7 Kvothe

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 11:48

"Hamilton did win the championship the following year but only by the skin of his teeth after making far too many mistakes in a battle with an inferior opponent - Ferrari's Felipe Massa."

Ever the humble chief F1 writer, that Andrew Benson :) And no, I dont wanna go into a debate whether this is true or not, but its just so unnecessary to explicitly put down other drivers to lift Hamilton.


Well considering Massa's and Hamilton's respective performances against Fernando Alonso, I don't think it would be untrue to regard Massa as an inferior driver to Lewis, heck it wouldn't be untrue to compare Massa to half of the drivers on the grid and call him inferior.

As for lifting up Hamilton, I think that statement actually does the opposite, andthink it doesn't do credit to just how good that Ferrari was.

@Markn93 top 5 agree :up: although I'm sure Fernando will have something to say about that.

#8 TheBunk

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:02

Well considering Massa's and Hamilton's respective performances against Fernando Alonso, I don't think it would be untrue to regard Massa as an inferior driver to Lewis, heck it wouldn't be untrue to compare Massa to half of the drivers on the grid and call him inferior.


BUt this was considering the 2008 performance of Lewis.


As for lifting up Hamilton, I think that statement actually does the opposite


He says it wasnt Hamiltons best year, with lots of mistakes, indeed not lifting up Hamilton, but then goes on with 'and pulled the championship together only by the skin of his teeth vs an inferior rival' implying Hamilton was superior and thus lifts him up at the cost of his direct rival Massa. It was an interesting article untill this part imo. Unnecessary.

#9 GotYoubyTheBalls

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:08

So Lewis is above Jack Brabham, Fittipaldi and Piquet.........

There goes any credibility that the article had. Invalid list.

#10 Kvothe

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:13

BUt this was considering the 2008 performance of Lewis.




He says it wasnt Hamiltons best year, with lots of mistakes, indeed not lifting up Hamilton, but then goes on with 'and pulled the championship together only by the skin of his teeth vs an inferior rival' implying Hamilton was superior and thus lifts him up at the cost of his direct rival Massa. It was an interesting article untill this part imo. Unnecessary.


No imo it's implying that he made a meal out of it, and it was his mistakes that kept Massa in it, an implication I think is unfair because it doesn't of stewards decisions and the superiority of the Ferrari that year.

We should probably just leave this discussion now you've given your opinion before on Benson and it's obvious you read everything he writes with that in mind, despite their being numerous complaints on this forum, and on the BBC website about some of his articles in relation to Lewis.

#11 TheBunk

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:23

We should probably just leave this discussion now you've given your opinion


Fair enough.

#12 Lazy

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:25

Lewis voted the 15th Greatest driver of all time by the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...rmula1/18096591

Lets hope he can make up a few more positions by the end of the season.


Thats a joke tbh, he's yet to prove himself anywhere near the 4 below him.



#13 maverick69

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:28

Current drivers shouldn't even be in there.

The full picture is nowhere near clear yet - and all it does is create a shitstorm on here...... particularly where Hamilton is concerned.

#14 mlsnoopy

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:35

Current drivers shouldn't even be in there.

The full picture is nowhere near clear yet - and all it does is create a shitstorm on here...... particularly where Hamilton is concerned.


These.

#15 undersquare

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:36

Current drivers shouldn't even be in there.

The full picture is nowhere near clear yet - and all it does is create a shitstorm on here...... particularly where Hamilton is concerned.

Yeah I agree. "Great" is something to be assessed after their full career is completed.

#16 MrMontecarlo

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:38

Lewis ahead of some multiple world champions? Maybe in the future, who knows, certainly not now.
BBC Sport> A big :down:

#17 Kvothe

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:51

Current drivers shouldn't even be in there.

The full picture is nowhere near clear yet - and all it does is create a shitstorm on here...... particularly where Hamilton is concerned.


As I stated above I didn't expect them to include any current drivers, but any list is going to be subjective and the dispute of many arguments, particularly because it's so difficult to compare any drivers from different era's.

I wonder what their criteria is?

Edited: added criteria above.

Edited by Kvothe, 22 May 2012 - 12:54.


#18 maverick69

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:54

As I stated above I didn't expect them to include any current drivers, but any list is going to be subjective and the dispute of many arguments, particularly because it's so difficult to compare any drivers from different era's.

I wonder what their criteria is?


God knows.... but I hate those bloody lists.


#19 TheBunk

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:59

Current drivers shouldn't even be in there.

The full picture is nowhere near clear yet - and all it does is create a shitstorm on here...... particularly where Hamilton is concerned.


Agreed. And when other drivers get to be called inferior to the object of the article, even more.

If Benson wouldv posted that here, hed be warned for trolling and the post wouldv been deleted.

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#20 MrMontecarlo

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:59

Also, Fittipaldi ahead of Graham Hill? Piquet ahead of Brabham? Give me a rest.

#21 aray

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 13:05

Current drivers shouldn't even be in there.

The full picture is nowhere near clear yet - and all it does is create a shitstorm on here...... particularly where Hamilton is concerned.

i too think this...MS is ok,he made a comeback...but despite their eligibility,i don't want other 5 to be rated yet...

P.S:i think 22nd and 23rd went to kimi and button...

Edited by aray, 22 May 2012 - 13:07.


#22 ali_M

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 13:06

I have no problem with current drivers as long as their achievements to date earn them their inclusion. I don't see why Lewis shouldn't be there, to be frank. His inclusion is pretty much in the same spirit as Villeneuve being considered among the very greatest. It's not only about championships won and achievements in the record books. It's what they do for races come race day. It's about the heart that they show. Their valor and speed for better or worse.

There are only few drivers who simply add to the overall atmosphere of races; their presence being palpable and very evident. Lewis is certainly one of those and it's only because his career is about half way that we see him down in 15th spot. I do expect more from him once he matures some more.

Alonso is better, IMV. More complete at this point. His presence is just as palpable come race day and his racecraft as good as I've seen. Kudo's to him as well. I expect him to feature further up that list.

Jenson is first and foremost, a gentleman. I've never seen a modern day 'gentleman' do as well as he has. Hats off to him as well but I don't think he should feature in front of Hamilton. :smoking:

Edited by ali_M, 22 May 2012 - 13:08.


#23 Pits

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 13:11

Can't seem to find the full list, anybody?

#24 Dan333SP

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 13:13

I doubt that, I only expect Alonso and possibly Vettel to be in front of him and the latter only because of his stats.

Definitely fair, I didn't think they'd include any current drivers.


You must be forgetting another current driver who is on almost every F1 observer's top 5 of all time list...

The only current drivers who have earned a spot on a top 20 of all time list are MSC and Alonso, IMO. They each have enough of a body of work to make a reasonable claim to being better than other greats/world champions, while Hamilton and Vettel may well end up on such a list but with only 5 or 6 year's experience, saying they deserve to be there now is based largely on subjective speculation about their futures. Some people might have wanted to place Robert Kubica on such a list a couple years ago, but things change...

#25 Fastcake

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 13:19

This is why you don't include current drivers, it's simply impossible to compare them with past drivers without looking back upon their entire career.

#26 ivey

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 13:19

Can't seem to find the full list, anybody?

I guess they're updating it every week or so.

I agree that current drivers (with the exception of Schumacher) shouldn't be in the list. Drivers like Alonso Vettel and Hamilton have years to race and at the end of their careers we can assess the situation correctly. Putting Hamilton 15th ahead of legends is a bit too much, even for me, a passionate Lewis fan. I expect to see Alonso and Schumacher, perhaps even Vettel? in front of him in that list. That all could change in the future though

#27 TheBunk

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 13:23

I guess they're updating it every week or so.

I agree that current drivers (with the exception of Schumacher) shouldn't be in the list. Drivers like Alonso Vettel and Hamilton have years to race and at the end of their careers we can assess the situation correctly. Putting Hamilton 15th ahead of legends is a bit too much, even for me, a passionate Lewis fan. I expect to see Alonso and Schumacher, perhaps even Vettel? in front of him in that list. That all could change in the future though


Sensible post :up:

#28 MP422

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 13:27

You must be forgetting another current driver who is on almost every F1 observer's top 5 of all time list...

The only current drivers who have earned a spot on a top 20 of all time list are MSC and Alonso, IMO. They each have enough of a body of work to make a reasonable claim to being better than other greats/world champions, while Hamilton and Vettel may well end up on such a list but with only 5 or 6 year's experience, saying they deserve to be there now is based largely on subjective speculation about their futures. Some people might have wanted to place Robert Kubica on such a list a couple years ago, but things change...


Well.. Ham and Vet are very unique in how young and talented they were entering F1. They also reset records shortly there after and the fact they are the two youngest world champions ever. Kimi raikkonen will hit that list too i'm sure of it. Just because their careers are not long gone or deceased from earth, i don't think it is good criteria to make you deserved of a all time list. Those achievements may not look like much yet but i bet looking back at them (Ham and Vettel) they will look better because i don't think we will see two talents like this in a long time to come. Look at red bull they churn up pretty good drivers trying to find another Vettel.





#29 Watkins74

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 13:36

I doubt that, I only expect Alonso and possibly Vettel to be in front of him and the latter only because of his stats.

Definitely fair, I didn't think they'd include any current drivers.

Yeah sure, I doubt Schumacher will be on the list.

#30 MrMontecarlo

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 13:39

My personal order of those five (excluding LH as he's a current driver)

1-Brabham
2-Piquet
3-Graham Hill
4-Fittipaldi
5-Rindt

Between Piquet and Hill I think it is too close to call, I had a lot of doubts. Anyway, it's really difficult to make a list like this. What do you think?

#31 Watkins74

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 13:39

Current drivers shouldn't even be in there.

The full picture is nowhere near clear yet - and all it does is create a shitstorm on here...... particularly where Hamilton is concerned.

I don't agree. They should be judged on what they have achieved so far. The future will decide if they move up, move down or stay the same. You can't just ignore a 7 time Champion and two 2 time Champions.

#32 robefc

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 13:42

Well.. Ham and Vet are very unique in how young and talented they were entering F1. They also reset records shortly there after and the fact they are the two youngest world champions ever. Kimi raikkonen will hit that list too i'm sure of it. Just because their careers are not long gone or deceased from earth, i don't think it is good criteria to make you deserved of a all time list. Those achievements may not look like much yet but i bet looking back at them (Ham and Vettel) they will look better because i don't think we will see two talents like this in a long time to come. Look at red bull they churn up pretty good drivers trying to find another Vettel.


That would mean schumi, vettel or alonso missing out so I doubt it, agree with the poster who reckons the two that just miss out are button and kimi.

#33 Boxerevo

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 14:04

How Hamilton is ahead of Piquet ?

And i am a HUGE Hamilton fan... ffs,where is the good sense.

#34 maverick69

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 14:09

I don't agree. They should be judged on what they have achieved so far. The future will decide if they move up, move down or stay the same. You can't just ignore a 7 time Champion and two 2 time Champions.


Fair enough - but I cannot agree with that.

Sure Schumacher is an exception to the rule - but his return only goes to highlight the differences between era's..... and therein lies part of the problem.

Also, you talk about the number of championships for example. So therefore why not list "the greatest" in order of WDC wins etc?

Sure I don't mind debating who are "great drivers" out of the current crop (sans Schuey v2.0) - but to attempt to fit them in amongst those who's story has already been fully told, and is there to be seen by all is deeply flawed IMO..... an extrapolation too far.

Edited by maverick69, 22 May 2012 - 14:10.


#35 Kvothe

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 14:11

You must be forgetting another current driver who is on almost every F1 observer's top 5 of all time list...

The only current drivers who have earned a spot on a top 20 of all time list are MSC and Alonso, IMO. They each have enough of a body of work to make a reasonable claim to being better than other greats/world champions, while Hamilton and Vettel may well end up on such a list but with only 5 or 6 year's experience, saying they deserve to be there now is based largely on subjective speculation about their futures. Some people might have wanted to place Robert Kubica on such a list a couple years ago, but things change...



Your right, his comeback confused me slightly :p , although I expected Schumacher to be up in the top 5 as a matter of course.

Yeah sure, I doubt Schumacher will be on the list.


Calm down.
I forgot about Schumacher, his retirement then subsequent comeback confused me slightly, I always expect him to be on the lists.

I meant the more recent ones.

Edited by Kvothe, 22 May 2012 - 14:15.


#36 RealRacing

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 14:22

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.


And because there's probably going to be some British bias, as shown by putting Hamilton ahead of a 3 X WDC like Piquet and, apparently, not including KR when LH is included.

#37 libano

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 14:23

my money is on bbc rewriting history and not putting MSC into a top 3 slot.

#38 THE "driverider"

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 14:24

The top 10 should include (no particular order)

Ascari
Fangio
Moss
Clark
Stewart
Lauda
Prost
Senna
Schumacher
Alonso

Top 20

Brabham
G. Hill
Rindt
Fittipaldi
Andretti
Piquet
Mansell
Hakkinen
Hamilton
Vettel

#39 mursuka80

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 14:27

Im suprised Lewis is only 15th. I would have bet BRITISH Broadcasting Company would have put him in Top 10, but apparently they are not that delusional. Predictable Top 3 will be Senna, Fangio and MS.

Edited by D.M.N., 22 May 2012 - 14:38.
remove now deleted quote


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#40 MrMontecarlo

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 14:31

Im suprised Lewis is only 15th. I would have bet BRITISH Broadcasting Company would have put him in Top 10, but apparently they are not that delusional. Predictable Top 3 will be Senna, Fangio and MS.


I agree with the Top 3, but Prost could be there as well.

#41 SirRacer

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 14:41

You can't compare different eras...

We don't know how the current drivers would perform in the 50's or if Fangio could even be good with a current F1 car in the current grid...

But if someone told me: Look, we have a time-machine and you are going to be team-principal of an F1 team in a random year from 1950 to 2012. You can choose any driver that competed in F1 from any year and you will have him at his best age. I have no doubt, I'd pick Schumacher or Alonso (maybe even Alonso before Schumacher).

#42 GotYoubyTheBalls

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 14:43

Brabham is top 10 at the very least. Anything other than that is ignorance.

#43 halifaxf1fan

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 15:30

The top 10 should include (no particular order)

Ascari
Fangio
Moss
Clark
Stewart
Lauda
Prost
Senna
Schumacher
Alonso

Top 20

Brabham
G. Hill
Rindt
Fittipaldi
Andretti
Piquet
Mansell
Hakkinen
Hamilton
Vettel


Gilles will be in the top ten.

#44 jjcale

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 15:57

Number 15 - Lewis Hamilton
Number 16 - Nelson Piquet
Number 17 - Emerson Fittipaldi
Number 18 - Jack Brabham
Number 19 – Graham Hill
Number 20 – Jochen Rindt

http://www.bbc.co.uk...rmula1/18096591

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.


Piquet at 16?? Fittipaldi at 17?

Behind LH??

Wonder where Piquet and Fittipaldi would be on a list by a Brazilian station?

Edited by jjcale, 22 May 2012 - 15:59.


#45 1Devil1

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 16:10

You can't compare different eras...

We don't know how the current drivers would perform in the 50's or if Fangio could even be good with a current F1 car in the current grid...

But if someone told me: Look, we have a time-machine and you are going to be team-principal of an F1 team in a random year from 1950 to 2012. You can choose any driver that competed in F1 from any year and you will have him at his best age. I have no doubt, I'd pick Schumacher or Alonso (maybe even Alonso before Schumacher).


I had the same thought some time ago. With old point-system (10-6-4..)I would definitely prefer Schumacher over Alonso with his attitude to win even if you have to drive over the limit and risk a crash. Michael was outstanding in his prime but in comparison with Alonso today he made more mistakes I have to say. Alonsos consistency is his biggest strength and I would pick him with the new point system. But how great was 2006 in retrospection? The best drivers of the last decade fighting for the championship. In the future I am you sure you will say I saw the battle of two of the greatest drivers of all time.

#46 FenderJaguar

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 16:15

I think when you do a list you should just try to think for yourself and be honest. It is not science it is an opinion. I think they should include current drivers. And if someone feels (as I do) that F1 in the 1950s isn't really the same sport as it became in the 1970s maybe leave out Ascari and Moss - that is fine.

Anytime people are asked to make a personal list - I think they should think for themselves and try to do an honest list that they personally think. Not the list they are expected to make. If you work at the BBC maybe you should try to be fair but you should have some personal opinion. It depends on what you prefer. Epic races and no championship might be just as good as a driver collecting points for the championship.

Drivers that would have to be there are Senna, Fangio, Schumacher, Prost, Clark. They should be there almost as icons but then it is a personal choice I'd say. 20 drivers aren't that many so you will have to leave a lot of good drivers out of the list if you wish to make it a personal list.

Personal favourites I would include before I consider drivers like Fittipaldi and Piquet are drivers like Peterson, Mansell or Gilles for having a very big impact through the way they were really racing. I think some of those drives are greater than a championship but those are the choices you would have to make. It is not science.

Edited by FenderJaguar, 22 May 2012 - 16:16.


#47 MrMontecarlo

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 16:22

Brabham is top 10 at the very least. Anything other than that is ignorance.


I totally agree.

#48 kosmos

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 16:23

So is Button above Hamilton or below 20?.

#49 korzeniow

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 16:38

So is Button above Hamilton or below 20?.


He surely is outside top 20.

#50 1Devil1

1Devil1
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Posted 22 May 2012 - 16:56

in 2007? :p


Perhaps If Hamilton is going to win 2 or 3 titles more. But don't see that coming. Sebastian and Fernando will steal him the show.He was right with the senna-mansell-prost picture, but he's the mansell :p:smoking: *Joking*

He is already an all-time great and as somebody mentioned we have to wait and than we can judge his career. If he is going to show more brilliant races/seasons like 2007 I would dare to count his battle against Alonso as an epic fight between two giants. Until now he has not the same status as Schumacher and Alonso.