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The GOAT debate: the greatest Grand Prix driver of all time


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Poll: Who is the greatest Grand Prix driver of all time? (358 member(s) have cast votes)

Who is the greatest Grand Prix driver of all time?

  1. Georges Boillot (2 votes [0.56%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 0.56%

  2. Tazio Nuvolari (12 votes [3.35%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 3.35%

  3. Rudolf Caracciola (1 votes [0.28%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 0.28%

  4. Bernd Rosemeyer (3 votes [0.84%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 0.84%

  5. Jean-Pierre Wimille (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  6. Alberto Ascari (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  7. Juan Manuel Fangio (22 votes [6.15%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 6.15%

  8. Stirling Moss (3 votes [0.84%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 0.84%

  9. Jack Brabham (2 votes [0.56%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 0.56%

  10. Jim Clark (52 votes [14.53%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 14.53%

  11. Jackie Stewart (2 votes [0.56%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 0.56%

  12. Niki Lauda (1 votes [0.28%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 0.28%

  13. Gilles Villeneuve (5 votes [1.40%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 1.40%

  14. Alain Prost (7 votes [1.96%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 1.96%

  15. Ayrton Senna (47 votes [13.13%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 13.13%

  16. Michael Schumacher (89 votes [24.86%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 24.86%

  17. Fernando Alonso (20 votes [5.59%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 5.59%

  18. Lewis Hamilton (60 votes [16.76%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 16.76%

  19. Max Verstappen (27 votes [7.54%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 7.54%

  20. Other (please state) (3 votes [0.84%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 0.84%

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#1 F1Frog

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 17:32

Sorry if this causes the moderators a headache but I thought it might be fun to revive the age-old debate. Personally, I think it great fun to discuss and argue about. However, please don't be offended if someone else disagrees with you. There is no right answer, and it is just a bit of fun.

 

I know some people hate this discussion, saying that you can't compare drivers of different eras. Everybody knows that it is impossible to accurately compare drivers of different eras but that is the boring answer and shouldn't be used to shut down an entertaining discussion between other people. Just because you can't know for sure and there is no correct answer because of differences in cars and criteria doesn't stop it from being fun to talk about. I don't see what makes it a pointless debate any more than arguing about anything else to do with Formula 1. If you want to write a speech about why there is no GOAT, go for it, but please don't belittle those who are just trying to have a fun discussion. 

 

As that there are only 20 poll options, and one of those must be 'other', I have to choose 19 drivers who I think are most likely to get a vote, although if you would like to argue for someone else then that is, of course, fine. I will write a paragraph on each one below, and feel free to vote based on whatever criteria you like. The question I have chosen is the greatest 'Grand Prix driver', thus including those who raced Grand Prix cars before 1950, but not making the question about comparing different forms of motorsport and who are the all-rounders, although that is certainly a valid factor to consider. Personally, I believe the top drivers of every era to be a similar level and like to choose based on who was most special for their era, but voting based on what era you think drivers were best is also valid. I hope this thread encourages a reasoned and productive discussion with minimal anger, and allows us to talk about great drivers of the past and the present.

 

Here are my 19 leading contenders, but by no means the only candidates, in chronological order:

 

Georges Boillot. Often suggested to be the first truly great racing driver, the 1914 French Grand Prix stands out as Boillot's most notable drive, as he battled the Mercedes in a far superior Peugeot, leading much of the race with the car falling apart around him until eventually it gave up. That race is sometimes thought of as the first flat-out drive in a Grand Prix. However, Grand Prix racing was so different back. He was killed in the First World War.

 

Tazio Nuvolari. An extremely fast and exciting driver of the 1930s, there are so many fascinating stories surrounding Nuvolari's daring career, driving with all sorts of injuries like a broken leg and racing in hopelessly damaged cars, while defeating the far more powerful Mercedes and Auto Unions in his Alfa Romeo at the 1935 German Grand Prix is perhaps the greatest ever race drive. However, he did have a reputation for breaking his cars and crashing.

 

Rudolf Caracciola. The most successful driver of the pre-war era with three European championships with Mercedes, Caracciola was a more solid and consistent driver than Nuvolari and was the original 'regenmeister', with his extraordinary speed in the wet perhaps due to his injuries having less effect. However, he may not have had the flare or the raw speed of a Nuvolari or a Rosemeyer.

 

Bernd Rosemeyer. Another 1930s great, Rosemeyer had a short but spectacular career with Auto Union, renowned for his raw speed as he was clearly faster than top drivers like Achille Varzi in the same car, while he almost beat Caracciola on merit in only his second Grand Prix. However, the shortness of his career counts against him as he was killed in a land record speed attempt.

 

Jean-Pierre Wimille. The best driver of the era of Formula 1 just before the world championship started, Wimille was capable of dominating in Alfa Romeos and putting in great drives in inferior machinery when Alfa Romeo were absent, but he was killed before 1950, perhaps costing him the inaugural world championship. He was prone to accidents in his early career. 

 

Alberto Ascari. His record of nine consecutive wins in the world championship lasted for 60 years, and his dominance in the 1952 season is almost unparalleled. Ascari was possibly even faster than Fangio and dominated strong teammates like Giuseppe Farina, but he was a little error-prone and also had a short career after his early death at Monza.

 

Juan Manuel Fangio. The most successful Formula 1 driver for almost 50 years, Fangio won five world championships in the 1950s with four different teams, finishing second in his only other two championship seasons, while he could pull a great performance out of the bag like the 1957 German Grand Prix comeback win. His age also made his successes even more remarkable. However, perhaps he didn't quite have the raw speed of an Ascari or a Moss.

 

Stirling Moss. One of the great all-rounders with success in so many different cars, and perhaps the strongest list of great drives by driver. Moss was on another level to the competition between 1958 and 1961 but chose to drive less competitive cars as he liked to be presented as the underdog. He was a very complete driver with all different types of great wins such as tyre management masterclasses or comeback drives. But he never won the world championship.

 

Jack Brabham. On pure driving ability, Brabham would not be a contender having been so clearly outperformed by Dan Gurney over their three years as teammates. However, Brabham's overall contribution to his three world titles comes from his ability to make his cars great, beating Stirling Moss in 1959 by modifying his gearbox to make it more reliable and, in 1966, becoming the first and only driver to win a title in a car bearing his own name.

 

Jim Clark. The dominant driver of the 1960s with two of the finest championship campaigns ever in 1963 and 1965, where he won many races by huge margins and despite adversity like gearbox and engine problems. Clark was clearly the fastest at this time but was also incredibly smooth and could make the components on his car last longer than anyone else. But he often drove dominant cars and never raced in Formula 1 for a team other than Lotus.

 

Jackie Stewart. If this debate was a box-ticking exercise, it is difficult to find a weakness in Stewart's game. He was the dominant driver of the era, made few mistakes, had some great wins like the 1968 German Grand Prix domination in appalling conditions and won three world championships, including the last without the best car. He also was responsible for great advances in safety in the sport.

 

Niki Lauda. Perhaps most impressive for his remarkable story with the great comeback in 1976 after a fiery accident. Lauda also won three world championships including one after returning after his initial retirement. He was the best driver of his era but perhaps with less competition and didn't have as many great drives as others on this list.

 

Gilles Villeneuve. So many extraordinary moments, touted as potentially the fastest ever but with brilliant racecraft as well, and tyre management ability, that meant Villeneuve is revered despite just six Grand Prix wins. However, he was also inconsistent and error-prone. Maybe he would be a stronger contender had he not been killed in his prime.

 

Alain Prost. Known as the professor for his smooth and calculated driving style, and with perhaps the most impressive statistical record of anyone as he outscored every one of his teammates over their entire time together, including three former and two future world champions. On the other hand, he didn't have the raw speed of Ayrton Senna, was prone to mistakes, and his racecraft wasn't on the same level as other drivers of his era.

 

Ayrton Senna. It was extraordinary that he was so much faster than Prost in qualifying over their two seasons as teammates, even though Prost maybe wasn't always giving it everything on these laps. His raw speed was surely his greatest strength and he also changed the game with his level of ruthlessness, although this sometimes went too far with questionable driving standards, and he made some unforced errors as well.

 

Michael Schumacher. A long period of domination where he broke almost every record available to him and played a huge role in the revival of Ferrari, while Schumacher also showed his level by dragging inferior cars into title contention and had a huge margin of superiority over his peers, although arguably in a weaker era. But he also had some questionable driving ethics, and was prone to mistakes, particularly in crucial moments when the pressure was on.

 

Fernando Alonso. Despite only two championships, Alonso for many years was able to outclass some strong teammates and his racecraft is among the greatest ever, but he was beaten by a rookie Lewis Hamilton and perhaps lacks outright pace compared to Hamilton.

 

Lewis Hamilton. The most successful driver in history with seven titles and 103 wins, and also outperformed fellow great Alonso as a rookie. Hamilton can put in a truly remarkable drive, and is great in the wet, but has been beaten by weaker teammates in the championship three times.

 

Max Verstappen. The best driver on the current grid with one of the most impressive, dominant seasons in history last year, a history of destroying his teammates, and dethroning the previous great. However, his career is unfinished, and he hasn’t the same list of great drives as others.

 

Other. There are plenty of other drivers who might be considered contenders, including Felice Nazzaro, Giuseppe Campari, Achille Varzi, Graham Hill, Dan Gurney, John Surtees, Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Ronnie Peterson, James Hunt, Mario Andretti, Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Mika Hakkinen and Sebastian Vettel. Sorry that I couldn’t include them all as well.

 

I hope this thread can provide some entertainment over the off-season, some fun and constructive discussion about great drivers, and doesn’t become toxic. Sorry to the moderators if it does become toxic. If anyone has any top ten (or more than ten) lists, that would also be interesting, but I would mostly just love to see people’s opinions about who is the greatest, and why.



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#2 Dara

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 17:39

For me, Schumacher.
But I equally respect all others on the list and hope one day this "if you're not with me you're against me" mentality a lot of Facebookheroes have will go away.

#3 Touchdown

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 17:47

It's Schumacher for me - I don't think any driver in history raised the bar quite like he did.


Edited by Touchdown, 01 February 2024 - 15:58.


#4 pacificquay

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 17:48

Recency bias on this forum will see people say Schumacher or Senna.

 

But it's clearly James Clark.



#5 DW46

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 17:55

What do you think F1 Frog?

I’ve gone for Schumacher, started watching in 94 and suspect prime Schumacher could beat anyone if he avoided the red mist.

#6 Sterzo

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 17:57

Regular poster De Knyff might be mortally offended he doesn't even make the list of people we don't include. Robert Benoist and Herman Lang might also warrant a mention.



#7 TomNokoe

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 18:10

Hamilton, Verstappen etc wouldn't be as good as they are without Schumacher so for me he is unimpeachable

#8 Risil

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 18:23

These are all great choices, in that all of them probably did move the goalposts on how much professionalism, or preparation, or intensity could be expected from a racing driver.



#9 P123

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 18:34

Recency bias on this forum will see people say Schumacher or Senna.

 

But it's clearly James Clark.

 

Him, or Juan Pablo Montoya.



#10 DW46

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 19:03

Sorry if this causes the moderators a headache but I thought it might be fun to revive the age-old debate. Personally, I think it great fun to discuss and argue about. However, please don't be offended if someone else disagrees with you. There is no right answer, and it is just a bit of fun.

I know some people hate this discussion, saying that you can't compare drivers of different eras. Everybody knows that it is impossible to accurately compare drivers of different eras but that is the boring answer and shouldn't be used to shut down an entertaining discussion between other people. Just because you can't know for sure and there is no correct answer because of differences in cars and criteria doesn't stop it from being fun to talk about. I don't see what makes it a pointless debate any more than arguing about anything else to do with Formula 1. If you want to write a speech about why there is no GOAT, go for it, but please don't belittle those who are just trying to have a fun discussion.

As that there are only 20 poll options, and one of those must be 'other', I have to choose 19 drivers who I think are most likely to get a vote, although if you would like to argue for someone else then that is, of course, fine. I will write a paragraph on each one below, and feel free to vote based on whatever criteria you like. The question I have chosen is the greatest 'Grand Prix driver', thus including those who raced Grand Prix cars before 1950, but not making the question about comparing different forms of motorsport and who are the all-rounders, although that is certainly a valid factor to consider. Personally, I believe the top drivers of every era to be a similar level and like to choose based on who was most special for their era, but voting based on what era you think drivers were best is also valid. I hope this thread encourages a reasoned and productive discussion with minimal anger, and allows us to talk about great drivers of the past and the present.

Here are my 19 leading contenders, but by no means the only candidates, in chronological order:

Georges Boillot. Often suggested to be the first truly great racing driver, the 1914 French Grand Prix stands out as Boillot's most notable drive, as he battled the Mercedes in a far superior Peugeot, leading much of the race with the car falling apart around him until eventually it gave up. That race is sometimes thought of as the first flat-out drive in a Grand Prix. However, Grand Prix racing was so different back. He was killed in the First World War.

Tazio Nuvolari. An extremely fast and exciting driver of the 1930s, there are so many fascinating stories surrounding Nuvolari's daring career, driving with all sorts of injuries like a broken leg and racing in hopelessly damaged cars, while defeating the far more powerful Mercedes and Auto Unions in his Alfa Romeo at the 1935 German Grand Prix is perhaps the greatest ever race drive. However, he did have a reputation for breaking his cars and crashing.

Rudolf Caracciola. The most successful driver of the pre-war era with three European championships with Mercedes, Caracciola was a more solid and consistent driver than Nuvolari and was the original 'regenmeister', with his extraordinary speed in the wet perhaps due to his injuries having less effect. However, he may not have had the flare or the raw speed of a Nuvolari or a Rosemeyer.

Bernd Rosemeyer. Another 1930s great, Rosemeyer had a short but spectacular career with Auto Union, renowned for his raw speed as he was clearly faster than top drivers like Achille Varzi in the same car, while he almost beat Caracciola on merit in only his second Grand Prix. However, the shortness of his career counts against him as he was killed in a land record speed attempt.

Jean-Pierre Wimille. The best driver of the era of Formula 1 just before the world championship started, Wimille was capable of dominating in Alfa Romeos and putting in great drives in inferior machinery when Alfa Romeo were absent, but he was killed before 1950, perhaps costing him the inaugural world championship. He was prone to accidents in his early career.

Alberto Ascari. His record of nine consecutive wins in the world championship lasted for 60 years, and his dominance in the 1952 season is almost unparalleled. Ascari was possibly even faster than Fangio and dominated strong teammates like Giuseppe Farina, but he was a little error-prone and also had a short career after his early death at Monza.

Juan Manuel Fangio. The most successful Formula 1 driver for almost 50 years, Fangio won five world championships in the 1950s with four different teams, finishing second in his only other two championship seasons, while he could pull a great performance out of the bag like the 1957 German Grand Prix comeback win. His age also made his successes even more remarkable. However, perhaps he didn't quite have the raw speed of an Ascari or a Moss.

Stirling Moss. One of the great all-rounders with success in so many different cars, and perhaps the strongest list of great drives by driver. Moss was on another level to the competition between 1958 and 1961 but chose to drive less competitive cars as he liked to be presented as the underdog. He was a very complete driver with all different types of great wins such as tyre management masterclasses or comeback drives. But he never won the world championship.

Jack Brabham. On pure driving ability, Brabham would not be a contender having been so clearly outperformed by Dan Gurney over their three years as teammates. However, Brabham's overall contribution to his three world titles comes from his ability to make his cars great, beating Stirling Moss in 1959 by modifying his gearbox to make it more reliable and, in 1966, becoming the first and only driver to win a title in a car bearing his own name.

Jim Clark. The dominant driver of the 1960s with two of the finest championship campaigns ever in 1963 and 1965, where he won many races by huge margins and despite adversity like gearbox and engine problems. Clark was clearly the fastest at this time but was also incredibly smooth and could make the components on his car last longer than anyone else. But he often drove dominant cars and never raced in Formula 1 for a team other than Lotus.

Jackie Stewart. If this debate was a box-ticking exercise, it is difficult to find a weakness in Stewart's game. He was the dominant driver of the era, made few mistakes, had some great wins like the 1968 German Grand Prix domination in appalling conditions and won three world championships, including the last without the best car. He also was responsible for great advances in safety in the sport.

Niki Lauda. Perhaps most impressive for his remarkable story with the great comeback in 1976 after a fiery accident. Lauda also won three world championships including one after returning after his initial retirement. He was the best driver of his era but perhaps with less competition and didn't have as many great drives as others on this list.

Jacques Villeneuve. So many extraordinary moments, touted as potentially the fastest ever but with brilliant racecraft as well, and tyre management ability, that meant Villeneuve is revered despite just eleven Grand Prix wins. However, he was also inconsistent and error-prone. Maybe he would be a stronger contender had he not been greedy in his prime.

Alain Prost. Known as the professor for his smooth and calculated driving style, and with perhaps the most impressive statistical record of anyone as he outscored every one of his teammates over their entire time together, including three former and two future world champions. On the other hand, he didn't have the raw speed of Ayrton Senna, was prone to mistakes, and his racecraft wasn't on the same level as other drivers of his era.

Ayrton Senna. It was extraordinary that he was so much faster than Prost in qualifying over their two seasons as teammates, even though Prost maybe wasn't always giving it everything on these laps. His raw speed was surely his greatest strength and he also changed the game with his level of ruthlessness, although this sometimes went too far with questionable driving standards, and he made some unforced errors as well.

Michael Schumacher. A long period of domination where he broke almost every record available to him and played a huge role in the revival of Ferrari, while Schumacher also showed his level by dragging inferior cars into title contention and had a huge margin of superiority over his peers, although arguably in a weaker era. But he also had some questionable driving ethics, and was prone to mistakes, particularly in crucial moments when the pressure was on.

Fernando Alonso. Despite only two championships, Alonso for many years was able to outclass some strong teammates and his racecraft is among the greatest ever, but he was beaten by a rookie Lewis Hamilton and perhaps lacks outright pace compared to Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton. The most successful driver in history with seven titles and 103 wins, and also outperformed fellow great Alonso as a rookie. Hamilton can put in a truly remarkable drive, and is great in the wet, but has been beaten by weaker teammates in the championship three times.

Max Verstappen. The best driver on the current grid with one of the most impressive, dominant seasons in history last year, a history of destroying his teammates, and dethroning the previous great. However, his career is unfinished, and he hasn’t the same list of great drives as others.

Other. There are plenty of other drivers who might be considered contenders, including Felice Nazzaro, Giuseppe Campari, Achille Varzi, Graham Hill, Dan Gurney, John Surtees, Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Ronnie Peterson, James Hunt, Mario Andretti, Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Mika Hakkinen and Sebastian Vettel. Sorry that I couldn’t include them all as well.

I hope this thread can provide some entertainment over the off-season, some fun and constructive discussion about great drivers, and doesn’t become toxic. Sorry to the moderators if it does become toxic. If anyone has any top ten (or more than ten) lists, that would also be interesting, but I would mostly just love to see people’s opinions about who is the greatest, and why.



Wiki style adjustment 😉

#11 George Costanza

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 19:06

On a whole? Michael Schumacher. Because of what he did at Ferrari. Take a look at Ferrari before and after. I rest my case. It is very hard to win championships at Ferrari and so far nobody has done it like Michael. Alain tried, Fernando tried, Kimi couldn't replicate, Seb tried do what Michael did at Ferrari and no one else did it. Charles he won't either at the way Ferrari is going. If you take Michael out of Ferrari, suddenly Ferrari is very average, and they probably wouldn't have won championships, in fact they probably would be without a championship since 1979.... Michael was the only one to end that steak.

I will say this now Michael will be the last multiple world champion for Ferrari.

On raw talent? Probably Senna or Lewis or Max and Fernando are more talented than Michael. But on the overall picture? There only can be one... Michael Schumacher.

I think a 1995-2000 Schumacher does beat anyone with ease in equal cars. The man nearly won championships in 1997-1998 Ferrari when clearly wasn't the best car by any means. And Max is very similar and Max is doing exactly what Michael did.

Edited by George Costanza, 29 January 2024 - 19:24.


#12 Currahee

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 19:21


There's excellent arguments for all of them. There's arguments about who you could drop out of the list too. There's a few who always get left out the debate like Prost which I've always thought was unfair. He should always be in the debate. But for me its Jim Clark.

#13 George Costanza

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 19:23

What do you think F1 Frog?

I’ve gone for Schumacher, started watching in 94 and suspect prime Schumacher could beat anyone if he avoided the red mist.


Yes, Schumacher was already matching the likes of Senna and Prost in 1991-1993 seasons. Before his 1995-2000 prime.

#14 eab

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 21:42

 

Alain Prost. Known as the professor for his smooth and calculated driving style, and with perhaps the most impressive statistical record of anyone as he outscored every one of his teammates over their entire time together, including three former and two future world champions. On the other hand, he didn't have the raw speed of Ayrton Senna, was prone to mistakes, and his racecraft wasn't on the same level as other drivers of his era.

This is a joke or bait or something, right? The man had an unmatched ability of nursing his cars, when it was still part of the drivers' skill set, and not to be involved in crashes and damaging his cars. Went for almost a decade of hard, truly championship contending racing destroying just one chassis, in a time that it was not uncommon to go through several in a year due to the cars being much more fragile and a lot harder to control than the current cars-on-rails.

 

He was renowned for his racecraft, and indeed, it was not on the same level as others, but well above theirs. Like I said, this must be an attempt to troll. How the heck did he manage to go toe to toe against so many other world champions and outscore them all by being prone to mistakes, having poor race craft compared to them, and "not having the raw speed of a certain Ayrton Senna", getting the moniker 'the professor' and earning "perhaps the most impressive statistical record of anyone"?

 

He must've been into witchcraft too.



#15 Afterburner

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 21:51

My instinct tells me the top group on this list is comprised of Clark, Schumacher, and Verstappen (though TBD based on how the rest of his career goes, but deserves to be on the list on the strength of his '23 season alone), with Nuvolari, Fangio, Lauda, Prost, Senna, and Hamilton in the group just behind.

 

I would also without question remove Gilles Villeneuve from the list in favor of Mario Andretti.



#16 JimmyClark

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 21:54

Jim Clark for sure. He had no obvious flaws in speed, talent or personality. Honestly, if time travel was invented all I'd want to go back to Monza '67 and watch him (I would choose Germany 62, but the cars would go past too few times...).

I think only Schumacher or Senna could come close otherwise in my humble opinion. Max might well come into this conversation in a few years, his raw talent is undeniable, but you have to give preference to the 20th century drivers who literally put their lives on the line every time they sat in the car.

Edited by JimmyClark, 29 January 2024 - 21:54.


#17 ANF

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 22:05

On a whole? Michael Schumacher. Because of what he did at Ferrari. Take a look at Ferrari before and after. I rest my case. It is very hard to win championships at Ferrari and so far nobody has done it like Michael. Alain tried, Fernando tried, Kimi couldn't replicate, Seb tried do what Michael did at Ferrari and no one else did it. Charles he won't either at the way Ferrari is going. If you take Michael out of Ferrari, suddenly Ferrari is very average, and they probably wouldn't have won championships, in fact they probably would be without a championship since 1979.... Michael was the only one to end that steak.

I will say this now Michael will be the last multiple world champion for Ferrari.

On raw talent? Probably Senna or Lewis or Max and Fernando are more talented than Michael. But on the overall picture? There only can be one... Michael Schumacher.

I think a 1995-2000 Schumacher does beat anyone with ease in equal cars. The man nearly won championships in 1997-1998 Ferrari when clearly wasn't the best car by any means. And Max is very similar and Max is doing exactly what Michael did.

Schumacher was great but let's not forget that people like Jean Todt, Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne played a part in Ferrari's success.



#18 eab

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 22:06

 

Max Verstappen. The best driver on the current grid with one of the most impressive, dominant seasons in history last year, a history of destroying his teammates, and dethroning the previous great. However, his career is unfinished, and he hasn’t the same list of great drives as others.

The very best? That's quite an absolute statement. I guess you'll find many who'd disagree.

 

The notion that having, not one of the, but the most dominant season(s) in the championships' history, is impressive, without having some unavailable intrinsic data, is quite the erroneous take. The Hamilton legacy doesn't have its roots in his dominant Merc years, it's because he went head to head with Alonso, the reigning 2-time champ, and came out favourably. The Schumacher legacy doesn't rely on '02 and '04. We know the man was one heck of a racing driver because of the years he did not have the best equipment, and still achieved what he's achieved in them. Ayrton Senna wasn't considered 'best' because he dominated the grid in the '88 McLaren, he was because he did so while Prost, the 'bar', was sitting in the other one.

 

And about the "destroying teammates", yeah he dominated them when the team became solely revolving around him. I guess Sainz and especially Ricciardo really liked to be "destroyed", as the former came very very close and the latter simply outright beat him.


Edited by eab, 29 January 2024 - 22:10.


#19 F1Frog

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 22:11

This is a joke or bait or something, right? The man had an unmatched ability of nursing his cars, when it was still part of the drivers' skill set, and not to be involved in crashes and damaging his cars. Went for almost a decade of hard, truly championship contending racing destroying just one chassis, in a time that it was not uncommon to go through several in a year due to the cars being much more fragile and a lot harder to control than the current cars-on-rails.

He was renowned for his racecraft, and indeed, it was not on the same level as others, but well above theirs. Like I said, this must be an attempt to troll. How the heck did he manage to go toe to toe against so many other world champions and outscore them all by being prone to mistakes, having poor race craft compared to them, and "not having the raw speed of a certain Ayrton Senna", getting the moniker 'the professor' and earning "perhaps the most impressive statistical record of anyone"?

He must've been into witchcraft too.


I agree about the nursing cars ability and should have mentioned that. But my slight on the racecraft was about how much he lost out in traffic to the likes of Senna and Mansell, by his own admission. The mistakes thing was maybe a bit harsh because it was more about his early career when he made a lot of mistakes. Alain Prost is actually my all time favourite racing driver, but I don’t think he is the greatest.

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#20 F1Frog

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 22:13

Regular poster De Knyff might be mortally offended he doesn't even make the list of people we don't include. Robert Benoist and Herman Lang might also warrant a mention.


Yeah I should have mentioned Hermann Lang. I confess I don’t know much about Benoist apart from his part in the war, what were his greatest achievements as a driver?

#21 F1Frog

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 22:16

What do you think F1 Frog?

I’ve gone for Schumacher, started watching in 94 and suspect prime Schumacher could beat anyone if he avoided the red mist.


I am choosing between Stirling Moss and Jim Clark but haven’t decided yet. I change my mind often about this question.

#22 southernstars

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 22:32

Vowles made a good point on the High Performance podcast recently. He thinks Hamilton is more naturally talented, but Michael knew how to extract every millisecond from himself and his team, and a way of making the team follow him wherever he led by investing in them as people.

I think for me that sort of thing sets him apart.

#23 New Britain

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 22:39

Jim Clark for sure. He had no obvious flaws in speed, talent or personality. Honestly, if time travel was invented all I'd want to go back to Monza '67 and watch him (I would choose Germany 62, but the cars would go past too few times...).

I think only Schumacher or Senna could come close otherwise in my humble opinion. Max might well come into this conversation in a few years, his raw talent is undeniable, but you have to give preference to the 20th century drivers who literally put their lives on the line every time they sat in the car.

I'm glad that you cite personality, which includes sportsmanship and ethics, as a criterion. People will never agree on who was the greatest as they will never agree on what the criteria ought to be, but IMO poor sportsmanship disqualifies someone from being the greatest in any sport. Sportsmanship would not matter in assessing who was the fastest, who showed the best race craft, or who was the bravest, but when it comes to 'the greatest' sportsmanship should matter.



#24 thefinalapex

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 23:01

The very best? That's quite an absolute statement. I guess you'll find many who'd disagree.

 

The notion that having, not one of the, but the most dominant season(s) in the championships' history, is impressive, without having some unavailable intrinsic data, is quite the erroneous take. The Hamilton legacy doesn't have its roots in his dominant Merc years, it's because he went head to head with Alonso, the reigning 2-time champ, and came out favourably. The Schumacher legacy doesn't rely on '02 and '04. We know the man was one heck of a racing driver because of the years he did not have the best equipment, and still achieved what he's achieved in them. Ayrton Senna wasn't considered 'best' because he dominated the grid in the '88 McLaren, he was because he did so while Prost, the 'bar', was sitting in the other one.

 

And about the "destroying teammates", yeah he dominated them when the team became solely revolving around him. I guess Sainz and especially Ricciardo really liked to be "destroyed", as the former came very very close and the latter simply outright beat him.

 

You say for the others their reputation was cemented because what they did before their dominant era wich i agree with. But why that doesn't count for Verstappen? his 2019-2020 seasons or actually 2018 after monaco that year is as good as any driver from the past imo. That Ricciardo beat him is a take that can be debated as Verstappen already was getting the overhand at the end of the 2016 season if you followed that partnership closely as described here: https://www.racefans...do-at-red-bull/


Edited by thefinalapex, 29 January 2024 - 23:02.


#25 eab

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 23:11

I agree about the nursing cars ability and should have mentioned that. But my slight on the racecraft was about how much he lost out in traffic to the likes of Senna and Mansell, by his own admission. The mistakes thing was maybe a bit harsh because it was more about his early career when he made a lot of mistakes. Alain Prost is actually my all time favourite racing driver, but I don’t think he is the greatest.

Well, he has mentioned the traffic bit yeah, but he's also used the traffic in multiple instances to his advantage when he had to, famously like during several stages in Suzuka '89 and France '88, actually overtaking Senna for the win.

 

It was also (just) one of the many many more facets of 'racecraft', and not often decisive (and arguably unfair). Also, it's obsolete, so if it's used against any driver from the past, it must also be noted that the drivers from the period(s) it's not been an issue, like the current one (since the blue flags rule changed), are untested in this regard, so cannot be assumed to be any good at it. Ask Max  :lol:

 

The "he made a lot of mistakes in his early career" is something of a present-day racing urban legend. Just the fact that he became almost unbelievably consistent later on, doesn't make him the opposite just a little prior. He still made far less mistakes than the other drivers. And again, you put Prost against the yardstick of today's dull consistency era. Having hardly any gravel pits and grass and instead relying on endless runoff areas. Never-breaking cars or even car components VS cars that broke down all the time, cars that were more malfunctoning in almost every single session than today's in a whole season, needing constant care, cars in which it was oh so easy to make any kind of mistake that are literally impossible to make in the current era.

Like I said, his yardstick is his era, not the current foolproof one.



#26 ARTGP

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 23:37

What do you think F1 Frog?

I’ve gone for Schumacher, started watching in 94 and suspect prime Schumacher could beat anyone if he avoided the red mist.

 

I wouldn't call it red mist. He was just very calculated. 



#27 eab

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Posted 29 January 2024 - 23:39

You say for the others their reputation was cemented because what they did before their dominant era wich i agree with. But why that doesn't count for Verstappen? his 2019-2020 seasons or actually 2018 after monaco that year is as good as any driver from the past imo. That Ricciardo beat him is a take that can be debated as Verstappen already was getting the overhand at the end of the 2016 season if you followed that partnership closely as described here: https://www.racefans...do-at-red-bull/

It doesn't count for him, simply because he hasn't had such seasons. Aren't the '19 and '20 seasons touted as dull and Hamilton-walkovers? So how can they be compared to the Schumacher title challenging years in inferior machinery? You can't have it both ways, now can you?

 

'18 was, even if we're conveniently forgetting the first 30% of the season, as good as any driver from the past? How? By merely matching a left out and departing Ricciardo? Ricciardo even threw in a good bye present in the very last race for good measure, by beating him in quali and dominating him in the race until RB predictably put him on a ridiculous strategy and left him out to dry at the front while others behind him were several seconds a lap faster, claiming they were banking on a safety car or rain in the desert or whatever the BS reason was they came up with. And this all happened while RIC was left out out of all the technical debriefs for half the season, and having an ish load of technical retirements, and already having had to hear how the team would be build around Max and trying to make him the youngest champion and what not for over a year (or two) by then, go figure.

 

I have followed that "partnership" closely and I do and will not (click on and) follow the description of somebody who adheres to the opinion that gives him the most clicks and revenue, recognizing where a big part of his clientele comes from, and who on top of that, has a comical lack of understanding of numbers, as is evidenced by a number of articles.



#28 George Costanza

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 00:07

Schumacher was great but let's not forget that people like Jean Todt, Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne played a part in Ferrari's success.


Of course but remember they all wanted to go because of Michael. Without Michael it doesn't work.

#29 George Costanza

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 00:07

I wouldn't call it red mist. He was just very calculated.

IMHO Senna was more ruthless than Schumacher was. Ayrton was probably the most competitive and ruthless driver ever known.

Edited by George Costanza, 30 January 2024 - 00:09.


#30 George Costanza

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 00:11

Vowles made a good point on the High Performance podcast recently. He thinks Hamilton is more naturally talented, but Michael knew how to extract every millisecond from himself and his team, and a way of making the team follow him wherever he led by investing in them as people.

I think for me that sort of thing sets him apart.


That's pretty good example. Michael was relentless in his desire for success. I think that's why he was so successful at Ferrari.

#31 Nathan

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 02:17

but you have to give preference to the 20th century drivers who literally put their lives on the line every time they sat in the car.

 

 I'm less fussed by the romantics and personally think this is offset by the increase in personal performance demanded by contemporary (1978+) Grand Prix machines and the sports environment.  



#32 ConsiderAndGo

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 07:38

Schumacher. What he did at Ferrari, taking them from what they were to what they become, was like nothing I’ve seen in F1 before.

The fact that all the other big wigs at Ferrari left at the same time or very soon after says a lot to me. They knew. This is as good as it’s gonna get.

Edited by ConsiderAndGo, 30 January 2024 - 07:40.


#33 CoolBreeze

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 08:18

Schumacher.



#34 Beamer

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 08:34

sjeez, please not this again. Let me shortcut the discussion...

 

- My favourite driver!
- No my favourite driver!

- You can't compare drivers over different era's! 
- I know, but stlll... My favourite Driver!

- No my favourite driver!

- No , Your's is a cheat!

- No Your's is a fraud!

- Anyway, you cant compare drivers over different era's.... 

- I know, but still... My favourite driver 

 


Edited by Beamer, 30 January 2024 - 08:36.


#35 taran

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 08:43

I think Hamilton is getting a bit too much credit in the opening post for “beating Alonso”.

Hamilton did a magnificent job as a rookie, stellar preparation notwithstanding, but Alonso had to get used to Bridgestones and then was actively opposed by his own team (Ron Dennis famously saying they are racing Alonso with Hamilton). The FIA even needed to place an observer in the team to ensure he wouldn’t be sent out with only three wheels attached…..Not a situation conducive to strong performances IMO.

 

So I would consider Alonso matching Hamilton’s points total in 2007 after falling out with Dennis and the team more a sign of his greatness as a racer than Hamilton’s….

 



#36 Henri Greuter

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 08:46

Schumacher. What he did at Ferrari, taking them from what they were to what they become, was like nothing I’ve seen in F1 before.

The fact that all the other big wigs at Ferrari left at the same time or very soon after says a lot to me. They knew. This is as good as it’s gonna get.

 

 

I had seen something like that before already. Of course it being in line and according the possibilities of that particular time and era.

It even happened with the same team in conditions resembling what you saw in the mid and late 90's.

 

 

late 1973 and early 1974:  The arrival of Niki Lauda at Ferrari right after a restructure of the Ferrari team and organisation. And what followed then, be it for a shorter period of time.

 

 

 

 

Does this make Lauda my GOAT?   NO

 

I don't select a GOAT. I refuse to mention a GOAT. For me there is no GOAT possible.

It is simply impossible to BoP all drivers listed (and not listed) for their time, era, teams and whatever circumstance their careers took place in in such a manner that everything is equalled and levelled out, allowing an unbiased, objective, factual proven GOAT.

 

The list in the OP contains a number of extra-ordinary drivers of their days.

That is as far as I can go.



#37 BobbyRicky

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 08:48

Jim Clark.

 

HM: Markus Winkelhock for holding a record thats probably never going to be broken.



#38 ernestomodena

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 09:02

It has to be Schumacher for me. Hé created enviroments where championships could be won with even if it takes time. He did it with Ferrari and Mercedes.

While starting watching in the 90's. I could not say a lot about raw talents like Gilles, Clark. But I think Kimi had a lot of raw talent on the current grid I think Max has the most natural feel with a car. Something he is also showing when driving other cars like the DTM Ferrari or his sim racing.

But Max will never be a GOAT if he only wins with RB. So for me it's Schumacher or Niki



#39 F127

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 10:25

Nice list, whittling it down is very hard.... but playing the game.

 

Contenders:

 

LH, MV, JC - Dominant in dominant cars. Need to do extra to get in the bracket. JC fantastic but with one team. LH has more stature due to his McLaren years, MV needs to do a lot more in his career as he is pretty much equal to Vettel at this point.

 

AS, MS - Arguments for both, but their attitudes were (in different ways) un GOAT worthy. Sorry.

 

FA - As good as any of the above, but choices\luck harmed his record.

 

AP, NL, JMF - Close calls.

 

Runner Up

 

Jackie Stewart - The era, competition and his record.

 

GOAT.

 

Stirling Moss - He could deliver with any machine, under any discipline, without team favouritsm and had the personal qualities to be a GOAT.



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#40 garoidb

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 11:10

The very best? That's quite an absolute statement. I guess you'll find many who'd disagree.

 

The notion that having, not one of the, but the most dominant season(s) in the championships' history, is impressive, without having some unavailable intrinsic data, is quite the erroneous take. The Hamilton legacy doesn't have its roots in his dominant Merc years, it's because he went head to head with Alonso, the reigning 2-time champ, and came out favourably. The Schumacher legacy doesn't rely on '02 and '04. We know the man was one heck of a racing driver because of the years he did not have the best equipment, and still achieved what he's achieved in them. Ayrton Senna wasn't considered 'best' because he dominated the grid in the '88 McLaren, he was because he did so while Prost, the 'bar', was sitting in the other one.

 

And about the "destroying teammates", yeah he dominated them when the team became solely revolving around him. I guess Sainz and especially Ricciardo really liked to be "destroyed", as the former came very very close and the latter simply outright beat him.

 

How robust is it to judge either of those drivers long careers on that one season? If the initial promise was genuinely fulfilled, there would be no need to rest arguments so heavily on that season. Arguments based on his later career have more merit, in my view. 


Edited by garoidb, 30 January 2024 - 11:47.


#41 d246

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 11:11

Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart, Moss for the same reason Schuhmacher (and Senna) get pipped.



#42 F1Frog

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 11:17

My two leading contenders are Stirling Moss and Jim Clark. I think they were both totally complete drivers.

 

Both had extraordinary races where they just showed blistering pace that nobody else could even touch and dominated (For Moss, Morocco 1958 and Portugal 1959, for Clark there are many but France 1965 stood out because of the older car, or one of the many where he lapped the field in 1963).

 

They both dragged clearly less competitive cars into positions to win races (many for Moss, this is what he was known for, but most notably Monaco 1961, and Clark is famous for winning in the best car but he did this as well in 1966; his best drive would be Zandvoort even though he didn't win, and he got many poles that year in the 2-litre car with a 3-litre formula).

 

Clark had some dominant wet weather performances like Spa 1963 where he lapped the entire field (before letting McLaren back through), or Spa 1965 where he and Jackie Stewart left everyone standing. Moss has none of these in the world championship because there was no opportunity, but he was capable of them, as shown by him lapping everyone in the 1961 BRDC championship at Silverstone in the wet.

 

They also had some great comeback drives, Moss closing down Brabham and Bonnier at a second a lap in Zandvoort 1959 (a similar rate to Fangio at the Nurburgring) and Clark pulling a full lap back to catch the leaders at Monza in 1967.

 

As well as this incredible speed, they had a knack of looking after their cars when necessary. Clark is said to have done five consecutive races on the same tyres at some stage. I don't believe it, but as it is so widely reported there might be a lesser version that is true. It is said that other parts of his car like brake pads were so much less worn than anyone else's at the end of the race you could always pick out which was Clark's. In Silverstone 1965, he was also able to turn his car off around the fast corners to reduce oil-surge damage and win a race. Moss was accused of being a car breaker in 1959 but that was more down to his Colotti gearbox, and he too could be very kind on tyres. The 1958 Argentine Grand Prix is a perfect example as he was the only driver not to pit all race in his 2 litre Cooper and won with the tyres down to the canvas, while in Monza 1959 he looked after his tyres in the slipstream of the Ferraris until they had to pit and he won comfortably despite the car not being the best that day.

 

Both drivers were remarkably versatile, with Moss the best sportscar driver as well and winning the 1955 Mille Miglia and four Nurburgring 1000kms, well Clark was British Saloon Car Champion in 1964 and won the Tasman Series and Indy 500 in 1965. They were also versatile within Formula 1, both mastering the trail-braking style of the 1.5 litre era so being head and shoulders above anyone else, while Moss also was the best of the previous 2.5 litre era which was more about the drift, while Clark continued to be the best into the 3 litre era.

 

Clark crashed out of just one world championship race, Nurburgring 1966 while playing catchup without the best car. His only famous, costly error was at the 1965 Race of Champions. Moss crashed out of the lead in Monaco 1957. But compared to some other greats, they weren't at all error-prone.

 

In terms of the others, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher deserve a mention for their extraordinary speed, but I think both were too error-prone. Senna too often crashed while in total command of a race, often with backmarkers, while Schumacher cracked under pressure a few times and had some bad races in title deciders. Fangio seemed quite a perfect driver but I just think Moss was better and of nearly the same era. I am not sure Prost quite had the outright pace of some others and was prone to bad seasons. Hamilton is also prone to bad seasons and allowed Button, Rosberg and Russell to beat him in the same car even though he was better than them. Max Verstappen hasn't had enough individual, extraordinary performances yet, but could get into the Moss-Clark level in the future. Tazio Nuvolari also crashed a lot and was a bit inconsistent although was such a fast and exciting driver and is perhaps third on my list because of his bravery and finishing races in damaged cars, or as a damaged driver, that nobody else could ever have done.

 

One driver I think also deserves a serious mention is Jackie Stewart, just because there are absolutely no weaknesses in his game. My only argument against him being the greatest is that I have just written a lot about just how extraordinary Moss and Clark were, and it is difficult to go into the same depth for Stewart.

 

Now I have to pick between my two contenders. I was tempted to go for Moss to give him a bit more recognition in the poll but that would be skewing statistics, and I am just about going to give it to Clark. I think Moss was maybe a tiny bit more inconsistent, and had a few races over his best years where he just wasn't quite on form whereas Clark was a bit more consistent. In 1965, I think Jim Clark put in the greatest season performance in history by one driver because his car might have been the best, but if it was then it wasn't by a large margin and was very equal to the BRM. Yet he consistently won every race he finished comfortably, including with some particularly special drives in Spa-Francorchamps, Rouen-Les-Essarts and Silverstone that year, all mentioned above. Nuvolari, Senna, Schumacher, Stewart, Prost, Hamilton all come close, and Moss is number two for me, but I will go with Jim Clark as the GOAT.



#43 taran

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 11:31

Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart, Moss for the same reason Schuhmacher (and Senna) get pipped.

Moss was fast. talented and versatile but never winning the title must count against him. You can't talk about the goat in a World Championship and suggest picking the guy who never won it. Fangio knew what was truly important and that wasn't heroic wins for a privateer team or being the best #2 driver. He'd swap teams in a heartbeat to get a faster car.

 

I also find it funny that some feel that a Max Verstappen for example has to prove himself outside of a Red Bull car but happily put up Clark and Stewart who were one-team ponies too. Even Schumacher falls in that category. The Ferrari legends team was nothing but the Benetton crew in drag with just Briatore exchanged for Todt/Montezemolo. If winning titles with multiple teams means that much, why aren't people like Lauda, Piquet, Prost and Hamilton to name a few not higher up?



#44 Diablobb81

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 11:36

Great choices and maybe you can add a few but there can be only one Michael.

#45 F1Frog

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 11:40

I am surprised at the poll results so far. I thought Ayrton Senna would dominate.

#46 New Britain

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 11:55

I think Hamilton is getting a bit too much credit in the opening post for “beating Alonso”.

Hamilton did a magnificent job as a rookie, stellar preparation notwithstanding, but Alonso had to get used to Bridgestones and then was actively opposed by his own team (Ron Dennis famously saying they are racing Alonso with Hamilton). The FIA even needed to place an observer in the team to ensure he wouldn’t be sent out with only three wheels attached…..Not a situation conducive to strong performances IMO.

 

So I would consider Alonso matching Hamilton’s points total in 2007 after falling out with Dennis and the team more a sign of his greatness as a racer than Hamilton’s….

Another factor to consider regarding their battle in 2007 is that Mosley effectively stole points off Alonso in Hungary. If the swine had not done that, Alonso - not Raikkonen or Hamilton - would have been 2007 WDC.

 

Then again, Hamilton's doing what he did as a rookie up against the reigning twice-WDC was bloody impressive.



#47 F127

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 12:10

Moss was fast. talented and versatile but never winning the title must count against him. You can't talk about the goat in a World Championship and suggest picking the guy who never won it. Fangio knew what was truly important and that wasn't heroic wins for a privateer team or being the best #2 driver. He'd swap teams in a heartbeat to get a faster car.

 

I also find it funny that some feel that a Max Verstappen for example has to prove himself outside of a Red Bull car but happily put up Clark and Stewart who were one-team ponies too. Even Schumacher falls in that category. The Ferrari legends team was nothing but the Benetton crew in drag with just Briatore exchanged for Todt/Montezemolo. If winning titles with multiple teams means that much, why aren't people like Lauda, Piquet, Prost and Hamilton to name a few not higher up?

 

I totally get your point. However, I respectfully disagree, greatness is based on more than stats. Heroic wins or outperforming a defined number 1 in a team is exactly what defines brilliance. Most good drivers with a great team behind them can win in the fastest car on the grid. 


Edited by F127, 30 January 2024 - 12:11.


#48 ensign14

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 12:12

 

Jim Clark. But he often drove dominant cars...

 

 

"The fastest thing about the Lotus 25 was Jim Clark."  -Ron Tauranac



#49 Peugeot905evo1bis

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 12:47

Schumacher for me.



#50 JG

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Posted 30 January 2024 - 13:08

1950’s Fangio / Ascari
1960’s Clark / Stewart
1970’s Lauda / Fittipaldi
1980’s Prost / Piquet
1990’s Senna / Schumacher
2000’s Alonso / Raikkonen
2010’s Vettel / Hamilton
2020’s Verstappen / ?