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Senna vs Prost, interested to hear some opinions on this


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#1 TAFormula1

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Posted 28 October 2023 - 09:30

So its generally known that Both Senna and Prost are at the very top of the legends, true legends of the sport, I like them both alot they are one of my favorite drivers for sure, however when rating the very best drivers I always use this chart where I have

 

S+

S

A+

A

etc...

 

Where S means the greatest drivers in history, while S+ is reserved for a very very small group of drivers that are basically S level but just that slight little bit more, something special about them.

 

I have Prost in S while I have Senna in S+

 

Now I know most people also rate Senna slightly higher, but there are some people who think they are pretty much equal for various reasons, and I completely accept that, theres not much between them for sure.

 

However what I don't understand and baffles me completely is when people say Prost is equal or some few might even argue slightly better, because he has better stats, 4 world championships, more wins etc...

 

Now please explain to me if maybe I am a bit weird, but Prost has quite alot more races than Senna, even more so if you take DNF into account, and Senna had he not die would in my opinion based on the Williams from 94-97 have had quite

a bit better stats than Prost.

 

Now if you take comparisons from when they actually competed together the stats are not in favor of Prost at all.

Ive made some charts to show this:

 

Prost-Senna.jpg

 

1988-90 they had pretty much the same car, the 90 Ferrari even some argue was slightly better that year, Senna has alot more poles (not suprizing) and he has a whooping 4 more wins even tho he finished 4 less races, if he finished 4 more races he would have even more wins while Prost most likely less, and podiums would be pretty much the same.

 

1988-91 the stats get even more skewed, Prost had a not so good year and Ferrari was a bit iffy that year, but not as bad as some people claim

 

then we ignore the 92 where Prost was not competing

start by adding the 93 season where Prost possibly had the most dominating car in history, so a huge advantage against Senna, but despite this when looking at the 88-91 and 93 season stats, Senna is clearly better, still dominates the poles, pretty much equal DNF and finished races yet Senna with alot more wins, a whooping 52% vs 37%... with Prost with a very slight edge in Podiums.

 

So again, I completely accept if someone is of an opinion of rating Prost on the same level or whatever or they prefer him for whatever reason, but I don't understand how someone can claim stats are in Prost's favor, clearly they are not and show Senna at least when both in similar cars (even tho 93 prost had a huge advantage) Senna most often than not was the better driver.

 

I would love to hear some opinions on this from everyone.



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#2 john aston

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Posted 28 October 2023 - 10:11

Having seen them in action, both  were undeniably brilliant . Prost was dull to watch , Senna was exciting . Prost behaved honourably - and Senna sacrificed decency for results . Senna  was charismatic and Prost prosaic. 

 

I judge drivers only by two criteria - their results (no shoulda woulda couldas- wins and  championships )  and how much I liked them . The first criterion is a simple matter of record ; the second is personal . Others' opinion on the second criterion are interesting but are often for as  fickle reasons as my own .

 

Stats ? Nearly every statistical ranking of drivers I've seen is horse****t , resulting in bizarre elevations of mediocre drivers and daft relegations of great ones.   


Edited by john aston, 28 October 2023 - 10:13.


#3 F1Frog

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Posted 28 October 2023 - 10:18

One thing that I would say is that I think most people consider the absolute peak of Alain Prost to be 1985-1987 (with 1986 his absolute best season), so that was before he really faced Ayrton Senna. I can't remember where I saw it but there was a nice idea that said that in 1981-1984, Prost was very quick but a bit error-prone and not a complete driver. In 1988-1993, he was lacking a bit of raw pace but made up for it by being a tactician and always maximising the points and getting cars to the end of races. This is the Prost we remember best, 'Le Professeur'. But in 1985-1987, he was both put together and arguably reached a peak higher than ever seen by any driver before or since. A mathematical model showed that since 1980, Alain Prost is the only driver that had enough fewer mechanical retirements than his teammates for it to be statistically extremely unlikely that it was by chance.

 

However, I think there is some truth to it but don't fully believe it. I think in 1988, Ayrton Senna joined a McLaren team that Alain Prost had been so extraordinary with for the past three years in particular, and was simply better than him. 1989 was obviously a weird season with all the tensions, allegations of unequal equipment and both drivers not at their best, but 1988 was just a straight fight between two of the greatest there have ever been in a car that was in a class of its own, and you could say the results were inconclusive with Prost outscoring Senna but Senna becoming world champion. Senna obviously made key mistakes in Monaco and Monza costing him two easy victories, but in general he was faster than Prost almost every time. The qualifying gaps are exaggerated by 'Le Professeur' knowing that he couldn't beat Senna to pole so concentrating on race setups but the fact that he knew that proved just how extraordinarily quick Senna was because Prost was easily the next fastest on qualifying pace if he wanted to be (I think he was a second faster than Niki Lauda in Monaco 1984 and Lauda confessed he didn't have a clue how he had done it. On a separate note, that was one of the most fortunate title wins in history; Prost was clearly better than Lauda at almost every race and just had his retirements at worse times). But I think Senna was the marginally better driver overall in 1988 and so I rate him higher overall, as I think he then improved further in the following years with 1991 and 1993 even more impressive, while Prost was closer to his peak of 1985-1987. 

 

Overall, I don't think raw stats are very useful for comparing drivers. You need the context behind them and in the end it all comes down to subjectivity. I rank drivers based on who I would want in my car to deliver the result in a given race/championship or whatever, and obviously it massively depends on many different situations. But overall, I would pick Senna over Prost. But that is just my opinion. It gets harder when you add drivers of different eras into the mix but it is still possible to make subjective comparisons, as long as you remember that it is just an enjoyable debate and doesn't have to mean anything. 



#4 sabrejet

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Posted 28 October 2023 - 11:20

Having watched them both first-hand, I'd put Senna ahead: in qualifying he was something else and visibly so. In the races, I always had eyes on Senna, rarely on Prost.

 

There was also something else less tangible: Senna had an aura, even in 1985, which set him aside from others. The often-misused word "charisma" certainly applied to him: if he'd been a religious leader, people would have followed. I can't put my finger on it, but none after him have come close to it.

 

But neither Prost nor Senna was a Fangio, Moss or Nuvolari. It's worth remembering that: they were both good in F1, and Senna probably tops. But only that.



#5 TAFormula1

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Posted 28 October 2023 - 11:24

One thing that I would say is that I think most people consider the absolute peak of Alain Prost to be 1985-1987 (with 1986 his absolute best season), so that was before he really faced Ayrton Senna. I can't remember where I saw it but there was a nice idea that said that in 1981-1984, Prost was very quick but a bit error-prone and not a complete driver. In 1988-1993, he was lacking a bit of raw pace but made up for it by being a tactician and always maximising the points and getting cars to the end of races. This is the Prost we remember best, 'Le Professeur'. But in 1985-1987, he was both put together and arguably reached a peak higher than ever seen by any driver before or since. A mathematical model showed that since 1980, Alain Prost is the only driver that had enough fewer mechanical retirements than his teammates for it to be statistically extremely unlikely that it was by chance.

 

However, I think there is some truth to it but don't fully believe it. I think in 1988, Ayrton Senna joined a McLaren team that Alain Prost had been so extraordinary with for the past three years in particular, and was simply better than him. 1989 was obviously a weird season with all the tensions, allegations of unequal equipment and both drivers not at their best, but 1988 was just a straight fight between two of the greatest there have ever been in a car that was in a class of its own, and you could say the results were inconclusive with Prost outscoring Senna but Senna becoming world champion. Senna obviously made key mistakes in Monaco and Monza costing him two easy victories, but in general he was faster than Prost almost every time. The qualifying gaps are exaggerated by 'Le Professeur' knowing that he couldn't beat Senna to pole so concentrating on race setups but the fact that he knew that proved just how extraordinarily quick Senna was because Prost was easily the next fastest on qualifying pace if he wanted to be (I think he was a second faster than Niki Lauda in Monaco 1984 and Lauda confessed he didn't have a clue how he had done it. On a separate note, that was one of the most fortunate title wins in history; Prost was clearly better than Lauda at almost every race and just had his retirements at worse times). But I think Senna was the marginally better driver overall in 1988 and so I rate him higher overall, as I think he then improved further in the following years with 1991 and 1993 even more impressive, while Prost was closer to his peak of 1985-1987. 

 

Overall, I don't think raw stats are very useful for comparing drivers. You need the context behind them and in the end it all comes down to subjectivity. I rank drivers based on who I would want in my car to deliver the result in a given race/championship or whatever, and obviously it massively depends on many different situations. But overall, I would pick Senna over Prost. But that is just my opinion. It gets harder when you add drivers of different eras into the mix but it is still possible to make subjective comparisons, as long as you remember that it is just an enjoyable debate and doesn't have to mean anything. 

Thats a good post and you have some good points, something similar can be said about Senna, while extremely fast in 1988 he was still somewhat green, made  bad decisions etc... I think only in 1993 did he reach his peak, extremely fast but also patient... to bad what happened in 1994, would have been some great years of Senna Schumacher rivalry.



#6 Rediscoveryx

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Posted 28 October 2023 - 11:50

I’m not sure about Senna peaking in 1993 to be honest. I think there’s a good possibility that having Michael Andretti and rookie-Häkkinen as team mates flattered his performances quite a bit. 1992 was a fairly average season by his standards. The 1993 McLaren was probably better than hindsight has us remembering.

I would probably put peak Prost at 84-86 and peak Senna at 88-91.

As a separate point, I think that the way the sport has evolved in the modern era, first with two decades of sprint racing due to refuelling, and then enforced bulletproof reliability has skewed the way people think about drivers from previous eras. Back in the 90’s, raw speed was important but so was mechanical sympathy and the more or less forgotten art of racecraft, or ”reading the race”. There were no team of engineers deciding whether or not a driver would be put on Plan A or Plan B. There was no one on pit wall who could instruct the driver on which engine mode to use at which stage etc. All of this was up to the driver himself to decide. And Prost excelled at this as well as mechanical sympathy. And he was still fast enough to be probably the second outright fastest driver of the era after Senna.

Put them in modern machinery in a modern context and Senna would win. Move them back a decade or so to the 60’s or 70’s and I think Prost would have the edge. Fate happened to put them together in an era that played partly to the stregths of each driver. Those years were truly fascinating.

Edited by Rediscoveryx, 28 October 2023 - 11:51.


#7 TAFormula1

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Posted 28 October 2023 - 12:12

peak Senna at 88-91.

Why do you think so? Yes 1992 was a bad year but the McLaren was quite bad, it was better in 1993, but the fact that he had as many wins as he had, and to think he had more DNF's than Prost and if he had 1 less DNF with a win or 2nd place and Prost had 1 more DNF, he might have been

even champion, and the Williams was head and shoulders by far the fastest car, like the redbull of this 2023 year, considering that its completely insane what Senna drew out of that McLaren, many people would agree it was his best performance over a season.

Also in 1994 he had 3 poles with a horrible aerodynamically unstable Williams, so much faster than Hill that its almost funny and Hill is not a bad driver by no means. Extremely unlucky in the races tho.

Senna of 1993+ was alot smarter and tactical and wiser than 1988-91, he made alot of wrong decisions then, and also he would push for every single win even if it risked a DNF, Senna of 1993+ was closer to Prost in terms of being smarter and made better decisions, tho he did push alot in brazil in 1994 which cost him, that being somewhat an outliner.



#8 flatlandsman

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Posted 28 October 2023 - 13:40

There is only one thing that matters here for me.  And that is that Ayrton made a decision in 1990 to hit another driver at 150mph in a hissy fit about where he started from at Suzuka.

 

That is pretty much it done and dusted as to who was the better man.

When it came to driving I think Prost was the quicker over a race in many cases but Ayrton was quicker over a lap, he learned an immense amount from Alain and turned that into his form in the later McLaren years with a car that for three years was inferior to the Williams and won another world title, his best in my eyes in 1991. That v12 was the best sounding race engine ever made for me, but it was not a great F1 engine vs the Renault, the testing and mileage Ayrton did to make it work was amazing. And his wins in that time very good. 

Alain was not without criticism, hopeless at times in the wet especially later in his career, and his years at Ferrari and renault were plagued with issues some of them his fault, most the teams, he still dug out results though.  I think I will end with post 94, he has no reason to do this but the stuff Alain has revealed about his dealings with Ayrton post 93 are fascinating he still holds some of them dear and will never reveal some. 

 

Ayrton was a mixed up man, possibly suffering from some sort of minor mental health issues in my eyes, could be captivating one minute then drive into people the next, it all seemed a little odd to me how this most humane of men (Spa and Comas, Donnelly, Gerhard, Lauda, he even sent Wayne Rainey a telegram after his crash in 1993) could treat a fellow human with as much as contempt as he treated Alain at times.

 

I know Alain was no saint, but remember he WANTED Ayrton there, he suggested it and was advised against by his own team, Alain was daft at times, trusted the press far too much, but had a certain human naivety that charmed me. 

 

Final point was the few times I saw them. Prost, gearchanges sublime, sounded like an automatic, never a wheel out of line you almost sensed it annoyed him if it slid. races came to him, he always though about the last half of the race he was amazing in the turbo era, winning races with far less power than others through sheer setup and will.  Ayrton, equally quick, but slightly more ragged, more movement, a little rougher, but my God he was quick, that pole lap (for a few seconds at Silverstone in 1991) the entry into Stowe was the most committed I have ever seen a driver to even be close to mansell that day was remarkable and that was only one notable moment, there were many.  

 

Both geniuses and I do wish Ayrton was still with us, i feel he would still be making a huge difference in peoples lives to this day, as that was his calling once this battle with the hook nosed scrum half was done!



#9 AJCee

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Posted 28 October 2023 - 15:40

I was quite a fan of Ayrton da Silva in FF2000 and early in F3, but Oulton Park shook that a bit. Still quite liked him up to the early Lotus years, but in the end I could no longer deny to myself that he was a driver, no matter how fast, who was quite at ease with endangering another’s health for a place on a racetrack.
So never an S+ to me.

#10 Doug Nye

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Posted 28 October 2023 - 16:42

It always seemed to me that Prost was supremely talented - and a natural gentleman - but after finally toppling Lauda he simply became complacent, then dismayed, then almost disbelievingly resentful, near paranoid as he became Senna's prime target.  Finally he seemed to cast himself as having become a victim - and ended up apparently scarred to some degree.

 

Senna was also supremely talented - in his near-narcisism hardly gentlemanly.  In seeking to fulfil his all-consuming ambition, he demonstrated an extraordinarily selfish approach, more driven than driver.  Seeking to fulfil what he perceived as being his natural right to topple Prost he employed  every ploy imaginable, both on-track and off, often to others' cost - and disappointingly he was not above denying that he had ever done so.  He was also prone to casting himself as a victim.  

 

I admired his capabilities - not so much his methods.

 

DCN



#11 flatlandsman

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Posted 28 October 2023 - 21:19

I do think both were flawed.  Prost less so, maybe had slightly less supreme ability and natural talent, but not much in it.

 

I do think there was no better drive of a turbo car, some of his McLaren wins were sublime almost submissions, he would be nowhere and then all of a sudden you would see Prost fastest lap at the bottom of the screen and he would be 5th 30 seconds behind, and still win. He made Senna look like a rank amateur in his early days, over boosting and running out of fuel in his desperation to keep up.

 

But I do think Ayrton surpassed him later in their careers, Alain became all about winning at the minimum and got too involved in the mind games instead of just petting Senna burn himself out. I also thin Alain was not as keen on the latter electronic era, he seemed to find it all a bit unnecessary all too easy when you had his talent I guess!

 

One memory  do have and it is from the Senna film.  It was Brazil when he finally won, and you hear the on board recording, the man sounded like a maniac, almost a devil, screaming and crying, it scared me I tell you.  I remember watching that and thinking "Alain you have my every sympathy spending as long as you did trying to overcome that level of hysteria, possession and almost maniacal belief"



#12 chr1s

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Posted 29 October 2023 - 14:29

Watching Prost made you think I could do that, but watching Senna made you realise you couldn't!



#13 flatlandsman

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Posted 29 October 2023 - 15:00

Quite the opposite actually, you watched Alain and he was going the same speed and you thought how is he so smooth doing that!



#14 TAFormula1

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Posted 29 October 2023 - 16:46

Quite the opposite actually, you watched Alain and he was going the same speed and you thought how is he so smooth doing that!

But the stats clearly show Ayrton was better in those years and Prost most of the time won because of Ayrton having mechanical problems or DNF's, apart from when he was in a far superior Williams in 1993. Not always of course, but the difference is too hard to negate.



#15 flatlandsman

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Posted 29 October 2023 - 17:14

You can say that, I would say otherwise, it is clear Honda started to favour Ayrton towards the end of 88 and 89, and Alain said this was part of the problem, I simply found it amazing that the both went about the same speed in very different ways



#16 airbox

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Posted 29 October 2023 - 19:27

I'd agree with flatlandsman regarding Prost in that during the mid to late turbo era he was better than anyone else at managing the unique set of variables that were in play during the race at that time (adjustable boost, restricted fuel, tyres, brakes, manual gearbox) - in fact with some luck and better reliability he could have won 5 WDCs on the trot from 82 through to 86.

 

Prost's championship in 86 still stands in my eyes as being the greatest WDC campaign as he really shouldn't have won that year. I appreciate the Williams drivers took points from each other but to my mind Alain was able to win at a level similar to Stirling Moss' victories at Monaco and Nurburgring in 1961 and extrapolate that over an entire season.

 

Senna was undoubtably faster in terms of outright pace but still more liable to make a mistake (if anything because he found it so hard not to push at 'maximum attack' all the time). However I do think that his overall attitude was a paradigm shift in that he was the first to fully embrace the concept of the ends justifying the means. We have seen the repercussions of that step change on multiple occasions since.


Edited by airbox, 29 October 2023 - 19:28.


#17 Victor

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Posted 02 November 2023 - 17:50

Absolutely right. That is exactly why I rate Senna far below Prost.



#18 Aaaarrgghh

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Posted 02 November 2023 - 20:02

Beyond what everyone else has said, Senna also ended far more races by his own hands, namely by crashing, than Prost did. Prost was also gentle towards his machinery, which made it last longer and allowed him to win races where he wasn't the quickest or collect points that helped him in the championship. This is all bundled into the DNF stat there and heavily favours Prost. Being a Grand Prix driver is about winning and becoming world champion. If everything was about qualifying, then yes, Senna was better and could be discussed as one of the greatest of all time.

On that note, I actually have an unpopular opinion that neither of them can reasonably be argued to be the greatest of all time. It seems to me that they both had weaknesses (Senna's race craft and Prost's raw speed) that are hard to identify for Fangio, Ascari, Clark, Stewart, Schumacher, Alonso, Hamilton or what we're starting to see Verstappen become now.

Also, regarding the rumours about Senna having better engines in 1989, I refuse to believe that any amount of driving skill is going to make you 1.79 seconds quicker than your team-mate at Monza.


Edited by Aaaarrgghh, 03 November 2023 - 11:58.


#19 uechtel

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Posted 03 November 2023 - 11:46

The difference between a truly great sportsman to being just a fast driver is the ability to win and lose with dignity. Therefore I would scratch a couple of further names from your list. :)


Edited by uechtel, 03 November 2023 - 11:46.


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#20 Aaaarrgghh

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Posted 03 November 2023 - 11:56

The difference between a truly great sportsman to being just a fast driver is the ability to win and lose with dignity. Therefore I would scratch a couple of further names from your list. :)

To each his own. There is value in sportsmanship.


Edited by Aaaarrgghh, 03 November 2023 - 11:58.


#21 E1pix

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Posted 03 November 2023 - 14:38

I choose Villeneuve.

Did I read the thread title correctly? ;-)

#22 flatlandsman

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Posted 03 November 2023 - 15:40

I have little doubt Prost was the equal of any of his rivals during his entire career for raw speed, anyone that thinks otherwise is pure folly as being on pole achieves no points.  Binning it at Monaco with about 15 laps left because you team mate just got fastest lap does not make you faster, it makes you an idiot.

 

In theory anybody can be quick on soft tyres with a qualifying engine.  Berger sometimes out-qualified Senna as he could take his brain out perhaps even more!

 

it proves you are fast in very particular conditions, it proves NOTHING else. to some that is enough, for I think people who value genuine ability over speed, the ability to know what is going to happen on Sunday afternoon with an hour gone is a far greater and more valuable ability.  It isd prioved in wins, titles and the judgement of most peopel who lok past pure one lap speed.

#

I would cros off Max, Schumacher, Alonso from your list too.

 

Ascari, Fangio, Clark, Stewart and arguably Lauda would be added, maybe even Graham Hill for winning multiple titles with maybe not the talent of the pure greats. 



#23 ellrosso

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Posted 04 November 2023 - 01:10

Back in the day I could never understand why Senna was so determined to prove himself against Prost - he was clearly faster over a single lap..... or was he? Maybe that always played on his mind - was Alain holding back? Was Alain the better RACING driver? I believe he was for a good part of his career

and I reckon Ayrton thought the same too. In later days I thought Senna was quite vulnerable about Prost and thus felt the need to obliterate him to make himself feel better and to prove he was the best. Both were certainly flawed and that's been covered already.

I wish Alain could have been a bit stronger mentally during those McLaren Prost/Senna years - playing the victim did him no favours. Ayrton's behaviour on occasions during the same period could be summed up in the same way.

Senna's pole lap in Adelaide 1985 was incredibly wild and wooly - he got pole but it wasn't pretty. On the other hand, Prost was smoothness personified and really quick - not pole quick, but obviously in a good position for the race. Telling stuff in hindsight.

 

2445-R-Senn-85-TNF.jpg2453-R-Prost-85-TNF.jpg



#24 2F-001

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Posted 04 November 2023 - 11:04

I think Senna's need to prove himself against (if not obliterate) Prost first manifested itself in that first race in the Merc 190s on the 'new' Nurburgring; where most of the others probably thought of the event as nothing more than a bit of fun - or possibly just a pay day? - Senna was on a mission.

 

There has long been a notion (wrong in my view) that Prost was not 'a racer'; quite often he appeared to get a lot of the work done before the race, with set-up and preparation, so didn't always start at the front. His results suggest that he must have done a lot of overtaking which was a fundamental racing skill. A couple friends who have raced quite extensively themselves reckon he was particularly impressive on the brakes - they described him to me as having "a supreme ability to keep the wheels turning at less than road speed".



#25 2F-001

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Posted 04 November 2023 - 11:09

On that note, I actually have an unpopular opinion that neither of them can reasonably be argued to be the greatest of all time. 

What made you feel that such an opinion was unpopular?

Given that such assessments will always be inconclusive (and coloured by personal preferences) that seems a fairly reasonable stance to take!



#26 Aaaarrgghh

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Posted 04 November 2023 - 11:13

What made you feel that such an opinion was unpopular?
Given that such assessments will always be inconclusive (and coloured by personal preferences) that seems a fairly reasonable stance to take!

Because Senna sometimes seems to be worshipped almost like a demigod and whenever people (the motorsport fraternity, press and common man alike) discuss who the greatest is, Senna always appears to have the #1 spot reserved for him. That might be less true now that the predominantly British motorsport press have a contemporary British driver to nominate for that title, but I think it has been like that throughout my years of following F1 (since the end of the 1990's). Prost is generally talked up, often, I believe, to then talk up Senna.

For a romantic, Senna is an easy candidate for the title of greatest ever driver because he was dramatic and charismatic. However, for an unromantic fellow like me, the allround capabilities of drivers like Senna and G. Villeneuve are overestimated.

EDIT: I added a little bit of text after this post was replied to.

Edited by Aaaarrgghh, 04 November 2023 - 11:30.


#27 2F-001

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Posted 04 November 2023 - 11:17

Oh yes, I got that - I just meant that such a view would be altogether more accommodated for amongst the, mostly measured and experienced, observations on this forum!  :-)



#28 E1pix

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Posted 04 November 2023 - 14:06

...the allround capabilities of drivers like Senna and G. Villeneuve are overestimated.

I beg your pardon? How DARE you! (LOL)

Or do you mean Gary Villeneuve? Okay, I agree.

Per topic, to me both Senna and Prost were well up in the Top 10 ever. If having to fit into a sentence, I’d say “Senna was faster, but Prost was better.”

#29 flatlandsman

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Posted 04 November 2023 - 15:41

I think there are a lot of things you can say about both that warrant their claim to be one of the best ever.

 

They competed in an era full of talent, when you had Mansell, Piquet, Prost, Senna, Rosberg, Lauda all driving at the top of their game, plus several decent guys aswell that era is hard to match for talent.  

 

The cars were unreliable and difficult to drive, there was none of the nanny state garbage that ruins modern F1 with endless radio, it was pretty all done through feel, drivers and talking, something Prost and Senna were particularly good at in terms of getting the best out of their package but none as good as Lauda I think. 

 

Because of this the race was everything, something it seemed to take Senna until perhaps even the 90's to work out, I think he knew it before but he never seemed to able to switch on as well as Prost could in the races, Prost nearly always seemingly came from nowhere!

 

But in general I feel these man have a very good claim, as the cars were very analogue, very difficult to drive and then you added in boost, tyres, fuel consumption, mechanical reliability. 

 

I think it is overly harsh to criticise the likes of Stewart, Clark, Hill et al as their cars were perhaps more simple and reliable, but they also raced in a much more dangerous era in terms of tracks and how exposed were, so it levels up in my mind. 

 

But the Prost/Senna era was not blessed with mass safety improvements, just better, but they had to deal with more in car I think. 



#30 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 November 2023 - 21:42

Reliability was not good at all in the sixties...

 

Reading Doug Nye's Jack Brabham book gives some insight into this as Jack relates the problems struck from race to race. Nursing the car was commonplace.



#31 10kDA

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Posted 05 November 2023 - 00:11

Cars were simpler - yes; more reliable - certainly not. And it must be remembered that in the late 60s - early 70s drivers had a dozen or less races per season in which to make their point(s).



#32 flatlandsman

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Posted 05 November 2023 - 08:41

But this was also a very common practice in the turbo era, it was nothing new in say 1985! Some were very good at it, others not so!


Edited by flatlandsman, 05 November 2023 - 08:41.


#33 70JesperOH

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Posted 24 November 2023 - 23:54

If I remember Alain Prost started out as a disaster in Grand Prix racing with McLaren in 1980 crashing out quite often. Picked up by Renault, but still prone to the odd crash. Ron Dennis brought him back to McLaren for 1984, winning seven races to team mate Niki Lauda's five, and yet the Austrian beat him to the title. But it was also a Prost who learned from a master, something Senna could have done from Prost during their McLaren tenure, but never did. I'm still a fan of Senna, as he was an ultimate racer, where Prost had become the ultimate professionel.

 

Jesper


Edited by 70JesperOH, 24 November 2023 - 23:59.


#34 AJCee

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Posted 25 November 2023 - 08:45

I think you misremember Jesper. Prost was faster than John Watson in 1980 and most of any accidents, Kyalami especially, were due to the fragility of the McLaren. The only race he retired from not due to a car failure was when his excellent Monaco qualifying was undone by Derek Daly’s spectacular collision. In no way a disaster.
He was nearly world champion in 1982 and 1983 and very competitive when the car allowed in 1981.

Edit: Maurice Hamilton had Prost close to being in the Autocourse top ten in 1980. Describing his post-Kyalami season as “…Alain continued to show an impressive maturity and rarely made mistakes.”

Edited by AJCee, 25 November 2023 - 09:45.


#35 opplock

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Posted 25 November 2023 - 09:45

If I remember Alain Prost started out as a disaster in Grand Prix racing with McLaren in 1980 crashing out quite often. 

 

Alain de Crasheris? 

 

A modern assessment of his season concludes "an appalling series of mechanical failures, each potentially lethal, gave Prost all the justification he needed at the end of the year to exit his contract with McLaren early". (Mark Hughes).



#36 john aston

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 07:01

He was such a  disaster that he scored points on his debut . Like many drivers new to F1 he made some errors but 'disaster '? Don't be daft . 



#37 Bordino

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 18:21

The week after Imola 94, there was a program on French TV which tried to deal with "F1 and security". Were invited a certain number of french drivers and ex-drivers.

Jabouille and Prost notably. On this occasion Jabouille remembered Prost how he warned him about the poor quality of the first McLaren he drove in 1980. Prost made its best to be polite with McLaren but JPJ was quite vocal, telling the car was a wreck.



#38 aportinga

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 15:41

This is a great thread. So many perspectives are spot on which shows just how complex the comparison between Senna and Prost really is.

 

I would add for me, over the years I've come to find that Prost was just as devious as Senna but did his work in the shadows by persuading key people to make decisions that worked to his favor. Senna was just out-spoken.

 

Glad I was able to watch this epic battle and thanks for all the great comments here!



#39 flatlandsman

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 17:59

I actually believe the opposite, I think the very fact Alain has been so open about how he wanted Senna at the team and nobody has spoken out against it shows he was actually a bit naive, I think he has been shown many times to see the best in people and be let down. Do not get me wrong I am not saying he was incapable of devious stuff and political shenanigans, I think he was, he certainly had the ear of Balestre (but I think Balestre got more out of it overall than Alain actually) but I really think in base terms he was a fairly open and honest man, as much as you could be then in F1, and he was let down by lots of people in the press, at Mclaren and latterly by a lot of people in France and Renault. 



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#40 airbox

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 19:59

Prost could be pretty outspoken - bear in mind he was sacked from two different teams for making public statements about poor management and subsequent results. Consider his open comments about racing in what he thought were dangerous conditions.

 

Was he 'political'?

 

Yes, but it's all about making sure the correct package is in place with the best people available on hand to maximise your chances of success. I don't think he was any more political than any of his contemporaries in the top teams of the day, it's just that they were more than happy to raise the complaint in public when the same tactics were used to their detriment. 



#41 flatlandsman

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 21:41

He was fairly unlucky with press stuff, the Senna thing really started because of a leak to the press from a very senior journo in the French press, and this was Imola 89 and the deal that was done after when he Senna and Dennis were at Pembrey and Senna utterly refused to be wrong, and actually broke down, Prost told this in confidence and it was leaked, again probably naive



#42 Dave Ware

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Posted 02 December 2023 - 22:47

Here's a short video with engineer Steve Nichols talking about Senna, Prost, and Mansell. 

 

 

It's somewhat related, and interesting nonetheless. 



#43 Zmeej

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Posted 04 December 2023 - 05:01

When I saw the thread title, thought I’d have an opinion ready.

 

Upon reading the OP, my first reaction was “Mon Dieu que c’est compliqué!” :drunk:

 

Anyway, it’s a very good OP, whose content (IMHO) requires chewing over prior to posting a reply.

 

Of course, that’s probably also because I’m slow. :cool:



#44 ellrosso

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Posted 04 December 2023 - 07:07

Just a little tit bit, my mate and I were leaving the Adelaide track after Friday practice 1985, just about to walk across an exit road when an XD Falcon hire car comes out with A Prost driving, driving suit rolled down, bare chest and looking very relaxed.

Probably heading back to the Hilton for a quiet, cold Southwark Premium.......

Wish I had my Sony point and shoot digital back then in my shirt pocket!


Edited by ellrosso, 04 December 2023 - 07:08.


#45 70JesperOH

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Posted 05 December 2023 - 15:12

I think you misremember Jesper. Prost was faster than John Watson in 1980 and most of any accidents, Kyalami especially, were due to the fragility of the McLaren. The only race he retired from not due to a car failure was when his excellent Monaco qualifying was undone by Derek Daly’s spectacular collision. In no way a disaster.
He was nearly world champion in 1982 and 1983 and very competitive when the car allowed in 1981.

Edit: Maurice Hamilton had Prost close to being in the Autocourse top ten in 1980. Describing his post-Kyalami season as “…Alain continued to show an impressive maturity and rarely made mistakes.”

 

Haven taken a look race-by-race as much as possible, no, Prost was not a disaster in his first year of GP racing. I agree, but he did receive some hard knocks along the way! He left South Africa with a broken ankle, that made him a nonstarter in the race and at the next race at Long Beach. At the final race at Watkins Glen he was yet again a nonstarter due to concussion from another accident, both seems to be attributed to component failure.

 

His collision with Piquet in Holland '83 still seems to me to be a driver still developing towards his peak - a very high peak.

 

Jesper



#46 Bunkered

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Posted 19 December 2023 - 08:49

I "discovered" Formula 1 in 1984, thanks to a High School library resourced like nothing I had experienced to that point.  Amongst the treasures it contained was the 1978 Australian Competition Yearbook, which contained an extensive coverage of the 1978 WDC, and of course featured the beautiful Lotus 79, Andretti's WDC, and the loss of Ronnie Peterson. It piqued my interest immediately and I followed contemporary race reports of the 1984 season, resulting in an admiration of Niki Lauda, and curiosity about his team mate, who ran him so close for the title that year.  

 

Further reading gave me some of Prost's backstory - his sheer speed, but the perception of some susceptibility to the pressure of occasion here and there, admittedly mainly from older race reports from his years with Renault.  There wasn't much of that wilting evident in 1984, though, and when I really started watching F1 intently, Prost was pretty much the man to beat.

 

By 1985, I was hooked.  I stayed up late to watch all the telecasts that year, and watched Prost build on the lessons taught to him by Lauda's stealthy and dogged approach to the previous season, watching him cleverly outlast his rivals in faster, more spectacular cars.  His measured approach, allied with what the reports of the time described as a near Clark-level ability to generate speed without the spectacular histrionics of a Rosberg, and I was an avowed Prost fan from then to the end of his career.

 

Seena didn't go unnoticed, with his arrival at the front of the field coming swiftly. With old hands lauding him with praise such as Peter Warr's assertation that he was very like VIlleneuve in that "he knows exactly how good he is" (I'd read about Gilles' final season, and the reverence in which he was held), and decided Senna to be something extraordinary... but he was different to Prost. And for mine, lesser, despite the obvious speed.  The antics of 89-90 in particular didn't appeal, and his semi-mystical lyrical soliloquies in interviews seemed a bit wanky to this callow youth. Prost simply seemed the smarter racer.

 

By 1994, I was largely disinterested in F1: my heroes had gone, and I hadn't found others to supplant them amongst those who had remained or arrived.

 

----

I do love Steve Nichols' story of testing with Nigel and Alain at Ferrari, and that despite the bluster and bravado of Il Leone, the Professor would summarily put Noige back in his box, and then continue with the regularly scheduled programme...



#47 piszkosfred

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Posted 19 December 2023 - 09:05

I do love Steve Nichols' story of testing with Nigel and Alain at Ferrari, and that despite the bluster and bravado of Il Leone, the Professor would summarily put Noige back in his box, and then continue with the regularly scheduled programme...

Prost was also a little frustrated with making all the testing work since he was 35 at that time. Previously he had no such a problem with his McLaren teammates. And maybe affected Ferrari's development for 91 because the 642 was just a small change from the 641 and the midseason 643 only had a new front part.