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. BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th January 2011, 14:00

    Funny to see, that Prost is mentioned as a notable team mate to Rosberg, but not the other way around. I suppose that sums it up as for the comparison of their impact on the sport!

  2. Cacarella (@cacarella) said on 5th January 2011, 14:13

    Although I’ll never say that there is such a thing as an undeserved champion, I must admit that if I had to pick a possible candidate it would be Rosberg.
    His main competition was killed in the 4th round with the
    next biggest threat getting seriously injured with 5 to go. I would say the same thing about Pironi if he had won the championship that year instead of Keke, 1982 was Gilles’ year.

  3. Nothing against Rosberg, he was a quick driver and as deserving as anyone of his WDC, but if Rosberg is a 10, then Prost goes up to 11. You dont win 4 WDCs against some of the best drivers in F1 for no reason. Always feel that History has distorted Prosts achievements after his rivalry with Senna, whose style was always going to be a fan favourite compared to the sensible and calculated ways of Alain. In this round, he gets my vote.

  4. This was quite an easy one but I don’t mean to be harsh on Keke butn complemnentary to Alain who was quite possibly the greatest ever.

    Keke could be blindingly quick on his day, perhaps his son has that trait, and I feel he was a deswerving champion. You can’t luck into a title-you have to deliver and do the very best all season and make sure the team behind you do exactly the same. Every champion needs things to go their way a little but luck always tends to balance out over the course of a season. Keke was consistant and very much deserved his title.

    Alain was just in a completely different world. I love raw and quick drivers who can bang out the laptimes and poles as that’s so exciting (a bit like Keke at Silverstone) but what is more understated but even better is when a driver has a relatively low number of poles and even flaps yet an astonishing number of wins such as Alain. It showed that race wise he was quick enough but he was smart enough to not wreck the car or himself and confident enough to stick to that plan. He was more than just a racing driver-he was a tactician and it may not be as exciting a way to do things like Keke but it’s better for getting the results which means he’s a better champion for me.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th January 2011, 15:24

      To me it was clear, as soon as i read who were up against each other in this round. But still I have enjoyed reading other peoples arguments for Prost and for Rosberg as a very deserving champion.

      Prost wins this by a mile.

  5. Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 5th January 2011, 16:06

    Even though I like Keke more, it isn’t a popularity contest, so I must concede that Prost is the better driver. A few days ago there was so much talk about how Mansell was so close to a number of other titles, well… take a look at how many Prost came ever so close to and then add that to the 4 he already nabbed. I don’t like the guy much, but he was a helluva driver. Smart and consistent.

  6. Eggry (@eggry) said on 5th January 2011, 16:10

    I think this is the worst case of C of Cs. People compare Prost to Senna or Mansell, never Keke.

  7. Marco said on 5th January 2011, 16:12

    Best seasons of Keke Rosberg in terms of performances:
    1985 – 3rd best driver /231 laps led/
    1982 – 4th best driver /80 laps led/
    1986 – 5th best driver /86 laps led/

    Best seasons of Alain Prost in terms of performances:
    1993 – the best driver /431 laps led/
    1984 – the best driver /345 laps led/
    1981 – the best driver /212 laps led/

    So, really not difficult to decide…:D

  8. SVettel (@) said on 5th January 2011, 16:28

    Rosbergs pole lap at Silverstone, 1985. It took F1 about 20 years to reach an average speed of 160mph around an F1 track

    • Mike said on 6th January 2011, 3:51

      But considering the FIA doing more and more to limit the speed of F1, that’s not that big of a deal. I mean, If the rules weren’t changed, they’d have gone a lot quicker a lot earlier.

  9. Slr (@slr) said on 5th January 2011, 16:39

    Rosberg showed just how inferior his is compared to Prost in 1986, when he was destroyed by Prost who was in the same car.

  10. 0634 (@0634) said on 5th January 2011, 16:43

    Obviously Alain Prost. One of the alltime greats. Rosberg was a fun guy, a true caracter and a good champ. But not that good.

  11. 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!

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

    Alain Prost Vs

    *Clicks on Alain Prost*

  13. 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)

  14. 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!

  15. 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

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