Jim Clark vs Nigel Mansell

Champion of Champions

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 ?ť?ģ Ford (Clark), Williams/Sutton (Mansell)

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119 comments on Jim Clark vs Nigel Mansell

  1. Sasquatsch (@sasquatsch) said on 18th January 2011, 9:56

    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.

  2. Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 18th January 2011, 10:38

    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!!

  3. Dipak T said on 18th January 2011, 11:07

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

  4. Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 18th January 2011, 11:07

    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

  5. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 18th January 2011, 11:10

    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.

  6. Lee Harrison (@lee-harrison) said on 18th January 2011, 11:16

    Much as I love Nige, gonna have to be Clark for this one. Don’t even know much about him apart from the obvious things, but the stats say it all really. Saying that, I voted Nigel, because someone had to :P

  7. Stuart said on 18th January 2011, 11:44

    Clark.The best driver I have ever seen in 50 years as an FI fan.
    BTW I am 65.

  8. Marco said on 18th January 2011, 12:11

    My vote goes for Jim…

    Btw. I would like to share with you results of my Formula One analysis… I tried to exclude mechanical retirements benefit, so that the real best driver of the season become a winner at the end, because in early years a lot of luck played a part in overall results… Also all results are counted and I used the same point system 9-6-4-3-2-1 for every season to stay fair to all…

    Here are the results of the best driver analysis for each year:

    1950 – Fangio
    1951 – Ascari
    1952 – Ascari
    1953 – Ascari
    1954 – Fangio
    1955 – Fangio
    1956 – Moss
    1957 – Fangio
    1958 – Moss
    1959 – Moss
    1960 – Brabham
    1961 – P Hill
    1962 – G Hill
    1963 – Clark
    1964 – Clark
    1965 – Clark
    1966 – Brabham
    1967 – Clark
    1968 – G Hill
    1969 – Stewart
    1970 – Ickx
    1971 – Stewart
    1972 – Stewart
    1973 – Peterson
    1974 – Lauda
    1975 – Lauda
    1976 – Hunt
    1977 – Andretti
    1978 – Andretti
    1979 – G Villeneuve
    1980 – Jones
    1981 – Prost
    1982 – Arnoux
    1983 – Piquet
    1984 – Prost
    1985 – Senna
    1986 – Piquet
    1987 – Mansell
    1988 – Senna
    1989 – Senna
    1990 – Senna
    1991 – Senna
    1992 – Mansell
    1993 – Prost
    1994 – Schumacher
    1995 – Schumacher
    1996 – D Hill
    1997 – Schumacher
    1998 РHäkkinen
    1999 РHäkkinen
    2000 – Schumacher
    2001 – Schumacher
    2002 – Schumacher
    2003 – Schumacher
    2004 – Schumacher
    2005 – Alonso
    2006 – Alonso
    2007 – Hamilton
    2008 – Hamilton
    2009 – Vettel
    2010 – Vettel

    According to my analysis the best Formula One drivers are:

    01. Schumacher 8×1
    02. Senna – 5×1
    03. Fangio – 4×1
    04. Clark – 4×1
    05. Ascari – 3×1
    06. Moss – 3×1
    07. Stewart – 3×1
    08. Prost – 3×1
    09. Brabham – 2×1
    10. G Hill – 2×1
    11. Lauda – 2×1
    12. Andretti – 2×1
    13. Piquet – 2×1
    14. Mansell – 2×1
    15. H√§kkinen – 2×1
    16. Alonso – 2×1
    17. Hamilton – 2×1
    18. Vettel – 2×1
    19. P Hill – 1×1
    20. Ickx – 1×1
    21. Peterson – 1×1
    22. Hunt – 1×1
    23. G Villeneuve – 1×1
    24. Jones – 1×1
    25. Arnoux – 1×1
    26. D Hill – 1×1
    27. Barrichello – 3×2
    28. Farina – 2×2
    29. Surtees – 2×2
    30. Fittipaldi – 2×2
    31. Regazzoni – 2×2
    32. J Villeneuve – 2×2
    33. Coulthard – 2×2
    34. R√§ikkonen – 2×2
    35. Massa – 2×2
    36. Gonzalez – 1×2
    37. Hawthorn – 1×2
    38. Von Trips – 1×2
    39. Gurney – 1×2
    40. Hulme – 1×2
    41. Rindt – 1×2
    42. Reutemann – 1×2
    43. Berger – 1×2
    44. Patrese – 1×2
    45. Button – 1×2
    46. Webber – 1×2
    47. Montoya – 4×3
    48. Scheckter – 3×3
    49. Brooks – 2×3
    50. Fagioli – 1×3

    :)

    • Tango (@tango) said on 18th January 2011, 12:28

      I’d like to see the detail of that. Interesting method. I would have chosen Prost over Senna for a couple of years but never mind. Arnoux really deserves the place you give him.

    • Tango (@tango) said on 18th January 2011, 12:29

      It is a very interesting method I have to say, but one that factors in a lot of “longevity” as a calculation method.

    • Dougie (@f1droid) said on 18th January 2011, 12:36

      Interesting stats, and very well done. I like what you’ve done here, and the top 8 I think is spot on.

      However, mechanical retirements are part of the game, and driving your car fast without tearing it apart is an important feature of a racing driver. Also, unfortunately, if you made each car bulletproof it’s not necessarily true that the finishing orders would have been as predicted. Whose to say that whoever retired in the lead/2nd/wherever would not have been caught and passed by another who has made better use of tyres & fuel.

    • David B (@david-b) said on 18th January 2011, 13:28

      Great jobs.
      And pretty agreeble results!

      • Marco said on 18th January 2011, 14:37

        Thank you… :) I was also satisfied with the results, and think the same… The famous top 8 “Schumacher, Senna, Fangio, Clark, Ascari, Moss, Stewart and Prost” is there and also drivers like Peterson, Gilles Villeneuve or Rene Arnoux should have all one 1 title, if mechanical retirements weren t present to decide…

    • JonesyUK (@jonesyuk) said on 18th January 2011, 13:31

      Maybe do a percentage of best driver against number of seasons raced?

      e.g. Clark had 8 full seasons so 4/8 = 50%
      Schumacher had 16 full seasons so 8/16 = 50%

      P.s. Clark was the best ever IMO. He won 50% of all the races his car didn’t breakdown.

      • Marco said on 18th January 2011, 14:27

        If percentage will come to play, then the results will look like this:

        01. Ascari – 68,750 %
        02. Vettel – 58,064 % (still driving)
        03. Clark – 55,555 %
        04. Fangio – 52,941 %
        05. Senna – 49,689 %
        06. Schumacher – 49,626 % (still driving)
        07. Hamilton – 49,295 % (still driving)
        08. Moss – 37,878 %
        09. Stewart – 33,333 %
        10. Andretti – 25,781 %
        11. Prost – 23,618 %
        12. Alonso – 22,784 % (still driving)
        13. G Villeneuve – 22,388 %
        14. Häkkinen Р19,875 %
        15. Hunt – 17,391 %
        16. Lauda – 16,959 %
        17. Mansell – 16,042 %
        18. Piquet – 15,196 %
        19. P Hill – 14,893 %
        20. D Hill – 13,913 %
        21. Brabham – 13,821 %
        22. Peterson – 12,195 %
        23. Jones – 12,068 %
        24. G Hill – 12,000 %
        25. Ickx – 11,403 %
        26. Arnoux – 10,738 %

        27. Farina – 39,393 %
        28. Gonzalez – 26,923 %
        29. Massa – 26,315 % (still driving)
        30. Von Trips – 25,925 %
        31. Hawthorn – 22,222 %
        32. Räikkonen Р21,794 %
        33. J Villeneuve – 20,245 %
        34. Regazzoni – 19,696 %
        35. Fittipaldi – 18,750 %
        36. Surtees – 17,117 %
        37. Rindt – 16,666 %
        38. Barrichello – 16,447 % (still driving)
        39. Coulthard – 13,008 %
        40. Webber – 11,111 % (still driving)
        41. Gurney – 11,627 %
        42. Hulme – 9,821 %
        43. Reutemann – 9,589 %
        44. Button – 8,994 % (still driving)
        45. Berger – 7,619 %
        46. Patrese – 6,250 %

        47. Fagioli – 85,714 %
        48. Montoya – 70,212 %
        49. Brooks – 44,736 %
        50. Scheckter – 42,857 %

        Ascari and Clark were very dominant in some of their years, so I am not surprised to see them so high… Vettel and Hamilton who are both at the moment in top 10 will probably drop after some time, it all depends on their cars and their performances…

        • antifia (@antifia) said on 18th January 2011, 15:30

          You see, that is when comparisons between drivers that raced in different periods and had shorter or longer careers go wrong. Vettel is by not strech of the imagination the 2nd best driver ever to grace F1.

          • Marco said on 18th January 2011, 15:48

            And that is why I don t like to use the percentage… :) I just put it here, because it was requested by one user…

    • sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 18th January 2011, 13:40

      Only thing I don’t get about that list is how Raikkonen wasn’t champion in 2005. Otherwise its a really interesting list, and certainly points out the dominant drivers! F1 would be a lot more boring if the results looked like that!

      • Marco said on 18th January 2011, 13:55

        In 2005 Alonso was the qualifyier and also racer of the year…

        • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 18th January 2011, 16:57

          In 2005 the MP4-20 was easily the best car, but was incredibly unreliable, because it was designed be Adrian Newey. That lost Raikkonen the championship. Alonso was just there to capitalise on McLaren’s failures.

          • Marco said on 18th January 2011, 17:30

            But Alonso was very consistent that year… If he wasn t in lead, he was driving almost every time on 2nd place… And btw. R√§ikkonen had a quite mediocre start to the season with McL being the best only from Imola…

          • Burnout said on 18th January 2011, 18:30

            You’re right Marco. People forget that while the MP4/20 was the fastest car, the R25 wasn’t much slower. And Alonso was able to keep up with the McLarens, if not beat them.

          • sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 18th January 2011, 19:47

            well, thing is according to your graph which takes away unreliabilities I just can’t see how Raikkonen wouldn’t have won. I’m happy to be convinced otherwise, but my memory of the season is that he was in the lead or near to the lead and then had mechanical failures. Just wondering how you worked it out that was all – its less to do with who was the best between Alonso and Raikkonen, more to do with who suffered from reliability issues, and that was certainly raikkonen

          • Alonso was really consistent that year. He won four out of the first seven races and never really looked back. I don’t know if Kimi ever had the lead that year. Alonso deserved that season hands down. I think that Kimi only had 3 major mechanical faults all year and one of those was the European GP when he flat spotted his front tyre and the resulting vibration broke his front suspension.

  9. Mansell may be my favourite driver and the main reason I got into Formula 1 but I am going to have to vote for Clark on this one.

  10. sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 18th January 2011, 13:36

    I never knew Clark as a racer. Wasn’t born, so its hard to appreciate his brilliance. Mansell was a hero to me, and massively underrated because he won in a dominant car.

    Mansell for me. No disrespect for Clark meant by that but its simply a gut feeling.

  11. Clark, can be and will only be Clark. Theres a whole bunch of drivers i love and admire, but none more so then Clark.

  12. antifia (@antifia) said on 18th January 2011, 15:20

    How on earth Mansel got to eliminate Nelson Piquet? It says a huge deal about the age and nationality of the people voting. Piquet not only won 3 championships in which he had tough competition (Mansel’s only championship was won in a Williams that was on a class of its own, and his team mate was Ricardo Patrese), but also won one of those championships over Mansel himself – and they were teamates. Of the 5 years Piquet had a winning car (80, 81, 83, 86 and 87) he was champion in 3 occasions and second in the remaining 2. Mansel also had a winning car on five occasions (86, 87, 90, 91 and 92) but only manages 1 first, 2 seconds and 2 thirds in those years. How on earth could he eliminate Piquet?!

    • Marco said on 18th January 2011, 15:54

      Piquet and Mansell were very equal and it is always tough to say who was the better driver… 3 titles against 1 tells nothing… It is the same as saying Button is a better driver then Moss, because he is world champion and Stirling isn t… There are also another things that decide, not just driver s abilites… Personally I rate Nigel a tiny bit higher then Nelson… And it looks like the other guys here, too…

      • DeadManWoking (@deadmanwoking) said on 18th January 2011, 16:07

        More a case of the sins of the son being visited on previous generations methinks.

      • Antifia said on 20th January 2011, 10:39

        Marco, the Moss/Button argument is not real paralel to the Mansel/Piquet circunstances. The latter were not only contemporaries in F1, they were teamates for 2 years – it was a close match in 86 and 87, but Piquet won it.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 18th January 2011, 16:16

      Very selective. Mansell should have won in 86 and 87, so straight away it could have been 3-2 to Mansell. Mansell also raced against Prost and Senna at the peak of their abilities, Piquet by comparison beat the likes of Jones, Rosberg and Reutemann and what year did he beat both Prost and Senna? Oh yeah that’s right, when he had a dominant car.

      • Kenny (@kenny) said on 18th January 2011, 17:42

        Piquet beat Prost in 1983 when their cars were very closely matched. And what’s so shabby about beating the likes of Jones, Reutemann, and Rosberg?

      • David B said on 18th January 2011, 18:46

        Piquet won all his championships with shrewdness more than heavy foot (in ’81 he took opportunity from Reutemann against Jones struggle, in ’83 from illegal fuel by Brabham and in ’87 from Mansell crash and mechanical failures). He wasn’t probably the best of his time, he never dominated, but for sure was a great driver, even if he got a lot in his career.

        At the end I see Mansell and PIquet at the same level. Mansell was faster, but Nelson was smarter in the hot moments.

      • It could have been 3-2 to Mansell but it wasn’t. He was a great driver to watch and one of my favorites but I really do fail to see how he is a greater champion than Piquet.

      • Antifia said on 20th January 2011, 11:02

        Icthyes: I really don’t know what to make of your Mansel-should-have-won 86 and 87 argument…ehr..he didn’t and he didn’t having the same equipment Piquet had. Senna, Prost, Piquet & Mansel had almost overlaping careers in F1 so I don’t understand your second comment either. Piquet did beat Prost to the title in 83 and Mansel in 87 (and almost beat both of them in 86, had he not been called by the team to make an unnecessary pitstop when he was leading in the last race in Australia). and he competed against Senna from 84 to 91. Regarding your question about what year Piquet beat both Prost and Senna, that was 87 – the same year he beat Mansel with equal equipment. When did Mansel beat both Prost and Senna? Never. In 92 he beat Senna but with such disparity in equipment that one can’t really count it – the only guy he was really competing against was Patrese… that was not a conquest, it was a gift.

    • George (@george) said on 18th January 2011, 18:18

      You disagree with the consensus and dip straight into the personal insults? I voted for Piquet but it was always going to be a close call.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 18th January 2011, 22:31

      also won one of those championships over Mansel himself ‚Äď and they were teamates

      Mansell finished ahead of Piquet in the other year they were teammates.

  13. slowhand (@slowhand) said on 18th January 2011, 15:47

    Clark wins on class alone. If Mansell had 10% of the outstanding personality of Jim Clark he would be a much better person.

  14. KingNigel (@kingnigel) said on 18th January 2011, 15:51

    I voted Nigel Mansell because he’s my hero. No disrespect to Jimmy Clark who’s a legend !

  15. Faraz said on 18th January 2011, 16:15

    I think that Mansell had been very unlucky at some points in his career he could have easily taken the 86 title if his wheel had not gone and in 87 he hurt himslef badly I think he would have taken that one as well and became a three times champ. Also I don’t think its right to put them head to head as they were two very diffrent drivers Clark was known for being very smooth and precise wether as Mansell was known to be very aggressive and with his balls-out driving. So its not the most fairest of comparisons.

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