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

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

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97 comments on Juan Manuel Fangio vs Mike Hawthorn

  1. Daniel said on 10th January 2011, 0:01

    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.

  2. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 10th January 2011, 1:57

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

    • Daniel said on 10th January 2011, 4:16

      Depends which stat you look at.

      • wasiF1 said on 10th January 2011, 7:57

        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.

        • Daniel said on 10th January 2011, 8:13

          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.

          • wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 10th January 2011, 15:42

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

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

  3. Burnout (@burnout) said on 10th January 2011, 6:11

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

    • Kenny (@kenny) said on 10th January 2011, 7:26

      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.

      • Burnout said on 10th January 2011, 8:30

        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.

    • Daniel said on 10th January 2011, 8:15

      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.

  4. Sasquatsch (@sasquatsch) said on 10th January 2011, 9:28


    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.

  5. Tomakko (@tomakko) said on 10th January 2011, 9:46

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

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 10th January 2011, 10:29

      Or Schumacher.
      Or Prost.

      • kowalsky (@) said on 10th January 2011, 13:23

        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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • kowalsky (@) said on 11th January 2011, 16:09

      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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