Champion of Champions: Alain Prost vs Niki Lauda

Alain Prost vs Niki Lauda

Champion of ChampionsPosted on Author Keith Collantine

Champion of Champions: Alain Prost vs Niki Lauda

The second Champion of Champions quarter-final features two drivers who were team mates at McLaren for two years.

During their time together Niki Lauda won his final championship title in 1984 and Alain Prost claimed his first the following year.

These are also both drivers took time out of the sport and made successful comebacks.

It looked like Lauda had quit for good when he told Bernie Ecclestone he was leaving Brabham as practice began at Montreal in 1979. He had already agreed terms to continue driving for the team, and his change of mind potentially cost him two years in cars capable of winning the championship.

Ron Dennis convinced Lauda to make a comeback with McLaren in 1982. He won twice in his first year back and once McLaren arranged a deal to use Porsche turbo power he was on his way to world title number three.

It came after a season-long battle with Prost which Lauda won by the smallest-ever margin of half a point. The following season Lauda was dogged by unreliability and retired for good.

Prost’s 1992 sabbatical and 1993 comeback was characteristic of his approach to the sport. He bided his time until the seat he wanted at Williams became available. When he got his hands on the car he emulated Lauda by winning a title on his return.

And both can also talk about championship near-misses. Lauda’s terrible crash at the Nurburgring in 1976 arguably cost him the title that year.

And 1984 wasn’t Prost’s first or last taste of missing out on the title by a small margin: he lost to Nelson Piquet by two points the previous season and was runner-up to Ayrton Senna in 1988 and 1990

So these are two champions with a lot in common. But which of these drivers should go through to the Champion of Champions semi-finals?

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

Alain Prost Niki Lauda
Alain Prost Niki Lauda
Titles 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993 1975. 1977, 1984
Second in title year/s Michele Alboreto, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Ayrton Senna Emerson Fittipaldi, Jody Scheckter, Alain Prost
Teams McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, Williams March, BRM, Ferrari, Brabham, McLaren
Notable team mates Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell Carlos Reutemann, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost
Starts 199 171
Wins 51 (25.63%) 25 (14.62%)
Poles 33 (16.58%) 24 (14.04%)
Modern points per start1 12.48 7.85
% car failures2 16.58 34.50
Modern points per finish3 14.96 11.99
Notes Lost ’83 title by two points and ’84 title by half a point Badly burned in 1976 crash, withdrew from title-deciding race in heavy rain
Controversial clash with Senna sealed third title Clinched second title for Ferrari in 1977 then left team
Returned from sabbatical to clinch fourth title with Williams Ended two-year retirement to return to McLaren and win third title
Bio Alain Prost Niki Lauda

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?

  • Alain Prost (79%)
  • Niki Lauda (22%)

Total Voters: 630

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Images ?? Honda (Prost), Gary Faulkenberry (Lauda)

79 comments on “Alain Prost vs Niki Lauda”

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  1. Personally I think Lauda is overrated. May be it has to do with the accident on the Nurburgring or that he did well in good cars, but like I said when compared to Alan Jones, Jones managed to get points in mediocre cars, where Lauda didn’t. In both his Ferrari and McLaren years he probably had one of the best cars in the field. And maybe that is one of his qualities as well, to get a drive in the best cars (just like Fangio did). But based on statistics Lauda isn’t even top ten material. Not in wins, poles, fastest laps or points. Prost is top ten in three out of four.

    Besides Prost beat Lauda in probably all seasons they raced each other fair and square (even in ’84 where Lauda became world champion based on the best eleven results) so my vote definitely goes to Prost

  2. Very hard.
    I believe Prost lost to Lauda in the direct comparison in ’84, but he learnt from him so many things he was able to win 4 then!
    I believe Prost wouldn’t ever have been Prost if he didn’t learn that much from Niki.
    Voted Prost…but may be just for number of championships.

    1. I agree. Prost learned a lot from Niki. Mostly that qualifying isn’t (at least it wasn’t back then) that important. It’s important to be consistent in races. To know when to push and when not to.

      The Rat and The Professor; Master and apprentice.

      Very close, but Prost gets my vote

  3. Both were great, but probably Prost have the upper hand despite the fact that Lauda made a very brave comeback in F1.But looking through the data it has to be said after Schumacher & Fangio Prost is the third most successful driver in F1.

  4. This, after the massively complicated match-up of yesterday, is like being back in primary school. That is not to say that Lauda doesn’t deserve credit, but Prost is simply speaking phenomenal.

  5. Has to be Prost

  6. Niki was my hero when i was 10. Coming back from the accident was topped by nobody, and it probably never will. When i was growing up i had the chance to see him win his last title, and i cheered for him.
    I never liked prost as a driver. His style never captured my imagination, and he seemed slow, and unspectacular. Eventough he wasn’t.
    After listening to both in some interviews, i don’t especialy like any of them, but to me prost was the better of the two, driving against senna, and beating him in the same car.
    Lauda doesn’t do himself any favour, talking so much trash against fellow drivers, just for people to keep turning the tv sets on. In my book, he couldn’t be the champion of champions.

      1. That’s bizarre. And someone at the Mail needs to learn how to spell.

        Yes, I know, look who’s talking… :-)

      2. What did he expect when he signed up?

        Kidding of course! :D

  7. I actually found this really tough. I think Schumi or Prost would be my Champion of Champions but then I thought of Lauda who managed to best Prost in 84.

    Lauda was blindingly quick then he wised up and became a very complete driver. His determination was unquestionable and his natural ability shone through when he came out of retirement. He really could have stopped Hunt from pinching that title and is perhaps unlucky to only have 3 while Prost is usually seen as quite lucky with the title he won at Williams (but then again he did have more points than Ayrton in ’88 and dragged the Ferrari so close in 1990).

    I’ve gone for Prost because I really do think he was a genius. His Monza performance in 1988 is one of my favourite F1 stories ever. This was surprisingly, very tough for me to the point where before I now really rate Lauda as one of the best F1 drivers. Although the biggest problem with Niki these days is Niki; I really don’t think he endears himself to fans the way old champs like Stewart do and that could hurt him.

  8. I sooo much want to vote Lauda, so much respect for the man, but I have to be honest, and no matter what my heart says, Prost was clearly the better driver, even though I strongly believed he was past his prime after 1990, and only won the 93 title because of the car, and he still made hard work of that.

    But missing out in 3 and 84 by such narrow margins….no Prost has to be the clear winner here

  9. Interesting note:- Had F1 gone down the ‘Medals’ route when it began (and what Bernie so wants to be implemented)then Niki Lauda would be Twice World Champion and Alain Prost, Five Times.

  10. Prost. Because he made something difficult look easy. No one could ever accuse Prost of over-driving his car.

  11. In the modern points system all results count. That was what I was trying to say.

    Therefore if the modern points system was applied to back then (i.e all results rather than 11 best scores) then Prost would have been champion in ’84 and ’88.

    1. Actually all results counted in 84, so Lauda would have won anyway. 1988 was the only year in F1 History where the driver who scored most points didn’t get the title.

      but i do agree Prost only lost the 84 title due to bad luck.

      Its also clear how Prost learned from Lauda. In 84 Prost won 7 races, while Lauda won 5. Lauda also had more DNF, but he won because he was more consistent than Prost, and, apart a 4 place, he only got wins and 2nds.

      That’s the same situation Prost saw himself in 88, winning 1 race less, but being far more consistent than Senna. However, the 11 best system prevented him from getting the title

  12. I went for Lauda for him overcoming that accident and returning for another WDC with McLaren. But I expect Prost to win this and actually hope he can take it to the final round.

  13. Very hard choice, both of them are exceptional drivers…The edge goes to Prost however.

  14. For me, Prost is quite possibly the most complete driver ever in Formula 1.

  15. Prost of course. Even tho Lauda is one of the very best (but not THE champ of champs).

    I’ve been watching F1 since the Jackie Stewart days, so I can’t say much about Fangio or Jim Clark. But in the last 40 years Prost gets my vote as the absolute best. That includes of course Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher (my candidates for 2nd and 3rd).

  16. In stats Prost wins. More wins, more poles. In rivalry Lauda wins. He beat Prost when they were teammates. In total championshis Prost wins. 4 to 3. But in my mind I know….Lauda is the winner. Maybe the accident played a role in my decision … I don’t know. My gutt tells me that he will be the one that will move on to the next stage.

    1. Hmmm Prost 321-81, maybe you should see a Gastroenterologist 8)

  17. I think it says it all that Lauda beat Prost when he was still young by a very thin margin and the next year Prost trounced him. There’s so much more to the comparison than this but for me this is the essence of why Prost got my vote.

  18. I think in Alain Prost X Ayrton Senna or M. Schumacher X Ayrton Senna.
    I don’t know for the others, but Senna is the best

  19. this poles is getting harder and harder had to go with the professor in the end

  20. Has to be Prost

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