Champion of champions: Juan Manuel Fangio vs Mike Hawthorn

Juan Manuel Fangio vs Mike Hawthorn

Champion of ChampionsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Champion of champions: Juan Manuel Fangio vs Mike Hawthorn

Juan Manuel Fangio and Mike Hawthorn were rivals of the 1950s who spent many seasons racing against each other.

But although both won titles with Ferrari they were never paired up at the same team.

Fangio drove seven complete season in which he won five world championship titles before retiring two races into 1958. Hawthorn succeeded him as world champion.

With better reliability, Fangio could have been the first ever world champion instead of Giuseppe Farina. Both drove for Alfa Romeo, but Fangio lost three finishes to car failure while Farina’s only let him down in Reims.

The following year Fangio clinched his first championship but he injured his neck in 1952 and missed the season. He returned in 1953 and finished runner-up to Alberto Ascari.

Hawthorn’s first championship season was in 1952 at the wheel of a Cooper entered by his father Leslie. After several impressive drives he was hired by Ferrari and he won his fourth race with the team, edging Fangio at Reims.

Fangio dominated 1954, winning six of eight races (excluding the Indianapolis 500), starting the season with Maserati before moving on to Mercedes.

In 1955 Hawthorn abandoned a planned switch to Vanwall and returned to Ferrari. Fangio stayed at Mercedes where he won his third title, but the team quit Formula 1 at the end of the year following the Le Mans disaster.

That led Fangio to Ferrari but Hawthorn was no longer there. He’d moved on to BRM, mainly because he wanted to drive the British team’s sports cars. Fangio claimed the title in an ex-Lancia D50, before returning to Maserati.

Hawthorn re-joined Ferrari but couldn’t keep Fangio from title number five: Fangio famously defeated Hawthorn having fallen over a minute behind him at the Nurburgring that year. He retired not long after.

Hawthorn won the title in 1958 despite taking a single Grand Prix victory to Stirling Moss’s four. But he drove consistently, with seven podium finishes from ten starts. He retired after winning the title, but was killed in a road accident the following January.

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.

Juan Manuel Fangio Mike Hawthorn
Juan Manuel Fangio, 1955 Mike Hawthorn
Titles 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957 1958
Second in title year/s Alberto Ascari, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Stirling Moss, Stirling Moss, Stirling Moss Stirling Moss
Teams Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes, Ferrari Cooper, Ferrari, Vanwall, Maserati, BRM
Notable team mates Giuseppe Farina, Peter Collins, Stirling Moss Giuseppe Farina, Alberto Ascari, Peter Collins
Starts 51 45
Wins 24 (47.06%) 3 (6.67%)
Poles 29 (56.86%) 4 (8.89%)
Modern points per start1 17.12 10.40
% car failures2 17.65 22.22
Modern points per finish3 20.79 13.37
Notes Missed 1952 season due to injury Famously beat Fangio at Reims in 1953
Handed 1956 title by team mate Peter Collins Consistent points-scoring brought him the 1958 title, aided by team mate Phil Hill
Record haul of five titles unequalled until 2002 Retired but killed in a road accident in January 1959
Bio Juan Manuel Fangio Mike Hawthorn

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?

  • Juan Manuel Fangio (97%)
  • Mike Hawthorn (3%)

Total Voters: 554

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Images ?? Daimler (Fangio), Chris Ilsley (Hawthorn)

97 comments on “Juan Manuel Fangio vs Mike Hawthorn”

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  1. Fangio. By a mile.

  2. That’s not a difficult one by anyone’s book I would guess…

    Keith, this way we are working up to the second round, then to the third etc, but will we also have “losers” ronds??? SO that we get a complete ranking, instead of just the winner and the runner up?

  3. It’s gotta be “Maestro” Fangio. And that says it all.
    Respected by everyone, admired by all the greatest.
    A true, honest, fair and bloody fast Racer.

  4. What I find strange about all of this is the comments regarding drivers who raced decades before people were born. I am fully aware that the digital age gives access to information but please be careful what information you read. As someone who has now watched for 40 odd years I was always reminded by my peers about great drivers of the past and one name that always stood out was that of Fangio. If he was racing today he would have been slaughtered because of his driving style and tactics. Schumacher is the greatest driver ever in terms of results and I’m sure if there was a poll now he would not be in the top 3 on this site. Fangio would be where regarding this? You can’t just look at this in a black and white fashion (as too many do about drivers like Senna) and come up with an answer. F1 is like any other competitive sport and to compare competitors from different eras is very difficult. To try and explain this I think that Hamilton is one of the bravest and most willing drivers to take a chance out of the present group, if he did that in the 60’s or 70’s he would be dead. Where’s the comparison. This is an interesting thing to do but please remember it can never be a level playing field.

  5. Again, the brit in me says Hawthorn. But my head cant deny that Fangio is a true legend, one of the all time greats. Had to vote for Fangio, seems my heads stronger than my heart

  6. If there were a match Moss vs. Hawthorne, I would have picked Moss : he should have been champion in 1958. A pity he wasn’t just because of a miscommunication in the Portugal Grand Prix.

  7. Juan Manuel Fangio Comments not required.

  8. Glad for the exposition. Fangio’s greatness cannot be disproved, but he did win an awful lot of championships by moving to the best team and was gifted one (albeit a genuine one, no “Juan Manuel is faster than you” telegrams).

    Nonetheless there could only be one winner in this match. But if El Maestro comes up against Le Professeur, it’s a whole different ballgame.

    1. “Juan Manuel is faster than you” telegrams


  9. Wow, 5 WDC’s from 51 starts! They did have it a lot easier back then :)

    Apart from a slight danger aspect of course …

  10. Pretty easy pick for me. While Hawthorn’s legacy is secure as one of the early great drivers, it would be quite a stretch to choose him over Fangio.

  11. Never taken my car for a Haw, but I’ve taken it for a Fang (yes, this is where the term comes from), so Fangio for me.

  12. No doubt over this as Juan Manuel Fangio is the second best driver in the world on paper next to Schumacher.

    1. Depends which stat you look at.

      1. Number of championships & with that race win percentage & pole position. He was a true legend I don’t think F1 WC of these days will ever dream of driving those machines of those days.

        1. I’m confused you say Fangio is second best on paper to Schumacher on the basis of Championships or wins percentage? Because Schumacher is ahead on one and Fangio ahead on the other.

          1. I didn’t put that thing together easily,sorry for creating confusion.

            I meant his Championship. I accidentally used the word percentage!

  13. I’m surprised Hawthorn won only 3 races in a career spanning 7 seasons. Especially since most of it was spent at Ferrari.

    1. Well, when Fangio, Moss, Collins, Brooks, et. al. were out there with him, his turn didn’t come up very often. But he was almost always in the points and often on the podium when he finished. Mike didn’t win too many, but he was usually in with a chance.

      1. Yeah, I forgot about multi-car teams and customer cars. I’m not putting Hawthorn down though. It takes serious guts to keep driving in spite of all the danger of driving in F1 in the ’50s.

    2. You’ve got to remember there weren’t that many races in a season then. Button’s number of wins would probably look pretty similar to Hawthorn’s if we had the same number of races in a Championship now.

  14. Fangio!

    In my humble opinion the best driver ever.

    And Hawthorn was lucky to be world champion, because of Moss misreading a pitsign which cost him the one point for fastest lap, which would make him world champion.

  15. I mean that voting is all fun, but isn’t it obvious that either Clark or Senna or Fangio will win it?

    1. Or Schumacher.
      Or Prost.

      1. what makes a champion, the champion of champions?
        Could it be stewart a better champion that lauda, just because of the way he handle himself after retirement. When both have more or less the same titles-victories?
        Should we focus more on raw speed. The esence of the sport. (senna qualy record?)
        Or should we focus on the sportmanship while being an active driver.
        Do you realize that nationality plays a bigger factor than should in the way fans vote?
        Should schumacher be consider better than fangio because he had better fitness?
        Or should i go for the champion that capture my imagination when i was a kid?

  16. It seems Fangio has eclipsed Hawthorn in this one, and I don’t blame anyone. Although Hawthorn is underrated Fangio still comes out on top. The 1957 German GP is but one example of his sheer brilliance. Hawthorn only beat him once in France ’54. Fangio could’ve been a 6 time champion had it not been for reliability issues in 1950. Hawthorn won only won 1 race in his championship year that just goes to show that it’s about consistancy not race wins.

  17. Hi everybody,

    I just wanted to add a comment about Fangio, having grown up in Argentina. The country has sports figures that were celebrated despite their faults, like Maradona, who may have been a terrific football player yet was a disaster in his personal life, and even a bad sportsman on the soccer field (remember the famous “hand of god” goal.) But Fangio was the opposite, just as famous for being humble and a gentleman as for his results. I think perhaps he had equals as drivers, say Ayrton Senna. But I can’t think of any other with quite such a good reputation for his conduct, driving or otherwise.

    1. steward and clark are as close to fangio as you are going to get in that area. With 3 wdc and 2wdc respectibly, their record is vey good as well. The rest, all did something at the track than wouldn’t let them qualify in the same league.

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