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 (49%)

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. magon4 (@magon4) said on 25th January 2011, 18:52

    but i do agree that jim clark is a legend and should get to be in the semis… clark, schumi, senna and fangio…

  2. Jim Clark is in my opinion the greatest driver of all time. It’s unfortunate for Schumacher because apart from Clark I only rate Prost and Senna higher than him. Unfortunately with the draw one of them has to go out.

    Clark was an absolute one off, if his car didn’t let him down he nearly always finished on the podium and 25 wins from 70 odd starts is pretty unbelievable. He could drive anything and make it go fast. Having seen footage and documentaries, added to the fact that Stewart and Graham Hill both rated him as the best of that time (and they are both greats too) I feel he is a greater champion than Schumacher.

    To magon 4 and any others, this vote will become very boring very quickly if people who vote for Clark are accused of doing so because he is British and Schumacher is German. If this was done purely by stats then yes Schumacher would win but they do not tell the full story.

    Schumacher was by far the best of his era, but his competition was limited after Senna died and he arrived too late to compete against Prost, Mansell, Piquet etc. Then there is his incredibly questionable racing ethics and morals, which sure I’m most people will agree were simply not on. Three massive incidents in his career, and then Barrichello this season. Therefore I vote Clark.

    • magon4 (@magon4) said on 25th January 2011, 19:07

      i agree with you, actually.
      but i do think that schumacher does not get the credit he deserves.
      if you look at schumachers and senna’s careers, you will see that the german is actually the greater driver because he achieved more with less.
      senna had 3 years of lotus, the number 3 car on the grid, but had to move to mclaren to become champion. schumacher started at benetton with the number 4 car and helped make it number 1 by 1995.
      when senna couldn’t win championships for mclaren anymore, he moved to williams.
      schumacher did the opposite and went to a struggling ferrari.
      i know this is not a senna x schumacher contest, i’m just using the example to show that the german has merits beyond driving – career choices and hard work with the team. it might sound strange, but the german is more a team worker than the brazilian.
      clark is fantastic, but the comparisons are strange, generally.

      • It’s an interesting point you raise. In my opinion Schumacher’s best years were in the period you mentioned, winning his titles with Benetton and then slowly turning Ferrari into a contender again. That ’96 Ferrari was an absolute dog, I remember Irvine barely finishing a race and yet Schumacher won three times in it! In a sense those 5 straight titles were his reward for taking a massive chance and moving to Ferrari. You are probably correct that everyone got so bored of Schumacher winning everything in sight that they forget the massive risk and hard work he had to put in to get to that point.

        I think that Senna was in a sense very fortunate to have other fantastic drivers to compete against in his time, this only adds to his legacy that he went to Mclaren and beat the top man in Alain Prost. They brought out the best in each other.

        Schumacher never had an equal like that, like Clark didn’t and I’m not sure whether in the case of Schumacher if it is because because he was so much better than everyone else or that the competition was not as strong. Stewart, Hill and Brabham were all multiple champions and around in the time of Clark, and yet none of them could touch him when his car didn’t break. Therefore although I agree with what you are saying to some extent I still think Clark is slightly better.

  3. Beyond (@lello4ever) said on 25th January 2011, 18:57

    schumacher for me, thou clark is one of the greatest

  4. Both Legends of the Sport, Clark is up there for sure but I voted for Schumacher. Just looking at all the record in Formula 1 Schumacher holds about 70% of them.

    Murray Walker the voice of Formula 1.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueywB7OPIVI

  5. Champion of Champions…….hmmmm…..got to be Schumacher. If I were choosing the best ‘driver’, then it probably wouldn’t be either of them.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

    Here’s a great film about Jim Clark…
    http://vimeo.com/4228678

    …and here’s one about Schumacher.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmD050RhOEY

  10. Malcolm (@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.

  11. 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…

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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.

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