Nigel Mansell vs Nelson Piquet

Champion of Champions

Champion of Champions: Nigel Mansell vs Nelson Piquet

There was little love lost between Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet when they were team mates in the mid-eighties. They had some dramatic battles along the way, none more so than Mansell’s famous comeback drive at Silverstone in 1987.

The Brazilian driver arrived at the team via Brabham, where he won two titles in 1981 and 1983. He came from behind in the final round on both occasions, taking titles from Carlous Reutemann and Alain Prost.

But after his second title the team hit a rough patch, and that led him to Williams.

Mansell, meanwhile, served a lengthy F1 apprenticeship with Lotus and finally became a race winner after joining Williams in 1985.

His title miss the following year was the stuff of legend – robbed by an exploding tyre in the final race at Adelaide – but edged Piquet in points. Dogged by unreliability in 1987, he was injured in a crash in practice at the penultimate race, making Piquet champion.

That marked the end of their time as team mates. Mansell spent two seasons with Ferrari but returned to Williams after falling out spectacularly with team mate Alain Prost.

In 1991 he was championship runner-up again, this time to Ayrton Senna. Piquet, meanwhile, had joined Benetton after two wasted years at Lotus. He claimed his final Grand Prix win for at Mansell’s expense in Canada that year.

Piquet retired at the end of the season after briefly partnering Michael Schumacher. Mansell dominated the 1992 championship at the wheel of the crushing Williams FW14B, but left for Indy Car when he discovered Prost had signed for the team in 1993.

He made a sporadic return for Williams the following year, taking a final win at Adelaide, but aborted a planned comeback with McLaren in 1995 after two desultory races.

Which of these drivers should go through to the next round of the Champion of Champions? Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Nigel Mansell Nelson Piquet
Nigel Mansell, Williams, 1992 Nelson Piquet, Williams, 1987
Titles 1992 1981, 1983, 1987
Second in title year/s Riccardo Patrese Carlos Reutemann, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell
Teams Lotus, Williams, Ferrari, McLaren Ensign, BS Fabrications, Brabham, Williams, Lotus, Benetton
Notable team mates Nelson Piquet, Riccardo Patrese, Alain Prost Niki Lauda, Riccardo Patrese, Nigel Mansell
Starts 187 204
Wins 31 (16.58%) 23 (11.27%)
Poles 32 (17.11%) 24 (11.76%)
Modern points per start1 8.07 8.27
% car failures2 32.62 24.51
Modern points per finish3 11.98 10.96
Notes Runner-up in 1986 and 1987, the latter after back-breaking crash Runner-up in championship in second full season
Returned to Williams in 1991, taking title in 1992 Two titles with Brabham in early 1980s
Quit for good after two-race comeback for McLaren in 1995 Ill-timed switch to Lotus followed third title with Williams
Bio Nigel Mansell Nelson Piquet

1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Nigel Mansell (64%)
  • Nelson Piquet (36%)

Total Voters: 674

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192 comments on Nigel Mansell vs Nelson Piquet

  1. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 3rd January 2011, 20:21

    Like the others said it is a very very close call, I couldn’t decide at first but had a slight bias towards Mansell.

    In one word Mansell was the hero. The ‘lion’ as they said. That said he could pull out everything which wasn’t entirely impossible. Effectively secured the 1986 WDC – the tyre was bad luck.

    I don’t want to involve personal feelings for them – I don’t want to discard Piquet because his personality and mine has nothing to do with each other. Piquet was cruel and prolific in his heydays during the early 1980s snatching the titles from Reutemann and Prost.

    I seriously cannot decide based on non-statistical arguments so I go for Mansell because of his better overall statistics – and with a little bit of subjectivity regarded the number of WDCs as less important because Mansell was a runner-up thrice and was agonisingly close to it in 1986.

  2. mikepaterson (@mikepaterson) said on 3rd January 2011, 20:49

    The stats tell it all.

    Mansell won more races and more poles despite starting fewer races and having greater unreliability.

    Piquer has always been for me the great over-achiever – through luuck rather than any great talent (though I am sure he was an OK driver).

    Piquet always struck me as a jack the lad – loads of money and a big mouth to boot. Mansell whilst a bit of a moaner had real fire in his belly and did some amaxing overtaking in his career including that classic Dumy of Piquet at the end oif the Hangar Straight at Silverstone.

    This is a no contest – Mansell is better in every way!

    • Scalextric (@scalextric) said on 3rd January 2011, 20:53

      Piquet was better at preserving his car, you could argue. He was also better at winning championships thanks to his consistency. To be ‘Champion of Champions’ that must count for something.

      I certainly agree that Nige was a faster driver, a better entertainer and my hero in the 90s. So I voted for him. But I’m having second thoughts.

  3. This was a tough one for me but on the face of it three titles vs one should make it an easy choice.

    Mansell and Piquet never really blew each other away and I always thought that Mansell’s title never did him justice. Mansell raced in a time where the cars could be a second apart and Mclaren dominanted during a period while having opposition in the likes of Alain prost and Ayrton Senna who are both greats.

    To me, Mansell was perhaps the quicker of the two and I liked his style more but racing is about so much more than that. If there’s a driver on the current grid who reminds me of him it’s Lewis Hamilton; blindingly quick and fearless but not able to be as smart as the opposition.

    My heart says Mansell but I’ve voted Piquet. Three titles, was smart and calculating and was damn quick too.

  4. George (@george) said on 3rd January 2011, 21:05

    This is really tough, I’m going for Piquet as Mansell’s only championship came when his car was miles better than the competition. I rate them pretty equally on straight talent though.

  5. SVettel (@) said on 3rd January 2011, 21:06

    Mansell, because of Silverstone, 1987

  6. Master firelee (@master-firelee) said on 3rd January 2011, 21:14

    lol Piquet 2nd to Piquet a bit of a mistake kieth

  7. infy (@infy) said on 3rd January 2011, 21:15

    Although I really like Nigel, Pique was better. 3 titles to 1 says it all.

    Will be sad if Nigel wins simply because of his “story” or his country.

  8. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 3rd January 2011, 21:18

    That’s a good one Keith, really interesting match.

    Mansell for me. Becuase Piquet reminds me Dick Dastardly.

  9. Pedal to the Vettel (@pedal-to-the-vettel) said on 3rd January 2011, 21:36

    For me in these kind of close stats it’s hard to choose between the two. But stats don’t hand you world titles, other things have to come into play and if mental games must be used to get one over your rivals then that driver is using his head unlike the rest, recognising his weaknesses and strengths and getting the maximum out of the situation.

    It shows winning a f1 title just doesn’t demand skill it also requires cunning even if the public eye consider it volatile.

    I dislike Piquet jr as much as any other f1 fan but this subject is not about him so my vote goes for Piquet snr.

  10. Daniel said on 3rd January 2011, 21:38

    That is certainly the hardest clash in the first round of “Champion of Champions”! Mansell is the biggest “single champion” in terms of wins (31, fourth overall) and poles.

    I’d vote Piquet since we’re talking about champions and Piquet was able to win three titles, always in difficult circunstances, unlike Mansell, whose only championship was won with an overwhelming car against a reliable but uncompetitive team-mate.

  11. Cristian (@cristian) said on 3rd January 2011, 21:42

    The titles score is 3-1 so it’s an obvious choice this one. Mansell was a great driver, but this guy won the title 3 times!

  12. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 3rd January 2011, 21:52

    Quite a hard one to call. You can’t ignore a three-times champion. But Mansell went up against Prost and Senna and nearly beat both of them and had the measure of Piquet during their years together. Also, who could forget that manoeuvre? In retrospect, perhaps Our Nige isn’t so hard a choice after all.

    • Scribe (@scribe) said on 3rd January 2011, 22:57

      Like you say above,

      - 1 tyre – 1 crash = Mansell 3-2 Piquet.

      This Piquet got more titles so he’s better argument is irritaiting the pants off me.

      If they want stats how about, even without the 9 wins obtained in the dominant FW14B Mansell still has a better alround stats than Piquet, apart from the titles.

    • James Whiteley said on 11th January 2011, 20:16

      “But Mansell went up against Prost and Senna and nearly beat both of them.”

      I have to say I disagree there. When Prost and Mansell were teammates in 1990 Prost scored 73 points (not counting best 11) compared to Mansell’s 37. He was completely outclassed by the Proffesor!

  13. HounslowBusGarage (@hounslowbusgarage) said on 3rd January 2011, 22:03

    There was one ocassion when (at Williams), Nelson had a development fitted to his car whereas Nigel did not. They were supposed to do comparative testing, for the overall benefit of the team. Nelson found the improvement to be better, but ‘sandbagged’ and showed no improved time over his tammate. Come the race, Nelson drove away comfortably with the development thgat he lied about.
    Nigel gets my vote.

  14. TMFOX said on 3rd January 2011, 22:06

    Mansell. For the simple reason that if some car issue or injury hadn’t let him down he would probably have equal or more championships than Piquet.

    I am a little surprised by people marking Piquet down for the simple reason that he is Piquet Jr’s Father. That arguement in this poll is not relevant as that has nothing to do with Piquet Sr’s ability as a driver.

  15. 0634 (@0634) said on 3rd January 2011, 22:14

    I’m going for Nigel. One of the purest racers ever, in my opinion. Off course, Piquet was great and won 3 titles. But Nigel should also have won at least one more. Besides, he won so many races. For me he is one of the alltime greats.

    So I’m going for him, altough it is a very close call this time.

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