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. 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.

  2. 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.

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

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

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

  8. 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.

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

    wow they’re 100-101 now! XD

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

    Schumacher.

  11. ginnerchris (@ginnerchris) said on 25th January 2011, 21:12

    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.

  12. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 25th January 2011, 21:15

    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? ;-)

    • debaser91 said on 25th January 2011, 22:12

      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.

  13. mrjoeblack (@mrjoeblack) said on 25th January 2011, 21:15

    Shumi leads by 1

  14. Azwing (@azwing) said on 25th January 2011, 21:37

    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.

  15. Rocky (@rocky) said on 25th January 2011, 21:38

    % 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.
    Clark

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