Alain Prost vs Keke Rosberg

Champion of Champions

Champion of Champions: Alain Prost vs Keke Rosberg

Earlier this week we had one pair of team mates from the eighties, now here’s another: 1986 McLaren duo Alain Prost and Keke Rosberg.

That was Rosberg’s final year in Formula 1 and while he endured a win-less season struggling to get the most out of the MP4-2C, Prost clinched his second championship title.

Rosberg spent the previous four seasons with Williams. The team signed him after Alan Jones suddenly announced his retirement late in 1981.

Rosberg joined the world championship-winning outfit having previously driven for minor teams. He won the title in his first year with the team, coming out on top in the turbulent 1982 season after a single win at Dijon.

Over the following seasons he added more wins but as Williams made the switch from Cosworth to Honda turbo power Rosberg found his car was first reliable but short on power, then powerful but lacking reliability.

With the benefit of hindsight, he left the team at exactly the wrong moment, just as the Honda engine was coming good.

Prost came close to succeeding Rosberg as champion in 1983. But his warnings to Renault that they were falling behind in the development race fell on deaf ears, and Nelson Piquet grabbed the championship from him at the final round.

After switching to McLaren, Prost fell short again in 1984. This time by the narrowest-ever margin of half a point, to team mate Niki Lauda. He finally delivered his first title the following year.

While Rosberg arrived at and left McLaren within a year, Ayrton Senna proved a tougher challenge for Prost, beating him to the 1988 title. Prost turned the tables the following year, but controversially collided with Senna at Suzuka to seal his third title.

Prost moved on to Ferrari in 1990 and was in the running for the title once again – until Senna took the opportunity to remove him from the race and the championship at Suzuka.

After a dire 1991 Prost was dropped by the team and spent a year on the sidelines waiting to get a drive for Williams. He won on his return in 1993, wrapped up a fourth title with the dominant FW15C, and then retired for good.

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.

Alain Prost Keke Rosberg
Alain Prost, Williams, 1993 Keke Rosberg, Williams, 1983
Titles 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993 1982
Second in title year/s Michele Alboreto, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Ayrton Senna Didier Pironi
Teams McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, Williams Theodore, ATS, Wolf, Fittipaldi, Williams, McLaren
Notable team mates Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell Jacques Laffite, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost
Starts 199 114
Wins 51 (25.63%) 5 (4.39%)
Poles 33 (16.58%) 5 (4.39%)
Modern points per start1 12.48 5.22
% car failures2 16.58 38.60
Modern points per finish3 14.96 8.50
Notes Lost ’83 title by two points and ’84 title by half a point Four years with minor teams before sudden promotion to Williams
Controversial clash with Senna sealed third title Won more races in 1985 than title-winning 1982 campaign
Returned from sabbatical to clinch fourth title with Williams Retired after winless 1986 with McLaren
Bio Alain Prost Keke Rosberg

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?

  • Alain Prost (95%)
  • Keke Rosberg (5%)

Total Voters: 601

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114 comments on Alain Prost vs Keke Rosberg

  1. pseudohendrix (@pseudohendrix) said on 5th January 2011, 17:02

    Prost but I do genuinely rate Rosberg as one of the all time greats. Unbelievable car control, he was one of what I would call the ‘quick’ drivers who have tremendous natural speed like Peterson and Rindt.
    As for 1982, as a Gilles fan, Rosberg is the one and only driver I would have wanted to take the title that year, he was the closest to Gilles in terms of sheer speed and car control. Shame he had to matched with Prost in this poll!

  2. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 5th January 2011, 18:08

    Alain Prost Vs

    *Clicks on Alain Prost*

  3. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 5th January 2011, 18:53

    Keith, is the problem not being able to vote from a mobile phone part of the things which will be fixed when the new mobile site launches?

    I logged in which succeeded, but it keeps ‘loading’, after I made my choice and press vote. This from iphone4 with latest os – what’s it? 10? Using safari, of course. In the past the same thing for my Nokia 6120, both with opera and the default browser, however this was before the log in obligation.
    (to be able to login, I used the link in the article, and then log in)

  4. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 5th January 2011, 19:01

    Anyway, I would’ve voted for prost, so I guess my vote doesn’t change much. Of course, I like the fruit of Keke’s loins – Brittney Spears – better then the son of Prost, but that’s not enough, although it brings them close… I mean Brittney Spears, she’s hot!

  5. Hamish said on 5th January 2011, 20:01

    Poor Keke Rosberg. I think he is heavily underrated. On his day, he was brilliant:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHEGMK2cCns

  6. A Singh said on 5th January 2011, 20:47

    Prost is a contender for the best driver of all time. And he was better than Senna. As Kieth hinted at, Prost could conceivably have won seven titles (two by narrowest of margins and one where Senna cheated him).

  7. mike77 (@mike77) said on 5th January 2011, 21:15

    won 4 championships, could have won 3 more, one of the greatest drivers of all time

  8. brum55 said on 5th January 2011, 22:51

    I think Alain Prost is a genius. Smart, tactical and quick. Senna may be more talented but Prost’s mind was on another planet. His record against his illustrious team-mates is excellent. For me he is the greatest. Doubt he’ll win this competition unfortunately.

    • kowalsky (@) said on 7th January 2011, 6:01

      great he was, but so boring to watch. I can hardly understand how he could capture some fan’s imagination.
      I remember how i started to dislike him in the french gp 1982. He was second to arnoux, who didn’t complyed with team orders, and when he was interviewed after the race, he was so upset, that he didn’t even cared that arnoux family was on the grandstand watching. In a sense he remindes me of alonso. A very good driver, but he didn’t make himself any favours when he opened his mouth.

  9. Olivier said on 6th January 2011, 0:47

    Even though I voted for Prost, Rosbert was really fun to watch and his win in only his 2nd F1 race was a hint of how good this driver was, beating the class of the field, including Lauda, Fittipaldi and Paterson among others … in a Theodore!e

  10. nano_rock (@nano_rock) said on 6th January 2011, 6:10

    Alain was THE KING

  11. Sasquatsch (@sasquatsch) said on 6th January 2011, 8:36

    Prost,

    Because Rosberg shouldn’t have won a title at all in the first place. Somehow both Ferrari drivers managed to get killed or injured before they could clinch the title, in obviously the best car.

    @Keith: the poll says Hakkinen vs. Villeneuve in stead of Prost vs. Rosberg

  12. jihelle (@jihelle) said on 6th January 2011, 9:55

    I’ve always wondered how much Alain’s nose shape had inspired Newey while designing the FW15.

  13. babis1980 (@babis1980) said on 6th January 2011, 10:30

    Keke was a figure back then!!!! In any footage from those years, if he wasn’t wearing his helmet, he was smoking like insane!!! No doubt that he was extreamly fast as well. But Prost wins this one….easy. Prost was brilliant, with the best feel of the car and feedback for the mechanics. In my opinion the driver with the greatest race pace (when refulling was banned). You can easily witness his sheer brilliance is races like 1990 French GP.

  14. Mr. T (@mr-t) said on 6th January 2011, 12:04

    Prost, because I never got into a fight arguing about Rosberg’s name when I was five.

  15. Definitely Prost. Keke was great to watch but he wasn’t an all round complete driver like Prost.

    As a fanatical Ayrton Senna fan, I have to say Prost did beat Senna fair and square in over the whole season in 1989. Senna’s superhuman efforts at the end of the season made it look different, but he just made too many mistakes, got himself in too many dangerous situations where he just didn’t need to be.

    But Senna positively humiliated him from 1991 onwards, but that’s another story.

    • kowalsky (@) said on 7th January 2011, 6:09

      1989 was close, but thanks to balestre we would never know what would have happened.
      With the victory in suzuka that was taken from him, he would have gone to australia with a shot at the title. And at least prost wouldn’t have been able to stop in the first lap, and would have had to race in the wet. Shame on all of them. Senna had a year later, to take matters into his own hands, when balestre was trying to make prost the champion of champions without deserving it.

  16. kowalsky (@) said on 7th January 2011, 6:23

    read this and tell me if prost would have been able to do it. Keke all the way!!!
    “I had a bad year,” Keke recalls. “I was often very fast but I kept blowing front tyres. I pushed the fronts too hard, but they didn’t warn you. It just burst. It was the shoulder that went all the time. I had a huge shunt at Willow Springs in testing. I went about three miles across the desert in a cloud of dust.

    “I had another big one at Laguna Seca. My first lap of qualifying was good, but not quite good enough. My brain said you should not do a second lap, but my heart said, ‘Go for it.’ And the right front tyre burst in turn one.

    “In those days there was an earth bank and nothing else, and I hit the bank very, very hard in a Lola tub. The Lola limp was one of the best-known illnesses among racing drivers and I was lucky I didn’t break my legs. In fact, I didn’t break anything. But boy, was I messed up!

    “It was a huge shunt. I had a girlfriend who used to fly for American Airlines and she nursed me that night because I was completely gone.

    “When we did the warm-up on Sunday morning we taped my gloves to the steering wheel because I had no strength in my hands. I drove the warm-up in the spare car but I was so dizzy and felt so bad that I went straight back to the hotel and lay down for three hours. Then I came back and drove the race.

    “I was running very strong. I think I was fourth, but of course I didn’t know where I was. I’d run out of brakes and was just not all there, and I didn’t have the strength to catch a slide out of the last turn. I spun and stalled the thing.”

    Rosberg struggled home in sixth place a lap down and then recuperated in LA before the season-closer at Riverside. “My friend Mike Brockman took me to Los Angeles and I laid in his bed for nearly two weeks. I was so bad he came back from the office every day at lunchtime to feed me.”

  17. Prost is another overrated driver…he was the Schumacher of the 80’s…he was never fast just like Schumacher, promoted by european investors just like Schumacher, signed contracts which prevented his teammates from winning just like Schumacher, 2 secs slower than Ayrton on most tracks, i don’t really see how a worthy champion can be 2 secs slower slower than his teammate…he is the first and only driver to push his teammate out of the track in order to win a title.

    • kowalsky (@) said on 7th January 2011, 17:23

      i like your aproach manu, but i think the comments are a little bit over the top.
      Senna was the master of a flyer, and was a second and a half faster than prost on some ocasions, but prost was a match most of the time. Being even faster at some tracks like paul ricard, mexico, jacarepagua.
      As much as i dislike the french driver, i have to admit he was good. But he was so unspectacular, he made me sick.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 8th January 2011, 14:15

      Your anti-Prost/Schumacher rant makes you look like a disgrace to Senna fans.

  18. is your job here to judge people?

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 9th January 2011, 21:20

      No, it isn’t.

      Let me run through what I disagree with:

      he was never fast

      A driver who was “never fast” would have been embarrassed by Senna. But no, Prost beat him in 1989. Nor would another slow driver have taken Hakkinen and Villeneuve to the final round in inferior cars in 97-98.

      romoted by european investors

      So what? That’s one of the stupidest arguments i’ve ever read or heard. Maybe people invested in them because when in lower divisions of racing they were fast?

      signed contracts which prevented his teammates from winning

      Never happened.

      2 secs slower than Ayrton on most tracks

      That’s funny, you see, I thought that race results are where you get the points, rather than qualifying. In their two years as teammates Senna was often faster, but not as consistent as Prost. You need that little element called consistency to win titles. Kinda like Schumacher finishing on the podium in every race in 2002.

      i don’t really see how a worthy champion can be 2 secs slower slower than his teammate

      Because Prost was less likely to crash out while leading comfortably. Like Monaco 1988.

      he is the first and only driver to push his teammate out of the track in order to win a title

      That was partially down to Senna’s poor lunge up the inside. I assume that it’s ok to you if it’s at turn 1 at Suzuka and on a Ferrari?

      It’s fine to not like a driver but to not recognise the talent of not one, but two clear all time greats simply because you’re too much of a Senna fanboy? I pity you.

  19. i dont want to insult you only because i respect f1fanatic but since you are the Schumacher’s guardian of this blog (every blog has one) i would like to inform you that you have no idea what you are talkin about!!!…you just live your own myth…
    follow the next steps and you ll find the truth…

    1..Ask Nigel Mansell if he had the right to win in 1990 in Ferrari.

    2.ask Ballestre why did he loose his position as president in 1991 against Mosley if Suzuka 1989 was Ayrtons mistake

    abstract from wikipedia
    “In 1991, Mosley challenged Balestre for the presidency of FISA. Mosley said that his decision to challenge the Frenchman was prompted by Balestre’s reported intervention on behalf of his countryman Alain Prost to ensure that race stewards disqualified Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna from the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix.”

    3.ask Jo Ramirez why Prost was 2 secs slower than his teammate

    4…finaly the most important of all…ask yourself why do you have to defend Michael Schumacher…he doesnt worth it.

    aufwiedersehen

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 10th January 2011, 14:25

      In 1990, Mansell had the right to win, but like Felipe Massa early this year, allowed his teammate to mould the team around him. As a result, Prost produced the far better results.

      The old wives tale about Prost collaborating with Balestre gets very tiring. Nothing more than an excuse levelled against Prost for happening to beat Senna. As we know, Wikipedia is always a brilliant reference.

      There seems to be barely any record of qualifying times available from that period, but you must face it- being faster in qualifying doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t translate that into wins. Prost was just as able to win races as Senna was, and was more likely to bring the car home.

      And I defend Michael Schumacher because I grew up watching him race, and clearly saw he was one of the best drivers of all time. Any sane F1Fanatic would agree, no matter whether they like him or not. Prost was right up there too.

      Anyway, i’m assuming you’ll not start seeing sense, and continue to be a Senna-widow accusing others of being “guardians” so enjoy your life of poisonous hatred for everyone not called Aryton Senna :)

      Good day.

  20. Has to be Prost. He could’ve won the title 6 if not 7 times. He was also well capable of outdoing Senna and I’m saying this as a Senna fan. Rosberg, though a good driver was largely helped not only by his consistent driving, but also by the tragic death of Gilles Villeneuve and the career-ending injuries suffered by Didier Pironi. Still, a well deserved title for Keke.

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