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

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380 comments on Jack Brabham vs Lewis Hamilton

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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………

  6. 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!!**

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

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

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

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

  9. 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.

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

  11. debaser91 said on 24th January 2011, 17:49

    Brabham competed in 16 seasons but only started 123 grand prix. They could do that in 6 nowadays if we go to 20 races a season! He always seems to get overlooked when talking about the best drivers from the 50’s and 60’s and I don’t why.

    Considering he didn’t always have competitive machinery his points per finish is actually very impressive and three titles in a strong era says to me he should go through to the next round. Hamilton could end up winning more titles but this should be about what has been achieved rather than what a driver has the potential to achieve.

  12. Damon said on 24th January 2011, 17:52

    Ive got to go with Hamilton, in my opinion 07 was a fix due to the spygate scandal. He won the title in 08 with the second best car on the grid. He had a terrible car in 09 but still put in some amazing drives. Last year he was in for a shout for the title with a car that was lightyears behind the redbulls. He his the most exciting driver on the grid and easily the best overtaker, he also beat the so called best driver on the grid in his first year. Hamilton in my eyes is the best of the best

    • It wasn’t “fixed” in 07. He was fortunate to win the 08 title in equally the best car on the grid that season. His 2009 car wasn’t “terrible” when it won races. His 2010 car wasn’t “lightyears behind the RedBull’s”.

      Lewis Hamilton isn’t ‘Superman’.

  13. Alistair said on 24th January 2011, 17:54

    Sadly, Lewis isn’t very popular. The other drivers fear and are jealous of him; the same is true of their fans. No one in F1 history has, as a rookie, beaten the current two time champ in the same team. And Lewis’s overtaking ability, fitness (e.g., he doesn’t seem to sweat), and wet-weather driving set him apart from all but the very, very best. Perhaps in five years’ time, but certainly when he retires, Lewis will be nigh universally regarded as one of the very, very best, if not the best F1 driver of all time.

    As for comparing the drivers of different generations, the current crop are the best. Just as sprinters get faster as the generations come, boxers get taller, stronger, and faster, and tennis players likewise improve, so, too, F1 drivers improve. The level of fitness in F1 in the 70s, let alone the 60s and 50s, was so poor (execessive smoking, drinking, and a dearth of exercise) means that the old generation couldn’t even drive the current cars, let alone be competative.

    This Champion of Champions thing, which we all know will be won by Senna, only has it’s use in preparing us for the new season. As a comparison, it’s pointless. Atheletes, in every field of sport, always improve over the years. Natural ability might be greatest in one or two of the older generation, but, considering the whole package, the modern guys are the best.

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 24th January 2011, 18:06

      All good and well for Lewis, but more titles wouldn’t go amiss. Going by Senna’s rate, he’d need to win at least 2 more to become a serious player in the discussion, while coming close to winning at least 1 or 2 more of those. Very much possible, but not easy at all given today’s crop of drivers (Vettel, Alonso, and Kubica, just to name the biggest threats). Funny thing about the not seeming to sweat description – how many times have we said that of a driver? Lewis isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last.

      The thing Lewis has going for him is his age – he’s young, he has a lot of time to win titles. But then, Vettel’s even younger than him, and Alonso is no elder, either. And who knows who’s yet to come into F1 with similar speed and talent?

      I agree on the fitness level, with one caveat: F1 is a LOT safer than it was before. Drivers of the 50s and 60s had to drive what were big, heavy cars, with the risk of death always hanging over you. Death is still a risk today, but nothing like what it was before.

      I agree that CofC is by no means a definitive answer. The seeding alone assures us of that. However, I don’t agree that modern athletes are necessarily the best when you consider the whole package. Other factors must be considered too: the state of the sport, the level of competition, and the like – and one can argue that there were times in the past that they were better than they are today.

  14. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 24th January 2011, 17:55

    Black Jack ahead, 53% to 47% for Lewis.

  15. TrueF1Grit (@truef1grit) said on 24th January 2011, 17:55

    Lewis’ points per finish is amazing. Beating Brabham despite being in a much harder era. Well to win anyway, with an almost 20% win rate. Considering 2009’s poor car he has been impressive, and if any year this year.

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