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

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380 comments on Jack Brabham vs Lewis Hamilton

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  1. Hatebreeder (@hatebreeder) said on 25th January 2011, 4:12

    this doesnt even make sense suddenly.
    everyone is voting for brabhan cause he built in own car in the shed? and hamilton didn’t?
    or because hamilton was waved a black and white flag for tryin to break the tow?
    and though i hugely respect keith’s work, i have to sadly agree with palla here. driver’s of different eras cannot be compared. driving styles, rules, car setups, everythin was different in the two eras.
    yes i am a hamilton fan. but here’s the deal. I’d say the same if kimi was not voted for against brabham or if alonso was not voted for or even schumacher (even though I dont like him) was not voted for. one just cannot compare two drivers who never drove the same type of car.

    • Burnout said on 25th January 2011, 5:14

      So where were you 3 weeks ago when the contest started? Is it a problem now because Hamilton is currently losing?

      Nobody here thinks this is an absolute comparison of drivers. Every driver’s achievements should be looked at in the context of their own time. It’s like how American football has become more violent today because the safety gear is so good and there’s very little chance of hurting yourself while tackling another player.

    • DavidS (@davids) said on 25th January 2011, 7:09

      It’s not meant to be a definitive answer to the question of “who is the greatest F1 champion,” its something to fill in time in the lull that occurs between seasons, without talking ad nauseum about Lotus v Lotus and other such non-stories.

      Everyone knows that it’s hard to compare drivers from different eras in different cars, but the challenge in this for the readers is to make those comparisons using available data.

      You look stupid by criticising the validity of the contest, just because your favoured driver isn’t winning. What you are criticising is the considered opinion of hundreds of dedicated F1 fans. The people who contribute to this site have more than a casual interest in the sport, hence why we are talking about it during the off-season. If you think that Hamilton is better than Brabham, you can vote for him if you want. But don’t criticise the result if it goes against your vote by challenging it’s validity, because that also means that your vote is equally invalid.

      As for the “It’s only Aussies voting for Brabham skewing the results,” that’s rubbish. It’s less likely that there are an army of Aussies voting for Australian drivers than there is an army of Hamilton supporters doing the opposite. Besides, why did Alan Jones lose so convincingly to Niki Lauda in the first round? It must be all those damn Austrians!!!

      Kindly retreat back under your bridge.

      • Hatebreeder (@hatebreeder) said on 25th January 2011, 7:34

        Dear DavidS,
        Stop calling people stupid just because they have an opinion against yours.
        and i dont really care who wins anyway. I dont think f1fanatic is made of exclusive members who are gods in f1 history. I can bet you most of the votes are more favoritism than factual. voting system has never solved anything and everyone knows that. This is a plain vote, not vote and explain why. that way it’d be better with a panel of people who know a lot about f1 who sit down and come up with a decision themselves n let readers argue about it.
        I am just trying to put forward the fact that it is insanely difficult only because most of the present drivers are more exposed through the media and their life is better known than the old drivers who are usually restricted to the wikipedia entries if anyone does intend to dig up on them.
        I understand you think that i am biased towards hamilton, and yes i am cause i think if keith ever plans on ranking drivers based on elimination later, lewis might come much lower. maybe brabham is god, i dunno. but how am i supposed to know that when put on the track at the same time brabham will walk all over hamilton? btw, considering the cuttin edge technology f1 cars have today, the 90s drivers who drove the crude cars to the absolute limit anyway beat the present drivers. so why the vote in the first place?

        @Burnout: i dunno! :P

      • Nic Morley (@robocat) said on 25th January 2011, 9:23

        I so completly agree with DavidS.

      • melkurion (@melkurion) said on 25th January 2011, 13:14

        Nicely put :)

        And offcourse not only australians vote for Jack, I voted for him, and I’m Dutch….go figure ;)

    • You would be comparing them if Hamilton was winning this duel.

      • Hatebreeder (@hatebreeder) said on 25th January 2011, 8:18

        @VXR: i still compared them even now and thot hamilton deserves it more cause he was a former youngest champion which very few ppl have achieved. I didnt get the point u were tryin to make though.

        • Vettel is currently the youngest champion to date, so that trumps Hamilton. So where is he in this contest? Well he’s German and he beat Hamilton didn’t he. So, not likely to get much sympathy here then.

          Suddenly it’s all not very fair now that Hamilton is going out against Brabham. Possibly the ‘weakest’ champion out of the the ‘great’ ones that are left.

          I wanted Hamilton to win this one, but that was just to prove a point with someone else. Oh well, you can’t have everything can you.

          • Damon said on 25th January 2011, 10:19

            Vettel is the youngest champion, but he did it in a car that was easily the best. Vettel is fast but Hamilton is the complete package

          • Hatebreeder (@hatebreeder) said on 25th January 2011, 10:25

            hmmm… okay. makes sense now.
            appreciate u spending time to explain me that. rather than mocking people like mr davids and asking them to sit under some bridge he owns…
            well, thank u!

    • The Ram (@the-ram) said on 25th January 2011, 13:59

      well we are comparing them now aren’t we? Anything can be compared, son.

  2. magon4 (@magon4) said on 25th January 2011, 6:02

    Why is this so close??? I really don’t understand this!

    • kowalsky said on 25th January 2011, 12:17

      because hamilton captured people’s imagination. Never underastimate that.
      On the other hand, brabham is too far back in history, and most of the fans didn’t see him race. So they just know him looking at the stats. And some youtube footage.
      I voted for hamilton, because i think he is a better driver, and his numbers regarding titles are going to get closer to jack’s in the future.
      And even if hamilton is not perfect, and needs to keep on improving, like a friend of mine said. He is the biggest talent since the great ayrton. And i agree.
      For the record, i am from spain.

  3. Boost (@boost) said on 25th January 2011, 7:42

    Comment on my post regarding Hamilton not being a Champion of Champions due to his lying for race stewards:

    ///”Dobin1000 January 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm
    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?”///

    To answer your question Dobin1000, I certainly donĀ“t see Schumacher nor Senna as a Champion of Champions partly for the incidents you mentioned. To me Formula 1 has always been a sport for gentlemen and ladies.

    To find a Champion of Champions, the greatest Champion, I look for statistics AND sportsmanship – itĀ“s easy to start eliminating drivers who showed zero sportsmanship during their career – once is enough as I can find a few who never acted unsportsmanlike – these are the Great Champions.

  4. Jared404 said on 25th January 2011, 10:23

    I have to respect the commitment of Sir Jack and the F1 drivers from the 50’s when F1 racing was much more dangerous.

  5. Jack Holt (@jack-holt) said on 25th January 2011, 10:56

    Great driver Jack Brabham, he reckons he could have won 4, which would have put him equal with Prost – an extraordinary achievement. But in terms of raw ability Brabham was not considered in the very first rank, good though he was. His championships were won through engineering nous and a limitless capacity for hard graft, while faster drivers were in the wrong cars or suffered from unreliability. One year Brabham was even pipped to the title by his teammate (the solid, unassuming Hulme) – in his own team. None of which should belittle a driver who knew what it took to succeed and went for it, tirelessly, for more than a decade during the sport’s most dangerous era.

    Then we have Lewis Hamilton, only just coming into maturity, still making the odd unforced error… and yet already widely regarded as the equal of anyone in the current crop.

    I see mine isn’t a popular choice, but it’s pretty clear that Lewis Hamilton deserves to go through.

  6. I dont see the point in comparing 2 drivers from completely different genres. I like the idea but if everyones gonna base things on statistics when we could just give the title to shumacher now. How can the point of Brabham building his own cars (although cool and impressive) be used against Lewis who could never build a car today.

  7. Athan (@athan) said on 25th January 2011, 11:12

    I keep reading about how its only because of bias that it is even close, if that is the case then this is pretty pointless. Schumacher wins, anything else is heart over rulling the head (bias), he has most wins, most poles, most titles.
    I voted Hamilton, he’s the most exciting driver since Senna, he’s exceptionally talented and still at the beginning of his career and he will go on to be an all time great. You really cant compare someone who had 16 seasons v someone who’s done just 4 fairly though tbh.
    Also the Brabham build and drove his own car, well things were very different back then so to me, that doesnt mean to much. I think Brabham was a fantasic driver but i think Hamilton is better.

  8. katederby (@katederby) said on 25th January 2011, 13:34

    His championships were won through engineering nous and a limitless capacity for hard graft,

    I already voted but those make persuasive arguments to admire Brabham to me.

  9. nosajm9bys (@nosajm9bys) said on 25th January 2011, 13:53

    I voted Jack Brabham. In as much as I like Hamilton a lot as he is exciting, but I feel he has a lot to learn and is not as consistent as Jack.

    Sorry Hamilton, Jack won this close battle.

  10. Burnout said on 25th January 2011, 14:15

    I don’t buy the whole “Hamilton can’t build his own car, so Brabham’s team building doesn’t count” argument. During his last years at Ferrari, Schumacher was earning over 80 million USD a year from various sponsors. I bet that was more than the combined budgets of Minardi and Jordan in that era.

    Anybody who starts a team will need sponsors, they won’t foot the bill themselves, so money isn’t that big an issue. I think a truly great driver who’s been in the sport for long enough should have the know-how to run a racing team. It’s another matter that these days they don’t do it until after they retire (like Stewart, Prost and Lauda(Jaguar)).

    Given another 6-7 seasons in F1 Hamilton will be mature enough and in a position to start his own team, as Schumacher was after 2004. If he chooses not to, that’s a demerit against Hamilton. It makes Brabham’s work with his own team much more impressive.

    • Damon said on 25th January 2011, 17:20

      Jack brabham winning with his own team does not prove one little bit that he was a better driver than Hamilton. What makes you think that Lewis or any other driver would want to start such a project? Don’t get me wrong it is an amazing achievement, but it doesn’t actually make him a better driver at all

  11. I hear a lot of people saying Hamilton beat Alonso in 2007 but did he really?

    Hamilton: 109 points, 4 wins and 6 poles.
    Alonso: 109 points, 4 wins and 2 poles.

    So by that stat Lewis does win but here’s the kicker!

    Hamilton: 6 poles with 4 wins, 2/3 conversion rate.
    Alonso: 2 poles with 4 wins, 2/1 conversion rate.

    By this stat Alonso wins without doubt. It’s much easier to win from pole than from behind and Lewis just didn’t win them all. Schumacher is my favourite driver ever and he poled 68 times but won 91. To win a race from pole is easy to win it from behind shows a true champion.

  12. Kain_R (@kain_r) said on 25th January 2011, 14:44

    “RGBSF” Dont forget another stat mate,

    Alonso had 6years experience
    Hamilton none.

    By this stat Hamilton is better :P

    • No doubt but Hamilton had team favouritism. After Monaco it was obvious that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes were backing him than Alonso. For Alonso to finish on 109 points having little team support and more retirements shows Alonso as a true World Champion. Another stat I like is this, Alonso is a Double World Champion and won it against the best ever, well not in 2005 but in 2006. Martin Brundle once said “You haven’t won a championship unless you’ve beat Schumacher” Spa 2005.

      • Yes, Alonso won back-to-back titles in a…Renault, and against Schumacher at that. No mean feat. Hamilton beat Massa…just.

        Some say the 2008 Ferrari was a better car, which doesn’t really explain why Raikkonen in particular didn’t rate it. Well, it did win the constructors title, but maybe that was more to do with Hamilton having Kovalainen as is team mate?

        • Damon said on 25th January 2011, 16:28

          The fact is Hamilton beat alonso, so if Hamilton was alonso’s teamate for Renault, he would have won the title in 05 and 06.

        • I’d say the F2008 was a vastly Superior car, probably one of the best Ferrari have ever produced in terms of speed but errors hindered the quality of the car. Raikkonen especially had a bad year, I personally blame it on him rather than Ferrari. Hamilton scraped his champion by a point (same for Kimi in 2007). Massa was the better driver in 2008 for sure and missed out, now with Alonso as his team mate it’s over for Felipe.

          • @Damon

            Sorry but that statement is laughable. Alonso beat Schumacher at his best, Alonso was super quick in both 05 and 06. Qualifying especially, Hamilton wouldn’t of had a chance.

            Just imagine Vettel and Hamilton racing against Schumacher during the years of 2000-04, both would of been royally spanked by the Master.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 25th January 2011, 17:41

            @ RGBSF

            I agree with all of your above comments, apart from the F2008 being “vastly” superior. It was superior but not by a large amount.

          • Damon said on 25th January 2011, 17:51

            @ rgbsf: so did fernando suddenly slow down from 07 onwards? Talk about a flash in the pan :)

          • @ David A

            “Vastly” superior or just superior the F2008 was a much better car and faster car with only some errors letting it down.

          • @ Damon

            Hamilton: Driving for the McLaren from youth system, brought up through the ranks. Full team backing and support not to mention his nationally.

            Alonso: Little to no support during the mid-season til the end and had more technical disadvantages to Lewis over the season.

            I’m just wondering how long you’ve been watching Formula 1 Damon. :D

            If your going to use that one then Please tell my why Alonso finished 4 points behind Vettel with the 3rd best car? :D

          • Damon said on 25th January 2011, 19:26

            I’ve probably been watching f1 longer than you, how long have you? Where is your proof that that the team favoured Lewis and received better technical support?

          • kkarl (@kkarl) said on 26th January 2011, 4:30

            when you consider the 2007 season and in particular ‘spygate’…it would be a brave person to suggest that
            1. when a team is fined $100m dollars
            2. deducted all it’s championship points
            3. information that lead to penalties came from a driver within the team who,
            4.wanted out of his contract

            that a team with nothing to gain would continue giving resources to that driver, knowing that the other driver who is engrained in the team is staying….I know who I would be putting my weight behind if I was the team principal going through all this.

          • Damon said on 26th January 2011, 7:04

            Where’s your evidence kkkarl? The fact is Hamilton beat alonso, the so called greatest driver in f1 in his first season. If anything lewis was originally the number 2 driver but suprised everyone by beating golden boy

          • @ Damon

            My first Grand Prix was the 1996 Canadian Grand Prix. I was sitting in my living room and my uncle introduced me to the sport. He said “watch out for the red ones” and since then that’s all I’ve done.

            Orgoglio dela Ferrari!

            And Yours?

          • Damon said on 26th January 2011, 17:33

            The first gp that I can actually really remember watching was the 91 silverstone gp, but I vaguely remember Suzuka 90. ;)

          • Surprised, by the comments you’ve been making in this post it seemed you’ve only been watching since Mr. Hamilton had joined F1.

          • I find this funny – RGBSF has shown an amazing amount of bias; just take where it started from, saying Alonso’s better because he had less pole positions (and higher win conversion), totally ignoring the fact of refuelling.

            This does not do anything to establish your little idiom champions winning for the back, the only metric that would show who wins by this logic would be the overtaking stats.

          • Damon said on 26th January 2011, 19:52

            It’s because I do believe Hamilton is the best driver since schumacer

          • @ Tom

            The main argument here was the claim Hamilton beat Alonso in 2007. 109/109 = Draw.

            Alonso proven his worth last year. 2nd, behind by 4 points in 3rd best car.

          • Damon said on 26th January 2011, 20:28

            I don’t agree that the Ferrari was the 3rd best car on the grid

          • It’s debatable.

            Fastest Laps – McLaren win. 6>5,
            Pole Positions – Ferrari win. 2>1.
            Grand Prix Victories – Draw. 5 each. Alonso 5, Hamilton 3 & Button 2.

            World Constructors Championship:

            Vodafone Mclaren Mercedes finished 2nd. Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro finished 3rd.

            That maybe down to Massa being lets say extremely poor last season.

            It’s debatable.

          • kkarl (@kkarl) said on 27th January 2011, 10:12

            @Damon

            Evidence. Open any F1 book published in 2007 about the season, and you will find all the nitty gritty information about Mclaren and the role Alsono played in the whole Ferrari Mclaren matter. Interviews with Ron Dennis himself who states a very difficult employee and employer relationship existed during that time. If your have been watching since 90, then to suggest that Hamilton is better then Senna, Prost, Mansell is laughable. I’ve been attending F1 races since 89, so have seen in person some of the greats. Hamilton in 3 years hasn’t shown enough just yet to be considered the greatest….that’s just my 2 cents.

  13. Dipak T said on 25th January 2011, 14:51

    This should be like the Clark vs Mansell round, where people noted how our Nige was so determined and could stong arm a car around a track, before duly noting that he still couldnt compare with the great Jim Clark. Mansell himself would say that. And if you went to Hamilton and asked whether he could compare to Brabham yet, he say that he couldnt as well.

    Just because you follow a driver, or that driver introduced you to F1, doesnt mean that you cant recognise the history of the sport, and the greats of days gone by.

  14. David-A (@david-a) said on 25th January 2011, 15:00

    At one point, there were about 10 votes in it, but the Hamilton fanboys have done their work- alienating other fans, so Brabham has a bigger lead and will stroll this.

  15. Sutil-M (@) said on 25th January 2011, 19:04

    I voted Brabham simply because its 3 world championships vs 1.

    Lewis is a fantastic driver don’t get me wrong but Brabham was better.

  16. Where did all those other voters come from? LOL

  17. McBride (@mcbride) said on 26th January 2011, 3:21

    I am a VERY large fan of Hamilton, and from the States, but his career is too young to be able to give him the vote. As said above, building his own car and converting potential titles; Brabham is the obvious choice. I would love to vote Hamilton best champion ever in ten years time.

    Also this is my first comment after lurking on this site for a year and a half. Thanks for your hard work Keith and others.

  18. SundarF1 (@sundarf1) said on 26th January 2011, 8:18

    This one seems to be the closest fought pairing so far. And I went for ol’ Black Jack, because there’s no denying his greatness as a driver, but to win three championships in the ‘unreliable’ era is quite an achievement.

    I am a fan of Hamilton’s attacking style, and although he is surely capable of becoming one of the all-time greats in the future, he’s still not up there with Brabham.

    • The Ram (@the-ram) said on 26th January 2011, 13:56

      I think he is a better driver than Brabahm though. Remember he beat Alonso who beat schumacher. I thinks it’s fair to say if Hamilton had the 94 Benneton, the 2000 to 2004 ferrari, the Coopers of Brabahm he would have beat them as team mates. Hamilton has never been beaten by a team mate.

      • Hamilton has never been beaten on ‘points’ by a team mate, I think you’re trying to say. Like any other driver, Hamilton is beatable and has been beaten by his team mate.

        When does the voting end on this particular pairing? I think the Hamilton fans are hoping for a late comeback. LOL

  19. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th January 2011, 18:07

    A user had created multiple accounts to try to influence the result of the poll. Their votes have been deleted.

  20. SennaTheG.O.A.T said on 31st January 2011, 0:25

    It’s difficult to compare Brabham with Lewis..
    People forget how young is Lewis..He is 26 and he is the most fun to watch driver today.
    I vote for Lewis..Stewart said on him.
    “I remember Fangio won in Germany in 1957 with a super-human effort by the seat of his pants. That was Lewis Hamilton-type driving. You don’t do many of those. It happened way back in history and it’s happening today. Lewis is going to win races, I’ve no doubt about that.”-Sir Jackie Stewart

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