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 (49%)

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. Vote Hamilton becuase Brabham’s going to lose in the next round anyway!
    WDC are not all equal, Brabham’s 3 may well be worth 1. Jack’s stats are worse.

    I also wanted to say I have read every post on this, and I haven’t come by one.. not one good reason why I should vote Brabham over Hamilton.

    • RoboCAT (@robocat) said on 25th January 2011, 1:14

      Oh dear..

    • Toby Bushby (@toby-bushby) said on 25th January 2011, 1:19

      Umm, he built his own car and won a WDC with it? He was his own race engineer? He was Knighted for his achievements. There’s a few for you…

      And I think you are wrong about Championships. They are all equal. Brabham has three, Hamilton has one.

      It’s a no-brainer imho, though no offence against Hamilton. He’s just not in contention with the big boys of F1 history yet. Sir Jack Brabham all the way.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 25th January 2011, 1:35

      Vote Hamilton becuase Brabham’s going to lose in the next round anyway!

      We all know that someone who’s been in F1 for 4 years will beat Aryton Senna in the polls, don’t we?

    • Mack41 (@mack41) said on 25th January 2011, 10:07

      How about the fact that Brabham’s cars failed 35% of the time, compared to Hamiltons 2%, and his average points per race is only one less than Hamilton’s? If you’d take your blinding adoration for Hamilton down a notch you would appreciate other drivers more. Its a no brainer, Brabham over Hamilton

  2. Mr.Zing Zang said on 25th January 2011, 1:24

    the hami haters have hacked the polls! WTH? I need to do something about this! Better search some fansites and come back with an army!

    • Or maybe it’s just that the ‘Ozzies’ have now woken up?

      I’m off to get reinforcements from some Spanish and Italian websites. ;) Oh wait! They’re already here. LOL

    • yes, the only reason that people would vote for Sir Jack is because they hate Hamilton. Far out stop being ridiculous. Brabham is, at the moment, far more deserving than Hamilton to get through.

      In 10 years the situation may be different, but at the moment, Brabham is a superior champion to Hamilton.

      I’m shocked it is this close, Brabham should be much further in front imo.

  3. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 25th January 2011, 1:50

    I’m surprised. Brahbam should be winning easily but looks like the “Hamilton fanclub” are desperately voting. Brahbam created his car and won the title. Hamilton is used to be forgiven by the stewards, like the black-and-white flag in Malaysia last year (doest it have any sense to show that flag?), like the towing back to the track a couple of years ago in Nurburgring, like taking Webber out of the course in China, like overtaking the Safety car in Valencia, and a lot of etceteras.

  4. congealedmeat (@congealedmeat) said on 25th January 2011, 2:58

    I voted for Brabham mainly for his development of his own car and then winning in it!

    Lewis has a whole career ahead of him to get on the next champion of champions list. It is very hard to compare active drivers to drivers where you can look over their whole career and scrutinize. With the active ones there are too many what ifs.

    That said, not being a Hamilton fan, he is one of the greatest drivers out there today and ever. He has balls where so few do and he still manages an incredible car failure free streak.

  5. Palla said on 25th January 2011, 3:55

    Nice job keith .what a nonsense poll. Champion of champions . How can you compare drivers from different eras. Try to find other stuff to keep ppl visiting your site. What a waste of time

    • Burnout said on 25th January 2011, 5:15

      Where were you 3 weeks ago when the contest started? Is it a nonsense poll only now, because Hamilton is currently losing?

      • Palla said on 25th January 2011, 5:39

        Is nonsense because it really doesn’t make sense and doesn’t achieve anything

        • Chalky (@chalky) said on 25th January 2011, 9:10

          If you don’t want to take part, then don’t. Some of us that are very much into F1 enjoy the hypothetical analysis of comparing the sporting greats of our favourite sport.

          This particular round was very enjoyable. I really like both drivers and had several reasons to vote for either.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th January 2011, 9:12

      How can you compare drivers from different eras.

      I addressed this at the start:

      F1 Fanatic Champion of Champions introduction

      If you’ve got a criticism to make, fine, but make it constructive. At the moment you’re just whingeing.

      • Dan Newton (@dan-newton) said on 25th January 2011, 12:31

        I haven’t commented much on these posts, but I’ve been following Champion of Champions from the start and, for what it’s worth, have really enjoyed it. Great way to fill in the down season, and I’ve learnt a few things about drivers who I didn’t know much about. Can’t wait for the start of the season and more great reporting!

  6. 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

      • RoboCAT (@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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 don´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 – it´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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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

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