Champion of Champions: Jim Clark vs Nigel Mansell

Jim Clark vs Nigel Mansell

Champion of ChampionsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Champion of Champions: Jim Clark vs Nigel Mansell

These two British champions may have raced decades apart but there are some interesting similarities between them.

Both clinched champions with technical superior cars – Clark using the Lotus 25 to dominate the 1963 championship and the 33 to claim the 1965 crown. Likewise Mansell wielded the Williams FW14B to devastating effect in 1992.

And it’s possible to argue that car problems were a significant reason why both drivers they didn’t win more races and championships.

For several years mechanical failures were the only thing that kept Clark off the podium. A critical tyre failure cost Mansell the 1986 crown and more bad luck followed on several occasions in 1987.

So how are we to separate these two champions?

Clark lost his life in 1968 at the age of 32. What more could he have achieved had he raced on into his forties, as Mansell did?

It’s down to you to decide 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.

Jim Clark Nigel Mansell
Jim Clark, Indianapolis, 1967 Nigel Mansell, Williams, 1992
Titles 1963, 1965 1992
Second in title year/s Graham Hill, Graham Hill Riccardo Patrese
Teams Lotus Lotus, Williams, Ferrari, McLaren
Notable team mates Trevor Taylor, Mike Spence, Graham Hill Nelson Piquet, Riccardo Patrese, Alain Prost
Starts 72 187
Wins 25 (34.72%) 31 (16.58%)
Poles 33 (45.83%) 32 (17.11%)
Modern points per start1 11.65 8.07
% car failures2 29.17 32.62
Modern points per finish3 16.45 11.98
Notes An oil leak in the final race of 1962 cost him his first title Runner-up in 1986 and 1987, the latter after back-breaking crash
Finished on the podium in every race where his car didn’t break down over the next three seasons Returned to Williams in 1991, taking title in 1992
Killed in a Formula Two race during the 1968 season having won the first race of the year Quit for good after two-race comeback for McLaren in 1995
Bio Jim Clark Nigel Mansell

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

Round one

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Jim Clark (85%)
  • Nigel Mansell (15%)

Total Voters: 604

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Images ?? Ford (Clark), Williams/Sutton (Mansell)

119 comments on “Jim Clark vs Nigel Mansell”

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  1. Jim Clark, how I wished you’d let Graham Hill win one more title. You were the best of an era. I say on to the next round with you. Sorry, Nige.

    1. Like Senna, this gentleman passed away way too early. We could have been looking at Clark as a 10 time champion, but we’ll never know. But the same can be said of many drivers of that era. What a shame.

      By the way, I voted Clark without equivocation. :)

      1. ditto. mansell doesn’t stand a chance

      2. For several years mechanical failures were the only thing that kept Clark off the podium.

        Wins 25 (34.72%)

        If the first part is true, then the second is even more amazing.

        1. Yes it is, but even more amazing is his points scoring record. Out of his 49 finishes, only 9 were outside the points, which lets not forget, were only awarded down to 6th rather than the current “everyone gets a prize” system.

          1. Poles 46%, nearly half the races he was in he got pole. Some pretty impressive stats there.

          2. Poles 46%, nearly half the races he was in he got pole. Some pretty impressive stats there.

            That’s a pretty staggering statistic. He might go on to win this whole competition.

  2. Whoever gets Clark or Senna is on a justified one way ticket to an absolute hiding.

    1. What if they get each other then? :P

      1. I’m guessing we’ll end up with Fangio, Schumacher, Senna, and Clark in the semis. It’s anyone’s game from there.

        1. Prost or Stewart have a big say however…

          1. And Niki Lauda….

        2. Agree they are the best.
          Sorry for Nigel, but Jim was Jim. An urepeatable talent, a brave driver, an elegant and simple hearted gentleman.
          Anyway don’t forget Nigel quality: in my feeling he was the natural descendant of Gilles Villeneuve, and I’m very happy he eventually managed to get a title.

        3. Don’t forget Prost. His results over a 10 year period are simply amazing

        4. You guys aren’t keeping track of the draws. I’m fairly certain Schumacher runs into Clark in the next round.

          1. Also the way I see it, Senna won’t run into Clark unless both make it to the finals.

          2. It would be better if Keith posted a map of the draw, to be honest! :)

            MSC vs Clark in the QFs would be… very interesting.

          3. And don’t forget about Sir Jack

          4. Yea agreed. A ladder would be good.

          5. Made one. Apologies for the quality, it was hand-done on Paint:

            Based on the votes so far, Round 2 should look like this:

            Some delicious battles: Prost v Hakkinen and Senna v Hill are my two favourites. I reckon the QFs will be Schumacher v Clark, Prost v Lauda, Fangio v Stewart, Senna v Hamilton. Some VERY interesting ties there!

          6. Thanks Icthyes. Somebody else who’s keeping track of the draw.

            Somehow I don’t see Hamilton beating Brabham. Senna vs Brabham for the quarterfinals seems more likely to me.

          7. The only real test in Round 2 will be Lauda-Ascari, although I imagine the Hamilton fanboys might give Brabham a run in the last match.

          8. It’s only really because it’s Brabham (and maybe Raikkonen and Fittipaldi) that I think Hamilton will go through. Of all the triple champions, he seems to get ignored the most, very unfairly as I rate him above Piquet easily. If it was someone like Stewart or Clark, I wouldn’t fancy his chances at all.

          9. Agreed, but it would only be a temporary reprieve. If he wins against Brabham, Hamilton will face Senna in Round 3 and even he would vote for Senna in that matchup. 8)

          10. You are quite right Burnout. I have laid out the brackets for the competition, and unless Keith changes the draw mid-stream, Round Three will see Michael v Jim. And if I could be so bold Round Three:

            3-1 Michael v Jim
            3-2 Alain v Niki
            3-3 Juan Manuel v Sir Jackie
            3-4 Ayrton v “a possible surprise”

            No matter how one lays out the brackets, there will always be some vehemently opposed!

          11. Interesting, but there shouldn’t actually be a third place play off, as there is every chance the winner beat the second or third best in a much earlier round. Unless every champion was pitted against every other champion, the only definate thing that can taken is who is number one.

          12. Yeah, you know the only one I wouldn’t want to call out of the matchups in round 4 is Clark vs Schumacher. Personally I’ll vote Clark because I reckon his era was stronger an his speed on anything with 4 weels but tbf I could easily see schumi picking that one up.

            Thing is, I always saw Clark or Fangio challenging Senna, didn’t really see it in Schuey. Prost has very legitimate arguments marking him out easily Senna’s match, particularly the 11 best finishes rule deciding the 1988 title but it’s really quite hard.

        5. Maybe not, as pairings are random and it’s not said that the best drivers will be there till the end. Even if Senna and Schumacher were paired now, the result would be the same as if we were in the final, so the Champion of Champions will be the only one to beat everyone else, disregarding the order or ability of the other drivers.

  3. I’m a big Mansell fan, but Clark is simply better..

    1. Clark for me also.

      1. In my opinion Senna vs Schumacher is the most sensible final….but act of choosing is not always rational. We’ll see…

        1. Schumacher has the championships, but he is no where near the abosulute blisteing speed of Clark. The only sensible final is Clark vs Senna

  4. It’s a pity Mansell has to go out at this stage, he’s one of the most impressive single-time champions (hell he beat a 3 time champ in round 1). He was never the top driver in the sport though, whereas Clark was, so he gets my vote.

    1. I suspect that reflects more on Piquet’s recent issues regarding his son, and not so much on his driving ability.

      But Mansell won fair and square, I won’t deny that.

  5. Jim Clark was simply awesome.
    Had it not been for his F2 crash at Hockenheim, who knows what he would have achieved?

    1. He’d have won the 1968 title, but that’s as good as it would get, I reckon. I’m guessing he’d stay on for 1969 (losing out to protege JYS and Tyrrell), before retiring to give way to Jochen for 1970.

      1. I don’t get how toy can make those speculations.He was just 32 when he died so it’s a lot easier to think that , in an age when most drivers raced almost until their 40’s, that he would have done several more years.

        1. But he might have been killed at another event soon after just as well, so hard to tell.

          For me he certainly beats Mansell, I was not even sure Mansell deserved to beat Piquet in that first round.

          1. I didn’t realize Mansell won the round. How did that happen? Oh yeah…more people voted for him…LOl.

      2. Impossible to say- I think Chapman would have kept him on as long as he wanted to stay. I doubt (but don’t know, obviously) that Rindt would have joined Lotus if Clark was still there. Andretti may have- he got the offer before Rindt did- but he had commitments in USAC. Who knows? But would I have liked to have seen it…

        1. “But I would have liked to have seen it…”

  6. sorry, i meant how you make those speculations.

  7. i liked mansell a lot. I was in 87 at silverstone and loved it. Eventhough i voted for piquet in the first round. And now he doesn’t stand a chance. Clark is a top five, mansell isn’t.

  8. I love Nigel, and you can’t argue the fact that he was an amazing driver, hell he’s the only single champion to beat a multiple one in the first round.

    Having said that, Clark is my choice for the overall win, so can’t vote against him now, he’s simply better then Nigel.

  9. Nigel was my hero, I have to vote him!

  10. So for only 36.11% did Clark not finish first, or retire through mechanical failure. That means if you were racing him in F1 at the time, then if his car did not fail there was almost a 50% chance you would definitely loose!

    I wonder what percentage of races he finished on the podium?

  11. Considering Moss, Brabham, Graham Hill, Stewart and Hulme were his contemporaries, this match has to go to Clark for achieving what he did against such strong opposition.

  12. Well…Mansell’s were Piquet, Prost, Senna, Lauda, Rosberg. Not bad.

    1. Not bad at all, but Mansell didn’t get results anywhere near what Clark got. 115 more race starts but only 6 more wins than Clark.

      1. Agree on that.

  13. I loved Mansell, almost a hero, his F1 career began as I started watching the sport at 9 years old. A more gutsy, determined, driver I’ve yet to see in the sport. Where Senna, Prost etc would guide the car smoothly and with style, Mansell would just grab it by the scruff of the neck and throw it down the road and round the next corner. Always exciting to watch, and why Champ Car suited him so well.

    But after all that, it is but his downfall here, as Clark was sublime in the Lotus at a time where death was always waiting just around the corner or over that blind crest. A more natural talent the world has never seen, yet plucked from us in his prime, a legend never to be forgotten.

    Oh… and he’s Scottish too :-)

    1. I like the way you describe them both. Have only seen the tail end of Mansell really, but I agree with what you describe – largely from the WDC year, the Indy championship, and courtesy of Youtube.

      So, Clark it is then.

    2. Agree 100% with Dougie.

      There has seldom been a more determined driver than Masell. (Was it Frank Williams who said that “If needs be, Nigel will carry the car over the finish line to win”). But that agression broke cars.

      Clark could nurse the fragile Lotus around the circuit without. heaven knows how, losing any time. Plus Clarke never whined.

      Clark wins.

  14. Shame, I’d rate Mansell way above some of the round two contenders, but he’s not going to win this one, sorry Nige

    1. It’s great to see the affection Mansell’s getting even as everyone votes for Clark.

  15. The percentage of poles Clark took is outstanding, sorry Nigel.

    Schumi vs Senna final would be nice to compare, although it may not happen. It would be great to see a competition tree at the end of this all Keith.

  16. Based on stats, Clark was probably one of the best F1 drivers ever, certainly one of the fastest. His percentage of poles and fastest laps are only beaten by Fangio, and his percentage of victories is only beaten by Fangio, Schumacher and Ascari. All these could have been higher if his car didn’t fail as much (a Lotus, about which Graham Hill once said that if he was ever passed by a wheel he knew he was in a Lotus).

    Who knows what could have been if he didn’t die in that horrible F2 accident (in a Lotus!)?

    So the choice is easy. Jim Clark wins with a wide margin.

  17. I voted for Jim Clark simply because he was so successful in so many different categories of motor racing.

    Oh and I grew up watching Ford videos that my dad had of the Mk1 Cortina being raced and rallied and a certain My Clark was shown in those to be very good!!

  18. Senna was the closest thing we ever got to Clark. Therefore, Clark easily. Sorry Nige, much as we love you.

  19. I voted Mansell, because he’s the underdog and I actually got to watch his career, rather than read about it. He impressed me as a driver and as a personality

  20. Clark was simply the best of his time, and one of the best ever. Mansell done well to keep up with Senna, Piquet and Prost, and really deserved more than 1 title, however, the same can be said for Jimmy who deserved far more than 2 titles.

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