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TNF Fantasy Top 10 GP Drivers

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#1 Simpson RX1

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Posted 05 March 2003 - 00:31

In response to real top ten elsewhere, who would be on the list if they'd lived/had the right car/been a bit luckier?

Here's a few for starters, in no particular order:

G Villeneuve
de Angelis
Rindt (assuming he didn't retire at the end of 1970)
Von Trips

What do you guys think?


#2 fines

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Posted 05 March 2003 - 01:27

Me! :|

#3 scheivlak

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Posted 05 March 2003 - 01:28

Well, for a start - Jochen Rindt is on my list...

#4 David T.

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Posted 05 March 2003 - 08:24

De Angelis
Senna (he could have won much more)

#5 Japan Time

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Posted 05 March 2003 - 09:07

Some guys such as Bellof, Wendlinger, Takagi were apparently very talented - "naturally" fast - drivers. Difficult to put them in such a ranking though, right ? How about de Cesaris, Alesi ?

#6 Joe Fan

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Posted 05 March 2003 - 10:35

This thread is why the other thread on top ten drivers is too difficult for me to answer. A driver is a driver and only a handful had a dinstinct superiority over their contemporaries. And unfortunately, unless you do a tremendous amount of research, you will never found out who these few drivers were. The drivers who were fortunate to land with the right team and then continually stay with the right team are the ones who won all the time. These are the drivers that the press continually wrote about and as a consequence, the drivers that most every motorsports fan is aware of.

With this in mind, here is my list (in no particular order) :

Masten Gregory
Mike Hawthorn
Archie Scott Brown
Jochen Rindt
Chris Amon
John Surtees
Mark Donohue
Vic Elford
Jackie Ickx
Eugenio Castellotti
Pedro Rodriguez
Bruce McLaren
Ronnie Peterson
Dan Gurney
Phil Hill
Gilles Villeneuve

All of these drivers were extremely fast drivers who were as good, if not better, than drivers who had won a WDC. For those on the list that had won a WDC championship, they would have won more had they been with the right team or had their career not been prematurely cut short due to a fatality.

#7 Oleksij Hrushko

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Posted 05 March 2003 - 12:17

Raymond Sommer
Jean Pierre Wimille - this two have to be champions of F1
Chris Amon - no comments
Jackie Ickx - wrong teams
Gilles Villeneuve - no brakes
Lougi Musso
Dan Gurney - wrong teams
Ronny Peterson
Jim Clark - I think, he could have won at least 3 titles more (68, 69, 70)
Jos Verstappen - wrong teams

#8 bobbo

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Posted 05 March 2003 - 14:15

Oh, man! Here we go again!

For starters . . .

Dan Gurney, of course: Fast, consistent, wrong place (team) at the wrong time. Made the Porsche look pretty good
Chris Amon: Just unlucky!
Jackie Ickx: D**n good, just . . .
Masten Gregory
Phil Hill: Fast, consistent, wrong place (team) at the wrong time, just like Dan
Tony Brooks: Deserved MUCH better!
Innes Ireland
von Tripps: One wonders what might have been . . .
Mark Donahue
Pete Revson
Tim Mayer

. . . I could go on, and on, and on . . .


#9 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 March 2003 - 14:27

Five taken from us too early....

I'll repeat two of my nominations from the other thread: as it happens, one from each of my lists.

Jean-Pierre Wimille, who I am firmly convinced would have been one of the first World Champions, had he lived.

David Bruce-Brown, who died at the height of a meteoric career. Who knows what he might have achieved, as he had already proved himself a master of both road and track, aged perhaps only 23.

Britain's lost heroes of the 70s: Tom Pryce, Roger Williamson and Tony Brise. All three were potential multiple champions.

#10 Ian McKean

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Posted 05 March 2003 - 20:12

Bert Hadley.

I forget who, but someone close to Austin's opined that had not war intervened, he thought Bert would have been the Jim Clark of 1940. Bert won the last race held at Crystal Palace before the war. It was a handicap, but he found he was as fast as the lap record held by Raymond Mays and Dobson with only 750 c.c.s.

I quote from an article he wrote many years later;

"In my design for the new twin rears, the hubs were offset so that the wheels were brought in towards the rear suspension to compensate for the extra width. Geoffrey Taylor's friends in London did a first class job of making the new wheels and I was soon able to fit them onto my racing car, complete with standard tyres known as 'Dunlop Fort' which I actually took straight out of the stores at the works. I gave the wheels a terrific bashing on our test track at Long bridge. They did not move nor did they overheat nor fly off as many people had forecast.

As soon as I got to the first Prescott meeting of 1939 I knew that I had found the answer. The car was completely predictable and did not break away anywhere. However, I did have a bit of bad luck on my first run which was entirely my own fault. I cut the last right-hand comer too close and the offside wheel hit a small wooden stake, removing the tyre and inner tube completely. I did not even feel it go and knew nothing about it until it was pointed out to me in the Paddock. As we did not have a spare twin with us I could not make a second run.

However, on my first and only run I had broken the 750cc record and was only fractionally slower than Mays and Wimille. In point of fact it had been something of an exploratory run and I could have gone much faster. In July, I went to Crystal Palace and came second in the final to Mays, who caught me on the very last corner of the last lap.

All tensed up and ready to go, June 1938. I thought then that this was the time to look hard at the gear ratios we were using. We had fallen into a rut on this subject. There was one final drive ratio which we used for the Outer Circuit at Brooklands and a second which was used for all other events. In addition there was a third and very low ratio which had been used for the standing start records. Deemed too low for anything else by everybody, I thought that there would be no harm in trying it out at the Crystal Palace track again.

It worked. I won the race, the Imperial Trophy, on 20th August, 1939. The race was run on a handicap basis and I took eight seconds off my best previous lap time, finding that I was overtaking people who were supposed to be catching up with me!
I completely scuppered my handicap positions for any further meeting at the Palace of course, but as it happened there were no more until after the war had finished, by which time the deadbeats of Long bridge had destroyed all chances of further competition.

During the race the car handled in a way I had not experienced before. It was quite extraordinary. I could not even induce any break-away action in the corners, and the low ratio final drive allowed me to go right into corners without any severe braking, the deceleration was so rapid. It seemed incredible that we had achieved so much for such a small outlay in time and effort. Now, my thoughts turned to Shelsley Walsh and I was sure that I had the answer. I was certain that I could lower May's record time and I calculated that in order to do this, I first had to find 2.68 seconds to equal his best time of 37.37 seconds, put up at the June, 1939, meeting.

Obviously, I based my prediction on the Crystal Palace performance. At that meeting during practice I had had a stopwatch rigidly fixed to the steering wheel and I timed myself on start and finish points out of sight of the Official Timekeepers. The result was quite astounding for I found that I was fractionally inside the lap record for the circuit which was at that time, I think, held by Raymond Mays and Dobson.

During practice for the 1939 Shelsley meetings, I had arranged for comparative times to be taken for both May's E.R.A. and my Austin between the exit of Kennel Bend and the last possible glimpse in the Esses. This proved to be very interesting because we discovered that I was at least one second faster than Ray over this section, although his superior bhp and resulting pace on the Finishing Straight gave him the overall edge. This information was of purely academic interest to us in 1938, as at that time I had no immediate plans to effect any major improvements to the car until the engine and transmission modifications could be sorted out.

However, by August 1939, the situation had become very different for I now knew that I could beat Mays' record. I was looking forward to Shelsley in that particular September, but it was not to be. I am sure that I could still have broken the record at the first post-war Shelsley meeting in June 1946, given the opportunity! Unlike other firms in this country , as well as our wartime enemies, the Austin Motor Company treated the existing racing cars in a way which rendered them completely useless, and then went on to destroy all the spares -which could have been sufficient to build up a further three complete single-seaters. A certain amount of restoration work was carried out on them, and after being pushed around to all sorts of places, they are now resident in the Donington Collection. It all seems quite wrong but rather symptomatic of what happened at Long bridge in the immediate post-war years."

(end of quote)

I have read that Hadley was to join a Continental team for 1940, but cannot find out whose. I had hoped a little more information would emerge from the Bert Hadley thread, but either nobody knows or nobody is interested. Perhaps his son Clive could add some more information (if he can be contacted).

Even after the war Hadley was lying third at Le Mans with Leslie Johnson in 1950, but his drives in the '50's were very much a hobby thing, I think, and he was one of those who missed their chance because of the War.

#11 dmj

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Posted 06 March 2003 - 17:55

Bernd Rosemeyer
David Bruce-Brown
Christian Lautenschlager
Jean-Pierre Wimille
Guy Moll
Didier Pironi
Mark Donohue
Wolfgang von Trips
Alberto Ascari
Alessandro Nannini

#12 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 March 2003 - 20:51

Just to put in a Colonial flavour... and because they thoroughly deserve the accolades...

Career interrupted by war (There is a lovely quote about this... I hope someone posts it) : Alf Barrett

Career never brought to fruition because of accident, war etc: Allan Tomlinson

No doubt more acceptable because of what he did do, but clouded because he never went to race in Europe: Frank Matich

#13 Simpson RX1

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 04:19

So it's completely OT (but as I started it, I think I'm entitled!), tell me about Frank Matich, Ray.

I don't know much about Antipodean Motorsport, apart from being a big fan of Bathurst (got loads of videos), and in particular Peter Brock - anyone who's known as "The King Of The Mountain" gets my vote, although I've gathered from this site he's not quite so popular at home.

As you seem to take every opportunity to include the afor-mentioned Frank, what's so special about him ?; and I'm not being argumentative, I'd really like to know.

#14 Frank S

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 05:15

Reputed to be Frank Matich at Riverside, California, 1967:

50 K image on FotoTime

Photo by Curt Anderson. Others of the era at:

Curt's RIR pictures II

Frank S

#15 Japan Time

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 06:12

Dmj: I agree with you on Sandro Nannini, he has widely been under-rated !

Oleksij: Let's just hope to Verstappen can get into a decent car someday (maybe not this year though) !
He is undoubtedly still able of doing great things !

How about Rene Arnoux - he could have done far better, in my own opinion.

#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 08:07

Originally posted by Simpson RX1
So it's completely OT (but as I started it, I think I'm entitled!), tell me about Frank Matich, Ray.

I don't know much about Antipodean Motorsport, apart from being a big fan of Bathurst (got loads of videos), and in particular Peter Brock - anyone who's known as "The King Of The Mountain" gets my vote, although I've gathered from this site he's not quite so popular at home.

As you seem to take every opportunity to include the aforementioned Frank, what's so special about him ?; and I'm not being argumentative, I'd really like to know.

Okay, first of all, Brock is pretty popular here... very popular in fact, he draws wages from advertisers who still use him today. Notably Bridgestone and Holden, but there are others.

As for Matich, you've seen me mention him frequently in recent times because there's been so much Tasman Cup stuff about, especially on the 'on this day' thread.

He came up through the ranks racing in New South Wales in a TC and then an Austin Healey, then he collared a drive in a C-type Jag, then the D-type in quick succession before his sponsor bought the Lotus 15 for him.

This was a 2.5-Climax engined 15, so it was pretty potent, and the year was 1960. He smartly destroyed all the opposition in this and landed a Lotus 19 with a 2.6 Climax, a little later being given works cars from Elfin to drive in Formula Junior, 1.5-litre races (or in classes in F-Libre racing) and Clubman racing.

He won with them all, in short. Only Bib Stillwell sometimes gave him a hard time in the 19... which was ultimately written off (1963?) by Bruce Richardson when he was running the engine in at Warwick Farm while Frank did some sorting on one of the Elfins.

They built a new 19, calling it a 19B. I don't know how much was built here, but by the time this happened he also had a Brabham 2.5 for Tasman and Gold Star racing. The 19B soon had Brabham rear suspension, and front too, I think, and was more effective than ever.

For most of 1964 and part of 1965, nothing locally could match him for speed in either car. But then he crashed the 19B at Lakeside and suffered minor burns.

Total Oil were sponsoring him by this time, and Laurie O'Niel with his Peterbilt truck franchise were also putting money in, and I think I could fairly say that there was some discord about how that money was being spent.

Both bailed out on him, but Frank found another backer and took on a BP service station. While he did this, he had Elfin build him a veritable copy of a McLaren M1, but with a different body style, and this emerged with a Traco-Oldsmobile engine to become yet another runaway winner for Matich.

He stuck to sports cars for the next four years, the Matich SR3 (as in the picture) following the Elfin, still with Traco engine, then it gained a 4.4-litre Repco engine (as in the picture) and later a 5-litre singlecam version, IIRC.

Then came the Matich SR4, even more dominant, probably intended to be used in Can-Am to a greater extent, but that essentially never came to pass. It had a twin cam 5-litre Repco and really flew. Repco were by now sponsoring Matich to a large extent and so were Rothmans cigarettes. A customer car using a Waggott TC4V engine was a smaller version, the SR4b.

When F5000 arrived, Frank was the first to have one (ran it before they 'arrived' actually) and this McLaren M10 with a Chev in it was his mount for a while... then came a McLaren M10B and I think this was when Repco put forth their F5000 Holden V8... a very different engine to the Chevy.

But behind those scenes, Frank was designing and having built (by Bowin Designs, John Joyce) the Matich A50. Still powered by the Repco Holden, this was lighter than the McLaren and a very neat design. It was followed over the next three years by the A51, the A52 and finally the sidepod-radiatored A53.

With these cars, Matich was the man to beat in both Tasman Cup and Gold Star racing, though his successes really don't show this. He won the Gold Star (Australian Driver's Championship) in 1972, eight full years after he should have done. He'd been Australian Sports Car Champion several times, both over series and in the Australian Tourist Trophy days.

He suffered some burns at some time... I have no reference material here... and that led to him pulling out of racing.

Along the way he'd been the Australian racing tyre stockist for Firestone (c. 1968-69) and Goodyear (from that point on for about a decade, from memory). He was almost fanatical with testing and improving his cars. His trips to America did net him one win in the F5000 era.

Frank was always a good friend of Bruce McLaren's and it was suggested many times that he was offered a seat in F1 should he want to go to Europe. But he had family here, business interests here and that seemed to be enough to prevent that happening. It may well be he saw it as safer here too... those years were hard on drivers in Europe.

The picture shows Frank beside his wife, Joan, who more recently succumbed to cancer. I think that's Graham Adams ('Lugsy') kneeling beside the car. He later built and raced his own F5000 with bits scrounged from people he'd worked for over the years. I think that's his head mechanic of the time, Peter Maybe, to the left of Frank, with his hand on the car. The other one, with the thoughtful pose is a very important person...

That's Bob Britton, builder of the Rennmax cars and the chassis of the SR3.

#17 bill moffat

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 08:21

Murray Walker. He'd been quick on bikes, and when he tested that Mclaren F1 car he had not been given a decent seat fitting. To add insult to injury (many years later) they put Brundle in the front seat of the McLaren two seater, poor Murray had to sit it out behind that funny headrest thing.

But seriously, Tom Pryce and Tony Brise..both unequivocally WDC material.

#18 dmj

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 22:50

Originally posted by Japan Time
How about Rene Arnoux - he could have done far better, in my own opinion.

A very good and admirable driver. But he had his big chance in best car around, as part of team that won constructor's championship... He just didn't seem exceptional in a way Pironi did just a year before... or even in a way Alboreto looked two years later... I have to disagree, even if I am Arnoux fan.
I nominated only two drivers I had opportunity to see "live" (on TV at least) - one of them was on his way to win the title, maybe first of lot, when rainy accident in Hockenheim ended his career. Other won his first GP (well, officialy at least) and then lost his arm in freaky helicopter crash... These are two most obvious missed opportunities I had witnessed so far... We'll never know about Sandro, first win could be the hardest and maybe he would explode, go to another, higher level... Maybe not, maybe he would become just another good driver and occasional winner, like Boutsen or Berger, who knows? But Pironi has to be saddest prematurely loss for highest level motorsport in last 25 years. Sorry, I just never considered much regarded Villeneuve and Bellof on the same long-term level as I am convinced Pironi would achieve.

#19 the moon monkey

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 22:58

in no particular order...

Derek Warwick (if only he signed for Williams for 1985....)
Gilles Villeneuve
Jean Alesi
Martin Donnelly (Jerez 1990....)
Stefan Bellof
Chris Amon
Ivan Capelli
Alessandro Zanardi
Elio de Angelis
Johnny Herbert (Brands Hatch 1988....)



#20 Simpson RX1

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Posted 08 March 2003 - 00:20

Thanks Ray for the Biog, and Frank for the pics.

Sounds like Matich could've been a Formula 1 contender; shame he didn't take the chance.

By the way Ray, my comment about Brockie not being that popular at home was fuelled by a few comments I've read that refer to him in a somewhat derisory tone; presumably this is just the normal case of trying to knock people off their pedestal, as so often happens when you're one of the best in your field!

Anyway, back to topic...............