Michael Schumacher vs Alain Prost

Champion of Champions

Champion of Champions: Michael Schumacher vs Alain Prost

Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost won more races than anyone else. That’s 142 Grand Prix victories between the two of them.

Of the 839 races that have counted towards the world championship since 1950, one in six were won by one of these two drivers.

While even Prost falls well short of Schumacher’s record total wins, it will be remembered that he drove alongside world championship-winning team mates in five season. Schumacher did so in just five races.

Similarly Schumacher’s tally of titles seven out-strips Alain Prost’s four, but it bears remembering how close Prost came to three more: two points away in 1983, half a point in 1984, and in 1988 he amassed more points than champion Ayrton Senna, but had to discard more under the ‘best 11 results count’ rule.

But it would be wrong to overlook that Schumacher was championship runner-up in 1998 and 2006 (and in 1997, prior to his disqualification).

The pair are almost unequalled in having spent over a decade at the sharp end of Formula 1, challenging for wins and championships.

But that success was sometimes accompanied by controversy: Prost’s collision with Senna in 1989 which sealed his third championship had much in common with Schumacher’s notorious collision with Damon Hill just five years later (and with Jacques Villeneuve three years after that).

Their careers overlapped for little more than a season. Their most interesting encounter came in the 1993 Portuguese Grand Prix, where Schumacher’s tenacity on old tyres allowed him to snatch his second F1 victory. Prost settled for second place behind the Benetton, enough to secure his fourth and final world championship.

It’s down to you to pick which of these drivers belongs in the Champion of Champions final.

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

Michael Schumacher Alain Prost
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Bahrain, 2006 Alain Prost, Williams, 1993
Titles 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993
Second in title year/s Damon Hill, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello, Kimi R??ikk??nen, Rubens Barrichello Michele Alboreto, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Ayrton Senna
Teams Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari, Mercedes McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, Williams
Notable team mates Nelson Piquet, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell
Starts 268 199
Wins 91 (33.96%) 51 (25.63%)
Poles 68 (25.37%) 33 (16.58%)
Modern points per start1 14.05 12.48
% car failures2 8.21 16.58
Modern points per finish3 15.30 14.96
Notes Missed several races in 1999 after breaking his leg at Silverstone Lost ’83 title by two points and ’84 title by half a point
Retired in 2006 after 11 seasons with Ferrari Controversial clash with Senna sealed third title
Returned with Mercedes in 2010 Returned from sabbatical to clinch fourth title with Williams
Bio Michael Schumacher Alain Prost

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 three

Round two

Round one

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Michael Schumacher (53%)
  • Alain Prost (44%)

Total Voters: 754

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This poll remains open until February 4th.

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Read the F1 Fanatic Champion of Champions introduction for more information and remember to check back tomorrow for the next round.

Have you voted in the previous rounds of Champion of Champions yet? Find them all here:

Champion of Champions

Browse all Champion of Champions articles

Images ?? Ferrari spa (Schumacher), Williams/Sutton (Prost)

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195 comments on Michael Schumacher vs Alain Prost

  1. GreyoTG (@) said on 29th January 2011, 23:26

    There is absolutely no-way you can choose between these drivers without picking dominante stats… the only difference’s in that case is one is French and one is German. I’ll be thinking about this all night.

  2. nillojapa (@nillojapa) said on 29th January 2011, 23:34

    Alain Prost, ’cause race in the time that had many good pilots, Schumi doesn’t have great opponents

  3. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 29th January 2011, 23:48

    This is the hardest one so far. Not only do they have impressive racing resumes, but their run in the Champion of Champions has seen them take out some pretty impressive drivers.

  4. skodarap (@skodarap) said on 29th January 2011, 23:49

    Prost for me, only due to his teammates

  5. Noelinho (@noelinho) said on 30th January 2011, 0:04

    Prost. He won four titles in nine years, coming second to Senna twice, missing a year when Mansell won, and lost two titles by a combined 2.5 points – to Lauda and Piquet. And in 1988, he scored more points over the season even though he didn’t win the title.

    Prost had extraordinary success at a time when the field around him was pretty tough, and could easily have won seven titles himself (although in fairness, in saying that, 1986 was perhaps fortunate.)

    Not knocking MS’s success, but Prost’s achievements were mega considering the opposition.

  6. gpfan (@gpfan) said on 30th January 2011, 0:09

    I’m probably a wee bit older than most here, and watched live (and live on TV) most of the pilots in The CofC. For me, these two along with Stewart and Clark are head and shoulders above the rest.

    As to the ‘Ambassador’ argument, I fail to see what an off-track demeanour has to do with racing.

    Sure, Schumi was/is a bit of a goof, but that does not affect his right foot. In his prime, MS had all the attributes of a great formula one driver.

    I just feel Prost had them to an even greater level. I voted Prost.

    (Aside: Prost-Japan-89 is nothing like any of the stunts MS pulled. AP did not aim, but merely refused to cede or be intimidated.)

  7. Nic Morley (@robocat) said on 30th January 2011, 0:32

    I’m going with Prost. I think he was a better champion then Shumacher. Yeh Shumacher has 3 more titles then him, but how many more ould he have had is hadn’t have cheated, or Prost had stayed in it for longer? I know there just ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ but Prost gets my vote.

  8. icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 30th January 2011, 0:51

    easy choice again….. Schuey gets the vote.

  9. Ral (@ral) said on 30th January 2011, 0:56

    Oh, man. You know it’s coming and it’s still impossible to decide.

    Pro..

    No, Schu…, no. No, it has to be Pro, I mean Sch, eh, Pr.. err…

    *head explodes*

    So, I’m going to go ahead and make another choice based on things other than driving qualities. And you’ll have to excuse the rambling; as I start typing, I have not yet decided. When I stop, I may or may not have.

    As I’ve argued before, I feel Schumacher was probably the most dedicated driver ever in the sense that he committed more of his life to his driving job than anyone else ever. Including Senna. But he had his flaws on track. His competitiveness got the better of him on several, well documented occasions.

    But is that a minus point versus Prost? He may be The Professor, but he was not exactly squeaky clean either when it comes to on-track behaviour. Although perhaps the difference with Prost was that with him it seemed to be very specifically targeted at one other driver with whom it was a bit of a tit for tat kind of game. Also, it seemed to be a harsher era.

    Drivers died, quite frequently, and still others got in their cars and did their thing. Schumacher was one of the last drivers to still experience that part of the F1 life as well and perhaps it made him one of the last ones with that kind of commitment: to face death and carry on regardless. Maybe Schumacher in that respect was a casualty of taking the wrong ethic into a newly cleaned up time with no space for death-defying heroics, be that death your own or someone else’s.

    I’m.. really not sure. I want to vote Prost, because my rose-tinted glasses say he was a very sympathetic man. But then I think that neither is Schumacher as bad as he’s made out to be, nor was Prost probably as saintly as all that, as evidenced by the fact that he did win 4 championships, several at the expense of some very un-saintly characters themselves. So, I think in the end I’m back to sheer basic numbers. And no matter the number of could have beens, Schumacher wins that.

    Man, Keith. You owe me a new keyboard after all that :p

  10. Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 30th January 2011, 0:58

    I really don’t want to vote on this one… I think I”ll just toss a coin.

  11. I thought this was intellectually the most difficult call so far. (Not emotionally the most difficult — that was Prost vs. Häkkinen.) I voted Prost in the end, but it wasn’t easy.

  12. olivier (@olivier) said on 30th January 2011, 1:07

    How many world champions had Michael to deal with in his own team. It’d be only 1, Piquet, for 5 races at the end of the Brazilian career (and still Piquet came out on top 6 points to 4). Now Prost … let’s see, Lauda 3 times WDC, Rosberg, 1 time WDC, Senna 3 times WDC, Mansell 1 time WDC (and the people’s hero) and Damon Hill, 1 time WDC. He could have banned Senna to join Mclaren in 1988. Senna is the reason Prost “only” got 4 WDC. Now who had to face Schumacher … the only serious contestant is Hakkinnen, but he was not competitive for a long time.

    • CarsVsChildren (@carsvschildren) said on 30th January 2011, 1:26

      Do you not think it is an indication of Schumachers quality that he made these otherwise decent drivers look average?

      • Brownsugar42 (@) said on 30th January 2011, 2:31

        No…example Austria 2002. Nuff said.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 30th January 2011, 3:04

          A real example of his quality: France 2004. No wait, Hungary 1998. Or, maybe it was Spain 1996 I was thinking of? Or it could have been Monaco 1997, USA 2003, Belgium 1995 or Italy 1996…

          • olivier (@olivier) said on 30th January 2011, 18:13

            Austria 2001, Indianapolis 2002, Jerez 1997, Adelaide 1994 and the list goes on

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 30th January 2011, 18:34

            No it doesn’t go on oliver. Those are the only racing examples.

            There are far more examples of Schumacher showing that he is a great driver than there are of him being unsporting or whatever.

            And for the record, handing your teammate a win on the final lap in Indianapolis doesn’t count against MSC.

          • olivier (@olivier) said on 31st January 2011, 14:20

            Silverstone ’98, Spa ’00, Monaco ’06, Hungary ’10 …

          • David A said on 2nd February 2011, 15:04

            Silverstone 1998 was a case of poor stewarding, Monaco 2006 wasn’t a “racing” example, Spa 00 was Schumi defending his line, harshly, but fairly.

            As I said, there are too many superb drives to mention, so you still fail.

  13. DirkWar said on 30th January 2011, 1:10

    Has to be Prost for me, tougher team mates,and If it were not for Turbo blow ups he could have been champ in 81, and 82 aswell.

  14. melkurion (@melkurion) said on 30th January 2011, 1:20

    Prost deserves to be in the top four, no douct, but the stats say it all, and no matter how you twist or turn it, Schumacher was just better

  15. CarsVsChildren (@carsvschildren) said on 30th January 2011, 1:23

    Schumacher, because Prost was rubbish in the rain.

    Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to choose. To be the champion of champions surely you have to be able to drive in all conditions?

    Adelaide 1989 seals it for me.

    • Adelaide 1989 was sticking in my craw a bit…

      • CarsVsChildren (@carsvschildren) said on 30th January 2011, 2:13

        Does anyone know why he was so average in the rain? He was amazing everywhere else?

        • paulguitar (@paulguitar) said on 30th January 2011, 10:23

          Yes, the reason he had issues in the rain was because in 1982 at Hockenheim, he was invoked in the accident which ended the career of Didier Pironi. It was very wet and the viability was so bad that Pironi simply did not see Prost’s car, and ran into it on one of the long straights through the forest. Pironi’s injuries were so gruesome that Nelson Piquet, who had stopped to help, was sick at the side of the track. Prost was haunted by the whole episode for the rest of his career.

        • kowalsky (@) said on 30th January 2011, 10:24

          he saw pironi’s accident in 1982 when the french’s career ended. he got scared, and was awful in the wet since then. He became better when traction control came into the sport, and he retired just before it was banned at the end of 1993. He was very concerned about the dangers of the sport.

  16. adampahal (@adampahal) said on 30th January 2011, 1:33

    Wow!

    I voted Prost, its now 81 votes to Prost, 80 to Schumacher. So close!

  17. schooner (@schooner) said on 30th January 2011, 1:41

    Being as Jackie Stewart, my forever personal choice as the all time ‘Champion of Champions’ has (as I expected) been ousted, I didn’t enter a vote for this match up. If I were to cast my vote, though, it would be for Schumacher. Like many others, I became a bit bored with the ‘Schui Show’ during the heyday of those years of Ferrari dominance. But that said, and even as superior as his machine was back then, it took a pretty special combination of driving skills, hard work, and developmental ability to maintain that level of excellence for so long. He’s occasionally ****** us off with some dodgy tactics (like Senna and Prost haven’t?), but his numbers are in a different F1 universe, probably never to be equalled. It would be cool to see ‘His Ancientness’ win another race or two! :)

  18. The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 30th January 2011, 1:50

    I went for Prost. The voting is sooo close.

  19. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 30th January 2011, 1:55

    Why will the poll be open for that long?

    Both were great thinkers when they raced but I have to go for Schumacher.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th January 2011, 8:49

      Two reasons:

      1. Give people more time to vote in the semi-finals.
      2. With launches and testing the ‘Final’ article would disappear off the home page very quickly.

  20. sato113 (@sato113) said on 30th January 2011, 1:57

    i remember watching schumacher on tv when i was little and only have good memories. I loved the way he used to dominated in his beautiful red car. if prost was a legend, then schumacher was a god during his peak.

    +1 schumi.

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