Juan Manuel Fangio vs Jackie Stewart

Champion of Champions

Champion of Champions: Juan Manuel Fangio vs Jackie Stewart

As well as being multiple champions, Juan Manuel Fangio and Jackie Stewart are both drivers whose successes were concentrated into a relatively brief period of time.

Between them they started less than half the number of races Rubens Barrichello has.

Fangio won four world titles on the trot from 1954-7. Factor out the 1952 season he lost to injury and he picked up all five of his titles within six years of competition.

Stewart won three titles in five years and might have had more: he missed the 1968 title by four points and in 1972 was hit by an illness which kept him out of the cockpit.

Both drivers also understood the importance of choosing the right time to stop. Fangio did not stay long after winning his fifth championship. Stewart planned to retire after the final race of 1973, an arrangement that was hastened by the death of his team mate Francois Cevert.

The Nurburgring was the scene of some of their greatest drives. In 1957 Fangio recovered a minute to catch and pass the Ferraris of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins. He did so by daring to take the Nordschleife’s corners in one gear higher than he’d been using before.

The same daunting and dangerous circuit was the target of Stewart’s forward-thinking safety campaign. But he mastered it as a driver as well, winning there three times. In 1968, in pouring rain and thick fog, he came home four minutes ahead of second-placed Graham Hill.

Between them they won eight world championships and over a third of their 150 race starts.

But which of these drivers should go through to the next round of the Champion of Champions? Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Juan Manuel Fangio Jackie Stewart
Juan Manuel Fangio, 1955 Jackie Stewart, Matra, 1969
Titles 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957 1969, 1971, 1973
Second in title year/s Alberto Ascari, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Stirling Moss, Stirling Moss, Stirling Moss Jacky Ickx, Ronnie Peterson, Emerson Fittipaldi
Teams Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes, Ferrari BRM, Matra, Tyrrell
Notable team mates Giuseppe Farina, Peter Collins, Stirling Moss Graham Hill, Johnny Servoz-Gavin, Francois Cevert
Starts 51 99
Wins 24 (47.06%) 27 (27.27%)
Poles 29 (56.86%) 17 (17.17%)
Modern points per start1 17.12 11.20
% car failures2 17.65 32.32
Modern points per finish3 20.79 16.55
Notes Missed 1952 season due to injury Finished his first six races in the points and won his eighth start
Handed 1956 title by team mate Peter Collins Runner-up to Graham Hill in 1968 before winning three titles in five years
Record haul of five titles unequalled until 2002 Retired on the eve of what would have been his 100th start after team mate Cevert was killed
Bio Juan Manuel Fangio Jackie Stewart

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?

  • Juan Manuel Fangio (65%)
  • Jackie Stewart (35%)

Total Voters: 586

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Images ?? Daimler, Pirelli (Fangio), Ford.com (Stewart)

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104 comments on Juan Manuel Fangio vs Jackie Stewart

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  1. Tom Moloney said on 27th January 2011, 16:01

    You’re horrible. You really are.

    Fangio, though.

  2. Showing the Prost/Lauda poll :)

  3. plushpile (@plushpile) said on 27th January 2011, 16:07

    This is the hardest pick so far, by a long way

  4. sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 27th January 2011, 16:09


    Stewart is one of the most influential drivers of all time. He made F1 into the sport that we love today. I’ve repeated the same spiel each time i’ve voted for him, so I won’t go into it now.

    While I don’t think this documentary is as good as Graham Hill: Driven or Jim Clark: The quiet champion, Jackie Stewarts is made by the same people and is a really good insight into his life, both as a driver and afterwards. Here is part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnHksZ5F-54

    Oh and for the haters – i’m really biased.

    • TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 27th January 2011, 18:49

      I went for Stewart too. Fangio was a good driver but over-rated massively. He won 5 titles in a car with a huge speed advantage and even changed mid-season to the better car.

      • Daniel said on 28th January 2011, 10:46

        Something that he wouldn’t have been able to do if the team owners didn’t think he was the best driver.

        In ’57 Fangio drove the Maserati 250F, the same car he drove in ’54. He won 4 of 7 races, coming second twice more and retiring once. He didn’t always have the best car, but he was always fast.

      • Sasquatsch (@sasquatsch) said on 28th January 2011, 11:17

        The only time Fangio changed cars mid-season was when the Mercedes wasn’t ready yet. He already had signed a contract but had to wait before the car was ready and opted to drive his Maserati he drove the year before.

        Besides, most times Fangio changed cars was because of factors outside his influence. In 1952 (Alfa Romeo) and 1956 (Mercedes) the constructors stopped with F1. He switched to back to Maserati in 1957 because he couldn’t get along with Enzo Ferrari. So the only time he switched on his own accord was in 1954 from the underpowered Maserati to Mercedes.

  5. melkurion (@melkurion) said on 27th January 2011, 16:14

    I too must go for Stewart… Fangio as without question, one of the greatest drivers of all time, but he did a little bit too much cockpit hopping for my taste. Just 10 years later, that wouldn’t have been possible, beceasu of contracts etc. Just Imagine what Stewart could have done if he’d jumped to lotus in 68, back to Matra in 69, lotus in 70, tyrell in 71 etc etc

    He would have doen 5 titles too, guaraneed.

    And then factoring in what he, as a champion and reprisentative of the sport has achieved….I can only conclude that I must take what will probably be the unpopular choice, and vor for sir Jackie

    • sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 27th January 2011, 16:17

      A lot of truth in this. While Stewart wasn’t quite to Tyrell as Clark was to Lotus, their relationship was close to that.

      • melkurion (@melkurion) said on 27th January 2011, 16:26

        Thnanks, and yes , I agree, when you wath the BBC 4 documentaries about Clark and Stewart (and Hill) these relationships really shine through, and in my humble oppinion, being a great champion also means you know how to build a team around you, with dedicated people, who believe in you.

        Fangio was no doubt encredibly quick. But so, for instance is a guy like Kimi Raikonnen, but he has only the one title. Or Ronny Petterson, and he hasn’t got a single one. Why, because, despite the fact the were blisteringly quick, they didn’t always have the equipment to show it. And neither wa “able”to pull the team they were at to a higher level by sheer force of personality and grit. I’m not saying Fangio could not have done that, but there is no way to know that….

        • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 28th January 2011, 9:38

          Yes, I feel many more drivers would be multiple champions had they the opportunities Fangio had. Kimi and Ronnie Peterson are great examples, but it can’t take away from the stats, Fangio achieved all that in the most dangerous era of the sports history. But thanks to Jackie Stewart, all that began to change, a modern F1 developed and of all the modern drivers Stewart takes the cake. He only quit after the death of Cervert, had he continued I think he could have as many wins as Senna or Prost. Therefore I shall go against the grain and vote for Stewart out of sheer admiration and principle, as it is highly likely Fangio will take this one anyway.

          • debaser91 said on 28th January 2011, 13:32

            Stewart was going to leave Formula One after that weekend regardless of what followed; he planned to finish on exactly 100 GP’s.

            When Cevert died he decided not to carry on with the weekend, but Stewart would not raced on in ’74 anyway even if he had survived. The sad irony is that after dutifully playing the support role to Stewart for a few seasons, and learning from him Cevert would have been the number one driver the next season. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.

    • My exact sentiments – although I respect Fangio, I too voted for Sir Jackie Stewart.

    • Kenny (@kenny) said on 27th January 2011, 16:43

      Jackie had a standing offer from Chapman…he could have gone to Lotus anytime he wanted to.

      Stewart never had a contract with Ken Tyrrell…it all happened on a handshake.

      I don’t see how getting the best drive available at any given time can be regarded in a negative light. If anything, it should be regarded as a talent…IMHO.

      • Andy W (@andy-w) said on 27th January 2011, 20:52

        but to both Jackie and Ken that handshake and verbal agreement meant as much (if not more) than any written contract… both were men of their word.

        I am not going knock Fangio for team hoping, he did what he did out of his drive to win. Jackie did the same…. building a team and car around yourself is also a talent.

    • D’accord. Plus Fangio sometimes get to use his team mate’s cars when his broke down!

  6. Chalky (@chalky) said on 27th January 2011, 16:19

    Fangio enjoyed the success and therefore luxury to pick the best team and car to race with. Normal for top drivers of his time.
    I would say that equals the achievements for me, as Stewart did not have this luxury.
    So it’s down to little details for me, and without seeing Fangio for real it’s hard for me to go into driving ability. What Stewart did for the sport as a champion, was something else. Without his champion status a lot of his concerns and safety issues may well have been overlooked.
    I’ll therefore vote for Jackie Stewart.

  7. congealedmeat (@congealedmeat) said on 27th January 2011, 16:22

    With almost as many wins and half as many starts this one’s a no brainer victory for Fangio. 20.79 modern points per finish is insane as well, that’s a better than 2nd place average!

    Stewart has had many years to celebritize himself and just the time period he was around in will make him more familiar to people. This is the only way I can see him winning this. Rational thought would not go into a vote for Stewart.

  8. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 27th January 2011, 16:29

    Fangio all the way.

    I know what kind of cars he used to drive before F1 (also a multiple winner with those), and all his european carreer he was simply astonishing.

    Racing Turismo Carretera during the 40’s had to be one of the most dangerous things ever. And then he chose single seaters and beated them all 5 times.

    Even if I love Jackie. hearth pulls Fangio’s way.

    • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 28th January 2011, 9:42

      Maybe we could have an article all about Fangio Keith?

      I’d love to learn more about his accomplishments outside of F1, especially before the grand prix era. It’s a shame we can’t have Nuvolari in these polls, I wonder where he would finish?

  9. tyngdekraft (@tyngdekraft) said on 27th January 2011, 16:30

    Fangio. This one is a no brainer for me

  10. kowalsky (@) said on 27th January 2011, 16:30

    It’s so close.
    I realy like steward. I like the way he talks, the era he drove on. The way he respects other champions ( are you listening niki?) He is top class in every respect.
    On the other hand, the way fangio expressed himself, on either italian, or even spanish was not very impresive.
    On the other hand he drove also in a very dangerous era, and we can’t forget he has two more titles than the scot.
    I go for fangio, but i repeat it’s very close.

  11. BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th January 2011, 16:30

    Fangio. Everyone just remembered what a great record it was that Schumi equalled in 2002. What an acheevement that was considered to be. And now we would not even give him the go over Steward?

    Surely every WDC is a great driver and every multiple champion is a great champion able to make things work out for him and moves the sport forward in a way. Some are extra special, Steward rates with those, but so do all most who made it to these quarter finals.
    Nothing against Steward, but this has to be Fangio for me.

  12. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 27th January 2011, 16:42

    Sorry, had to be Sir Jackie. Fangio was clearly the best driver of his era, no doubt about that. But Stewart has done so much more for the sport than any other driver, his outspoken views are respected highly, and although everyone used to believe his opinions were wrong, in the end, he was right. Also saved many lives, who knows what safety standards we would have today had it not been for him.

    • Scottie (@scottie) said on 27th January 2011, 19:51

      Didn’t think I would at the start of this, but I actually went against Fangio… Stewart has done much more for the sport, and I agree with those about Fangio’s hot-swapping cockpits.

      Sir jackie it is!

  13. gavspav1 (@) said on 27th January 2011, 16:55

    Got to be Fangio. Modern points per finish over 20! Thats outrageous. I once saw a fantastic film about Fangio at the National Film Theater with my mum and dad, and he came across as such a Gentleman. No one it seems has a bad word to say about him. Not even when he was racing, seeing the way Collins and Hawthorn congratulate him after his unbelievable drive in Germany sums it up really. Shame for Stewart though, a great driver and every racing driver should thank him after every crash they survive without injury.

  14. Hyoko said on 27th January 2011, 16:58

    A real real toughie

    Jackie Stewart was my first F1 idol. One of the greats, for sure.

    Fangio, well, I have only seen a few short vids. But he was astonishingly good, no doubt. Maybe even better than Prost, the greatest of the greats for me. Only, I cannot really rate Fangio or Jim Clark. So I’ ll pass on this one.

  15. schooner (@schooner) said on 27th January 2011, 17:04

    It would be hard to argue against Fangio based purely on his stats and # of titles. Hugely impressive stuff to say the least. That said, I am otherwise biased, and no doubt always will be. Stewart was my first F1 hero. I got to see him race in person a number of times, F1 and CanAm. I was at Watkins Glen the weekend he retired after Cervet’s death. I just about lived and breathed through his exploits over a period of about 5 years. Personal bias aside, though, I believe Sir Jackie has a strong case to be champion of champions. His record over a short career, is exemplary. Amassing wins, finishing races, and simply staying alive during that horribly dangerous era was not an easy thing. And while some may tire of hearing it, when considering Stewart for this title, you have to look at his entire body of work. Race winner, 3 time champion, team owner, and a tireless (and sometimes ridiculed) safety campaigner who pretty much dragged a reluctant F1 establishment into a new era. His numbers may not be the best, but he will always be my personal ‘Champion of Champions’ :)

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