Yawn, some of you might say, another top 10 GOAT list. So why have another one?
Well for one thing I think our opinions change over time. Not only do we have new drivers emerging but we have the opportunities to read about those in the past and over the course of time reflect when the bitterness of some rivalries may have subsided. New drivers emerging can also challenge the existing order. Such as Clark/Fangio/Moss, Prost/Senna, Schumacher/Senna, Hamilton/Alonso/Vettel.
Top 10 lists have evolved over time. It used to be an easy top 5 consisting of Fangio, Clark, Prost, Senna and Stewart, with several other drivers filling the rest. We presently have 9 triple world champions. Add to that number the several double world champions and those who were mere points away from much greater numbers such as Alonso, and a top 10 is by no means a foregone conclusion. Stirling Moss is a regular feature of top 10s despite winning no titles. Chris Amon sometimes makes an appearance.
What would have been a relatively easy top 10 generations ago has now developed into a much harder choice to make. Add to that the number of factors that go into making a top 10. Should it be based on pure speed? On racecraft? Conduct on and off the track? The ability to get a team to support you? Could the best driver be the all rounder who is a jack of all traders but the master of none? This is for you to decide.
On another day, perhaps my list would look slightly different but today, based mostly on a combination of speed and racecraft, it looks like this:
1. Juan Manuel Fangio-In addition to his prodigious speed and ability is a disarming modesty and gentlemanly conduct. Having read deeply about almost all the greats, for me the Maestro still stands alone at the top. Gerald Donaldson's biography is superb. Even after all the drivers he has seen since, Stirling Moss always puts him at #1.
2. Alberto Ascari-Not quite the equal of Fangio in my opinion but still had a very high ability. Ignore the "F2" cars of his title winning years and instead look at the rivals he had to beat. His consecutive wins record still stands all these years later, testimony to the reliability of his Ferraris but also his consistency. Denis Jenkinson considered him faster than Fangio.
3. Jim Clark-Just behind Ascari for me. An ability that came so naturally to him he found it hard to explain to people where it came from. He just had an instinct for extracting speed from whatever he was driving.
4. Lewis Hamilton-Hot on the heels of Clark, certainly in my opinion the best British driver since the Scot and considering the roll call of British drivers that's very high praise indeed. In terms of ability a tremendous all rounder with massive reserves of speed and brilliant instincts for overtaking. A slight inconsistency on occasion prevents him from placing higher.
5. Michael Schumacher-The margins in my list for places 4-10 are slim indeed. Schumacher for me was more consistent and mentally stronger than Hamilton, but not quite as fast over one lap nor as good at overtaking. But I am splitting hairs here, he was still massively quick over a race distance, relentlessly consistent and was still capable of a clean gutsy overtaking manoeuvre.
6. Ayrton Senna-This is why I had a separate top 10 for speed. Senna is arguably most famous for his qualifying laps. In the race I think others on this list have a slight edge.
7. Sebastien Vettel-I debated long and hard whether to put him above Senna, as he has received high praise indeed from people like Ascanelli who have worked with both. A very strong all rounder, but perhaps not the best of his generation in any individual factor. In the end, his weaker mental state during the race at times when at Ferrari has marked him down a place.
8. Jackie Stewart-The Prost of his day, it's hard to decide whether to put him or the Professor in number 8. In the end his quest for greater safety, alongside others such as Graham Hill, make the difference for me. Prost had his own moment like this in Adelaide 1989 but by then, safety was seen as a more legitimate concern.
9. Alain Prost-It is interesting to ponder what Prost would have achieved in later eras where reliability was superior. He still had great speed and racecraft but arguably his greatest strength was coaxing a fragile car to the finish, or biding his time until others pushed too hard and dropped out. Incredibly disciplined in his approach to the strategy of the race.
10. Fernando Alonso-But for a few more points, he would have five titles instead of two. For whatever reasons, he often managed to find friction in the teams he was working, which in turn pushed him into bad career moves that prevented him from achieving even greater success. However, he is in a very exclusive club having beaten Schumacher in equal machinery. Metronomic in his consistency, relentless in his determination, matched to a very high ability ensures his name will be remembered long after his retirement.
Edited by hittheapex, 06 January 2019 - 20:55.