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


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#1301 CSquared

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 17:32

Prost outscored Senna two years in a row on equal machinery.

Prost scored more points, Senna scored more wins, they each got one title, and Senna outraced Prost (in races they both finished) something like 14 to 6, if I remember right. Racing in general, and Prost vs. Senna in this case, is too complex to just pick out one number and say, "there, that's it."

Prost won a championship driving a clearly inferior car (1986), an achievement Senna never accomplished.
Throghout his career Prost was forced to challenge competitive teammates, while Senna in his team had to face Andretti, Berger, Nakajima, Dumfries, Johansson and so on.

"and so on" includes Alain Prost.

That said, I don't mind if someone puts Prost ahead of Senna, but I do mind if someone claims that one was unarguably better as that clearly was not the case. Otherwise people wouldn't still be arguing.

Well said.


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#1302 WhatOh

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 20:26

Smearing campaign? Please... Talking about it, in the 'Bible' of all the Senna worshipers ( The Revealed Hero, his official bio by one of the referred journos, I really don't know if an English translation is available ) there is a detailed description of Senna spending a holiday 'chez' G. Bueno (Until today the most brown-nosing journo around Senna) in the end of 1987 and taking advantage of it to start a smearing campaign against the... reigning WDC. Strange, or not?


Is this the one the family tried to have banned?

#1303 ensign14

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 21:41

Thought that was Adriane Galisteu's largely photographic book. She was conveniently written out of the story by the family...

#1304 WhatOh

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 23:24

Thought that was Adriane Galisteu's largely photographic book. She was conveniently written out of the story by the family...


I looked her up after I saw the Senna film, she is a bit strange. Anyway sorry to go off topic.

#1305 repcobrabham

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 23:55

it has occurred to me that the BBC has been cleverer with their choice of words than some give them credit for. they are seeking the 'greatest' F1 driver, not the 'best'.

in this sense, the obvious comparison to senna in F1 is ali in boxing. ali is known as 'the greatest' but from a purely boxing perspective, that's probably not true. he was certainly one of the best - let's say top five - but he was beaten by frazier, he had to effectively cheat (dundee's ruse with the split glove) to avoid a potential defeat by henry cooper early in his career and it's hard to say who would've won out of ali vs louis or marciano or even lennox lewis - the latter being a vastly underrated fighter because he dominated so cleverly and comfortably but without any theatre or charm, perhaps like prost.

but like senna, ali was magnetic and charismatic and fascinating. both men are the greatest spokespeople and stars either of their sports has ever had - ali is universally known for his poetry and predictions but senna was a truly stunning press conference performer. they also engaged and inspired vast populations of admirers - ali with african-americans (he was not generally popular with whites until the '70s) and also people throughout the third world, senna with all of brasil but particularly the poor and also a worldwide audience that wouldn't have otherwise paid that much attention to F1.

and yes, both men had feet of clay. ali was a shameless philanderer and moral hypocrite. he was a blatant racist in the early days of his infatuation with the nation of islam and his treatment of frazier - after his rival had helped keep him afloat during his ban - was quite disgusting, even if it was motivated by generating publicity and money for both of them. senna's sins were most apparent on the track, although he counted other men's wives amongst his many lovers: that doesn't bother me too much as he wasn't married and nobody was coerced, but it does jar with his bible-bashing persona.

the final point is that these men both had documentaries made about them that are utterly compelling. both are shakespearean in their scope and drama, neither would be published or filmed if written as works of fiction as they are too stupendous to be plausible. i have watched both 'senna' and 'when we were kings' several times and would gladly do so again. that ali lived to grow old and pathetic yet still inspire the same fame and admiration as senna has is the proof for me that the latter's sudden death isn't the decisive factor in his 'greatness'.

#1306 ensign14

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 00:03

The Cooper fight with Ali is overblown, the split glove delayed only a few seconds. Cooper only ever had a puncher's chance against the then-Clay, and he happened to nail him with the 'Ammer. Surely though the better comparison re Senna is with Mike Tyson; freakishly talented but reprehensible in their competition morals when things went against them.

As for the documentary point, Fangio's story is just as compelling, even before he gets to F1. Ditto BlackJack. Ascari has the whole father-son thing going on. Hunt's is more exciting as a story, Mansell's a triumph over the odds, to some extent Graham Hill's too. Senna's is actually quite simple; wealthy family, easy in to motor racing and ability is so coruscating it takes him the rest of the way.

#1307 repcobrabham

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 01:27

the senna - tyson comparison is somewhat valid from a purely sporting perspective (although were any of AS's deeds the equivalent of ear-biting?) but totally off the mark in terms of the broader impact he had, which is my point about the difference between 'greatest' and 'best'.

i'll grant you too that he didn't struggle thanks to his upbringing and i'm obviously a big fan of the black jack story, but neither he nor anybody else you name had the same cultural impact or lived a life that followed such a ridiculously dramatic trajectory as senna: monaco 84? suzuka 88-92? brasil 91? imola 94 of course. remember i'm including the human drama that surrounded these episodes too. not just the stats or results.

greatness isn't clearly or clinically identifiable, whereas something is irrefutably the best (or not). it's as much about sentiments stirred as achievements made. senna and ali touched whole swathes of people in a way that comparable racers or boxers didn't. IMHO that's greatness.

#1308 ali_M

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 13:15

greatness isn't clearly or clinically identifiable, whereas something is irrefutably the best (or not). it's as much about sentiments stirred as achievements made. senna and ali touched whole swathes of people in a way that comparable racers or boxers didn't. IMHO that's greatness.


Your last two posts have been great. :up: V. Good insight into Senna and the tremendous impact that he had on the sport. His impact was tremendous because so many bought into his enigmatic persona. For this reason, I'm not at all surprised to see him at number 1.

#1309 repcobrabham

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 04:45

thanks :) TBH part of what i'm doing is trying to anticipate what the BBC guys are going to say by way of explaining their choice. will be interested to see how close to the mark i am!

#1310 Aloisioitaly

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 11:30

Alain Prost: I feared I would die every time I stepped into F1 car


THE Grand Prix legend says the sport has changed massively since the so-called Golden Era of the 1980s.


F1 legend Alain Prost admits his glorious career was haunted by a fear of dying in the cockpit.

He says modern drivers have the luxury of racing much safer cars at 200mph.


And Prost insists the sport’s so-called Golden Era of the 1980s was – as far as he is concerned – the Era of Fear.

As the world salivated at the prospect of another chapter in his gripping rivalry with Ayrton Senna, Prost’s concern was it could cost his life.

Before each race he’d ask himself: “Am I going to be coming back tonight?”

The 57-year-old Frenchman said: “When I look at the past I’m not thinking about whether it’s good or bad, just that it was bloody dangerous.

“I’m just pleased to be here today and in good health.”

Prost has more qualifications than any man alive – except Michael Schumacher – to reflect on the state of modern F1.

After 13 years in Grand Prix, Prost retired in 1993 as a four-times champion with a record 51 victories. One year later Senna was killed at San Marino.

Prost’s winning run stood for a decade. And the man who would beat it, Schumacher, did so in a career that included just a single aging champion as team-mate, Nelson Piquet.

Prost’s achievements came against a roll call of greats – Senna, Niki Lauda, Nigel Mansell and Keke Rosberg were all team-mates.

More than half the 199 GPs he contested ended on the podium and he won four titles, scoring more points each season than all his team-mates except John Watson, who beat him by a point in his debut year, and Lauda who bettered him by just half a point to become champion.

But ultimately Prost was defined by a handful of years going wheel to wheel with the man many regard as the greatest – and twice championship battles between them were decided by controversial crashes.

He said: “The only privilege I feel is to be here and to be able to talk to you. Honestly.

“Since Ayrton died in 1994 F1 has had a different philosophy.

“We’ve limited a few things, we’ve talked about safety. All these drivers today have never had a bad accident or injury or never saw a bad accident of their friends.

“It’s a different philosophy so you don’t live in the emotion. I remember at one stage, every morning you’re going from hotel to track thinking, ‘Oh shit’.

“You see your kit bag and think, ‘Am I going to be coming back tonight?’ I’m not saying it was better in my time – only different.

“I’m not sure I’d like to drive this kind of car now in terms of the technical challenge. But obviously in terms of safety and money return, I say, ‘Yes’ I’d like to drive them.

“Now they start at 20 and race until 40 without risk and are paid a huge amount.”

But his praise of McLaren’s Jenson Button is unfaltering – a driver he gave his first F1 break to and whose smooth driving style is modelled on his own.

As Button prepares for Sunday’s USA Grand Prix, Prost said: “Jenson is like I was, very easy on the car. With my driving style I really had a big problem with qualifying tyres.

“Sometimes we’ve seen it gives Jenson a good advantage and sometimes problems.”

“He deserves to be world champion again but it depends on the tyres and the car.”

Button’s rivalry with team-mate Lewis Hamilton is often compared to his struggles against Senna.

But Prost said: “You cannot compare Lewis to Ayrton – maybe a little in driving style but the approach and personality is so different. I don’t like to compare Jenson and Lewis with Ayrton and I. It’s a completely different story.”

http://www.dailyreco...uld-die-1438692

#1311 spacekid

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 14:38

The way I always understood it is that Senna did get screwed in 1989 by the FIA/Balestre, and Prost delibrately drove into him.

He was about to get screwed again in 1990 after he took pole and it was switched to the dirty side.

He deliberately placed his car near Prost's rear, that resulted in unavoidable contact going into T1, since he had reached his breaking point and felt the system was stacked against him.

Right and wrong are another issue altogether.


Did you write the script for that film?

I'm relaxed about Senna being cited as the greatest/best driver ever - maybe he was, I haven't got a clue (although in fact I believe there is no such thing).

I find the way he has been portrayed as a sort of victim/saint since his death a bit weird though. I call it Princess Diana syndrome, if anyone knows what I mean by that. Senna was fast on track, but he could also be an absolute shit, and he did more than his fair share of whining to the media.

#1312 aditya-now

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 14:54

it has occurred to me that the BBC has been cleverer with their choice of words than some give them credit for. they are seeking the 'greatest' F1 driver, not the 'best'.

in this sense, the obvious comparison to senna in F1 is ali in boxing. ali is known as 'the greatest'....

.... yet still inspire the same fame and admiration as senna has is the proof for me that the latter's sudden death isn't the decisive factor in his 'greatness'.


Senna is the greatest, no doubt about it.

He is the Pélé, the Muhammad Ali, the Jesse Owens of motorsport. Greatness is a factor other than most successful or best, it is something inscrutable to do with the person, the aura, the magnetism.

Ayrton certainly had spades of it, and in fact, he had it before his death, not after. Jim Clark and Jochen Rindt also died in a race, but the power of personality of Senna is greater than those two.

To me, btw, it is Senna ahead of Fangio and Clark, with Schumacher and Prost even more distant in the "greatness" department. There is more greatness in Lauda, Stewart and Moss than in Schumacher and Prost.


#1313 Gag Bueno

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 17:00

So, Senna is now (Coulthard must really wait 'til next year :rotfl:) confirmed as 'BBC's greatest'.

The profile text abuses of pathos and saturated colors, in my opinion. As it isn't seldom, related to Senna, like in the last post:

Senna is the greatest, no doubt about it.

He is the Pélé, the Muhammad Ali, the Jesse Owens of motorsport. Greatness is a factor other than most successful or best, it is something inscrutable to do with the person, the aura, the magnetism.


I really don't know exactly, but I rather tend to think about 'greatness' nowadays being a 'product' the marketing departments have to work a lot for...

Edited by Gag Bueno, 20 November 2012 - 17:57.


#1314 BoschKurve

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 17:37

Did you write the script for that film?

I'm relaxed about Senna being cited as the greatest/best driver ever - maybe he was, I haven't got a clue (although in fact I believe there is no such thing).

I find the way he has been portrayed as a sort of victim/saint since his death a bit weird though. I call it Princess Diana syndrome, if anyone knows what I mean by that. Senna was fast on track, but he could also be an absolute shit, and he did more than his fair share of whining to the media.


He did something very few sports stars are capable of doing; transcending their sport altogether.

No one is perfect. At least to me, part of the allure of Ayrton is in his flaws and contradictions. He was a very complex person that had many dimensions to him. Either way, whatever one may think of him personally, every time he was on the track, there was something incredibly special about seeing him behind the wheel of a car. He's a proper legend of motor racing and is well worthy of it. I've always felt the three greatest drivers F1 had were Senna, Fangio, and Clark. I never rated them in any order because they were all simply sensational behind the wheel.

#1315 MightyMoose

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 17:42

Ok everyone, as we now have official confirmation of The Top 20, consider this thread fully open to offer up your own top 20 variations and full wonderings over the selection placement of those on the list.

Thanks for those who stuck to the requests and kept it roughly on-topic throughout, it was helpful to keep each driver at the forefront of the debate as they were announced.

I hope some of our newer/younger members have a slightly better appreciation of the history of this sport and the different skills/challenges faced over the years. If you found something interesting in a drivers' bio that made you look deeper at their career and wish you'd been a fan to see them at their peak, then those contributions were certainly worth it.


#1316 ali_M

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 18:05

Senna is the greatest, no doubt about it.

He is the Pélé, the Muhammad Ali, the Jesse Owens of motorsport. Greatness is a factor other than most successful or best, it is something inscrutable to do with the person, the aura, the magnetism.

Ayrton certainly had spades of it, and in fact, he had it before his death, not after. Jim Clark and Jochen Rindt also died in a race, but the power of personality of Senna is greater than those two.

To me, btw, it is Senna ahead of Fangio and Clark, with Schumacher and Prost even more distant in the "greatness" department. There is more greatness in Lauda, Stewart and Moss than in Schumacher and Prost.


While I agree that the personality does factor in the determination of greatness, achievements on track also have to. None of the greats have failed to achieve a lot on track. In fact, no one would have paid much attention to Senna if his on track performance didn't first give him a lot of credibility. It starts there and ends there with all of them. It's unfortunate when it becomes mainly a popularity contest.

Prost wouldn't win a popularity contest as such, but his ability to deliver as he did over such a long period and with such tough competition makes him definitely a great and better than Lauda for me. Yeah, Lauda had more persona but Prost delivered better on track IMO. A lot more that his personality isn't as critical when making a decision between the two. At least for me anyway.

I'll not bring up Schumi with you. :)

Edited by ali_M, 20 November 2012 - 18:05.


#1317 schubacca

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 20:53

AS wins the BBC popularity contest.

Read Benson's write up on Senna, insert [your favorite legend's name].

Odds are that the article would still appear true!

#1318 ensign14

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 22:41

He is the Pélé, the Muhammad Ali, the Jesse Owens of motorsport. Greatness is a factor other than most successful or best, it is something inscrutable to do with the person, the aura, the magnetism.

Senna is more a Maradona. Freakishly talented but a cheat.

Fangio had that aura. Just that people today have forgotten. Same as people have forgotten Sindelaar.

#1319 flavio81

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 22:52

Prost outscored Senna two years in a row on equal machinery.
Prost won a championship driving a clearly inferior car (1986), an achievement Senna never accomplished.
Throghout his career Prost was forced to challenge competitive teammates, while Senna in his team had to face Andretti, Berger, Nakajima, Dumfries, Johansson and so on.


Quoted for truth!!

That being said, putting Senna ahead of Prost doesn't make any sense.


For me it's OK if they want to place Senna ahead of Prost, but to place those two five places apart is absurd.



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#1320 flavio81

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 23:08

The way I always understood it is that Senna did get screwed in 1989 by the FIA/Balestre, and Prost delibrately drove into him.

He was about to get screwed again in 1990 after he took pole and it was switched to the dirty side.

He deliberately placed his car near Prost's rear, that resulted in unavoidable contact going into T1, since he had reached his breaking point and felt the system was stacked against him.

Right and wrong are another issue altogether.


The problem is that this understanding is incomplete.

What happened in 1989? Let me do my take on it.

1. Pole location: It was never switched to any side. Ayrton started in the same grid place than the other polesitters did in the past. So nobody "screwed" Senna, he could have been smarter and settled for P2 starting place if he considered it a better place. But no, Senna always thought he had some Divine Right or that he was in a superior military rank of driver and demanded the place to be switched. With the kind of arrogance that made him believe he did no wrong to unfairly punch Eddie Irvine in the face.

2. Race itself -before the collision- : Prost was ahead and with great and consistent speed.

3. Senna's overtake: Here we have an overambitious overtake, that would have been severely criticized if done by a non-glorified racer. It's what i'd call a "bully" overtake and Martin Brundle would agree with me, since he had such an incident with Senna on his pre-F1 days and he was lucky not to die with a severed head because of Senna doing such a thing. On the same race, Senna pulls the same overtake on Nannini (iirc) who conceded position in a way a Senna fan, applying the Senna philosophy of racing, would call Nannini a "coward".

Prost was having none of it and wouldn't ever let Senna do such a thing, even less so considering what Senna did to him in the past (push him to the wall at full speed, break pre-race agreements, push him off track at the Nurburgring Mercedes race 1984 and so on). As for Jean-Marie Balestre "favoring" Prost, one could also argument that the FIA as a whole was kind to Senna: he never got punished for all his on-track 'antics' before this incident. Nor afterwards.

4. Senna's re-start: As far as i understood it, getting a push start (restarting the engine with external help) was illegal, and the FIA did a immensely stupid mistake by not disqualifying Senna on these grounds. So what they did was to DSQ him because of missing the chicane, which is a very dumb argument; in this i would agree with Senna, and even his archrival Nelson Piquet agreed.

4.1 Morality of the re-start: It is questionable that a driver that causes him and his teammate to be put out of the race, and sees his teammate abandon the race, would request a push start. Unfair advantage.

5. Morality of the overtake: The question is: Do we really think Prost "had to" concede and open the position so Senna can attempt an overtake that is clearly too risky? If you're a Senna fan, you probably admire 'ballsy' drivers. What Prost did, was to be a ballsy driver. Senna comes behind you to attempt a really stupidly risky overtake and you don't fall for his bullying. How more tough can a driver be?

6. Press reaction: If i recall correctly James Hunt (commenting on TV) blamed Senna for the accident, and the press was not too nice with Senna after this.

7. "Revenge". The 1990 incident is far easier to understand: Senna intentionally crashed into him. Senna himself admitted this a year after.

So to recap, in 1989 we have a questionable, controversial incident, while the 1990 manouver was simple and clear. You can think the revenge was fair, but that would be having little respect for F1 as a sport.

The way i see it, Senna was a tremendous driver of phenomenal speed, but a very, very bad sportsman (and professional, for that matter.)

Edited by flavio81, 20 November 2012 - 23:21.


#1321 Kingshark

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 23:52

Excuse me if this has already been posted before.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...rmula1/20324109

But what a surprise. #1 is revealed at last, and despite the countless rumors of the GOAT title potentially being given to Damon Hill or David Coulthard, ultimately it was only ever going to be one driver, was it?

#1322 aditya-now

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 01:59

So, Senna is now (Coulthard must really wait 'til next year :rotfl:) confirmed as 'BBC's greatest'.

The profile text abuses of pathos and saturated colors, in my opinion. As it isn't seldom, related to Senna, like in the last post:



I really don't know exactly, but I rather tend to think about 'greatness' nowadays being a 'product' the marketing departments have to work a lot for...


As if marketing departments had worked for Ali, Fangio, Owens, Senna or Pele. They shone because of their personality. I take it you like Nelson Piquet sr. a lot....  ;)

#1323 as65p

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 02:11

The problem is that this understanding is incomplete.

What happened in 1989? Let me do my take on it.

1. Pole location: It was never switched to any side. Ayrton started in the same grid place than the other polesitters did in the past. So nobody "screwed" Senna, he could have been smarter and settled for P2 starting place if he considered it a better place. But no, Senna always thought he had some Divine Right or that he was in a superior military rank of driver and demanded the place to be switched. With the kind of arrogance that made him believe he did no wrong to unfairly punch Eddie Irvine in the face.

2. Race itself -before the collision- : Prost was ahead and with great and consistent speed.

3. Senna's overtake: Here we have an overambitious overtake, that would have been severely criticized if done by a non-glorified racer. It's what i'd call a "bully" overtake and Martin Brundle would agree with me, since he had such an incident with Senna on his pre-F1 days and he was lucky not to die with a severed head because of Senna doing such a thing. On the same race, Senna pulls the same overtake on Nannini (iirc) who conceded position in a way a Senna fan, applying the Senna philosophy of racing, would call Nannini a "coward".

Prost was having none of it and wouldn't ever let Senna do such a thing, even less so considering what Senna did to him in the past (push him to the wall at full speed, break pre-race agreements, push him off track at the Nurburgring Mercedes race 1984 and so on). As for Jean-Marie Balestre "favoring" Prost, one could also argument that the FIA as a whole was kind to Senna: he never got punished for all his on-track 'antics' before this incident. Nor afterwards.

4. Senna's re-start: As far as i understood it, getting a push start (restarting the engine with external help) was illegal, and the FIA did a immensely stupid mistake by not disqualifying Senna on these grounds. So what they did was to DSQ him because of missing the chicane, which is a very dumb argument; in this i would agree with Senna, and even his archrival Nelson Piquet agreed.

4.1 Morality of the re-start: It is questionable that a driver that causes him and his teammate to be put out of the race, and sees his teammate abandon the race, would request a push start. Unfair advantage.

5. Morality of the overtake: The question is: Do we really think Prost "had to" concede and open the position so Senna can attempt an overtake that is clearly too risky? If you're a Senna fan, you probably admire 'ballsy' drivers. What Prost did, was to be a ballsy driver. Senna comes behind you to attempt a really stupidly risky overtake and you don't fall for his bullying. How more tough can a driver be?

6. Press reaction: If i recall correctly James Hunt (commenting on TV) blamed Senna for the accident, and the press was not too nice with Senna after this.

7. "Revenge". The 1990 incident is far easier to understand: Senna intentionally crashed into him. Senna himself admitted this a year after.


1. I think you got a bit confused here. None of the participants ever talked about switching pole side in 1989. That whole discussion took place a year later, only.

2. Yep, Prost was ahead, thanks to a better start and better [optimized to be fast through the chicane onto the straight, the only overtaking opportunity] setup. All credit to him on those two points. However, contrary to popular myth, Senna had better race pace, overall. Mid-race Prost had managed to open a gap of 4 or 5 secs (partly due to Senna losing more time than Prost in his pit stop) but Senna had been able to close that gap again.

3. What Senna tried was to surprise Prost, by attempting the move on a lap he wasn't even that close out of 130R (he had been closer on laps before and not made a move). His only chance, really, cause if he had been closer, Prost would have covered the inside preventing a move in the first place. Fact is, Prost did not cover the inside early on that lap, presumably believing Senna was too far back to try. But try he did, and had Prost behaved fairly there's a 50/50 chance that Senna would not have been able to make the corner, but obviously Prost wasn't going to take any chances and after failing to cover the inside early enough, chose the other option to steer into Sennas car. Overall, very reminiscent of what happened between MS and JV in Jerez '97.

4. IIRC there were precedents of drivers being push started and not penalized, plus it was deemed legal in the rules if the car was in a dangerous position. But I agree it's not clearcut, especially as Senna had to be pushed twice before the engine fired up again.

4.1. Don't agree. Not at all with the notion that Senna caused the incident (see above), plus it was Prosts choice to abandon his car, why would that mean Senna should do likewise?

5. It was a desperate foul from Prosts part. A safe foul, given the speeds involved. It's hilarious to try and glorify that into a sign of toughness. And no, Prost would not have needed to 'concede'. He had every option to fight fairly, either by anticipating correctly that Senna was going to try a move (and covering the inside early) or, failing that, accepting that it was too late, Sennas car already alongside, not driving into Senna but either watching him overshoot the corner or trying to get back at him (Senna surely would have had a heavily compromised exit out of the chicane) on the s/f straight. Instead he chose a 3rd option in the form of a professional foul.

6. Hunt 'blamed' Senna for putting himself at Prosts mercy, and he's right with that. But then again the only other option for Senna would have been to follow Prost home. There was no riskless way to overtake Prost on the day.

7. Yep.

#1324 aditya-now

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 02:13

AS wins the BBC popularity contest.

Read Benson's write up on Senna, insert [your favorite legend's name].

Odds are that the article would still appear true!


I refer you to Formula 1's 50 greatest drivers by Autosport

Number one, chosen by 217 Formula 1 drivers, was Ayrton Senna. Autosport then asked their readers if they agreed on the vote. For Senna they got 767 872 votes (!), 79% of which were saying that Senna was positioned right, 21% of which were saying that he should be lower (he could not be voted higher than P1 naturally).

Schumacher was chosen 2nd by his 216 F1 driving colleagues, 15 601 fans reacted on that vote, 56% of which were saying the Schumacher should be placed lower, 44% saying that he should be placed higher.

Fangio was 3rd (as voted for by 217 F1 drivers), and 6786 fans voted, of which 69% said he should be placed higher, 31% said he should be placed lower.
Prost was 4th in that poll (as voted for by 217 F1 drivers), and 10 095 fans voted, of which 68% said he should be placed higher and 32% said he should be lower.
Clark was 5th (as voted for by 217 F1 drivers), and 5 501 votes from fans said 79% he should be higher, 21% saying he should be placed lower.

Interesting how Senna got three quarter of a million votes, of which more than half a million (606 619!!!) confirmed the vote was right. A mighty popularity contest in favour of Ayrton Senna as well.

And not very favourable to Schumi, 56% of the fans saying that 2nd place was too high a position for Schumi, while the fans agreed in majority that Fangio (69%), Prost (68%) and Clark (79%) should be higher. Only Senna could of course not be voted higher than P1, but 79% of the fans confirmed that P1 was the correct vote for Senna.

So Schubacca, excuse me, Schumacher, was also not voted for favourably in the Autosport poll obviously.

The findings of the Autosport poll from 2009 just confirm the new BBC poll from 2012.


#1325 aditya-now

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 02:44

Ok everyone, as we now have official confirmation of The Top 20, consider this thread fully open to offer up your own top 20 variations and full wonderings over the selection placement of those on the list.

Thanks for those who stuck to the requests and kept it roughly on-topic throughout, it was helpful to keep each driver at the forefront of the debate as they were announced.

I hope some of our newer/younger members have a slightly better appreciation of the history of this sport and the different skills/challenges faced over the years. If you found something interesting in a drivers' bio that made you look deeper at their career and wish you'd been a fan to see them at their peak, then those contributions were certainly worth it.


Thank you for the invitation, MightyMoose.

Excuses for including Nuvolari, Varzi and Rosemeyer, to me they were F1 drivers as well (after all, this list is "of all time")


1 - Ayrton Senna

2 - Juan Manuel Fangio

3 - Tazio Nuvolari

4 - Jim Clark

5 - Achille Varzi

6 - Fernando Alonso

7 - Alain Prost

8 - Michael Schumacher

9 - Niki Lauda

10 - Sebastian Vettel

11 - Jackie Stewart

12 - Alberto Ascari

13 - Stirling Moss

14 - Bernd Rosemeyer

15 - Jochen Rindt

16 - Jack Brabham

17 - Mika Hakkinen

18 - Nelson Piquet

19 – Emerson Fittipaldi

20 – Lewis Hamilton


This list is very personal, of course. Kimi Raikkonen would be 21st in my list, definitely very close to the Top 20. Nigel Mansell would be 22nd in my list, more a drama queen than a consistent WDC winning driver, but then again, he could drive, balls out! Graham Hill would be my #23, Gilles Villeneuve I loved (who does not love the legendary Canadian?), yet I do not think he was consistent enough to have been a WDC winning driver - to me #24. Rudolf Carraciola might have been included in the list as well, to me #25. Sublime drivers like Carlos Reutemann, Jenson Button, Didier Pironi and Stefan Bellof would be within the Top 30 in my list (very different drivers indeed, yet all four of them had something special). To add a 30th name I would go with Mario Andretti.

#1326 LiJu914

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:17


AS wins the BBC popularity contest.

Read Benson's write up on Senna, insert [your favorite legend's name].

Odds are that the article would still appear true!



I refer you to Formula 1's 50 greatest drivers by Autosport

Number one, chosen by 217 Formula 1 drivers, was Ayrton Senna. Autosport then asked their readers if they agreed on the vote. For Senna they got 767 872 votes (!), 79% of which were saying that Senna was positioned right, 21% of which were saying that he should be lower (he could not be voted higher than P1 naturally).
etc. pp.


You know you just confirmed, what the other user said, right?



Anyway.... Senna No.1? (...of course not surprising anymore). I´m fine with that, as i would be fine with any order within BBC´s Top 5.
However i´m slightly disappointed by the article. It´s basically just a rip-off from the movie - lazy work.

Edited by LiJu914, 21 November 2012 - 03:21.


#1327 aditya-now

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:21

I refer you to Formula 1's 50 greatest drivers by Autosport

Number one, chosen by 217 Formula 1 drivers, was Ayrton Senna. Autosport then asked their readers if they agreed on the vote. For Senna they got 767 872 votes (!), 79% of which were saying that Senna was positioned right, 21% of which were saying that he should be lower (he could not be voted higher than P1 naturally).
etc. pp.


You know you just confirmed, what the other user said, right?



Anyway.... Senna No.1? (...of course not surprising anymore). I´m fine with that as i´m would be fine with any order within BBC´s Top 5.
However i´m slightly disappointed by the article. It´s basically just a rip-off from the movie - lazy work.


Of course I know  ;)

Senna is the most "popular", whether voted for by the fans, by 217 F1 drivers or by the BBC crew. Schumacher is not the most popular, which peeves Schubacca, whereas Michael surely is the most successful.


#1328 exmayol

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:24

6 - Fernando Alonso

7 - Alain Prost

8 - Michael Schumacher


That's a good one! Care to elaborate what exactly makes FA better than AP and MSC in your personal list?

#1329 aditya-now

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:28

That's a good one! Care to elaborate what exactly makes FA better than AP and MSC in your personal list?


I don't care to elaborate at this late hour - it's 4.29 AM in Germany right now - as I said it's a very personal list. Incidentally I would be interested in your list - care to write down your personal Top 20? And don't worry, I will not ask you why you place drivers in a certain order - after all, that will be your personal list. ;)

Edited by aditya-now, 21 November 2012 - 03:29.


#1330 repcobrabham

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:32

Senna is more a Maradona. Freakishly talented but a cheat.


what did senna do - support villa? thuggish on track sure, but i don't recall the equivalent of the hand of god or the positive drug test ... or the benetton TC, just to pick at another old wound.

Fangio had that aura. Just that people today have forgotten. Same as people have forgotten Sindelaar.


did fangio have the same popular cultural impact as senna? not really. i know he was very popular in italy but i doubt he was the sole focus of worship like he was in brazil at the time - and his level of idolatry wasn't much lower in japan. part of it is the explosion in communications technology in the '80s ... mind you, part of churchill's enduring appeal must be that WW2 seems to be on constant replay on every history channel on every pay-TV network in the english-speaking world.

people still use the phrase 'who do you think you are - fangio?' down here when chiding an aggressive driver and you'll see earlier in the thread that i was certain he'd be voted ahead of senna, but the latter was and is on another level again in terms of public recognition. it's not fair and not a measure we'd use to judge a driver, but greatness is simpler yet also more oblique than that.

i remember a local TV sketch comedy show doing a bit on senna and prost running into each other while steering trolleys at the supermarket or queueing for the ATM (adelaide being the next race after suzuka) that fell as flat at the time as it no doubt does now, but that's the only time in history you'll see an F1 reference like that on mainstream australian TV!

Edited by repcobrabham, 21 November 2012 - 05:34.


#1331 exmayol

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 04:32

I don't care to elaborate at this late hour - it's 4.29 AM in Germany right now - as I said it's a very personal list. Incidentally I would be interested in your list - care to write down your personal Top 20? And don't worry, I will not ask you why you place drivers in a certain order - after all, that will be your personal list.;)



If it's not for discussion then why post it in first place?

I don't do lists because it's impossible and pointless to compare drivers of different eras. I however remember a nice post in a similar topic where a gentleman provided a timeline based list which was as close as it gets for me. Let me see if I can find it.

Found it, post #36 of this very thread: http://forums.autosp...amp;pid=5902575

Edited by exmayol, 21 November 2012 - 04:39.


#1332 Wander

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 10:24

I think Mansell is often rated a bit too high. He was a decent driver who had the luck of driving more than his fair share of great cars, but only managed to win a championship in the car that was absolutely peerless. Brave, exciting driver for sure, but even Keke Rosberg was better imo. Reasoning? Keke never had the best car in his whole career, but managed to win a championship in a decent one + multiple races in rather bad ones. And he of course beat Mansell as a team mate.

Both were also partnered with Prost once and performed comparatively similarly those times. The Mclaren year was also the worst of Keke's career for a number of reasons.

I don't think I could do a very objective list of all time greats, because my knowledge of Formula 1 before the 70s gets really, really limited. (Anything before 96 I've had to research after the fact anyway due to my age). And I don't want to rely on just statistics. I'd be better off doing a list of the drivers whose career story and/or personality I like the best...

Edited by Wander, 21 November 2012 - 10:25.


#1333 sportingcp

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 12:46

Senna is the greatest, no doubt about it.

He is the Pélé, the Muhammad Ali, the Jesse Owens of motorsport. Greatness is a factor other than most successful or best, it is something inscrutable to do with the person, the aura, the magnetism.

Ayrton certainly had spades of it, and in fact, he had it before his death, not after. Jim Clark and Jochen Rindt also died in a race, but the power of personality of Senna is greater than those two.

To me, btw, it is Senna ahead of Fangio and Clark, with Schumacher and Prost even more distant in the "greatness" department. There is more greatness in Lauda, Stewart and Moss than in Schumacher and Prost.


Why? I respect your opinion but can you explain why those guys are/have undoubtedly more "greatness" than Schumacher and Prost?

#1334 PedroR

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 13:27

Alonso 10th...... REALLY???

Too much resentment in the BBC list (I think)



#1335 aditya-now

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 13:52

people still use the phrase 'who do you think you are - fangio?' down here when chiding an aggressive driver



Interesting - Nigel Mansell was caught speeding once and the police officer asked him: "Who do you think you are - Senna?"

#1336 seahawk

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 13:56

Alonso 10th...... REALLY???

Too much resentment in the BBC list (I think)


I agree. Alonso is way to high on the list, same for Vettel and Hamilton btw. Those could earn a place on the list, but they can not be judged yet, as their carreers still can change for better or worse.

#1337 aditya-now

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 14:13

Why? I respect your opinion but can you explain why those guys are/have undoubtedly more "greatness" than Schumacher and Prost?


The main reason why I would not explain was because it was 4.29 AM in the morning and I had not slept before. Thank you for understanding my personal situation.

To me, Alonso has already now more "greatness" than Prost (who was a whiner and a politician) and than Schumacher (who profited a lot from unique circumstances, and it was Alonso who stopped Schumacher's series of WDCs). Ironically one could say that Alonso has similar traits that both Prost and Schumacher have (which in itself makes him a great), but in Alonso those traits manifest differently and not as obnoxiously than in Prost and Schumacher (IMHO).

To me, even the heroic attitude of Alonso in the 2012 season to this very point is enough to bring him ahead of many other drivers (I don't remember another driver in history who has not given up the fight over such a prolonged stretch of races in an inferior car), as heroics has not been a quality we see in many modern drivers who profit of course from a safety that is unparalleled nowadays. Prost definitely had no heroism and actions like the Schumacher squeeze (as exhibited even last Sunday) do not endear him to me (as I said, the list is rather personal) and I definitely do not see such actions as heroic but rather as brutal and unfair.

We could go on and on discussing such things, and there is a very distinct reason why I decided to bring in Nuvolari, Varzi and Rosemeyer into my list, as they had heroism in spades and the list is about "greatness", mind you. To me, besides aura and impact on the popular consciousness the "warrior qualities" like heroism, never giving up and nobility count towards greatness.

You just have to notice the "Alonso Alonso Alonso" choruses both in Monza and in Austin this year, while Fernando was given his podium interviews to realize what impact he has already now on the popular consciousness in Italy and in the whole hispanic world. Senna had that too, in Brazil and Japan specifically but also all across Europe and even the US (I remember, when Senna died it was even shaking a number of people in the US - I have lived for 5 years in New York) and Alonso's career is not even finished yet.

With Prost we do not even see such an impact in France itself, and in Germany the impact of Schumacher fans is sometimes noticeable on the highway, when people drive on public roads like Schumacher does on the track. These things say a lot, and I was tempted to put Niki Lauda (who overcame death to become WDC two more times!) and Jackie Stewart (who did a lot for safety in this sport) ahead of Prost and Schumacher as well. What Niki had to overcome makes him an all-time great, and what Jackie overcame in the heads of everyone concerning safety makes every generation of race drivers that came after him indebted to him.

If you guys want to speak about numbers and statistical success, I agree, Prost and Schumacher would be on top of the list.

#1338 schubacca

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 14:27

I refer you to Formula 1's 50 greatest drivers by Autosport

Number one, chosen by 217 Formula 1 drivers, was Ayrton Senna. Autosport then asked their readers if they agreed on the vote. For Senna they got 767 872 votes (!), 79% of which were saying that Senna was positioned right, 21% of which were saying that he should be lower (he could not be voted higher than P1 naturally).

Schumacher was chosen 2nd by his 216 F1 driving colleagues, 15 601 fans reacted on that vote, 56% of which were saying the Schumacher should be placed lower, 44% saying that he should be placed higher.

Fangio was 3rd (as voted for by 217 F1 drivers), and 6786 fans voted, of which 69% said he should be placed higher, 31% said he should be placed lower.
Prost was 4th in that poll (as voted for by 217 F1 drivers), and 10 095 fans voted, of which 68% said he should be placed higher and 32% said he should be lower.
Clark was 5th (as voted for by 217 F1 drivers), and 5 501 votes from fans said 79% he should be higher, 21% saying he should be placed lower.

Interesting how Senna got three quarter of a million votes, of which more than half a million (606 619!!!) confirmed the vote was right. A mighty popularity contest in favour of Ayrton Senna as well.

And not very favourable to Schumi, 56% of the fans saying that 2nd place was too high a position for Schumi, while the fans agreed in majority that Fangio (69%), Prost (68%) and Clark (79%) should be higher. Only Senna could of course not be voted higher than P1, but 79% of the fans confirmed that P1 was the correct vote for Senna.

So Schubacca, excuse me, Schumacher, was also not voted for favourably in the Autosport poll obviously.

The findings of the Autosport poll from 2009 just confirm the new BBC poll from 2012.


I am not really bothered if MS is not #1. I can definitely see AS, AP, JMF, JC being #1.

All the numbers that you state reaffirm that these lists ARE a popularity contest. Voting is a popularity contest after all.

My point was that Benson glossed over Senna's shortcomings, while placing more weight on the same shortcomings that Schumacher shared with the Great Senna.



#1339 schubacca

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 14:35

The main reason why I would not explain was because it was 4.29 AM in the morning and I had not slept before. Thank you for understanding my personal situation.

To me, Alonso has already now more "greatness" than Prost (who was a whiner and a politician) and than Schumacher (who profited a lot from unique circumstances, and it was Alonso who stopped Schumacher's series of WDCs). Ironically one could say that Alonso has similar traits that both Prost and Schumacher have (which in itself makes him a great), but in Alonso those traits manifest differently and not as obnoxiously than in Prost and Schumacher (IMHO).

To me, even the heroic attitude of Alonso in the 2012 season to this very point is enough to bring him ahead of many other drivers (I don't remember another driver in history who has not given up the fight over such a prolonged stretch of races in an inferior car), as heroics has not been a quality we see in many modern drivers who profit of course from a safety that is unparalleled nowadays. Prost definitely had no heroism and actions like the Schumacher squeeze (as exhibited even last Sunday) do not endear him to me (as I said, the list is rather personal) and I definitely do not see such actions as heroic but rather as brutal and unfair.

We could go on and on discussing such things, and there is a very distinct reason why I decided to bring in Nuvolari, Varzi and Rosemeyer into my list, as they had heroism in spades and the list is about "greatness", mind you. To me, besides aura and impact on the popular consciousness the "warrior qualities" like heroism, never giving up and nobility count towards greatness.

You just have to notice the "Alonso Alonso Alonso" choruses both in Monza and in Austin this year, while Fernando was given his podium interviews to realize what impact he has already now on the popular consciousness in Italy and in the whole hispanic world. Senna had that too, in Brazil and Japan specifically but also all across Europe and even the US (I remember, when Senna died it was even shaking a number of people in the US - I have lived for 5 years in New York) and Alonso's career is not even finished yet.

With Prost we do not even see such an impact in France itself, and in Germany the impact of Schumacher fans is sometimes noticeable on the highway, when people drive on public roads like Schumacher does on the track. These things say a lot, and I was tempted to put Niki Lauda (who overcame death to become WDC two more times!) and Jackie Stewart (who did a lot for safety in this sport) ahead of Prost and Schumacher as well. What Niki had to overcome makes him an all-time great, and what Jackie overcame in the heads of everyone concerning safety makes every generation of race drivers that came after him indebted to him.

If you guys want to speak about numbers and statistical success, I agree, Prost and Schumacher would be on top of the list.


Dude,

FA is not in the conversation yet with MS or AP.

And this is why you are generally considered a troll on the MS thread. It is not enough that you have your favs (as we all do), you go out of your way to diminish the accomplishments or other greats, namely MS.

Quickly,

FA stopped MS in a superior Renault, after the FIA introduced rule change after rule change to shake things up.

FA frequently berated his teams

FA also blackmailed McLaren in order to gain #1 status

You also did not watch MS heroism at Benetton and Ferrari of the late 90's...

FA is great, and IMHO the best driver racing at the moment in F1.

Just don't gloss over his shortcomings or dark history if you cannot do the same for Prost or Schumacher....



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#1340 aditya-now

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 14:36

I am not really bothered if MS is not #1. I can definitely see AS, AP, JMF, JC being #1.

All the numbers that you state reaffirm that these lists ARE a popularity contest. Voting is a popularity contest after all.

My point was that Benson glossed over Senna's shortcomings, while placing more weight on the same shortcomings that Schumacher shared with the Great Senna.


As I have said several times, all those votes (the Autosport vote among 217 F1 drivers), the BBC Top 20 and what 606 618 fans think are popularity votes by nature. Glad to see that you are not bothered, Michael has his own qualities, but he most certainly is not the most popular F1 driver.

Benson's article has stated several things quite well, the philosophy of Senna, how he explained himself, the spirituality of Senna that millions could identify with (I lived in Brazil for two years), Senna's pole laps.

I disagree with you - you cannot just insert any name into the article and have that article work for another driver (e.g. Jack Brabham, Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell or Jackie Stewart)

Benson did not shy away from also portraying the darker side of Ayrton, and he did so as well in his article on Michael. Just that the dark side of Michael throws a way bigger shadow than the dark side of any other driver (IMHO).


#1341 aditya-now

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 14:40

And this is why you are generally considered a troll on the MS thread. It is not enough that you have your favs (as we all do), you go out of your way to diminish the accomplishments or other greats, namely MS.


Benson did not shy away from also portraying the darker side of Ayrton, and he did so as well in his article on Michael. Just that the dark side of Michael throws a way bigger shadow than the dark side of any other driver (IMHO).




...and yes, that includes Fernando Alonso as well. We all know that Fernando is no little kitten, yet in that department he cannot challenge Schumacher. That has nothing to do with how I personally rate Schumacher like you insinuate. Schumacher's list can fill a whole volume - he is the statistically most successful driver in that department as well as in many other departments.

Edited by aditya-now, 21 November 2012 - 14:42.


#1342 schubacca

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 15:08

As I have said several times, all those votes (the Autosport vote among 217 F1 drivers), the BBC Top 20 and what 606 618 fans think are popularity votes by nature. Glad to see that you are not bothered, Michael has his own qualities, but he most certainly is not the most popular F1 driver.

Benson's article has stated several things quite well, the philosophy of Senna, how he explained himself, the spirituality of Senna that millions could identify with (I lived in Brazil for two years), Senna's pole laps.

I disagree with you - you cannot just insert any name into the article and have that article work for another driver (e.g. Jack Brabham, Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell or Jackie Stewart)

Benson did not shy away from also portraying the darker side of Ayrton, and he did so as well in his article on Michael. Just that the dark side of Michael throws a way bigger shadow than the dark side of any other driver (IMHO).


Benson writes:

The greatness of the man and the brilliance of his driving are remembered easily, the occasional darkness of his psyche perhaps less so.

This means that he chooses blot out Senna's mis-steps.

Compare this with his views on MS...

A second arrived a little over a year later in Portugal, fending off the new world champion Alain Prost with the help of the sort of questionable tactics in defence which were to become all too familiar.

So Benson can remember MS being hard on Prost heaven knows when (MS's 2nd victory), but is has difficulty remembering Senna's occasional darkness which is well-documented on YouTube (see hard moves on Mansell, Prost etc....)

Now let's look at the perspective of Benson regarding the AP-AS incident 1989.

This time, there was no debate about whose fault the resulting crash was. Senna, smarting from Balestre's decision not to move pole position to the advantageous side of the track and believing there was a conspiracy against him, simply drove into the back of Prost's Ferrari at the first corner at 160mph.

Senna painted himself as the wronged man, but in seeking to justify the crash he dissembled. "We are competing to win and if you no longer go for a gap, you are no longer a racing driver," he said, failing to mention that the move was never truly on. He finally admitted it was deliberate a year later.


Note how the writer adopts the beliefs of Senna regarding the incident. Compare this to Benson's retelling of MS's dark history

Schumacher won it but only after he deliberately drove into Hill, who was trying to pass him after seeing the Benetton go off the track at the previous corner. The collision put both men out of the race.

What? No MS perspective? :p

He does the same again with the JV incident

Schumacher took the 1997 title to the wire against Williams' Jacques Villeneuve - only to be disqualified from the season (but allowed to keep his victories) after trying for the second time to win a championship by barging a rival off the track. This time, it failed, and he was found guilty.

No talk of conspiracy whatsoever for MS. No driver quote of justification, no matter how feeble. He was found guilty.

We could go on and on comparing the two articles. But the general gist is that Benson does not give AS the same scrutiny as he does MS.

AS #1 is his opinion. It is the opinion of fans across the world. But to start off MS's article like:



Michael Schumacher's monumental achievements came about through a perfect storm of an exceptionally talented and hard-working driver, ground-breaking technical achievement, a bottomless pit of money and a ruthless management that exploited every last avenue to its benefit.

The result was a redefinition of what was possible in Formula 1 - five consecutive world championships; 56 victories in seven years from 2000-6; a total of seven titles and 91 wins for Schumacher's career.

At his disposal in the early 2000s, Schumacher had a number of advantages from which probably no other driver in history has benefited for so long.

On top of those already mentioned was arguably the greatest of all - bespoke Bridgestone tyres effectively custom-made for Schumacher himself.

These factors were all instrumental in Schumacher re-writing the record books; he holds virtually every landmark statistic in the sport.

He found himself in the position to exploit them, though, because he was the greatest driver of his era.

That era spanned the gap between the end of the Senna/Prost years and the dawning of a new age with a depth of talent and opposition far richer than Schumacher had to face.

Through the late 1990s and into 2000, only Mika Hakkinen was in his league - the Finn had the speed but not the same discipline and consistency. Then, when the likes of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen arrived in the early 21st century, they only rarely had cars that could challenge Schumacher and Ferrari.


Seems like he is trying hard to praise everyone, Ferrari, Management, Weak competition, Bridgestone, Brawn, Todt, apart from MS doesn't it?

If only Benson used the same lines that he contextualized Senna's misteps...

...But it does Senna a disservice to honour only part of his legacy. The significance of his achievements cannot be properly understood without a full appreciation of their origins.

Probably no driver in Formula 1 history dedicated himself more to his sport, gave more of himself in the unbending pursuit of success.


Change Senna with Schumacher, Prost, et al and the words STILL apply!

Edited by schubacca, 21 November 2012 - 15:11.


#1343 sportingcp

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 15:26

The main reason why I would not explain was because it was 4.29 AM in the morning and I had not slept before. Thank you for understanding my personal situation.

To me, Alonso has already now more "greatness" than Prost (who was a whiner and a politician) and than Schumacher (who profited a lot from unique circumstances, and it was Alonso who stopped Schumacher's series of WDCs). Ironically one could say that Alonso has similar traits that both Prost and Schumacher have (which in itself makes him a great), but in Alonso those traits manifest differently and not as obnoxiously than in Prost and Schumacher (IMHO).

To me, even the heroic attitude of Alonso in the 2012 season to this very point is enough to bring him ahead of many other drivers (I don't remember another driver in history who has not given up the fight over such a prolonged stretch of races in an inferior car), as heroics has not been a quality we see in many modern drivers who profit of course from a safety that is unparalleled nowadays. Prost definitely had no heroism and actions like the Schumacher squeeze (as exhibited even last Sunday) do not endear him to me (as I said, the list is rather personal) and I definitely do not see such actions as heroic but rather as brutal and unfair.

We could go on and on discussing such things, and there is a very distinct reason why I decided to bring in Nuvolari, Varzi and Rosemeyer into my list, as they had heroism in spades and the list is about "greatness", mind you. To me, besides aura and impact on the popular consciousness the "warrior qualities" like heroism, never giving up and nobility count towards greatness.

You just have to notice the "Alonso Alonso Alonso" choruses both in Monza and in Austin this year, while Fernando was given his podium interviews to realize what impact he has already now on the popular consciousness in Italy and in the whole hispanic world. Senna had that too, in Brazil and Japan specifically but also all across Europe and even the US (I remember, when Senna died it was even shaking a number of people in the US - I have lived for 5 years in New York) and Alonso's career is not even finished yet.

With Prost we do not even see such an impact in France itself, and in Germany the impact of Schumacher fans is sometimes noticeable on the highway, when people drive on public roads like Schumacher does on the track. These things say a lot, and I was tempted to put Niki Lauda (who overcame death to become WDC two more times!) and Jackie Stewart (who did a lot for safety in this sport) ahead of Prost and Schumacher as well. What Niki had to overcome makes him an all-time great, and what Jackie overcame in the heads of everyone concerning safety makes every generation of race drivers that came after him indebted to him.

If you guys want to speak about numbers and statistical success, I agree, Prost and Schumacher would be on top of the list.


Okay, I think I understood your point of view. I also like that "samurai fighting spirit" that Alonso has and the thing that he never gives up. But I also remember Schumacher very well at his early-Ferrari years, I remember his accident in 1999 the way he recovered from that stronger than ever and in 2000 winning the WDC for Ferrari so many years after the last one (I suppose that had a lot of impact). For me that was heroic and is a big signal of "greatness". He won two "early" titles in his career (just like Alonso) and than he had a difficult time at Ferrari (1996-2000) but he never gave up. I think if you like Alonso and you think he really is one of the greatest just by the way he fights in difficult situations it´s weird that you don´t recognize that in Schumacher because he was in a similar situation, in the same team. About Senna and Prost, it´s difficult for me to make those kind of considerations specially about their personality because I didn´t saw them racing and don´t know them so well. The thing I know is that they were both awesome drivers, with different styles, of conduction and personality Senna being a high-profile guy and Prost a low-profile guy. About the Schumacher actions you talk about, yeah it´s true he had his bad moments in terms of sportmanship, but also Senna had and even Alonso even if indirectly (Singapore 2008).

#1344 aditya-now

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 15:32

Okay, I think I understood your point of view. I also like that "samurai fighting spirit" that Alonso has and the thing that he never gives up. But I also remember Schumacher very well at his early-Ferrari years, I remember his accident in 1999 the way he recovered from that stronger than ever and in 2000 winning the WDC for Ferrari so many years after the last one (I suppose that had a lot of impact). For me that was heroic and is a big signal of "greatness". He won two "early" titles in his career (just like Alonso) and than he had a difficult time at Ferrari (1996-2000) but he never gave up. I think if you like Alonso and you think he really is one of the greatest just by the way he fights in difficult situations it´s weird that you don´t recognize that in Schumacher because he was in a similar situation, in the same team. About Senna and Prost, it´s difficult for me to make those kind of considerations specially about their personality because I didn´t saw them racing and don´t know them so well. The thing I know is that they were both awesome drivers, with different styles, of conduction and personality Senna being a high-profile guy and Prost a low-profile guy. About the Schumacher actions you talk about, yeah it´s true he had his bad moments in terms of sportmanship, but also Senna had and even Alonso even if indirectly (Singapore 2008).


Agreed - Schumi definitely has a very special fighter spirit as well, notably in the second half of the 1990s, which I personally consider to be his best years.

So let's leave it as that - I said from the beginning that this was a very personal list, and everybody is entitled to his opinion.

#1345 schubacca

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 15:35

Okay, I think I understood your point of view. I also like that "samurai fighting spirit" that Alonso has and the thing that he never gives up. But I also remember Schumacher very well at his early-Ferrari years, I remember his accident in 1999 the way he recovered from that stronger than ever and in 2000 winning the WDC for Ferrari so many years after the last one (I suppose that had a lot of impact). For me that was heroic and is a big signal of "greatness". He won two "early" titles in his career (just like Alonso) and than he had a difficult time at Ferrari (1996-2000) but he never gave up. I think if you like Alonso and you think he really is one of the greatest just by the way he fights in difficult situations it´s weird that you don´t recognize that in Schumacher because he was in a similar situation, in the same team. About Senna and Prost, it´s difficult for me to make those kind of considerations specially about their personality because I didn´t saw them racing and don´t know them so well. The thing I know is that they were both awesome drivers, with different styles, of conduction and personality Senna being a high-profile guy and Prost a low-profile guy. About the Schumacher actions you talk about, yeah it´s true he had his bad moments in terms of sportmanship, but also Senna had and even Alonso even if indirectly (Singapore 2008).


But there is direct dark spots to FA's career that the poster does not mention:

-Spygate

-His blackmailing of McLaren

-The entire LH affair at McLaren

-His tantrums where he says stuff like F1 is rigged (during 2006 season)

Don't get me wrong. FA is the best driver on the grid in my opinion. But the selective scrunity of other drivers whilst given their favs a pass is getting sadder and sadder by the post.

#1346 Oho

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 15:39

Seems like he is trying hard to praise everyone, Ferrari, Management, Weak competition, Bridgestone, Brawn, Todt, apart from MS doesn't it?


"Michael Schumacher's monumental achievements came about through a perfect storm of an exceptionally talented and hard-working driver"

Kind of sort of reads like praise does it not....

#1347 aditya-now

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 15:42

AS #1 is his opinion. It is the opinion of fans across the world.


It is not only Benson's opinion but the opinion of the whole BBC team. A pity we do not know how they individually voted. How did Murray vote? How DC? How Eddie Jordan? Maybe Benson didn't even have Ayrton in P1?!?

So AS #1 is the opinion of the BBC team, it is the opinion of fans across the world (including mine), it is the opinion of 217 fellow F1 drivers.

It might not be yours, but there is nothing wrong with that - you are perfectly entitled to your own opinion, Schubacca.

Final note: Schumacher's thoughts on finishing his career in Interlagos a second time - "for me its also the place that brings back my memories of Ayrton". In his own words….

#1348 schubacca

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 15:50

It is not only Benson's opinion but the opinion of the whole BBC team. A pity we do not know how they individually voted. How did Murray vote? How DC? How Eddie Jordan? Maybe Benson didn't even have Ayrton in P1?!?

So AS #1 is the opinion of the BBC team, it is the opinion of fans across the world (including mine), it is the opinion of 217 fellow F1 drivers.

It might not be yours, but there is nothing wrong with that - you are perfectly entitled to your own opinion, Schubacca.

Final note: Schumacher's thoughts on finishing his career in Interlagos a second time - "for me its also the place that brings back my memories of Ayrton". In his own words….


Like I have said multiple times, AS being #1 is perfectly fine with me. And it is important to understand that AS was MS's idol. And that in his own words, MS has said that AS is #1 :)

It bothers me that some fans talk utter garbage saying that MS did not respect AS because he did not show up to his funeral....



#1349 Gag Bueno

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 20:16

Maybe a little off-topic, but:

As if marketing departments had worked for Ali, Fangio, Owens, Senna or Pele.


In the case of Owen (some even say he ran against the inventors of modern marketing…) or Fangio, marketing deps. didn't even exist, at least not in the actual format. In the case of Ali and Pelé I wouldn't be so sure... And concerning Senna it's very clear imo, so I rest my case. Anyway, I think a racing driver can live well and also be remembered without all that (true or false) 'greatness aura' mentioned here.

About the popularity of Senna, especially in public polls, I remember some of the first viral campaigns in Brazil, with mass e-mails asking for a 'patriotic' Senna vote. Even manuals like 'Don't be afraid of the foreign language, click so or so' were around. And it worked and seems still to work, at least in Brazil, guess who recently was voted the most popular driver from an American series that races strange pick-up trucks in circles...


I take it you like Nelson Piquet sr. a lot.... ;)


Yes, it's a problem? I had the opportunity to follow the career of Piquet Sr. and Senna, especially the beginnings, and arriving at the track in a Beetle with a friend and the Formula V in a trailer and then install the engine of the street car in the racing one with no further help did look way cooler than arriving at Kart races with the best tuner (even in categories that didn't allow tuning... ) available under exclusive contract, of course only with best equipment . When now the 'legend' claims a 'middle class' upbringing, I don't know if it's worth believing... And so on...  ;)


#1350 flavio81

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 21:56

As if marketing departments had worked for Ali, Fangio, Owens, Senna or Pele. They shone because of their personality. I take it you like Nelson Piquet sr. a lot.... ;)


I happen to like Nelson Piquet Sr. a LOT too and he indeed had personality. Loads of personality. Tons of personality. Think of a mixture between the devil-may-care attitude of Raikkonnen with the charisma of James Hunt, plus the urge for doing practical jokes of Gerhard Bergher. All while being a naughty playboy. Plus he was adored and idolized by his mechanics and team(s).