Juan Manuel Fangio vs Emerson Fittipaldi

Champion of Champions

Champion of Champions: Juan Manuel Fangio vs Emerson Fittipaldi

One thing that unites these two multiple champions from South America is their readiness to switch teams in pursuit of their career objectives.

Juan Manuel Fangio’s status as the top driver of his time allowed him to cherry-pick the best cars of his day.

He narrowly missed out on winning the first world championship with Alfa-Romeo in 1950. He took the title with the following year then (after missing the 1952 season due to injury) moved on to Maserati.

He was head-hunted by Mercedes to lead their return to Grand Prix racing in 1954. He wrapped up his second title with them and added a third the following year before they left the sport.

Fangio entered a marriage of convenience with Ferrari, which yielded title number four in 1956. Then it was back to Maserati for his final title at the wheel of the 250F. It’s hard to image a modern F1 driver making so many changes of team in such a short space of time while enjoying sustained success.

Emerson Fittipaldi also switched from one top team to another in pursuit of the championship. Like Fangio he won the title in his second full season, driving for Lotus.

In 1974 he departed for McLaren, winning the championship in his first season with them.

Success came quickly to Fittipaldi: he was a Grand Prix winner in only his fourth start. That perhaps motivated his decision take his career in a different direction at the end of 1975, pursuing his ambition of driving for a Brazilian Formula 1 team.

His career can be split into two parts of almost equal size – 72 appearances with Lotus and McLaren, followed by 77 with his brother’s team, usually at the wheel of cars that were slow, unreliable, or both.

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 Emerson Fittipaldi
Juan Manuel Fangio, 1955 Emerson Fittipaldi
Titles 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957 1972, 1974
Second in title year/s Alberto Ascari, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Stirling Moss, Stirling Moss, Stirling Moss Jackie Stewart, Clay Regazzoni
Teams Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes, Ferrari Lotus, McLaren, Copersucar, Fittipaldi
Notable team mates Giuseppe Farina, Peter Collins, Stirling Moss Ronnie Peterson, Denny Hulme, Jochen Mass
Starts 51 144
Wins 24 (47.06%) 14 (9.72%)
Poles 29 (56.86%) 6 (4.17%)
Modern points per start1 17.12 6.90
% car failures2 17.65 25.69
Modern points per finish3 20.79 9.29
Notes Missed 1952 season due to injury Won in his fourth F1 start
Handed 1956 title by team mate Peter Collins Spent five seasons with minor teams after winning second title
Record haul of five titles unequalled until 2002 Formerly the youngest ever world champion
Bio Juan Manuel Fangio Emerson Fittipaldi

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?

  • Juan Manuel Fangio (94%)
  • Emerson Fittipaldi (6%)

Total Voters: 517

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

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Images ?? Daimler (Fangio), Gillfoto via Flickr (Fittipaldi)

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47 comments on Juan Manuel Fangio vs Emerson Fittipaldi

  1. The Ram (@the-ram) said on 21st January 2011, 20:45

    Fangio has less race experience than Sebastian Vettel! I don’t rate the pre-seventies drivers any at all! I voted Fittipaldi. That fat jelly belly Fangio was only champion because of his cars.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 21st January 2011, 22:08

      that made me laugh so much that I cannot even work out a way to reply this seriously without laughing a lot more.

      • If Stirling Moss thinks Fangio was the best (or atleast of their era) then thats good enough for me. They raced when fitness only mattered between the bedsheets and when seatbelts couldnt be found in the Racing vocabulary. Hell, if your going to race a car, wear a 50’s Polo top and look good whilst going fast!!

        He might have been a “Fat jelly belly” but he was bloody quick and the facts dont lie, quick cars are useless without someone quick enough to drive them.

  2. Tango (@tango) said on 22nd January 2011, 1:10

    Problem when voting for Fangio is that he comes from an era when the sport wasn’t as complicated and developped as it is now. The pool of talent was restricted to merely 5 countries, and only a portion of the population of said countries would even think about getting onboard one of these cars.
    So admitedly Fangio was by far the best of his era,but really the perimeter of the question changed wildly during the 60’s and 70’s from which time F1 became global.

    It’s like saying that a 1930 100m olympic gold medalist is as good a sprinter as Usain Bolt because they both achieved gold on the distance… Maybe so, but an amateur and student from New Zealand won Bronze in 1930.

  3. rdenatale (@rdenatale) said on 22nd January 2011, 13:54

    Much easier choice for me than Ascari vs. Lauda, but once again I have to pick the driver from the time I was too young to care much about cars let alone F1 over the one from the era where my F1 interest started.

    Sorry Emmo, but it has to be Fangio.

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