Jim Clark vs Michael Schumacher

Champion of Champions

Champion of Champions: Michael Schumacher vs Jim Clark

As we head into the first quarter-final match-up the remaining drivers belong to that select few who were widely acknowledged as the best of their day. That is certainly true of Michael Schumacher and Jim Clark.

They spent much of their careers with the same team: Clark never drove for anyone other than Lotus.

Schumacher set a record by starting 180 races for Ferrari, having already won the championship twice with Benetton

In this time both drivers often had the best equipment available to them and little effective opposition from their team mates.

That changed for Clark in 1967 when he was joined by Graham Hill. Clark tended to have the upper hand but their cars were plagued by unreliability that year, and Clark was killed the following season.

Schumacher was beaten by a team mate for the first time in his career last year. Nico Rosberg held sway as Schumacher returned from a three-year break to drive for Mercedes.

By the end of this season Schumacher will have started exactly four times as many races as Clark did. But which of the drivers was the greater world champion?

Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Michael Schumacher Jim Clark
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Istanbul, 2010 Jim Clark, Indianapolis, 1967
Titles 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 1963, 1965
Second in title year/s Damon Hill, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello, Kimi R??ikk??nen, Rubens Barrichello Graham Hill, Graham Hill
Teams Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari, Mercedes Lotus
Notable team mates Nelson Piquet, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello Trevor Taylor, Mike Spence, Graham Hill
Starts 268 72
Wins 91 (33.96%) 25 (34.72%)
Poles 68 (25.37%) 33 (45.83%)
Modern points per start1 14.05 11.65
% car failures2 8.21 29.17
Modern points per finish3 15.30 16.45
Notes Missed several races in 1999 after breaking his leg at Silverstone An oil leak in the final race of 1962 cost him his first title
Retired in 2006 after 11 seasons with Ferrari Finished on the podium in every race where his car didn’t break down over the next three seasons
Returned with Mercedes in 2010 Killed in a Formula Two race during the 1968 season having won the first race of the year
Bio Michael Schumacher Jim Clark

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 two

Round one

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Michael Schumacher (51%)
  • Jim Clark (47%)

Total Voters: 817

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Images ?? Mercedes GP (Schumacher), Ford.com (Clark)

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317 comments on Jim Clark vs Michael Schumacher

  1. Dipak T said on 25th January 2011, 19:05

    Schumacher built up Ferrari from midfield runners back to the top of F1. Tyres, competiton and resources aside, that is no small achievement, and neither is 7 WDC’s. When the car was fast and reliable enough to go all the way, he took it all the way, and in the end, thats all you can do, even shining through with lesser machiery.

    However, as far as outright speed, the one and only person that can compare with Clark is Senna, and the guy was – in my opinion – the best driver in the history of the sport. Why? Schumacher had an equal in Hakkinnen, Senna’s peer was Prost. Nobody, absolutely nobody in Clark’s time could claim to be his equal, the one guy that could not make a mistake. He couldnt understand why everyone was so slow and nobody could explain just why he was so fast.

    Schumi’s 7 WDC’s seem like a trump card against Clark’s 2, but if you consider the rate at which Clark collected poles, and the fact that he won half the races he finished, its simply astonishing. Only beaten by the great Fangio who picked and choosed cars in his career, Clark could climb into any car and be fast. An Indy 500, 2nd in class at Le Mans and a BTCC championship testify to this. Even in his one NASCAR start Clark qualified 24th after a wheel came off and got to 12th in the race before the engine gave up on him.

    Speed TV also did an interesting extrapolation of Clarks results, making his career as long as Schumis (after 1st retirement). Clark had 7WDC’c, more poles and fastest laps. Schumacher won 4 or 5 more races, with a vastly superior reliabilty.

    Clark led every lap of the British GP over a four year period, amongst other amazing performances, and even in death, nobody even questioned that the car failed Jim, rather than the other way round. IN Jackie Stewart’s words – “not Jimmy, anyone but Jimmy”. No death ever left as large a hole in F1 until Imola 1994.

    And that is why Clark is a superior champion to Schumacher.

  2. Sutil-M (@) said on 25th January 2011, 19:06

    The best f1 driver ever to have lived is up there and i voted for him schumi all you have to look at is the 7 world championships.

  3. kowalsky said on 25th January 2011, 19:09

    i think if you look at pure talent, clark is in front. He was also a more decent racer, but that has to do with the different era as well.
    On the other hand schumi was very close to him on talent, and his working method was better. But that’s just because the sport evolved a lot since the 60’s.
    The way he was able to put together a group of people at ferrari and the overwelming difference in numbers, pushes me towards the german.
    But like in precedent champions, i didn’t see clark race, so i didn’t have the chance to see his magic. And i saw schumacher since the begining. And even if i hated his dominance in the ferrari years, i must admit that he is in front. But very close.
    The top five i think it’s just a matter of feeling, and live experiences. They are all gods.

  4. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 25th January 2011, 19:14

    Here’s a great film about Jim Clark…

    …and here’s one about Schumacher.

  5. Malcolm (@) said on 25th January 2011, 19:17

    My vote is for Clark, especially when you consider the caliber of drivers that he had to deal with…..Stewart, Surtees, Hill, and a man who unfortunaley never beacame a world champion, but the finest and best driver that America has produced….. Dan Gurney.

  6. David B said on 25th January 2011, 19:29

    Going to vote for Schumacher, as soon as I will retrieve my password.
    I still think that Schumacher uncorrect moves are…enlarged. I don’t think he’s been much worst than many other great champions.
    Vote for Schumi even if I consider Jim amongst the greatest four or five ever. He’s in Fangio, Senna, Stewart and Prost number…

  7. sumedh said on 25th January 2011, 19:33

    Separating these last 8 drivers is going to be a Herculean effort.

    Schumacher just gets the nod from me. The only reason I can see where Michael scores over Jim is regarding their team-mate. Both always had no.1 status over their team-mates. But Jim even had more than 4-5 team-mates in a calendar year. It seems that Jim’s WDC was more important than Lotus’s WCC. I don’t think that was ever the case with Michael.

  8. JustAnF1Fanatic (@justanf1fanatic) said on 25th January 2011, 19:38

    i voted for schumey mostly becasue i never saw clark race, but i expected this to be close but i dnt think i expected clark to be winning, itd be nice if he did tho, not a huge fan of schumey despite his dominance

  9. George (@george) said on 25th January 2011, 19:54

    This is very difficult. I have to go for Schumacher though, he was the best driver in F1 for a whole decade

  10. Dougie (@f1droid) said on 25th January 2011, 19:55

    Sorry Jim, a compatriot and a god, but…

    They say its hard to win back to back championships, but Schumacher did it twice, in fact he won a string of 5. Not only that, but he did it after helping develop 2 teams from midfield into winners, and dominators in Ferrari’s case.

    One of the best, if not THE best, drivers Jim Clark may be… but this is about champions.

  11. TED BELL said on 25th January 2011, 19:56

    To make this comparison fair , one might have to consider how each other would have done in each others era. MS in a tube car ,fragile as they were , might have taken it to Clark. I wonder if it were the other way around would Clark have been good enough to challenge MS at his best?? I think it is easier to think that going back to the early days would yield somewhat better results with todays drivers. The modern driver is better fit, better trained and has access to many more forms of technology that can only enhance any particular drivers abilities. It is my opinion that Jim Clark racing today would not be able to match MS if he were able to somehow go forword in time. Sorry to Jim Clark . He was the best when I was a kid but Schumacher is still the better of the two overall. I have a feeling that MS will stun everybody in 2011. The parts to the puzzle seem to be falling into place…

    • Damon (@damon) said on 25th January 2011, 20:44

      Dude, the things you say are TOTALLY irrelevant. We’are judging TALENT.

      If Clark drove today, he would’ve received the same training etc. Use some logic.

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 25th January 2011, 20:51

        Being a champion requires more than “talent”, otherwise Raikkonen and Montoya would be multiple world champions. It requires hard work and dedication, factors that Schumacher can’t be rivalled in.

  12. olivier (@olivier) said on 25th January 2011, 20:00

    Statistics alone, can never tell the full story. Clark was as dominant in the 60s as Schumacher was in the first half of the 00’s. I don’t like mental games, but he was very close to get 2 more championships in ’62 and ’64. In an era where Lotus was indeed the fastest but also the most fragile. His performances in Indy 500, something he had no experience before, really highlights the natural talent he possesed. It is just not fair we lost Clark before he could compete against Stewart, but there was no driver during his time that could be anything close in terms of skills and performance. There’s also Schumacher antics that prevented me from voting for him. Clark gets my vote.

    • magon4 (@magon4) said on 25th January 2011, 20:04

      you’re being unfair to schumi in one point. his domination started in 94 (before that, he was the most promising newcomer; remember his first f1 weekend at spa?), and it went until 2006 inclusive.
      no one was better than him, not even alonso or mika, or kimi, or jacques.

      • olivier (@olivier) said on 26th January 2011, 0:58

        Damon Hill was no better than him and still made him sweat to win the WDC in 1994 … and then Alonso beat him fair and straight in 2006. But you are right stating that Shumacher had really no contest. I mean beating Barichello, Coulthard and Montoya really doesn’t say much about him, does it?

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 26th January 2011, 1:16

          Hill got close in 1994 thanks to the dubious penalties dished out to MSC. 1995 was clear proof of this. Schumacher had top class drivers to beat throughout his years, and often did so.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 26th January 2011, 3:15

            Proof of Schumacher’s ability btw.

          • olivier (@olivier) said on 26th January 2011, 13:57

            That’s right, but he was also lucky not to be expelled from the 94′ championship with the rest of the Benetton team for what happened in Germany that unveiled that they were cheating when refuling, getting unfair advantage in pits. The top drivers you are mentioning, besides those that I have already highlighted were his brother Ralf, Button, Raikkonen and the one that finally beat him fair and straight: Alonso.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 26th January 2011, 14:11

            There was also a 20 time race winner called Mika Hakkinen.

  13. mrjoeblack (@mrjoeblack) said on 25th January 2011, 20:15

    Go shumi!!!!
    you are the best drive ever!!!
    Go Shumi!!!

  14. KaIIe (@kaiie) said on 25th January 2011, 20:28

    Close, but I went for Jimmy. Looking at the percentages, achieving that much in just 72 starts and still having 30% mechanical failure rate – incredible! But for me, the most fascinating thing about Clark has to be that he finished second in a F1 race just once his career.

  15. For all my respect for Clark, Schumacher is from another level.
    Unfortunately I expect Clarke to win because of his descent and his “James Dean” type of myth.

  16. BBT (@bbt) said on 25th January 2011, 20:46

    Clark the best of all time. IMO.
    This could of easily been the final.
    But still Clark.

  17. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 25th January 2011, 20:59

    Holy God it’s even after I voted for Clark. :D

  18. krtekf1 (@krtekf1) said on 25th January 2011, 21:01

    Its really difficult to judge… both were the best in their era. But I will vote for schummi just because of his constantly good results through more than 10 seasons, in bad and good cars.

  19. Beyond (@lello4ever) said on 25th January 2011, 21:02

    wow they’re 100-101 now! XD

  20. The Limit said on 25th January 2011, 21:07


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