Juan Manuel Fangio vs Mike Hawthorn

Champion of Champions

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

Loading ... Loading ...

You need an F1 Fanatic account to vote. Register an account here or read more about registering here.

Read the F1 Fanatic Champion of Champions introduction for more information and remember to check back tomorrow for the next round.

Have you voted in the previous rounds of Champion of Champions yet? Find them all here:

Champion of Champions

Browse all Champion of Champions articles

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

Advert | Go Ad-free

97 comments on Juan Manuel Fangio vs Mike Hawthorn

  1. Poor Hawthorn, against someone else (such as a single WDC winner) he might have had a chance. Probably has the least known about him by anyone who doesnt have a decent F1 history knowlegde or forever remembered for winning the title with the help of Sir Stirlings kind defence after the Portugese GP. But every WDC deserves their win in many respects.

    But Fangio was just something else and has to get my vote.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 9th January 2011, 21:27

      Spare a thought for Denny Hulme – he’ll probably have Senna!

      • Daniel said on 9th January 2011, 23:55

        As far as on track deaths go Denny Hulme’s was by far the most peaceful. That’s kind of the way I think of him. A dedicated racer who kept to the track till the end and didn’t make a fuss about it. That’s probably wrong, but please no one shatter my illusion!

  2. Jonathan W (@jonathan-w) said on 9th January 2011, 17:56

    Apart from Phil Hill Hawthorn is probably the least well known world champ which is a shame but you cant deny Fangio. Not only did he win almost every race he was in let’s not forget the Cuba incident with Stirling Moss….. A real hero.

  3. Dipak T said on 9th January 2011, 18:16

    Fangio’s points per finish total is just obscene in many ways, but I wonder if the reason its so high is that by the time the world championship was established, Fangio had proven himself worthy of a top Grand Prix ride.

    Id be interested to know how he did in the previous Grand Prix season in 1949, as well as Ascari etc, because their averges may be boosted by the fact that the first year or two of lesser rides, and ceding to serior drivers that many F1 drivers do go through in the early years of their career, have effectivly been discounted.

    How would Stewart, Clark, Graham Hill, Senna, Prost points per finish total look like if we only count from the point they got into a competitive car?

  4. Pedal to the Vettel (@pedal-to-the-vettel) said on 9th January 2011, 18:18

    The best there is, the best there was and the best that ever will be, Fangio…

    Coming to a poll near you…

    Only driver which I can think of who might knock out Fangio through this voting championship will be either Senna, Clark or Stewart. Don’t think Prost, Schumacher or Lauda will stop this man getting to the final.

    • Daniel said on 9th January 2011, 23:59

      What Brabham doesn’t even rate a mention on your list? 3 Titles, one in his own car, no mention?

      • Pedal to the Vettel (@pedal-to-the-vettel) said on 10th January 2011, 11:52

        Just cause you rate Brabham doesn’t mean I have to bother mentioning him to keep you happy.

        What? Nelson Piquet doesn’t even rate a mention on your list? 3 titles, no mention?

        See what I did ?

        • Daniel said on 10th January 2011, 23:25

          But your statement wasn’t about who you rate, it was about who could win in this contest. So, it is about who others might rate.

  5. Both are great, Mike with his tie, put more emotions to racing, than MJ to pop music.

    There is only one winner, El Chueco

    Keith, thx

  6. 0634 (@0634) said on 9th January 2011, 18:29

    Fangio. By a mile.

  7. melkurion (@melkurion) said on 9th January 2011, 18:49

    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?

  8. Leftie (@leftie) said on 9th January 2011, 19:24

    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.

  9. rampante (@rampante) said on 9th January 2011, 19:41

    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.

  10. JustAnF1Fanatic (@justanf1fanatic) said on 9th January 2011, 19:43

    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

  11. Dan_the_McLaren_fan (@dan_the_mclaren_fan) said on 9th January 2011, 20:01

    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.

  12. Rocky (@rocky) said on 9th January 2011, 21:05

    Juan Manuel Fangio Comments not required.

  13. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 9th January 2011, 21:26

    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.

  14. Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 9th January 2011, 23:14

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

    Apart from a slight danger aspect of course …

  15. schooner (@schooner) said on 9th January 2011, 23:27

    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.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.