Niki Lauda vs Alan Jones

Champion of Champions

Champion of Champions: Niki Lauda vs Alan Jones

Niki Lauda and Alan Jones both won championships, then retired and made comebacks. But only one of them added a further title on their return.

Lauda’s entry into the sport in the early seventies came at great financial risk as he took out huge loans to fund places at teams like March and BRM. But it paid off as he was called up to drive for Ferrari in 1974.

He won titles for the team in 1975 and 1977. It would surely have been three on the trot had it not been for his terrible crash at the Nurburgring in 1976, in which he suffered terrible burns to his face and nearly died. He got back in the car for the final races of the season but couldn’t stop James Hunt from taking the championship at the last race.

Lauda fell out with Enzo Ferrari in 1977 and missed the final races of the year after winning the title. After two years with Brabham his motivation had dwindled and despite signing a new contract at the end of 1979 he abandoned his plans and quit Formula 1.

Jones, however, ended 1979 on a high with a competitive Williams underneath him. Indeed, under the strange scoring system of the time he went into the last race of the year having already scored the maximum points available to him in the second part of the season.

He had joined the team in 1978 from Shadow, with which he had scored his maiden win (and their only win) at the Osterreichring. Jones carried his 1979 form into 1980, beating Nelson Piquet to the title. But an angry fall-out with team mate Carlos Reutemann marred the following year and Jones quit the team.

Lauda was enticed out of retirement by Ron Dennis and he won his third race back for McLaren at Long Beach in 1982. The same track was the scene of Jones’s one-off drive for Arrows the following year.

The McLaren project came good as the team switched to Porsche turbo power in 1984. Lauda prevailed in a year-long battle with new team mate Alain Prost. He won his third championship by the slimmest of margins – a mere half-point.

But 1985 was a disaster, riddled with mechanical failures, and Lauda made his final retirement at the end of the year.

Jones, however, still wasn’t done. He returned for the Haas team late that year and contested a full season in 1986. But the car was short on power, and persistently unreliable, leading Jones back into retirement – this time 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.

Niki Lauda Alan Jones
Niki Lauda Alan Jones
Titles 1975. 1977, 1984 1980
Second in title year/s Emerson Fittipaldi, Jody Scheckter, Alain Prost Nelson Piquet
Teams March, BRM, Ferrari, Brabham, McLaren Hesketh, Hill, Surtees, Shadow, Williams, Arrows, Lola
Notable team mates Carlos Reutemann, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost Clay Regazzoni, Carlos Reutemann, Patrick Tambay
Starts 171 116
Wins 25 (14.62%) 12 (10.34%)
Poles 24 (14.04%) 6 (5.17%)
Modern points per start1 7.85 6.09
% car failures2 34.50 28.45
Modern points per finish3 11.99 8.52
Notes Badly burned in 1976 crash, withdrew from title-deciding race in heavy rain Gave Shadow their sole win in 1977
Clinched second title for Ferrari in 1977 then left team Strong second half of 1979 season set him up for 1980 title win
Ended two-year retirement to return to McLaren and win third title Two comebacks with Arrows (1983) and Haas (1985-6)
Bio Niki Lauda Alan Jones

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?

  • Niki Lauda (96%)
  • Alan Jones (4%)

Total Voters: 589

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Images ?? Patrice Tercier (Lauda), Williams/Sutton (Jones)

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65 comments on Niki Lauda vs Alan Jones

  1. Scribe (@scribe) said on 7th January 2011, 14:30

    I’d vote for him purley on the basis that he gave all his trophys away to his local garage for free car washes. Luckily I don’t have to, an all time great. Beat Prost on his comeback, fantastic cerbral driver, did much in terms of development, helped make a poor Ferrari competative, helped McLaren to it’s period of total dominance along with Prost, would have won his third title sooner after missing two races due to horrific injury where it not for a point of principle.

    Not a hard one really.

  2. F1iLike said on 7th January 2011, 14:30

    Lauda is one of the all time greats. Easy pick!

  3. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 7th January 2011, 14:51

    Niki Lauda, one thing you nearly die & then you come to have the motivation to win the WC.If not wrong he is the only driver in the history who came back from retirement & won the WC.

  4. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 7th January 2011, 14:53

    Lauda! Just look at the stats

    On the paydriver discussion: Every driver is more or less a pay driver. As I’ve said before: Schumacher even got paid by Deutsche Vermogensberatung after he retired!

    But I do think it is a big sign of confidence, to arrange a loan yourself to fund your career. Then you’re really sure about your talent!

  5. Sasquatsch (@sasquatsch) said on 7th January 2011, 15:19


    Jones did do very well in mediocre cars, scoring points regularly. His prime years where his years with Williams (78-81), but otherwise

    Lauda was bad in his first years. It wasn’t until he went to Ferrari that he started to score points regularly and then kept on racing in good cars.

    So going for the stats doesn’t do Jones right, although I vote for Lauda because he managed to get to drive in the right cars, where Jones, except for his Williams years couldn’t get a drive in a winning car.

  6. Olivier said on 7th January 2011, 15:41

    For me it’s an easy pick: Lauda. One of the all-time greatest. Among few people who have sit with Bernie Ecclestone to discuss money and has get out of it the winner. I really like the guy.

  7. Has to be Lauda, nothing against Jones who was as good as anyone in his day, but Lauda takes it. We’re choosing the best of the best, and Lauda is so much further up that list (in my eyes). A Triple World Champ who is ever so lucky to still be here. I have the upmost respect for the man, more then most after his bold choice of stopping in the ’76 Japanese GP, that gives him so much respect as when he was getting into the car to race 6 weeks after his accident.

  8. kowalsky (@) said on 7th January 2011, 16:11

    i was 10 when he had the accident, and remember thinking that he was the bravest man on earth. His come back after at monza was something imposible to understand at that age.
    I started following f1 more deeply when he was coming back and did the mclaren test at the end of 1981. lucky me!!!
    And i was lucky enough to be at estoril in 1984, for the season finale, to watch him take his last title.
    Jones was my kind of driver agresive, fast, no bull type of guy, but niki is in a diferent league.
    Keith this one was easy.

  9. Lauda easily. He wins it for his story, his stats and in my view being a greater talent than Jones was.

  10. Alex-Malta said on 7th January 2011, 17:11

    Don’t know the reason but I cannot cast my vote today?

  11. jihelle (@jihelle) said on 7th January 2011, 17:25

    Laura is the greatest. No other driver beats him in term of sheer determination and courage. And he changed Formula One for ever bringing professionalism to another level without Schumi “mean streak”. I remember seeing him winning races in 1975 and 1976 and he was just miles ahead of the field. His comeback after his accident and his second one in 1982 with his third world title in 1984 are the stuff of legend.

  12. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 7th January 2011, 17:30

    Are these guys going straight into ties with the people who came before them? Schumacher v Alonso, Mansell v Clark, Prost v Hakkinen? Or will there be a random draw? i know there’s no further seeding.

  13. HounslowBusGarage said on 7th January 2011, 20:37

    I always liked Alan Jone’s ‘gritty’ approach. But overall his gutsy attitude and undoubted skills are nothing like a match for Lauda.
    As pleased as I was that Hunt won in 1976, secretly we all knew that he wasn’t a patch on the death-defying Lauda.

  14. 0634 (@) said on 7th January 2011, 20:42

    Easy. Niki Lauda is one of the greatest. Jones is one of te weakest champs.

  15. qazuhb (@qazuhb) said on 7th January 2011, 21:18

    Niki Lauda. My first F1 idol.

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