Jack Brabham vs Lewis Hamilton

Champion of Champions

Champion of Champions: Jack Braham vs Lewis Hamilton

Jack Brabham and Lewis Hamilton both won the world championship in their second full season in the sport.

These are also drivers who spent a long time with the same team. Brabham only ever drove for cars entered by himself or Cooper (with one exception) and Hamilton has spent the first four years of his F1 career with McLaren.

Obviously a key point of difference between the two is the lengths of their careers: Brabham retired after 16 seasons in the sport, Hamilton is heading into his fifth.

Another striking difference between the two is the difference in reliability they enjoyed. The cars of the fifties and sixties Brabham drove were generally far less reliable – particularly in the years when he was developing his own.

Hamilton has the lowest car failure rate of any world champion. But if you factor out car breakages their adjusted average points score per race are quite close as you can see in the table below.

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.

Lewis Hamilton Lewis Hamilton
Jack Braham Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Interlagos, 2010
Titles 1959, 1960, 1966 2008
Second in title year/s Tony Brooks, Bruce McLaren, John Surtees Felipe Massa
Teams Cooper, Brabham McLaren
Notable team mates Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney, Denny Hulme Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button
Starts 123 71
Wins 14 (11.38%) 14 (19.72%)
Poles 13 (10.57%) 18 (25.35%)
Modern points per start1 7.63 12.31
% car failures2 34.96 2.82
Modern points per finish3 11.74 12.67
Notes Back-to-back titles for Cooper in 1959 and 1960 Finished on podium on debut and won his sixth race
Then became only driver to win a championship in his own car Became champion in his second season after narrowly missing rookie title win
Runner-up in 1967 to team mate Denny Hulme Formerly the youngest ever world champion
Bio Jack Brabham Lewis Hamilton

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?

  • Jack Brabham (51%)
  • Lewis Hamilton (44%)

Total Voters: 784

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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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Champion of Champions

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Images ?é?® Peter Denton (Brabham), www.mclaren.com (Hamilton)

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380 comments on Jack Brabham vs Lewis Hamilton

  1. Boost (@boost) said on 24th January 2011, 13:22

    Jack Brabham. Why?: It´s easiest to explain why Hamilton doesn´t belong among the champions of champions:

    First: lying to race stewards in Melbourne 2009 while being the reigning world champion. His lie hurt one of his fellow drivers, Jarno Trulli, but luckily the truth was revealed. Champion of Champions? Nay.

    Second: while apologizing to all — “I would like to say a big sorry to all my fans who have believed in me and years. I have showed you who I am for the past three years. I am not a liar. I am not a dishonest person” — he sounded like in denial. Perhaps not before but now he WAS obviously a dishonest person, a liar. Champion of Champions? Nay.

    A Champion of Champions shouldn´t lie about his actions on the track.

    • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 24th January 2011, 16:45

      So does that mean Schumacher or Senna could be Champion of Champions despite both having deliberately driven into another car during a race, endangering their own and others lives, but telling a porky means you are a pariah forever?

      This is a genuine question – I don’t see any reason for any of the three drivers to not be able to win because of a couple of isolated incidents.

      And I seem to remember Schumacher insisting he lost control of the car at Monaco…

  2. sumedh said on 24th January 2011, 13:27

    Dropped in on F1fanatic after quite a while. And realising that I missed a lot.

    What an amazing collection of articles this ‘Champions of Champions’ series is. I curse myself for following the Ashes and one-day cricket all this while.

  3. DavidS (@davids) said on 24th January 2011, 13:27

    What Brabham has achieved in the sport far outweighs what Hamilton has done to this point.

    The fact that Brabham won a championship with his own car is a significant achievement. Hamilton is a talented driver, but his successes have been staged managed by a huge team of people behind him who provide him with a championship winning car and the strategy to maximise it. Jack took on most of that work himself and still came out on top.

    • The Ram (@the-ram) said on 24th January 2011, 16:55

      Sure you never even saw him race! I have DVD’s right here and that guy had rockets for cars. Not even Chapman’s cars could stand up to those coopers. Basically the modern day RB6. I have been watching F1 for donkey’s years so believe me.

      • kowalsky said on 25th January 2011, 7:30

        good point you make. I was watching the other day the highlights of the 1970 spanish gp, and jack seemed like an amateur. He spun several times over the water the marshalls dropped on the site of a big accident, and still was catching stewart, who was doing a perfect race. Without a doubt had a superior car. Finally when he was putting some real pressure on jackie, he had and engine failure. Not a very smooth drive. Either very impressive.

  4. These is so matched that looks people have forgotten Brahbam is a milestone in RACING history, not only as a pilot but as a team principal. My vote is for him, even when Lewis is a good driver.

  5. wasiF1 said on 24th January 2011, 13:32

    Though I voted for Hamilton I think that Brabham may win this round. It will be sad to Lewis going out of it (if he does) as I wish he stays for Round 3.

  6. Dipak T said on 24th January 2011, 13:36

    Brabham. An absolute no brainer.

  7. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 24th January 2011, 15:56

    Gee this is close! I voted Brabham, mostly due to the fact he had about 15 times the amount of car failures as Hamilton has.

  8. Burnout (@burnout) said on 24th January 2011, 16:02

    Hamilton has had a championship worthy car for 3 seasons. He was in contention to win the championship at the final race for those 3 seasons (albeit an outside chance in 2010) The only one he won was against Massa who almost nobody rates as the best, or even in the top 3, of the current grid. And even that one was thanks to Timo Glock’s cold tyres, in one way or another. Sure, he showed some ballsy driving in ’09 but he had nothing to lose that season.

    Until Hamilton shows he can handle the pressure of being in a long drawn title fight, he’s not going to be a greatest of the great in my book. I voted for Brabham. Winning a championship in a car of your own, outwitting Ferrari and Lotus among others? Respect.

    • Burnout (@burnout) said on 24th January 2011, 16:04

      Right now, 145 votes have been cast. 79-66 in Brabham’s favour.

    • Kodongo (@kodongo) said on 24th January 2011, 21:25

      The flaw with your argument in you are comparing 2008 Massa and 2010 Massa. Can you remember any significant events that happened to Massa in this period. One thing springs to mind (keep reading this sentence until the joke grenade detonates).

      • Burnout said on 25th January 2011, 4:23

        I know I’m comparing 2008 Massa to 2008 Hamilton. And if I remember correctly at the start of 2008, Raikkonen was the odds-on favourite to retain the title, Alonso was expected to turn Renault around, Hamilton would lead the charge for McLaren and Kubica was the new shining prospect. Massa was good but not great.

        Probably shouldn’t have said “current grid” though.

  9. Ral (@ral) said on 24th January 2011, 16:02

    It’s hard to argue with 3 championships vs. 1. Also, similar to Vettel, Hamilton just hasn’t been in F1 long enough to make his mark to quite the same extent as his opponent in this round. Certainly not to the extent where he’s had an opportunity to set up his own team and take it to a world championship.

    Of course, that last one seems hardly likely to ever happen with any of today’s drivers, given the funds required to do so, but while I’m fairly certain a driver’s job is much more involved these days than it was in Brabham’s days, it doesn’t also mean having to take care of the whole commercial aspect of talking to suppliers etc. that Brabham would have had to. It’s a different kind of involvement and a bit more all-encompassing I should think.

  10. Jack Brabham ought to win this one at a canter, the facts speak for themselves. But we should never discount the ‘Lewis Hamilton factor’ on this site. He would never have got through the first round on ‘F1 Fernaticos’. LOL

  11. Before the ‘Champion of Champions’ I’d have just picked Lewis but now I’ve swung the other way entirely and easily voted Brabham.

    This series (and all of the wonderful comments) has made me appreciate champions I never cared for before and also made me question those I held in admiration.

    Brabham had an awful amount of car failures compared to Lewis so maybe the stats don’t do Jack justice. Jack also built up his own team, got the car how he liked it and won with it. Schumi dragged up Ferrari to suit him and I really value that. Hamilton hasn’t really done anything similar.

    Brabham won multiple titles and it appeared convincing. Hamilton’s title campaign was far more shaky. He had great reliability but made mistakes at Monaco where his team’s quick strategy worked a charm, Bahrain was a mess and Canada was calamatous. He deserved his title there’s no such thing as an undeserving champion but it’s making it hard for me to vote for him when I look at Jack’s 3 campaigns.

    It’s hard because I never saw Jack race but I’ve watched Lewis. Lewis is great now but he can be so much better. At the end of his career I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Lewis had more titles than Brabham but right now I have to vote for Jack.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th January 2011, 16:58

      This series (and all of the wonderful comments) has made me appreciate champions I never cared for before and also made me question those I held in admiration.

      Glad to hear it – that along with picking a worthy number one is the point of devoting a whole month to it!

  12. olivier (@olivier) said on 24th January 2011, 16:26

    Brabham is the choice for me 3WDC vs 1. Only WDC that wins the championship in a car bearing his own name, was manage to hold his position at the very top for more than 15 years. Among the WDC, he is arguably the smartest.

  13. katederby (@katederby) said on 24th January 2011, 16:28

    Some eloquent arguments in favour of Sir Jack and the fact he was an innovator, a champion winning constructor and a 3 times driver champion makes him one of the very best.
    A true champion,in all senses.
    And that % of mechanical failures compared to Hamilton’s only strengths his case.
    There can’t be a driver in history or on the grid today who wouldn’t want a 2.82% car failure rate; a very fortunate stat indeed!

    • The Ram (@the-ram) said on 24th January 2011, 16:59

      Look at the points per finish please, sir. That takes out the excuse of car failures.

      • Actually, no it doesn’t. Nor does it alter the fact that Lewis has never won a championship in a car that he built.

        • debaser91 said on 24th January 2011, 17:21

          That’s not really a fair point, considering it would cost millions and millions of pounds for Hamilton to set up, establish, build and compete in an F1 car he built himself (or with his own team.) But I agree Brabham should win.

        • LosD (@losd) said on 24th January 2011, 23:27

          Nor does it alter the fact that Lewis has never won a championship in a car that he built.

          – Which is completely irrelevant, as it is impossible to do that in these days.

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th January 2011, 21:12

        Look at the points per finish please, sir.

        I can’t help thinking that Kate isn’t male… :P

  14. Let’s not forget that Jack Brabham man also has an OBE. They don’t just hand those out to anyone!

    He also had a very flamboyant driving style that betrayed the fact that he had once also raced dirt track (midget) cars before he got to F1.

    This shouldn’t even be close.

  15. lewis93 (@lewis93) said on 24th January 2011, 16:54

    guys, he’gonna take another five championships, at least!!!

    • Or he may not take any more at all.

      And if what I’m hearing about another British ‘wonder-kart’ kid is anything to go by………

  16. The Ram (@the-ram) said on 24th January 2011, 17:01

    OK.. I am going to call all my Hamilton friends over here to white-wash this joint. ** Hamilton.. MUST…. WIINN!!**

  17. SennaNmbr1 (@) said on 24th January 2011, 17:08

    As much as I love Lewis, JB wins this one for me.

  18. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 24th January 2011, 17:13

    I think looking at them stats i’d have to go Lewis. Sorry Jack.

  19. sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 24th January 2011, 17:42

    To rebuke the instant replies of ‘bias’, i’ll simply say this – I never saw Brabham race, nor have I heard much about his racecraft. The same can be said about drivers of a similar era like Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark.

    However, perhaps because they are English, or perhaps because they were simply better, I know a lot more about their careers than I do Brabham. It leads me to draw a conclusion that while Brabham was good (very, in fact, since he’s a 3x champion), he might simply have been good and not extraordinary.

    I honestly think that Lewis is better than good. He may have had good cars, but he hasn’t yet been beaten by a teammate and he races with passion. For that reason, i’ve voted for him. Its close between the two, but unlike many of the current drivers (i.e. Vettel) I can see Lewis becoming a multiple world champion. Gut feeling i’ll admit, but that is what this competition is about I suppose.

  20. It’s not about what may be, it’s about what is.

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