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. His_majesty said on 7th January 2011, 22:15

    Niki laud a… Wow!!! How can anybody say someboxdy is a better champ than lauda? hi stink!

  2. Browny (@browny) said on 7th January 2011, 23:33

    I’m another Aussie who was forced to vote for Lauda. Although Jones must be remembered for winning the first championship for Williams and beginning their run of greatness. But Lauda, well his record speaks for itself

  3. mrgrieves (@mrgrieves) said on 8th January 2011, 0:04

    Lauda has it for me too. Had a bit of luck in his pre F1 carear and was well sponsered in the lower formula’s but no amount of money gets for 3 World championships including one against the most successfull driver through the 80′s in the same car a season he had comeback drive after comeback drive, Awsome driver and a star even if his mouth ha got very big over the year!

  4. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 8th January 2011, 1:24

    Lauda is one of the greatest ambassadors of the sport ever, one of the greatest drivers ever, and one of the world’s greatest sporting stories ever. Simple as that.

  5. Pseudohendrix said on 8th January 2011, 9:43

    Lauda easily. There are certain drivers who have throughout the history of the Formula One world championship, raised the bar in terms of their approach and professionalism. Lauda is one such driver. His career and achievements are landmarks in F1.
    Jones on the other hand is one of those champions whom I struggle to rank amongst the all time greats. There are several WDCs who I would rank in an ‘all time grrats’ list behind several who did not win the championship at all. Jones is in that category.

  6. DVC (@dvc) said on 8th January 2011, 13:43

    I’m an Australian, and unfortunately for Jones, my lasting impression of him as a driver, is someone who was rubbish in a contrived domestic Touring Car series (V8 Super Cars). The old footage of him makes him look a lot better, and he was tough, but Lauda was a superstar, and just as tough. No contest: Lauda.

  7. DVC (@dvc) said on 8th January 2011, 13:48

    btw: Does anybody have a photo (or link to one) of Lauda before his accident?

  8. When I started watching F1 races (1989), experts in Brazil used to say that the best drivers of all times were fangio, clark, stewart, lauda and prost. Reading these comments I understand why Lauda is in the list. And maybe he is ahead of Prost and Stewart…
    Senna and Schumacher, only, can be added to this list, in my opinion.
    Hakkinen and Kimi are as fast as Schumi (and Senna and all others), but dont have the same will to win. Hamilton and Vettel may enter this list, who knows…

  9. Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 10th January 2011, 6:10

    Seriouslly, Lauda kills Jones in terms of talent, who cares about money!

  10. This is just as obvious as the Fangio-Hawthorn one. Lauda, come on! He nearly won the ’76 title having made a comeback from life-threatening injuries, won it the next season and made a comeback from retiremant to win a third title for Mclaren against a new generation of challengers, most notably Alain Prost. Jones made two comebacks, both disastrous for Arrows and Haas-Lola, although he was quite a good driver like any world champion, he’s still not up there with the all time greats.

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