Ayrton Senna vs Michael Schumacher

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, 470150

Last week I asked for your suggestions for F1 Fanatic articles. And coming out on top with almost 100 votes was this topic from Tom Bellingham…

It could have been one of Formula 1’s greatest rivalries. Instead, while Michael Schumacher romped to race wins and world championships in the mid-1990s everyone wondered how it might have been if Ayrton Senna hadn’t perished on May 1st, 1994.

Fourteen years on, Schumacher is retired and playing with motorbikes. Between them they scored ten world championships. But how can we compare their careers?

Career stats

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2004, 470313

Starts Wins (%) Poles (%) Fastest laps (%) Podiums (%) Mechanical failures (%)
Ayrton Senna 161 41 (25.47%) 65 (40.37%) 19 (11.80%) 80 (49.69%) 30 (18.63%)
Michael Schumacher 248 91 (36.69%) 68 (27.42%) 76 (30.65%) 154 (62.10%) 23 (9.27%)

Statistics are all-too easily abused so I’ve selected a few that give us clear and indisputable data.

Senna’s prowess in qualifying is well-documented. Although Schumacher set pole position on three occasions more than Senna – the only person to break the Brazilian’s record – he started 87 more races.

It has been suggested of Senna that he concentrated too much on qualifying at the expense of his race speed, which his comparatively lower number of race fastest laps would support.

It’s important to qualify any conclusions we draw about their race performances by looking at the reliability rates of the cars they drove. Despite his much greater number of race starts, Schumacher actually had fewer race-ending car failures than Senna.

Similarly we must also consider how competitive the cars they drove were and this is where the discussion becomes very subjective. For the sake of argument, let’s consider these were the seasons in which each drove cars capable of winning the championship:

Senna: 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994*
Schumacher: 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999**, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006
*Senna died in the third race of 1994
**Schumacher was injured halfway through 1999

Schumacher’s victory total of 91 is staggering and exceeds his nearest rival, Alain Prost, by 40 wins. But, given the same equipment and level of reliability, might Senna have matched Schumacher’s record? I think so.

Read more Michael Schumacher stats here

Team mates

Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, McLaren-Honda, Adelaide, 1988, 470313

Senna: Johnny Cecotto, Elio de Angelis, Johnny Dumfries, Saturo Nakajima, Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger, Michael Andretti, Mika Hakkinen, Damon Hill

Schumacher: Andrea de Cesaris, Nelson Piquet, Martin Brundle, Riccardo Patrese, Jos Verstappen, JJ Lehto, Johnny Herbert, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello, Felipe Massa

Much is made of the argument that Schumacher ‘never had a real team mate’ and although I have some sympathy for it I do think it can be over-stated.

Senna, for example, vetoed the presence of Derek Warwick at Lotus alongside him in 1986 and the team promoted the far less experienced Dumfries instead. (Not that this practice was unusual even then – Nelson Piquet had barred Senna from joining him at Brabham as a rookie in 1983).

But Schumacher institutionalised the practice of having a dedicated number one at Ferrari. Only the most blinkered fan would argue he would have won as many races between 1997 and 2005 with a Mika Hakkinen or Fernando Alonso alongside him instead of an Eddie Irvine or Rubens Barrichello.

Schumacher never shared a top car with a driver of anything like Alain Prost’s calibre, but we must remember Senna was only partnered by Prost for two years. Their bitter rivalry was unlike anything the sport has seen before or since (Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso included) the spoils were quite evenly split – although mechanical reliability had a substantial say in Prost winning the ’89 title.

The competition

Another aspect of this comparison which, like the competitiveness of their machinery, it hard to assess empirically, is how good their other rivals were.

Were the likes of Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Riccardo Patrese and Gerhard Berger tougher opposition for Senna than drivers like Juan-Pablo Montoya, Jean Alesi, David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen were for Schumacher?

Within their teams

What sort of a role did the two play within their teams?

Much has been made of Schumacher’s efforts to reinvigorate Ferrari and, whatever you think of the means by which it was achieved, the results were staggering and are still being felt to this day.

Technicians who worked with Senna raved about the detail and accuracy of his observations about a car’s handling, partiularly in the days when on-board telemetry was in its infancy.

But Senna arguably did little to improve McLaren’s lot in the early 1990s as his high salary demands coupled with the team’s need to purchase engines following the departure of Honda stymied development of the team. Ron Dennis can hardly have been impressed when Senna then offered to race for Williams at no cost…

The controversies

Let’s get one thing clear: neither driver was above taking off a championship rival in a deciding race.

Senna may have only done it once but his willingness to do it at a speed of around 150mph (Prost having taken him out at a comparative snail’s pace the year before) shocked and appalled many.

Schumacher on the other hand had the audacity to try it twice – once with success in 1994, and once without in 1997.

Controversy about Senna was generally confined to his robust methods of defence, something that Schumacher also got quite a lot of criticism for. I do feel that a lot of what Senna got criticised for seems fairly tame by modern standards – his squeezing of Prost towards the pit wall at Portugal in 1988 elicited shrieks of outrage at the time but today we would probably consider it a straightforward defence.

Perhpas in time we will come to see some of Schumacher’s defensive moves including the notorious ‘Schuey chop’ in much the same way? But the brazen and transparent stunt he pulled at Monaco in 2006 will surely not be remembered so kindly, nor the arrogance with which he and Ferrari presumed no-one else would figure out what he was up to.

So which was better?

Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, TI Aida, 1994, 470313

If you ask me which driver I preferred, I can answer quite easily: Senna. Why? Well, when traction control first came into F1 in the early 1990s Senna argued passionately for it to be banned, claiming it detracted from the skill of the driver.

Schumacher never had time for questions such as the sporting merit of Formula 1. He even once admitted that, when he first watched the sport as a spectator, he didn’t much enjoy the experience. I may respect his talent, but as he’s not a fan of the sport I could never really warm to him.

But which was the better driver? That is far harder to answer.

In some ways the two are products of their time. Schumacher perfected the art of strategic racing; Senna was a master at street circuits when they were much more common in the sport.

I still think only Jim Clark could approach Senna in terms of speed over a single lap. However, even taking into account what I’ve written above about car reliability and relative car qualities, I still think Schumacher was fractionally the better driver over a race distance.

But looking at the entirety of their careers, the sophistication of the cars they drove and the opposition they faced inside and outside their cars, for me Senna was the greater driver.

What do you think?

Ayrton Senna biography
Michael Schumacher biography

This topic was suggested by Tom Bellingham. If you’ve got an idea for an F1 Fanatic article suggest it using the “Suggest an article for F1 Fanatic” box and other readers will vote on it. You can also email ideas to Keith using the contact form.

81 comments on “Ayrton Senna vs Michael Schumacher”

  1. Well,

    I think that the stats answer to the question ! Let’s see :
    – About wins, competitors of Senna are not the same than for Schumacher (mansell, prost) !
    – Best lap : depending on technology not on the driver
    – Pole position : this is for me the best indicator, cause it’s depending of the drivers skills only ! It compared the driver with other one and for the same period ! And senna get 40 % of pole position ! He was almost on pole position every 2 races !

    Compare Senna and Prost will be a real debate :)

  2. in response to your new artcile i was wondering if we could create a new stats table for schumacher where we only take his first 161 races. thus the same amount as ayrton senna. I feel this could be a intresting angle that f1fanatic would enjoy seeing, congratulations on the website its a cracker.

    could someon please forward this to the contact us response section as my laptop for some reason will not let me!

    cheers

  3. Great article, and very fair. It’s always going to be an emotional argument, but when you listen to how Senna spoke so passionately and profoundly about his own driving, I kind of get the impression he could have lifted to the challenge of Schumacher.

    I’ve always thought Michael was the more complete driver, in terms of everything in and out of the car, but for raw speed alone it is hard to look past Ayrton.

  4. Although this may sound stupid, I believe that Schumacher was the better racer, but that Senna was the better driver.
    Schumacher could plan his races better, he knew when to push and when to hold back, and he also knew no fear – he proved this in his final race at Brazil in 2006.
    However, if you put them in equal cars, I think Senna would have the edge. Senna got to the top by using his skills as a driver, whereas Schumacher maximised the whole package – his own talent, the car he was given and his technical team.
    Unfortunately, I think that many people choose not to see a reasoned argument, and favour Senna over Schumacher because Senna’s story is much more emotional and romantic than Schumacher’s. Fans of the sport choose to see Schumacher’s felonies and block out Senna’s.
    For me, Senna is the greatest driver in the history of the sport, but Schumacher does not get the respect he deserves as the man who showed everyone in the sport how to win.

  5. Jonesracing82
    29th May 2008, 13:31

    for me it’s Senna hands down!
    not only did Senna take on Prost and Mansell, he also took on Piquet in his prime! not to mention Lauda and Rosberg in thier latter years, plus the cars of Senna’s era were much less reliable!
    with the “H” pattern gearboxes he often finished races with a gear missing etc, now, they lose one gear and the race is over!
    it would have been an incredible era and i think Senna would have come out on top!

    1. I believe you are the first person other than myself that mentions the “H” gearbox and the higher level of skill it requires. This is why I think Schumy will always be second to Senna, and Prost for that matter.

  6. Scott Joslin
    29th May 2008, 13:41

    I would not use qualifying as a sole gage of talent. Besides, Schumacher lived in an area where fuel strategy impacted on qualifying pace, and qualifying rules were changing every year plus parc ferme meant that he couldn’t always set the car up for the fastest lap on a Saturday afternoon, he had to consider Sunday as the priority.

    Despite all the stats and the fact they were completely polorised in personality – Senna fiery and emotional and Schumacher cold and collected, I find their careers hard to separate.

    Schumacher should get my vote, but Senna just takes it as he lived in an era when there were multiple world champions racing that he had to over come – Piquet, Prost, Lauda. Schumacher unfortunately – due to no fault of his own raced in the prime of his career when there was a glut of quality.

    Both were ruthless to the extreme, whether it be taking a rival off at 150mph or parting up deliberately to spoil the rest of the fields qualifying.

    Had Senna not been taken from us at Imola, I don’t feel he would have raced on successfully in F1 too long after 1994 anyway to rival Schumacher – but that is another story

  7. As a brazilian who grew up watching Senna’s third title and his final years with McLaren, especially 1993, it’s impossible for me to choose anyone else than Ayrton…

    Trying to be rational, I would say Senna was the greatest in the art of taking the most out of the car under extreme conditions (qualifying, street circuits, rain, mechanical gremlins), while Schumacher was the master of strategy…

    For me, if Senna had the right car during more seasons (and had he won the controversial 1989 championship), his statistics would be better.

    By the way: excellent article of yours, one of the best ever of your blog!

  8. I agree with Scott.Schumacher had to deal with fuel strategies for race day. Senna was my hero but in all honesty Schumi was the greater driver. I think this topic will be heatedly debated over personal like and dislike of the two and not their abilities. Its almost like trying to compare Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. Two different generations, different tools. Rather compare Senna with Prost and Michael with Hakkinen.

  9. Put all statistics aside and let see another side of the question: entertainment! When we seat to watch races we doesn’t thinking just about statistics at all. There something more about it…

    In fact we want to see the best show on earth at 310 km/h. Sorry to say, but any driver was better entertainer than Senna.

    His victory in Brazil in 93, his first lap in Donnington/93, his first Monaco race with a Toleman, the race in Japan that gave him his first championship and many more…

    Donnington/93, Brazil/93, Monaco/84 in all this cases he doesn’t have the best car on grid. In Japan/88 his race recover, coming from 18º, was made in the wet, against Prost, one of the best ever.

    Michael was a bureaucratic. His best pass moves was made through the boxes, against a poor generation of drivers.

    Entertainment, guys! This is what made Senna better than Michael and put him aside Jim Clark.

  10. I have to go for Senna. Schumacher did everything he could to avoid having a competitive team mate. When he was looking for a move from Benetton as reigning double world champion he could have gone to McLaren and taken on Hakkinen in equal equipment but he dodged that to go to Ferrari and build the team round himself. Ron tried to sign him a few times but refused to give him number one status.

    Senna on the other hand with 3 seasons experience and only a few race wins to his name went to McLaren which at the time was seen as Team Prost and took Alain on head to head and drove him out the door. There is not the slightest chance that Schumacher would have gone to a team with Senna in it and tried to take him on head to head before he won a title and firmly established hi reputation and future financial wellbeing.

    Prost it should be remembered chose to go up against Lauda in equal equipment when McLaren was Team Lauda.

    Schumacher really cannot be compared with these drivers. I am not saying he was not a great driver but these two were a bit above him.

  11. Schuma.. what?
    I have my own special way to measure great drivers…
    If the guy has got more poles than wins to me he is the kind of guy I like. Of course he’s got to quite a lot of these to be in my list… For me a racer must be quick and taking risks (not with his life or other’s indeed) so he won’t win all the races he leaded on the grid.
    Amazingly the 2 drivers that top my charts are the drivers that I have loved (and I still love to watch on tape, DVD…) to watch racing…

    Senna and Clark the elite drivers!

  12. The problem about comparing Schumacher with anyone is the way he achieved his wins. To read or hear Barrichelo about his days at Ferrari is really painful. You can’t compare Schumacher as a driver/racer, because his wins were not about driving/racing but about being alone at the front from 2000-2004. And how many of his fantastic stats are from this period?

  13. Dave, great idea, please Keith make it so!

    Vertigo, Brazil 2006 should be ignored, it was his last race…. so people got out of his way out of courtesy

  14. sush have u been able to forawrd my message on?? im really annoyed it wouldnt let me lol technology great itll it doesnt work. i have a feling it will be much much closer infact i think senna may edge the statistics with the first 161 reults form eachdriver taken. i think that will give us a better measure

  15. Senna is the best hands down in my mind at least. I grew up in Rio de Janeiro in the early 80’s watching Senna as a kid. He was my hero and a true champion, gentleman and a genuine class act. When he perished in 1994 it was a shock to all of Brasil and Brazilians world-wide. Every now and then when I read the articles about Senna it brings a tear to my eye, that he is no longer with us. That being said I am not taking anything away from Michael, as far as stats go he is definitely better. But if you throw in charisma and sportsmanship into that formula, I don’t think anyone is better then Senna, and obviously he was also an incredible driver, that had an unfortunate early departure.

  16. I agree, but it is hard to judge.
    But I Think the 93 season showed how good Senna actually was… he won races with that car :)

    Schumi is a great great driver, but his stats are a bit too much as he had a dominating car and position in his team. Ok it was for a deal because of himself that Ferrari got so dominant, so hats off for that!

  17. 1993 was the year when Senna was at his prime and we saw how much can he got from his mechanical means against the all powerful Williams team. 1994 could have seen him win the title but it was never meant to happen. I wonder what would have happened if Senna was able to continue running all through the 90’s? Williams was the team to beat, the powerhouse … the best team in the business. One can only dream anyway.

  18. A very difficult subject, and Senna’s era and Schumacher’s were so different. Its a bit like asking
    if Senna was better than Jim Clark for instance? Very, very difficult.
    Michael Schumacher is a great driver, but also a genius at making the most out of a situation, and the people around him. By moulding the Ferrari team around
    him, Michael maximised his talent to unbeforeseen levels of success.
    Senna, on the other hand, never had that support and was never in that situation. Often, his main rival was driving the same machine as him, so it is completely different.
    I am convinced that Senna would have won two or three
    more championships had he lived, with Schumacher still being the most successfull champion.
    In terms of driving prowess, over a single lap, then Aryton was the best. When you look at the Williams team, and the quality of their cars between 1994 and 1998, its not hard to imagine Aryton winning again had he not been killed.
    Schumacher showed his class in joining a struggling team in 1996 and building them into the unstoppable force they have become in the sport. Two very different personalities, two very special drivers.

  19. Very nice article;

    I would like to add some points about the diference in their driving lives :

    -Senna like Clark have something in commom. They were the unlukiest among the quickest.

    -Senna Strugled for a good car, a number one position.
    Schumacher didn´t.He was under Mercedes contract, and declined it!. Imagine with Adrian Newey at Mclaren how many titles they could win…

    The point is that Schumacher was luckier. He could stay in Benetton until they became champions and go to Ferrari when they were not the best team. A luxurious act that Senna never dreamed of.Ayrton needed so badly to win that he sayd he would race for Willians for free. They experienced a very diferent life.

  20. Hmmm… If Senna had 1993, Schumacher had… 1996. Remember that horrific F310, which looked like a box and raced like one? Yet in spite of that, he managed to win 3 races in that car.

    As for the debate:

    Who do I like more? I’m in the minority here: I’m with Schumacher, easy. I was just amazed at how he turned Ferrari around from that stinker of a team to the team it was in 2000 (and to some extent, the present). As for that sportsmanship argument that’s always brought up, both of them have faults, so I think they cancel each other out on that one. Bottom line: I’ve always admired Senna’s bravery and courage, but I’m more attracted to Michael’s accomplishments and continued brilliance (Champions 5 years in a row!).

    But who is better? Ah, that is MUCH more difficult. And as much as they DID overlap, the prime of their careers were in 2 different decades: Senna prospered in the 1980s, Schumacher shone in the 2000s. And, much as I hate to say it, that makes this like comparing apples to oranges. They’re both fruits, but that’s as similar as it gets.

  21. TommyBellingham
    29th May 2008, 17:31

    Thanks for choosing my suggestion Keith :) I never got to see Senna drive and I saw Schumacher do so many great things as i began watching F1 in 1996. You pretty much covered everything I would of talked about in the article. Good job :)

  22. If Senna was racing in todays cars, with qually’s like that, he wouldn’t lose a race. At least back in the day if you qualified second you still have a change to overtake the leader.

    Senna was better hands down, Senna won due to ability, where as Shu won because of ability and the team effort, maybe he was the reason his teams were so good, but the debate was about driving ability, right?

  23. Journeyer
    I agree with that.
    And also Schumacher had a broken leg, Lost a title because of that. He “Strugled”, let say, for 4 or 5 years…

    But in the others years he was in confortable position.
    From the begining! The start in F1 for Michael was far more easier.After only one race, after 2 curves he went from Jordan to Benetton. A big move.

    Senna in Tolemann at Monaco overtaked Lauda, Rosberg formula 1 history and present and nothing happens! He need to show he was better then Elio de Angelis to be the number one at Lotus (there was no need). With Schumacher that never happens. He was never questioned.

    At first glance was easy to see that Senna and Schumacher were “the greatest” drivers. But Schumacher was “everytime” if I can say that, in a position he had nothing to loose. Michael was the first german to win a Title.Senna need to “prove” things that he didn´t need to prove.

    He had to prove the “big four” battle and after that, it happens to came the worst of all, Schumacher…

  24. Ago,
    I like the poles/wins idea. I have never heard that before. It makes some kind of sense but penalises drivers who won in cars that were not good enought to take pole.

    Maybe if you only look at drivers who had long careers it could be a meaningful measure but as an overall measure I can prove it is flawed.

    Gilles Villeneuve: 2 poles, 6 wins.

  25. Senna was good on qualyfying pace but not on race distance. He was up against tougher driver’s however i feel Schuey and Senna could be match on their desperste ruthlessness to win. They are both good drivers in their own way. Schuey surpassed Senna’s pole record only because fuel load affected qualyfying pace.

  26. Its not an easy thing to compare oppositions across eras either. I’d say that the reason the driver field felt shallow was because Michael completely dominated the field. The reason Senna, Prost, Mansell and Piquet are considered great is due to the 11 championships they have between them. In comparison only 2 of Michaels contemporaries won multiple championships and even in that Hakkinnen was pushed to the final race by Irvine of all people. Perhaps if Kimi goes on to win multiple championships we’ll get some more perspective on Michael as well.
    __________________

  27. Steven Roy
    30th May 2008, 1:20

    One of my favourite topics is to look at the number of drivers who should have given Schumacher a hard time in his career but for various reasons did not.

    Senna – obvious reason
    Jacques Villeneuve – went to BAR. Any sensible decision and he would have won more races and championships.
    Johnny Herbert – Before his F3000 accident he was being compared to Jim Clark. He was something very special but was never the same afterwards
    JJ Lehto – No sooner became Schumi’s team mate than he broke his neck
    Allan McNish – How he didn’t get an F1 drive I will never know. Everything he ever drove he was mega quick in and Marlboro gave him an F3 drive in preference to Hakkinen.

    Believe me I can list a load more. Schumacher raced against weaker fields than Senna because people who should have been taking races wins from him either died or injured themselves or decided to go and drive for a totally uncompetitive team or were never given the breaks they deserved.

  28. Schumacher chose to go to a team and started building it up from the scratch. In ’96 as people have already pointed out, with a dogmatic car, he still managed to pull 3 wins against almighty Williams’. Now he was fighting for championships in ’97 and 98, the cars though were not really up-to scratch. Schumacher was flattering the cars with his speed.

    Fangio(i know, not in the discussion) on the other hand, drove for all competitive teams and won 5 championships. Schumacher had the chance, but went with Ferrari instead of McLaren/ Williams(perhaps…). Think of the history, what it could have been.

    Also, i do not think people would have complained as much, if he was himself British or driving a British car. He drew much criticism early on in his career, cause he was a German, winning against British teams/ drivers. One may not like what i say, but to prove this wrong would be difficult. History would know him differently only if he were British or driving something that was.

    Schumacher raced against people who were not as prepared as him(already pointed out by someone), not less talented. The fact that Schumacher was able to build a team from scratch, and yet manage to win, is something that only reinforces this belief of mine.

    You all forgot the other Finn that drove for Ferrari. Mika Salo. Remember the speed. Remember gifting races to Irvine. Yet i think, few would have complained about Irvine taking those wins(and even the championship, if he had won that). Also, what about Salo’s drive? He never got a good car, before or after his brief stint with Ferrari.

    To me, Schumacher is one of the greatest drivers to grace the grid. Definitely my top 5. Raw speed? People forget Magny Cours’, ’04, with 4 pit-stops. Alonso was good. Renault were fast. So how would you explain that, other than just wonder if Schumacher is really really fast?

    My top 5 has Prost, Senna, Schumacher in it. In fact, i’d rather compare Prost with Senna, than Schumacher and again, Senna ain’t getting my vote. I rooted for Senna, but Prost i must say, was simply better.

  29. On the 161 results idea – I don’t actually think this will tell us very much because however you sliced it up would be completely arbitrary. Should you take the first 161 or the last? Or a group from the middle? Either way all you’re doing is skewing the data for no reason.

  30. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr
    30th May 2008, 10:28

    as a few have pointed out already you cant compare because of the different era’s they raced in.

    My vote goes to schumacher because i only started watching f1 in 96 and only seriously in 97 and schumacher was so much better than anyone else it was hard not to admire his talents. People suggesting he wasnt fast obviously are blind some of his wins were down to just plain raw speed, Hungary 98 for example he had to drive on the limit for about 20 laps it was unbelievable. then look at monaco 97 6 seconds ahead after one lap! also there are some people saying schumachers best overtaking moves were in the pits, you cant blame that on him the cars he drove wern’t easy to overtake with if you look earlier on in his career he was a very good overtaker. he was always going to dominate when he had the best car thats why he made it look so easy in 2001,2002 and 2004.

    Sadly i never got to see senna race live, i was only 9 when i started watching f1 so i can only go off the videos o have which are the season reviews which isnt ideal. also someone mentioned that schumacher would never offer to race for free like senna did as if to say senna would have been broke doing it. he was demanding $1million per race in 93 so he was hardly in need of the money.

    i could go on all day but like i said you cant compare these two because of the different era’s

  31. STGE – Perhaps, but this is not like comparing Robert Kubica with Tazio Nuvolari – Senna and Schumacher raced against each other 41 times.

    The sport was inordinately different when Senna arrived in 1984 than when Schumacher left in 2006, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look at the data and draw some reasonable conclusions.

  32. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr
    30th May 2008, 11:31

    i suppose keith, but il never be able to draw a reasonable conclusion because of the lack of footage i have seen of senna. never mind

  33. It’s conspicuous that Senna has so few fastest race laps compared to his pole positions and wins. You start to wonder why this is so. One possible reason I can think of is that at Senna’s time fastest laps where typically made in the final laps because the car was lightest then. Maybe at that stage Senna was often in a situation (e.g. leading comfortably) where he didn’t need to push anymore. After all, Senna holds the record of race wins where the winner has lead the entire race from start to finish. But I don’t think the records of other top drivers of the same era show similar tendency.

  34. The answer will be much simpler in the future: as soon as someone develops the time machine, the first thing to do should be going back to Imola ’94 and prevent Ayrton from racing. Thus we could see both of them racing against each other…

    1. Would it be wonderful if Senna took a break just for that one race?? He was in pretty sad shape emotionally after all those horrible racing accidents that weekend!!

  35. Senna in common with Schumacher had tremendous leadership skill. Williams had some trouble with the FW16’s aerodynamic pitch sensitivity and mechanical grip, and by Imola they had already made improvements; I’ve wondered how far this would have been taken had Senna still been around – he certainly knew how to push for things to get done; a talent for hard work but just as importantly hard work done the right way.

    Michael also had the Ferraristone situation. This was incredibly significant. Schumacher, Ferrari and Bridgestone worked together to make this happen, and it was a vital ingredient for their success, as well as their difficulties in 2005. No other team had managed to get a tyre supplier to develop just for them, and indeed Schumacher had wanted Goodyear to do precisely this back in ’97 but they would not. The closest analogue one can draw to this in Senna’s time was Honda’s engine partnership which bore fruit most spectacularly in ’88 and also 89-90 (before the wrong turn into V12 territory) – Mclaren had the best engines in the field.

    I still feel to this day that for all Schumacher’s talent and achievements there was a higher cost in sportsmanship compared to Senna. I respect that other people do not feel the same way.

  36. Many good points in this topic – I grew up watching Senna and Schumacher. Schumacher was the one who really got me excited about F1, namely because of his raw speed in cars his team mates could hardly get into the top 10 with, aswell as his amazing ability to strategise during the race. Add to that his uncanny ability to be a lot quicker than most on his in and outlaps(thru which he won not a few GP’s). Senna was a great racer, but Schumi was a better package overall, in my book.

    Also think about the fact that when Senna died, he was battling to beat Schumacher, wheras Schumacher was getting better and better. This was why Senna felt the need to try and intimidate Schumi on and off the track. It was however, such as shame they didn’t race against eachother for longer.

    And for taking Ferrari to the top, well, that was special.

    As far as contoversy goes, both drivers had planty of it, but I believe because of their hunger to win. People have tended to forget what Senna got up to, maybe because time has passed by. Perhaps the same will be true of Schumacher, but I do think sometimes he gets a lot of stick simply because of his seemingly arrogant personality…not that I think he is.

  37. Dasman,
    Please tell me what Senna “got up to”. I can list quite a couple of “incidents” on MS’s side, and one on Senna’s that is *highly* debatable (Suzuka 90):
    To quote Senna after the farce in *89*: “I didn’t cause the accident. It was never my responsibility. And that you should see in a video. (…) So, of course I thought about not racing anymore. And I thought about not coming to Australia, and then not racing anymore. (…) But racing, competing, it’s in my blood. It’s part of me. It’s part of my life, I’ve been doing it all my life, and that stands up before anything else.”
    Kind of put what would happen a year later into perspective, doesn’t it?
    Now tell me, what has MS got to offer in defence of his attacks on Hakkinen (Macau, F3); Hill (94) and Villeneuve (97)? And while you’re at it, please explain: barge boards, wider tires, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello, Spinning on purpose in Qualifying, crashing on purpose at the Rascasse, refuelling 12,5% faster, ignoring black flags, serving stop/go penalties after the race is over, etc, etc, etc, etc…

  38. First of all,it is very difficult to compare them to each other as both of them reached their peak in a different area in terms of of regulations,engine specifications and technology know-how etc.!
    I would go for Schumacher bec. he took the car from being a soap box to a winning car.Same goes for the fact that has extensively developed the car.Jody Scheckter wins the drivers’ championship in 1979 which was the team’s last drivers’ title for 21 years.Schumacher brought the fame,victories and prestige back to the Italy based team!!!

    McLaren was already a leading team since 1984…before Ayrton Senna even arrived…and Alain Prost,Niki Lauda helped McLaren alot in the development of the car…Meaning that Senna got a ready made championship winning car.Schumacher did all this by himself.There is also another clear question:
    Did Senna win the championship with another time than McLaren?
    NO!

  39. Diacho – I think you may have confused Suzukas 1989 and 1990?

    As far as I’m concerned, Suzuka 1989 was Prost’s fault and Suzuka 1990 was Senna’s. Some people disagree.

    Nigel Mansell claimed Senna brake-tested him at Montreal in 1992 – when Mansell repaid the favour at Adelaide Senna piled into the back of him.

    Earlier in Senna’s career he was accused by drivers such as Keke Rosberg of using overly tough defensive tactics. I don’t think they would raise an eyebrow by modern standards but at the time it was considered controversial.

    On another occasion at Monaco after setting the pole position time he suffered a car failure and rather than pull up, drove on, coating the racing line in oil.

  40. Keith is right about the incidents at Suzuka. In 1990 Senna said that if Prost and himself went into the first corner side by side he would not lift. They did he didn’t. It was the single most stupidly dangerous thing I have seen on a racetrack. When he was shown the video at the start of the next season his first comment was ‘That’s a lie it didn’t happen like that.’ It was a video of the incident from start to end and he disputed that it was real. So Ayrton’s assessment of videos should not be taken as proof of anything.

    While at times Senna’s driving was over the top Schumacher’s attitude was disgusting. He is responsible for the ridiculous one move rule we now have. We had the Schuey chop at the start of every race. We had the ramming of Hill and Villeneuve at the conclusion of two world championships. We have the despicable move putting Hakkinen on the grass at 200mph at Spa. He put Alonso on the grass on the Hangar straight at Silverstone etc etc etc. Senna started the decline in driver behaviour but Schumacher took it to a whole new level. Fortunately it looks like the new generation have chosen to ignore his bad example.

    There is one other factor to consider. Someone mentioned before about the number of start to finish wins by Senna and generally Senna drove the car himself. Schumacher on the other hand because of the rules prevalent at the time had Ross Brawn in the co-pilot’s seat. How often did we see Ross find him a piece of track no-one else wanted whre he could drive fast on his own and take the lead at a pit stop? Now it is not Schumacher’s fault the rules were as they were but he would not have had the same level of success had he had to race wheel to wheel for every position he gained.

    One year at Imola he went from 12th to 2nd but only overtook one car. Instead of disputing each position on the same piece of tarmac as his opponent he frequently was given a free piece of road by Brawn and a lap time target to achieve to ensure he won.

  41. Hi, Keith
    very valid criticisms of Senna, still nothing close to what I listed on Schumacher’s side, IMO.

    About 89/90: Senna’s comments that I mentioned (and that had such an impact on me that I know them by heart) were made in 89, after Adelaide. I used it to show Senna’s main reason for his wrong doings the next year. Sorry for the confusion. You know, english is not my native tongue :)

  42. A debate that I believe will never find an ending. Unfortunately, at the risk of stating the obvious, unless Senna comes to life and a monumental showdown occurs between the two drivers, in equal cars and they do a ‘best of 10’ races scenario, we simply will never know despite how many salient points we all may argue.

    I do firmly agree with a number of the aforementioned comments regarding the fact that we simply cannot compare eras. In the ‘older’ days, the drivers just had to get into the car and drive. That’s it! Nowadays (and I believe to the credit of modern F1 drivers), they not only have to drive their cars (which are by far quicker and more technologically advanced than earlier versions) but they also have to MULTITASK (even just to get the car off the line!!) in a way that the drivers of old never could have imagined. As such I believe that potentially a number of earlier great drivers might struggle in the modern format. A great modern driver now must be able to do both. Drive and Think!!! If they only have driving ability but little or no multi-tasking ability / mind for strategy, they’d never win a race let alone a championship.

    Be that as it may, and I truly hope this isn’t seen as a cop-out, but Schumacher has achieved more in F1 than any other F1 driver in history. On top of everything else, 7 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!!…..and for that alone, I have to say that Schumacher is the greatest F1 driver ever!

  43. Diacho,

    I think Keith has showed what I meant by Senna’s tactics.

    My point was not to keep score as to who did what, but rather to state that I feel that both had similar motivation for whatever they did. They had a massive hunger to win.

    That said, a number of the things you list are either highly debatable, or only protested by the anti-Schumi brigade. Since you asked, here are my views on these incidents:

    ie. Hill 94 – this has been debated to death, IMO a racing incident. Hill dived in, Schumi closed the door. Notice it was Schumi who was punted off the track in that one. Stewards verdict – racing incident.

    Jerez ’97 – MS to blame on this one, nevertheless, I believe he turned in too late as JV came thru from miles back. He should have turned in earlier and he would have been rammed from behind, similar to Jenson and DC earlier this year.

    Barge boards – huh? Ruled illegal, then overuled legal by FIA, if you’re referring to the same incident. How is that MS’s fault? Or maybe its a “conspiricy”…

    Wider tires – again, huh? I thought that was Michelin not Bridgestone, again how was that MS’s fault?

    Eddie Irvine, Rubens – MS simply drove the wheels off these 2 consistantly. Yes, they did beat him on occasion, but any suggestion that MS had a superior car is simply nonsense. Ferrari chose to support the driver most likely to win consistantly. So yes he was number one, but for the most part they had similar equipment.

    Spinning in Qualy – Proof? Or hearsay?

    Crashing at rascasse you say? – if he had crashed he might not have been penalised. Tight corner, final lap, up on your previous time. Stick it in as hard as you can in the last corner knowing that if you crash, your opponents can’t pass you to improve, if you make it, you take pole. Win, win? Didn’t work out that way.

    Refuelling 12.5 secs faster – I take it you refer to the Bennetton days? FIA approved the removal of the filters in question. Again, how was that MS’s fault?

    Ignoring black flag – Team decision while they protested to the stewards. Not MS’s call. Maybe could have taken the decision himself to retire.

    Stop/Go penalties after the race is over – extremely smart thinking, totally within the rules. This one had me chortling as it happened.

    So in reality, what do you have in your list that is credible? Jerez ’97 and perhaps Monaco 2006. The rest is all debatable or nothing to do with him at all.

    MS never felt the need to defend his tactics to you or I. He raced to win Grand Prix, not win popularity contests, not unlike Senna.

    As others have said, this is a debate that isn’t really fair, as they both raced in very different era’s of F1. Both brilliant drivers, but Schumi gets my vote…

    1. Fist at all @Dasman Senna won against Schumacher when they drive one against the other. Senna has more pole and more victories. Senna race against champions: Lauda, Prost, Piquet, Rosberg. And good pilots as the Lion Niguel Mansell.

      Schumacher is recogniezed as the most dirty driver and more punished in the all history of the F1. In 1997, for example the F1A [finally!] put him at the bottom of the list because he hit [as the same with Hill] his car against Villenueve. Same without any suspension in 1998, just for named few of the list, and the last was in Monaco 2006. And he never achieve epic race and never beat with inferior car 2 times World Champion as Senna did. In the F1, only Fangio, Clark, Rindt and Senna beat his pole time in a race. Senna in less than 21 laps in his first test in F1, beat the record of the circuit [Donigton Park with the 4th best team, Williams-Ford]. One thing is be a aggressive but sportman and other is be a dirty driver as Schumacer is. And finaly as I said previously, 217 pilots of F1 since 1950 to the modern era select in a very complicated survey designed by Autsoport Senna was elected as The Greatest of all The Times. And few weeks ago, was selected by 12 of 22 pilots of the actual F1 [Planetf1] as The Best. In my opinion, the pilots of F1 known more the F1 than us, the fans.

  44. Thank you, Dasman, for taking the time to answer all the points I raised. I do have different opinions on each, but this is not the place to go on about it, right?
    My vote is for Senna :)
    And I really am from the anti-MS brigade, hehehe.
    best regards!

  45. The way I see it you have twenty odd drivers driving F1 cars. In that bunch, you will probably, at a given time, get two or three drivers who will go above and beyond what is necessary to win.
    Its that mindset, that second is the first of the losers. That drive, that passion to win, that is all consuming, takes over them, and becomes addictive.
    There is ‘NO’ second place in a gun fight, and when there is a trophy to be won and millions of dollars at stake, you better believe it, people like Aryton, Michael, Nigel, Alain, and others are going to do whatever it takes.
    Remember what Aryton Senna once said: ‘You give everything you have, absolutely everything’. If I was in their shoes, I would do the same thing.
    I see it in Fernando, I see it in Lewis and glimmers of it in Massa too. That desire to be first, that desire to succeed, that is almost unbearable for them.
    I ‘LOVE’ human beings like this!
    You can’t cry when people are tagged, or put onto the grass, and then cry that the sport is boring. What more do you want?
    That is motor racing, that is Formula One. Look at Fuji last year, the battle between Kubica and Massa.
    Tell me, can one person reply and tell me, what was wrong with that? It was the most exciting, heartstopping finish to a race we have seen in years.

  46. Ayrton Senna V Schumacher! Schumacher was undoubtedly a fast and consistent driver.my problem with him was his attitude,his tactics on the track etc.I’m so glad he’s no longer there.Ayrton was certainly poetry in motion,epecially in that incredible performance he displayed at Donington.That to me marked him out as a truly great driver.In short there’s no comparison between the two.

  47. Ramming people onto the grass is not grand prix racing. There was nothing exciting about Schumacher putting Hakkinen on the grass at Spa. That was stupidly dangerous and Schumacher should have received a long ban for it.

    Villeneuve and Arnoux at Dijon was a little over the top but they respected each other enough not to put each other off the tarmac. That was exciting because although the performance of the cars was very different they were evenly matched. Schumacher was beaten as soon as Hakkinen arrived on his tail but instead of respecting him and the sport and leave him space Schumacher chose to ram him off the road. Any moron can ram someone off the road it takes no ability whatever and no class.

  48. @ Steven Roy

    What would you do, would you wave your opponent by? “So long bud! You take that win/championship. I don’t need it much.”

    I tell you what 99% plus people will do. They’ll close the door(they may/ will not admit it…). Schumacher drew much flak for his driving, cos he was a German plus not running anything remotely British. British control most of F1 media. You add 1 and another to get 2. It is that simple. Ayrton was not given much heat over the same and much much more, as he was driving a…. yes, you’re right, a British car. Well you guys make up your own mind. If you’re wondering, i’m an Indian, have nothing to do with Germany, even remotely so.

    So much so for ’94 championship. Stewards went out of their way to penalise him at Spa, which i do not think was fair. Hill was blatantly being favoured by the establishment. Like Hamilton is now, by Bernie(how else did he escape punishment a couple of times last year???). He’s mouthed off already against Alonso and Kimi that they do not do much for the sport(read do more promotions, which help making more money, for our dear ol’ pensioner). LOL, makes me approve of these blokes all the more.

    Speaking of ’94, well, me thinks Michael was in the front. If Damon knew well that Schumacher messed up, he’d have waited till he had seen through the corner and then tried to overtake, than jump him in the corner. Why do you think they categorised it as a racing incient. Especially since all through the year Benetton/ Schumacher were being penalised. Why’d they be so generous?

    About ’97 as explained earlier, Schu missed his braking point and ran wide. Of course, he’d have tried to come back onto the track and defend his position. That’s logical. He was not going to run onto gravel and let Villeneuve past easy, was he? Well he tried and i must say that it went pear shaped and can i add made him look silly.

  49. Sri, none of us are under the illusion that F1 isn’t dangerous. But Senna and Schumacher both did things (at Suzuka in 1990 and Spa in 2000) that needlessly put the lives of their competitors at risk. This is what Steven and many other people object to.

    However much you dislike Hamilton I don’t think conspiracy theories about him are relevant to a discussion about Senna and Schumacher. We’ve had dozens of other discussions where they might be:

    The most hated man in Formula 1
    Hamilton, Button & Sato cleared over tyre error
    Hamilton cleared over Fuji crash

    Your argument seems a bit contradictory. You seem to be saying ‘it’s OK for drivers to crash into each other deliberately’ but then regarding Adelaide ’94 are trying to persuade us that it was a ‘racing incident’.

    Neither of which I believe. If you allow drivers to crash into each other to settle championships then F1 will quickly become a farce, which is no doubt why Mosley has said Schumacher would not have been able to win a championship in that way today. And, knowing what we do about Schumacher’s tactics on occasions such as Jerez ’97 and Monaco ’06, I don’t think anyone but the most ardent Schumacher fan can give him the benefit of the doubt about what happened with Hill.

  50. Sri,
    Imagine a football match if every time someone went past an opponent he was rugby takled to the deck. That isn’t football. What Schumacher in particular did was not motor racing.

    A driver has the right to make passing him difficult bu he cannot weave around and push an opponent on to the grass. If an opponent gets alongside you have to allow them racing room. Pre-Scumacher that was something that no-one would ever have questioned.

    I love the idea that Schumacher fans think there is a conspiracy to help any other driver. You should know that Schumacher’s Benetton move was negotiated by Bernie. Benetton didn’t want him and Schumacher effectively told them he didn’t want to drive for them. Bernie told him to shut up and go to bed and in the morning he would be a Benetton driver. From that moment on with the exception of a couple of incidents in 94 Max and Bernie did everything they could to help him.

    At Adelaide Damon Hill came round a corner and saw Schumacher offline. He couldn’t possibly have known that Schumacher had damaged his car. It can only be a racing incident if both cars are racing. Schumacher’s car was badly damaged so why was he disputing a corner unless his intent was to take his opponent out.

    I love the idea that the FIA are biased in favour of Hamilton. Frankly that is about the dumbest thing I have ever heard anyone say about motor racing. Did you watch last season? McLaren were put through the wringer for doing something every other team on the grid has done since racing started. The FIA put an equality steward in the McLaren pit to make sure Lewis didn’t get any advantage over Alonso. That doesn’t sound like a conspiracy to help Lewis to me.

    Two or three races ago Massa set the pole position on a lap where yellow flags were being waved. Does that suggest pro-Lewis bias.

    McLaren acquired the sole rights to the J-damper design. They had the legal rights to this technology for the next 10 or 20 years. Renault stole the design and in common with several other teams including Ferrari are running it. McLaren are not allowed to run what they learned from the Ferrari dossier but everyone else is allowed to run technology stolen from them by Renault and given to Ferrari byt the FIA(read the transcripts of the Renault hearing)despite McLaren having the sole legal rights to it.

    Yet you think their is a pro Hamilton bias. Open your eyes.

    And a final point I am Scottish and British by protest. Lewis Hamilton being English is not an advantage from my perspective.

  51. What ‘am and was saying even then, is that these blokes are extremely competitive. Everyone of these fellas’ and most of us will block someone/ anyone, who will be looking to overtake us(i hope this is clear). Whatever else is said is in my opinion a tad too hypocratic.

    Sometimes Senna/ Schumacher did go a tad overboard and i do not approve of that. However, it is very questionable when a man tries to jump someone in a corner, when he knows that the other chap is potentially out with damage. Wouldn’t you think so? I’d think that it was at best avoidable by both parties. Both equally guilty, with Hill erring on the side of caution/ race-craft. No disrespect meant, but everyone makes a mistake. Hill did(i hope for his sake that he did move on), why can’t all these other people is beyond me.

    Why would i defend Schumacher? Am i his fan? Yes, but that by itself is no reason for me to speak for him. Do i defend his actions in Monaco, 2006? No, but i sure do wonder what happened? Everyone were quick to pass their judgments, but we never got to hear what Schumacher had to say. Since then he’s been silent on that. I never found the telemetry that was supposed to have had been made public after the incident was raked up in press. So no comments on this. However ’94 Adelaide is/ was something else altogether. Hill could have won, if he showed a lil’ patience on his part but…

  52. “Yet you think their is a pro Hamilton bias. Open your eyes.”

    Hmm, Monaco ’07, Hamilton says it in press conference that he is a number 2 and blah blah blah. Accuses Macca of sabotaging his chances. Macca however were proved NOT guilty(in an inquiry by FIA). That must mean someone was indeed bringing disrepute to the sport/ team involved by just slandering without evidence. Yet, not even a fine, leave alone a penalty.

    Macca did implement a lot of Ferrari design elements in their future car. That means, it is the ’08 car that ‘am talking about. Why would you think Macca apologised to FIA, in a letter addressed to them early this year??? In which they clearly stated that the dissemination of information within McLaren, was much deeper than was originally perceived. I could for once believe in Ron, when he says that he did not know (much) about it. However Whitmarsh and Jonathan Neale and a couple of others higher up clearly did, as per the confessions of Mike Coughlan. As per Mosley, Macca deserved a 2 year ban(at the very least) and guess who got them off hook? Our dear ol’ pensioner, who else? Cos he bloody well wanted a show. Not a fair fight, but indeed a show. So no, i’m not wishing things away my friend. I know what it is about.

    Just so you know, yellow flags only signify caution to slow down/ no overtaking in that section/ sector. However, the track is indeed open for people to set lap-times. So please reconsider what you come to hit me/ Massa, or for that matter any other person/ driver with.

    About Schumacher going to bed with Benetton, an interesting way to put it, i must admit. Well, he hardly had much choice. He was a Macca sponsored driver(for most of his early racing career) but with no possible seats available in the next couple of years, what was he to do? Grow old and miss an opportunity of a lifetime, like Mcnish/Magnussen did. It certainly would have been great to read about Schumcher then, in an article by Keith(Good article on Mcnish, i only knew so little about him), about what it could have possibly been?

    Besides, Benetton hardly had a star driver. Schumacher was fast/ consistent, just what the doctor ordered for a team on the up. Oh, he also won back-to-back championships with them, proving that it was indeed a right decision.

  53. Schumacher was never sponsored by McLaren. He was a Mercedes driver before Mercedes had any involvement in F1. Mercedes were supposed to be entering a works team but eventually entered as Sauber-Mercedes which was the same team Schumacher had raced sportsccars for.

    The reason I bring up the yellow flags is that a driver is expected to lift off a little at least. Massa set his fastest lap with yellow showing. If there was a conspiracy in favour of Hamilton it would have been easy and legal to penalise Felipe but because there is no conspiracy it did not happen. He should have been penalised but he was not.

    You can argue about what the penalty for having another team’s data should be. My argument is that there is no consistency and no pro-McLaren or pro-Hamilton conspiracy.

    Renault had 28 copies of McLaren data on there server or back ups. Some off these files had 1000s of hits. That is clear evidence which was never available against McLaren. Bear in mind also that Nigel Stepney in his open letter to Max said that he was getting McLaren info in return for the Ferrari data he was supplying and Max refused to investigate Ferrari. Again action that does not make sense if there is a pro-Hamilton bias.

    One of Nigel Stepney’s responsibilities at Ferrari was to ensure their car was legal. This is also mentioned in the same open letter. At the start of last season he went to Ferrari’s senior management and told them that the sprung floor was acting as a mass damper and was illegal. He was told that Ferrari were going to run it whether he thought it was legal or not. He then wrote to the FIA asking for clarification on the legality of the floor and never received any reply. He then wrote to McLaren to say that in his opinion Ferrari were going to run an illegal car. McLaren contacted the FIA who did not reply. The car passed scrutineering and won the race. Later the sprung floor was banned as it was a mass damper. An odd set of circumstances if their is a pro-Hamilton conspiracy.

    Over the period Max has been in office it is very easy to make a case for a pro-Ferrari bias but there is not the slightest evidence of a pro-Hamilton bias. There have been a couple of incidents where he has benefitted when some people think he should not have but stack those against everything McLaren were put through last year and add in that Ferrari won a race with a car that everyone knew was illegal and that this season all the top teams are running technology that breaches McLaren’s sole rights and that the FIA know were stolen by Renault. If I was in the FIA with the intent of running a pro-Hamilton agenda I would not have behaved as the FIA have since he came into F1.

    I accept that some people for whatever reason dislike him and want to see reasons other than his ability for his achievements but there is no way a balanced argument can be made in favour of a consiracy.

    Max’s deputy is Marco Piccinini who used to run Ferrari and is still on their board. Max chose him for the job. Max’s chosen successor is Jean Todt who used to run Ferrari and is still on their board. Do you see a pattern emerging yet?

    Also involved in the higher reaches of the FIA is Pierro Ferrari’s boyhood friend. There is no-one who is now or ever has been associated in any way with any other wxisting F1 team. You have to admit this is a strange group of people to organise a pro-Hamilton conspiracy.

  54. I can remember very well that battle between Hakkinen and Schumacher at Spa in 2000. I can remember the ‘chop’ and the way Hakkinen drove the car, determined to catch Schumacher, probably a ‘bit’ out of anger for what had just happened.
    Remember the interview afterwards. On asking Mika about his race winning move Hakkinen replied; ‘I enjoyed it, I am not sure Michael did though!’
    Yep, he was angered by that move and did what he knew best, and that was to beat his opponent in a move that
    was extremely dangerous and would have put him in the ‘hedge’ just as certainly as Schumacher’s chop would have done if it had failed.
    When these men get angry, it often equals to an entertaining race for the likes of us. It is dangerous, risky, but then so is driving to work every morning on the M25.
    I also remember Alonso’s move on Hamilton at Spa last year, his infamous swing to the left at LaSource. That was met by simular criticisms which I found hard to fathom.
    The only tactic that I despise is to ‘DELIBRATELY’ take out your ‘TEAMATE’. That is not done, not fair on your team, your people, and your team mate.
    Everybody has mentioned Schumacher and Senna as if they crashed into everybody everyother race. What about Alain Prost, winning a championship by crashing into his ‘TEAM MATE’ to become, with the benefit of hindsight, the third most successfull champion in F1 history.
    There is only one reason why Prost did not punch Aryton’s lights out the following year when the tables were reversed, and that was because of what had happened the year before. He would have felt the same, as would have anyother driver, if their team mate had delibrately crashed into them to win a championship.
    And comparing F1 to football is just plain stupid. F1 is about taking risks, pushing the envelope, guts and a will to win. LONG may it continue.

  55. Sri, you are quite right. The powers at be did want a show last year and that is why McLaren were kept in the drivers championship.
    This was as much to do with Alonso being a defending champion, and title contender as it was to Hamilton being in the team. The championship, as a spectacle, would have been destroyed had Alonso and Hamilton been banned from contending. How hollow a victory for Raikkonen it would have been, if Alonso and Hamilton had not been there to take part.
    Also, as you mention the inquiry into McLaren’s illegal use of Ferrari data, do not forget that Fernando and Del A Rosa were involved in that investigation too. I am not saying that they were completely responsible for what had happened, but they were both aware of McLaren’s indiscretions but still chose not to spill the beans until their licenses were put in jepeardy.
    At no point was Hamilton implicated in this, although one could speculate on that too.
    The fact of the matter is, is that Hamilton did not have it ‘all’ his own way last year, and neither did his team mate.
    History also tells us that ‘every’ team, at some stage, has been guilty of simular crimes that have gone either unnoticed or unpunished.

  56. @ Steven Roy

    My bad, it was Mercedes, Just so used to the idea of McLaren Mercedes. However, that does not take away anything from the fact that Schumacher had no options with the other top-2 teams, namely Williams & McLaren.

    Hmm, with all that you throw around about pro Ferrari at FIA, could you possibly explain the rule changes since 2003 onwards, which were singularly targeting the continued and ever so strong success/ domination of Ferrari and Schumacher? Do you think it was fair to target a team/ driver, to deliberately slow them down, cos the others were simply not doing a good enough job? I thought that was a farce.

    About the story of illegal floor-board, it has been done to death. Ferrari’s floor was legal. When FIA revised their test provisions, not only Ferrari but a few teams had to revise their floors. Why would you think they’d do that, if their floors were legal?

    About your statement that McLaren were punished for what has been going around in F1 for some time in their history. I think that investments now made are considerably huge and research is limited. Any and every advantage is going to be fought over. I also think that their punishment was compounded over the fact that they were caught lying through their teeth. Renault however, helped with the investigation. Most of the information you see around was provided by Renault itself, not sniffed over by FIA, as was in the case involving McLaren.

    Also, about Nigel Stepney, he was caught cheating and compromising his employers for his benefit. He was supposed to take this information to his new employers, him and Coughlan, that is(as per Coughlan’s confession). Would you not think him to be capable of telling lies? Especially one, who has not been promoted as he was expecting to and also cheated on his employers.

  57. Do I think it was fare to target a single team/driver?
    That is something that has always happened. Williams spent ages building a CVT gearbox which would have given them a massive advantage but just before they decided to race it, it was banned. Next year KERS is compulsory. Five years ago McLaren developed a KERS system and it was banned before it was raced. Look at the number of Lotuses that were banned over the years. None of these items were illegal according to the rules but they were all banned with a view to creating a more level playing field.

    Look at Williams active/reactive car that Mansell won the championship with. That was years ahead of anything else on the grid. Williams would have dominated the next 2 to 5 years because they were so far ahead of anyone else but it was banned to level the playing field.

    Do I think it is right? No, I don’t but the FIA committees who make the rules have representatives of Ferrari and no other team on them.

    I know the story of the floor has been done to death but you cannot claim a pro-Hamilton conspiracy at a time when the FIA refused to ban a blatantly illegal Ferrari car. It cannot make sense to say the FIA is favouring one team and one driver when it allows his biggest rival to run an illegal car. Others may well have been illegal as well but the FIA were told from inside Ferrari that the car was illegal, that the Ferrari management knew it was illegal but intended to run it anyway and did nothing.

    Don’t just read the headlines on the spy cases. It was Ron Dennis who phoned Max from Hungary and said he could now give evidence that McLaren had Ferrari information. I have read all the transcripts of the cases and at no point did the FIA even suggest that any part of the 760 page dossier made it into the McLaren factory. There was some Ferrari information inside but to say the least the evidence provided was vague.

    Renault supposedly co-operated from day 1. If you read the transcripts you will find that they actually co-operated from around day 401. They had the McLaren info for more than a year. There were 28 back up copies and 1000s of hits on it. This is way more evidence than is available against McLaren. Renault started co-operating after one of their employees left to join McLaren and told McLaren that their data was freely floating round the Renault design office. McLaren alerted the FIA and Renault.

    That is the evidence from the FIA transcripts. They are probably still available at http://www.fia.com Max and co may spin it to say that Renault co-operated and McLaren lied but the evidence is exactly the opposite.

    I don’t believe much of what anyone in a senior position in F1 says. It is perfectly possible that Stepney was lying but since he was admitting to illegally receiving stolen data I really don’t see what he had to gain by it. Had the FIA gone and investigated Ferrari with anything approaching the thoroughness they investigated McLaren we may know the truth but they point blank refused so we will never know for sure.

    One final point on the subject of the FIA bias against McLaren. Again this is all in the FIA transcripts. The FIA sent a whole team of people into McLaren to crawl all over ever aspect of their operation and to examine in detail their 2007 and 2008 cars. Renault were accused of effectively the same thing. Charlie Whiting spent one day at Renault investigating on his own. Does that seem fair to you? If you were running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy is this how you would do it?

    Finally if there is a pro-Hamilton bias why would the FIA fine McLaren $100 million and let Renault off with no penalty? Why would they not let McLaren run anything they learned from the Ferrari data but allow Renault and Ferrari to run J-dampers which were not only stolen from McLaren but to which McLaren legally has excusive rights? McLaren have since waived their exclusive rights. By law they could have successfully sued Ferrari, Reanult and anyone else using their technology but they value the sport ahead of their own self interest.

  58. But McLaren are running whatever they have learned from Ferrari details. If you only read it in full, FIA dictum only prohibited McLaren from DEVELOPING what they learned. There was nothing stopping them from using what they have available. Hmm, lemme also point that certain design elements of the 2008 McLaren were found to be, ahem, inspired by Ferrari documents(as per FIA snoops in McLaren factory). Yet, they are running that car and have not re-designed that car, as you might want to have me/ world + dog convinced.

    LOL, you believe that the dossier/ info never made to McLaren? As per confessions of Coughlan, Whitmarsh, Jonathan Neale and a couple of other higher ups were also aware and authorised its usage. Ron somehow may not have known(which is very very doubtful), which is quite a glaring error on his part, to not keep an eye on dodgy behaviour of his senior employees.

    I understand that you think that FIA may not be all that pro-Hamilton. However, they would go about bending rules, as they did last year, cos Bernie percieves him to be megabucks for the sport/ himself. There’s no discounting that.

    Once again, read it carefully. Floors adhered to rules present. Most of the teams had to redesign their floors, including McLaren(your beloved team, fairly safe assumption that). Nothing was proven(as per FIA) against any team, the rule was changed, cos the same could have been exploited by teams.

    What is your grudge against Ferrari, i couldn’t understand? If the FIA have some representatives who are also associated with the team, is it wrong, especially in the light that they did change rules to bring level playing field(as mentioned by you). Could you make up your mind, with what exactly is your beef with them? Also, can the representatives of the other teams, get off their lazy bums and do something about it, like joining or try to join FIA? How is Ferrari at wrong, if others never take any active interest?

    While am at it, let me remind you that McLaren went scot-free in the first hearing, where they feigned ignorance and claimed innocence. Second seating was called for, where they were made to face some evidence and come clean and then penalised. FIA stated that this actually saved the hide of Renault. They came clean at the first go. However, now FIA actually have threatened teams with dire consequences(expulsion, yada yada yada ya).

  59. I really wish you would read what I write instead of reading what you think I am writing. Go read my last post and tell where I said the Ferrari dossie did not make it into McLaren. I said that the FIA did not find any evidence of the document. Not one single piece of paper and not one single computer file. They concluded from the circumstantial evidence that McLaren had access to some Ferrari data but they could not prove that one piece of Ferrari data had been there. Whereas Renault had 28 back up copies of the McLaren data.

    The floor was a mass damper. Mass dampers were illegal. The fact the the FIA refused to understand that is neither here nor there. If it was a mass damper it was illegal. Since the FIA had a copy of the Ferrari design weeks before the race you have to wonder why they didn’t change the rule until after it.

    Clearly you do not understand how the FIA works. As a result of the rules that Max has put in place any candidate for the FIA presidency has to name his cabinet before he stands for election. Max chose all those Ferrari people and didn’t choose anyone in anyway associated with any other team. Why would he only choose Ferrari people if he was pro-Hamilton?

    The second seating was called for because Ron Dennis phoned Max and gave him the evidence. Why would he feign ignorance and then hand himself in?

    Ron provided evidence to the FIA within 6 months of the Ferrari dossier arriving in Mike Coughlan’s hands. Renault admitted guilt after 14 months.

    You claim there is a pro-Hamilton conspiracy. If that was the case why would the FIA fine McLaren so much while refusing to investigate Ferrari when a Ferrari employee admitted to receiving data? Why if Max was so concerned about data moving from one team to another did he not fine Toyota when two of their employees were jailed for taking data from Ferrari? You can’t get much better evidence than a criminal court jailing people? Colin Kolles of Spyker/Midland walked through the paddock showin all and sundry an STR drawing that proved their car was a Red Bull design. He submitted it to Max as evidence. Max accepted it but did not question how he had obtained the drawing or what other info he had.

    How can you claim a pro-Hamilton conspiracy when the only team that was punished in all of these cases was McLaren and all the others were let off or not even investigated?

  60. Wooo… wait a minute, what about Ron publicly proclaiming that none of the information made into McLaren, before and after the first seating of t?

    Ahem, Ron was cornered into it. Get that straight. Again, read what i wrote above and it is a fact. McLaren were let off the first time, plus they claimed innocence. About why he would do that, the whole world’s press wondered about it and can i say aloud.

    There’s a clear difference, Stepney was an ex-employee(thrown out), who may have had his own agenda(do you not think?). Also, McLaren, though no matter how altruistic you portray them, given an opportunity, they would have had gone on and registered a case against Ferrari. If you think otherwise, hmm, you know what, forget it…

    Wait for it, the case involving McLaren is under hearing. Heads may still roll mate.

    McLaren weren’t thrown out last year, cos Bernie wanted the Hamilton-mania to continue. You can shake your head as much as you like, but that does not take away anything from it.

  61. Frankly I am totally bored with this so this will be my last post on the subject.

    You claim that there is a pro-Hamilton conspiracy. I say that is rubbish. That has been the point of the whole conversation so read your last post and you will find that you have just proved that there is not a conspiracy. If you were runnig a pro-Hamilton conspiracy would you have fined them $100 million and let all the others off. No you would have helped McLaren and penalised everyone else. I am not saying McLaren are right and anyone else is wrong. I am saying if I was running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy it is extremely unlikely that I would penalise only his team.

    Similarly if I was running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy I would have wrapped up the case against McLaren so they could concentrate on him becoming champion. As you point out the case against McLaren is still open. If I was running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy I would not have taken that action.

    If I was running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy Massa would have been disqualified for setting pole when yellow flags were out. If I was running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy I would not have allowed a Ferrari to enter a race when the person responsible for its car’s legality said it was illegal. If I was running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy I would not have appointed a member of the Ferrari board as my deputy. If I was running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy I would not be touting a member of the Ferrari board as my successor.

    All I am saying is there is no case for a pro-Hamilton conspiracy and that it is far easier to make a case for a anti-Hamilton/anti-McLaren conspiracy.

    I am not saying who is right or who is wrong. The only point of this whole discussion is to prove that there is not a shred of evidence to prove a pro-Hamilton conspiracy.

    If you were running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy and Nigel Stepney wrote to you saying that Ferrari had McLaren data don’t you think you would investigate it as a way of helping Hamilton? I am not saying Ferrari had McLaren data and I am not saying Nigel Stepney was telling the truth. I am simply saying that if I was running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy I would not have fined McLaren more than anyone in the history of any sport while at the same time not investigating their biggest rival when one of their more senior employees claimed they had McLaren data.

    So have a look at everything I have said in all these posts and remember all I am saying is that there is no case for a pro-Hamilton conspiracy. I am not saying who is right and who is wrong. I am not saying I love Ron Dennis and I hate Ferrari. I am simply, objectively laying out evidence that strongly suggests that there is no case for a pro-Hamilton conspiracy.

    You may have a load of evidence that there is but I suspect you will simply do what you did in your last post and ignore most of what I said in my previous post and claim Ron Dennis is a liar. If I was running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy it would not matter to me if he lied or not.

    If I was running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy and had taken no action against Toyota when two of their employees were jailed for taking Ferrari data do you not think it is likely that I would take no action against McLaren? If I was running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy and Colin Kolles handed me an STR drawing and I took no action against him do you not think it is likely I would also take no action against McLaren? If I was running a pro Hamilton conspiracy and had fined McLaren $100 million and then discovered Renault had a stack of McLaren data and I had evidence that the McLaren data was all over their computer system do you not think I would have taken similar action against them? If you were running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy would you allow Renault to benefit from stolen McLaren data? If you were running a pro-Hamilton conspiracy would you allow Ferrari, Renault and others to run J-dampers when McLaren have the sole legal rights to them?

    You may have aload of evidence to prove there is a conspiracy and I would like to see it but I suspect you will again ignore all the evidence.

  62. Your knowledge of the facts baffles me. The case, is being pursued by Ferrari in Italian courts, not by FIA or in WMSC. As far as they are concerned, it has been settled.

    Again, if you look outside the box, if not for Hamilton, any other Macca drivers pair would have been definitely thrown out of the championship(especially as max made it to be known, what was on his mind). Why you would not see it to be the simple fact, is beyond me and this would only be disagreed upon by the staunchest of the Hamilton-manics.

    Again, if McLaren had anything against Ferrari, they would have filed a complaint, like they raised a question about the legality of the floor. Again, i’ll type it slowly for you, there’s no rule against setting a time under yellow. Only thing is, one must not overtake under yellow, (if required) slow down(well they do not exactly force them to). Also, you have been shedding bucket-loads about how McLaren were penalised. Let me remind you, they only penalised McLaren and let Hamilton off the hook, once, twice and more and will, as long as he is marketable to Bernie. I was only making clear Bernie’s love for him and the fact that if not for the backlash that he may have faced(and it did get very bad press), we may have had seen 2 cars being DQ’d last year and Hamilton gifted the championship.

    FIA, hmm.. interesting. Let’s remember, that Bernie is the ringmaster and he usually gets what he wants. Never mix this up.

    Now, i really have to work and i’ll save myself some time by bailing out of this…

  63. Sri,

    I find your argument baffling. Firstly you refute even what Schumacher himself has admitted, which quite frankly lends your subsequent arguments little credibility, not least your strange prejudice about the British media, teams, and Lewis Hamilton.

    Every argument you make suggesting Hamilton was protected by Bernie could has an easy analogue in Schumacher benefitting from the Mosley parachute down the years – specifically ’94 and ’97. It all reminds me of a famous saying about opinions and certain orifices.

  64. Had Max Mosley looked at the evidence as revealed in the transcripts rather than using his opinion (several of which were patently erroneous and most of the rest pure speculation) and a pile of e-mails and texts indicating four rogue employees (one of whom was from Ferrari, one of whom was suspended by McLaren without the FIA’s prompting and the other two whom had been granted amnesty by the FIA), he could not have given McLaren a guilty verdict. Especially if he’d been using the same standards as for the Renault case. I think you’ll find that’s why Steven (and I) disagree with you on whether the McLaren driver pairing should have been excluded. McLaren might have been guilty or not guilty, but the evidence to establish that either way wasn’t there. That is why the first meeting resulted in a “not guilty” verdict (as is normal for cases involving insufficient evidence to establish the truth) and that is what should have happened the second time.

    The matter is only settled because Max’s opinions are considered more important in the FIA than facts and justice.

    McLaren had plenty against several teams, as revealed in this week’s Autosport. This is particularly the case about Renault, because the secret name for the device was a “J-damper”, and many of the files Renault took were about… …”J-dampers”. Yet McLaren only asked the FIA to investigate the document transfer, not the idea transfer accompanying this. The whole reason for the exclusive use agreement, according to Mark Hughes, was to slow down the spread of the idea rather than to stop it and the evidence tends to support that.

    The very bad press about the Interlagos disqualifications was because the rule the three cars ahead of Hamilton were accused of breaking was ridiculously vague and not measured as accurately as it should have been by the FIA. Yes there was discomfort about a driver winning the championship because those penalised ahead of him had broken the rules, but if the rules themselves had been sensible there would have been a lot more understanding.

  65. I know I said I wouldn’t post on this thread again but like Max I changed my mind. Alianora as ever has come up with the absolutely categorical undeniable proof.

    Never in the history of the F1 championship has the FIA accepted anyone else’s measure of anything as being equal to their own. Yet after Interlagos 2007 they did. They had a straight choice of following the tradition of the entire lifespan of the FIA by saying that the FIA’s measure of ambient temperature was the only measure that applied and therefore declaring Lewis Hamilton world champion or for the first time ever giving equal weight to Meteo France’s measurement and declaring Kimi Raikkonen champion.

    Can anyone argue that the they turned their normal line on its head and gave the championship to Raikkonen as part of a pro-Hamilton plot?

  66. One thing I feel the article missed out on was the use of radio communications. When Senna raced, drivers didn’t really speak to their engineers very much during a race. However, in the mid-1990s, radio technology vastly improved, so a driver was able to have a conversation with his engineer. To a large extent, this is why Schumacher was able to plan his races a lot better, for he had full contact with Ross Brawn, a strategic genius.

  67. Pole positions are great, of course. But in a race, if out of 60 laps, you run 20 laps very fast and the rest in an average, you can’t win against Michael. Michael ran 60 fast laps. Above all I’m quite impressed that nobody pointed out that in each part of the F1 story, we already had great rivalries, except between 1994 and 2006! Why? Simply because Michael was the best. And please don’t tell me there were no fast drivers between the 12 years. First time he touched a F1 he was faster than his 11 years experienced teammate, that says it all.. incredible talent. And for those who said he never got real teammate, well look at what his teammattes did, they were, in average, 1 sec slower than he was, even with all the driving helps..

    1. first time he touched an f1 car he cooked his clutch in less than 100m

  68. The numbers of Schumacher are the hightest of all F1 except for Fangio: 25 wins in 51 races without any error. But when you compare both drivers racing [since 1991 to 1994] Senna beat Schumacher. More poles and more wins. But to be a great champion you need to do something that only the legends do, or no body do. One: Senna in his first test in F1 at Donington Park with a car of Derek [Williams-Ford was the 4th best team in 1982] in less than 21 laps beat the record of Donington. No body in the all history do that. Two: Epic Races. Monaco 1984, Monaco 1992 and Donington 1993 All with clear inferior car. No comments. Beat in his first year with identical car his nemesis and 2 times Word Champion, Alain Prost. Three: Only Fangio, Clark, Rindt and Senna beat his pole time in a race. Schumacer never did that. And finally, just ask why 217 pilots from the F1 in Motorsporst survey choose Senna as The Greatest of All The Times? And why 12 of 22 pilots of the actual F1 chose him [Planet f1 survey] as the Best of all The Times? Because he won epic races, and more important he was honest and a clean Champion. In my humble opinion, the pilots of F1 since 1959 until today and the actual drivers knows more of the F1 than the “rest of us”.

    1. One More Thing: Schumacher race with one human team in his all carrer [ I am not talking about the “actual” Schumacher]. When Ferrari hire Schumacher, hire 18 top engineers and designers. All this team and Bridgstone work exclusively for Him. Avoid team instructions in Ferrari. Schumacher was only [today is so shame, but I have no respect for him] the best of genaration. Only this.

  69. First of all. Excellent level of arguments, congratulations guys. I’m absolutely agree with Becken. Finaly F1 is a show where we have the chance to see drivers with something uncommon and unique. That’s why we call him, Ayrton “magic” Senna.
    Senna was espectacular every single time he drove into a car

  70. This is the post with the most comments I’ve ever seen on F1F.

  71. senna best ever !!!

  72. this is a real list *top 10*in the world
    font – Autosport – 217 votes

    1 – Ayrton Senna -BRA

    2 – Michael Schumacher – ALE

    3 – Juan Manuel Fangio – ARG

    4 – Alain Prost – FRA

    5 – Jim Clark – ING

    6 – Jackie Stewart -ING

    7 – Niki Lauda – AUT

    8 – Stirling Moss ING

    9 – Fernando Alonso ESP

    10 – Gilles Villeneuve -CAN

    12 – Emerson Fittipaldi -BRA

    13 – Nelson Piquet -BRA

  73. about senna squeezing prost those days the cars were extremley dangerous as was the sport as a whole these days you could die so in the 80s you probably would die.

  74. Having watched “all three,” I can safely say that if I had to bet the ranch on one driver to one race at any moment in time, my money is on Clark, every time. Clark could get out of his own car and into his teammate’s and drive it faster with their settings. His ability to make his way to the front was unparalleled except by maybe Graham Hill. Considering the level of driving talent that he contended with at the time and what he achieved, that is still to this day the most competitive era.

  75. SENNA greatest driver ever number 1 schumacher 2

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