Champion of Champions: Michael Schumacher vs Jim Clark

Jim Clark vs Michael Schumacher

Champion of ChampionsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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), (Clark)

317 comments on “Jim Clark vs Michael Schumacher”

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  1. This is so close – as evidenced by the current scores (106 each).

    Went for Clark in the end. Agree with the comments about how much he achieved in just 72 races, plus the success at Indy, and the raw speed he displayed in so many different categories.

  2. A lot of people will say Clark even though they never saw him race and probably say something about the standard of drivers and the difficulties of driving the cars in those days, etc.

    Valid points. But does no-one ever stop to consider in these comparison that (in this case) Schumacher might have been just as good or better, were he born in the same era? Or that Clark wouldn’t have been able to work the complications of modern machinery as well? For instance, Schumacher was a master at adjusting brake bias, doing it several times a lap sometimes to get the absolute maximum.

    By the way, Graham Hill, so good Keith named him twice? ;-)

    1. It’s pretty irrelevant to mention Clark not being able to handle modern machinery, just as much as we will never know how Schumacher would have done in the ’60’s. You can only look at how they did against their contemporaries in their respective eras, and decide from there.

  3. Shumi leads by 1

  4. I see two things that make it extremely difficult to compare the two drivers:

    1) Length of career.
    2) Era.

    Clark was definitely dominant, but his career was sadly cut short. Would he have been able to continue the dominance? We can’t know. Schumacher had/has a very lengthy career. He dominated nearly all of it (aside from last year of course).

    It is always tough to compare different eras. How do you gauge relative competition, different rules, etc.? Very tough.

    For me, I voted for Schumacher, but just. This matchup could easily have been the final, or at least a semi-final, in my opinion.

  5. % car failures2 29.17
    Modern points per finish 16.45

    Finished on the podium in every race where his car didn’t break down over the next three seasons.

    I had to find some justification.

  6. This is the final in my eyes. The two drivers i have always rated above the rest in F1 history. Schumacher has it by a nose. Took me a hell of alot of thinking to vote against my fellow Scot Jimmy Clark who was a gem of a driver. Dont get bigger complements than Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart sayingg you were the best ever. But the 8 time champ wins it for me. To me its a crime this is the 3rd round, these two should NEVER have met before the semi finals. Not many people would consider either of these guys outside there top 4 of all time

    1. You have rated them above the rest in history, including Senna?
      Come on.

      1. He’s entitled to his opinion, whichis shared by plenty of other people.

      2. Schumi’s not quite an 8-time champ (not yet, anyway), but I see where mrgrieves is coming from. My dream matchup would probably be Fangio vs. Schumacher, though.

        And yes, I rate both of them above Senna.

  7. I never liked Schumacher and I never will. But he is the greatest, and I tell you why:
    For a start. Schumacher won 4 out of his 7 WC’s in 2nd or 3rd best cars. Do you remember 1994, 1995, 2000, or perhaps in most recent memory 2003?
    When Schumacher won the WDC in 1995, he left to Ferrari. I thought this was a huge mistake. He easily could’ve won another WDC or two. But he took the on challenge. He won 3 GP’s in a car Ivrine couldn’t score points with. In 1997 Williams had a car in wcich I could become a champion. The fact that Schumacher easily beat frentzen and nearly Villeneuve amazes me. Stupid rule changes caused Mclaren domination in 1998 while previous to that. Schumacher was leading Hakkinen. In 1999, Ivrine nearly beat Hakkinen, if it wasn’t for the broken leg. Michael would almost certainly won the title.
    Michael never had a teammate that could take him (regardless Rosberg). He was occassionally more then a second per lap faster then Herbert, Ivrine, Barichello or even Massa (see china). His greatest Victory is China 2006 IMO. Why? Becuase the Bridgestones were some 3-4 seconds per lap slower than Mchelin. He was at one point 25 seconds behind Alonso. Did he ever give up? I’d never thought he would win until he passed Fisi. Showing he is the one and only true rainmaster.

    Sorry Jim, I you were a great man. This should’ve been the final :(

    1. From what I remember the 2000 Mclaren and Ferrari were pretty evenly matched, the same going for ’03 too. And in my opinion the ’94 Benetton was a stronger overall package than the Williams, and of course there’s the continual rumours they were cheating and using traction control.

      In ’95 I’m a bit undecided as to whether Hill and Coulthard did a rubbish job with an excellent car, but don’t forget Herbert won more races than DC that year (albeit after Hill had taken Schumacher out both times) so the Benetton was still a very good car, particularly as it had the same Renault V10 as the Williams.

      1. In 2003. The Mclaren and Ferrari were even.
        But if I remember correctly. BMW-Williams was faster then both Mclaren or Ferrari. Ralf and Juahno lost the tittle because of they’re own mistakes.
        1995 IMO the Williams was slightly better. It came down to drivers skill. And Schumacher vs Hill is no real contest :)

  8. It’s not aonly a question of how many wins, but the manner in which the wins were achieved. Clark had more grace and talent than Schu could ever hope to possess. Also Clark won in everything he drove, F1, Indy car, Tasman, salons and did it with quite still and grace. For those who are not aware of hoe great a talent Clark was please to a little research- I think you will find there is so much more to a champion than just wins.

  9. Clark… They are both pretty similar on terms of skill and driving ability… But Jimmy was a much better sporting person, not tainted unlike Schumacher

  10. that`s a good one! go Jim

  11. kymmiller (@)
    25th January 2011, 22:37

    Got to be Schumi!!! Registered just to vote for this as it’s going to be aclose one! Whilst Clark was undoubtedly a genius his early death didn’t allow him to fulfil that potential and you can’t be certain that his next ten seasons (if he’d had them) would have been as impressive asthe races ge did get. Whereas Schumi dominated the sport the entire time he raced (forgetting 2010 of course!). I appreciate people saying that Schumacher had no greats to prove himself against but that is more of a reflection on his ability than the skills of his competitors. If Schumacher hadn’t been so dominant we might rate hill, villeneuve, hakkinen et al more highly. Finally whilst Schumacher may have had some luck in getting a great team behind him and some great cars to drive so did most of the other champions under consideration here. It’s rarely about just the driver, but always about the driver the car and the team working with them. Conversely, how many mediocre drivers have excelled in a great car but faded when faced with a dog the next year? Schumacher has driven and won in both good and bad cars…. Anyway rant over!!!

  12. My very first vote against absolute stats (points per start/points per finish) no matter how I feel about the drivers involved. Tough choice between these two. But it has to be Clark. The very best don’t have to resort to dodgy tactics (parking it on the very last lap of quali at Monaco; squeezing rivals up against the wall). I’m not old enough to have seen Clark race, but I wish I was.

    1. Maybe you havent noticed, but the points per finish favour Clark.

    2. What, like Prost/Senna in Japan? I don’t mean to be harsh, but in your view neither Senna or Schumacher count as part of the very best F1 has ever seen? Come on, this is the difference between a winner and an also ran. DC has said it himself many times (and Martin Brundle too) they were too nice to be WDCs, they didn’t have that killer streak that would push them to do things that pushed at the boundaries of the sport.

  13. There might be a case to say that Schumacher’s opposition wasn’t as close to him in ability as Clark’s. But was it ability that was lacking from the drivers on track with him?

    I don’t think so. I think the perceived difference between him and his adversaries, was the result of his level of involvement in the actual development of his car. Schumacher was not the first driver to be very clear on what he wanted from his car and trying to steer his team in that direction. But in the kind of environment where going off and setting up your own team is not really a financially viable option, he is probably the first to get himself so ingrained in the very foundations of the team as to become effectively a policy maker. Not just a driver who gives feedback on how to make the car provided as fast as it goes, but an actual decision maker on how that car was designed. Schumacher made sure he had the car to do the best he could do, while everyone else tried to do the best they could with what the car they had. It is no coincidence that it is Alonso who had taken note, who successfully challenged him and is now hailed by Ferrari as the true successor to Schumacher.

    My vote goes to Schumacher, who showed that hard work goes beyond just driving and giving feedback and doing some fitness training. And that if you are willing to put in the work for the team, everyone else is willing to work for you and the rewards are yours to reap.

  14. Mark in Florida
    25th January 2011, 23:02

    I thought this was a vote for the best F1 driver regardless of likes or dislikes.Michael will never win a popularity contest he is too polarizing to most people.However if you look objectively at it Schumacher is simply the best driver that has been in F1.People do not deserve our votes based on who they are but on what they have accomplished.

    1. Look up about Jim Clark. Then you might understand why people have voted for him. He was a genius.

      1. And look up at Ral’s comment, to see that Schumacher was another truely groundbreaking genius.

        1. I’ve read the comment and it still doesn’t change my opinion about the standard of Schumacher’s contemporaries, regarding their levels of talent. Schumacher was more talented and more hard working than any of them, which combined to make him so dominant.

          Schumacher’s competitors for titles and consistent race wins over his career were Hill, Villeneuve, Hakkinen, Coulthard, Montoya, Raikkonen, Barrichello and Alonso. How many of them would get into a top 10 of all time? None in my book. Alonso possibly top 15-20 and Hakkinen at a push maybe top 20. Then we have Raikkonen somewhere outside that, and the rest are nowhere in the grand scheme of things.

          Don’t tell me as some people on here have tried to reason that without Schumacher being around these guys would be considered all time greats because they simply wouldn’t. The amount of mistakes drivers like Hill, Villeneuve and even Hakkinen (Imola and Monza ’99 anyone) made means despite being quick and world champions they are not true greats of the sport.

          Schumacher’s dominance of course counts for something and that is why rate him in my top 5 but it is not the whole story.

          1. I agree that they are regarded as greats of the sport. However, the impression that they lacked talent is created by the fact that Schumacher dominated F1. So actually, without Schumacher making them look poor, they would have been fiercely competing for the world championships that MSC did win. Their all-time status would have bee elevated from what it actually is.

            People like Hakkinen made mistakes, but who is to say that drivers of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s didn’t make similar errors that are merely overlooked?

        2. It won’t let me reply below so I’ve replied up here again.

          I’m sorry but I still don’t buy it. If Schumacher raced in the era of Senna, Prost, Mansell, Lauda and Piquet or Clark, Stewart and Hill he would not have won seven world titles.

          If any of the above mentioned were in Schumacher’s era I could see similar levels of dominance by all except perhaps Piquet and Mansell.

          If Schumacher were not present in my opinion it would have been a bit like the period in the late 70’s to early 80’s where a lot of good but not great drivers took the title such as Hunt, Scheckter, Jones, Rosberg, maybe even Piquet to a certain extent, with no single person dominating year after year. I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one :)

  15. First I thought it would be tough… But, statistics don’t like, 72 races, 25 wins, 32 podiums, 32 poles. OK, then take in to consideration 5 starts at Indy 500, 3 finishes – 1 win and 2 2nd places.

    Even though Schumacher is one of the best ever, he can’t beat Clark.

  16. Now come the tough choices for me. It wasn’t that long ago that Schumacher finally broke into my top five. I even have two non-WDC’s in my top ten.

    Clark won the Indy 500 the year I graduated from high school. 1964, 65, and ’66 he caught my attention in the U.S. mainly because of the Indy 500. Like most of us in the U.S., we were into American muscle cars. I didn’t start turning my attention to F1 and Chapman’s Lotuses, until news of Clark’s death hit the States.

    Schumacher hit F1 about the time I was transferred to England. With a cast of superstars which included Brawn and Byrne they started to kick butt and take names at Benetton. Then when the whole lot of them went to Ferrari, I rooted for them for a few years till I got fed up with them altogether.

    Still, I rate Schumacher higher than Clark – but just.

  17. deadlocked at 181 each! This should have been the final…

    1. Halfcolours (@)
      25th January 2011, 23:45

      182 a piece now! this one has really provoked some thought.

  18. HA! its tied.

  19. Clark’s taken the lead for the first time

  20. Clark, generally regarded by his very impressive peers as the best of the best, a life and career sadly cut short. We’ll never know what further heights he might have reached.
    Schumacher has amassed stats (and we’re lucky enough to watch him race still) that will probably never be equaled. Tough choice, and the closest race so far. I had to go for Clark.

    1. Btw … for the last few rounds, I was otherwise logged in, but for some reason I couldn’t post my vote. I generated a new password to get in on this one. So close! Jimmy by 2 at the moment!

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