Ayrton Senna vs Juan Manuel Fangio

Champion of Champions

Champion of Champions: Ayrton Senna vs Jaun Manuel Fangio

Juan Manuel Fangio handed Ayrton Senna the winners’ trophy at the 1993 Brazilian Grand Prix. Senna climbed down from the top spot and embraced the Argentinian champion.

A touching moment between two of the sport’s legendary figures.

For decades, Fangio’s achievement of winning five world championship titles was the ultimate benchmark in Formula 1. Arguably, Senna and Alain Prost might have equalled him if they hadn’t had to race against each other.

Fangio’s rivals were in awe of him, to the extent of not wanting to stand in the way of the success they felt ‘the maestro’ deserved.

Compare that with the intense, bitter rivalry between Senna and Prost and you can appreciate the enormous changes in Formula 1 between the eras of Senna and Fangio.

The two were once interviewed together and the interviewer remarked that between them they had eight world championships. Fangio remarked: “Ayrton is still very good and still very young. He has still many years to keep racing.”

Sadly, he did not. We’ll never know if Senna might have matched Fangio’s five world championships. Some who knew him felt his respect for Fangio would have kept him from trying to win more.

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

Compare their career stats below and vote for which you think was best. Tell us who you voted for and why in the comments.

Ayrton Senna Juan Manuel Fangio
Ayrton Senna, Williams, 1994 Juan Manuel Fangio, Mercedes, 1954
Titles 1988, 1990, 1991 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957
Second in title year/s Alain Prost, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell Alberto Ascari, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Stirling Moss, Stirling Moss, Stirling Moss
Teams Toleman, Lotus, McLaren, Williams Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes, Ferrari
Notable team mates Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger, Mika Hakkinen Giuseppe Farina, Peter Collins, Stirling Moss
Starts 161 51
Wins 41 (25.47%) 24 (47.06%)
Poles 65 (40.37%) 29 (56.86%)
Modern points per start1 11.68 17.12
% car failures2 20.50 17.65
Modern points per finish3 14.70 20.79
Notes Won three titles in four years with McLaren Missed 1952 season due to injury
Controversial clash with Prost sealed second title Handed 1956 title by team mate Peter Collins
Killed in third race for Williams in 1994 Record haul of five titles unequalled until 2002
Bio Ayrton Senna Juan Manuel Fangio

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

Quarter-final

Round two

Round one

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Ayrton Senna (52%)
  • Juan Manuel Fangio (48%)

Total Voters: 710

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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.

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Images ?? Williams/Sutton (Senna), Daimler (Fangio)

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102 comments on Ayrton Senna vs Juan Manuel Fangio

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  1. sdtaylor91 (@sdtaylor91) said on 30th January 2011, 11:03

    First vote, i go for Senna, greatest driver ever imo

  2. BBT (@bbt) said on 30th January 2011, 11:08

    5 vs 5 at the mo

    • JohnGreen (@johngreen) said on 30th January 2011, 11:59

      Senna 67 Votes

      Fangio 35 Votes

      • TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 30th January 2011, 16:09

        Senna vs Fangio, Schumacher vs Prost!

        I expected these lot to be the final four.

        • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 30th January 2011, 17:47

          …and the debate to be just as spirited as it has been so far. How many comments do you think the final will get tomorrow? I’m guessing in the 300 comments 7 pages range.

          • Scribe (@scribe) said on 30th January 2011, 18:57

            I’m kinda disapointed actually, I’d hoped we’d avoid a Schumacher Senna final. But suprise suprise, cult of Senna and Schumacher’s stats won out. SvsS in the final, Senna Champion of Champions, it’s like nothings ever changed.

            I wanted Clark in the final, and Fangio, there my champions.

          • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 30th January 2011, 20:05

            Between Senna, Clark, Fangio, and Schumacher it’s pretty hard for me to pick. Stewart and Prost are up there as well.

    • It’s kind of a bit sad that more people think Senna was better. Senna is great but it’s almost impossible to argue with the statistics.

      Wins SENNA 41 (25.47%) FANGIO 24 (47.06%)
      Modern points per finish SENNA 14.70 FANGIO 20.79

      While Fangio finished only slightly more of the time he absolutely destroyed Senna in race wins, poles and points scored for each finish.

      He won more GP’s than he lost, yet according to the latest pole reading 291 vs 234, 57 people think Senna is somehow better.

      FANGIO should win this if going by facts rather than fanboi legend fest

      • simon talbot said on 4th May 2014, 7:14

        stats are only numbers! they did not tell how those races where won!
        if Fangio have had someone like Alain Prost in its way, like Senna did, i’m pretty sure his stats would have been cut by half! the fact that now, nobody could physically hold a career in F-1 with age like 40 or more, also tends to show that the Fangio’s era where way less competitive and hard on the body…

  3. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 30th January 2011, 11:16

    This has been the toughest one for me ever. I closed my eyes when I votes Senna now I feel that I should have voted Fangio both were great.

  4. Mark Young (@terry-fabulous) said on 30th January 2011, 11:16

    This is terribly difficult to judge as Fangio is the only champion left whom none of us had the pleasure to watch (Prove me wrong anyone?? Please!).

    JMF gets my vote for a remarkable record at an enormously difficult time to race consistently and safely. Had he driven today, he would be like Alonso without the hissy fits and terrible facial hair.

    But both were truly men for their times.

    • Old_boy_racer (@old_boy_racer) said on 30th January 2011, 11:35

      Fangio was remarkable. He always looked so smooth on track – and he never drove faster than he needed to to win. I believe that is why he was able to stay alive and winning so long. He drove all night to make the start in ’52 where he was injured and I think he learn’t a lesson from that.

      I concur with the opinion of Moss, who, to this day, says Fangio was the best ever.

    • Andy W (@andy-w) said on 30th January 2011, 12:04

      Actually this is kind of easy for me, the stats of both drivers are awe inspiring both are legends of the sport and always be, but I only got the privilege of watching one of them race and having actually seen (on tv) what Senna was capable of race after race…. So Senna gets my vote.

      • Daniel said on 30th January 2011, 12:12

        Gah! I feel far too many people are going to vote like this. The question is who was the greatest champion, now who was the greatest champion you saw?!

        And “I didn’t see Fangio so I can’t judge him and am therefore voting Senna.” makes no sense as an argument. If you didn’t see Fangio then how do you know he wasn’t better? Abstain if you feel watching is the only way to judge and you didn’t see both.

      • Kenny (@kenny) said on 30th January 2011, 14:27

        Plenty of film is on the internet. You could have look at some of that before making a choice.

        • Senna is a legend and legends always take precedence over fact and truth. Senna was brilliant, but fangio has more poles, more wins and more points per finish than Senna.

          Senna was only great because he had many poles and wins, Fangio has more

  5. Eggry (@eggry) said on 30th January 2011, 11:21

    I voted for Fangio. not I’m sure Senna would win.

  6. RoboCAT (@robocat) said on 30th January 2011, 11:23

    So very hard this one. Both are absolute greats and I have a huge amount of respect for them both. I literally tossed a coin for this one, as I just can not choose. Well it landed on tails so my voted goes to JMF.

  7. Prisoner Monkeys said on 30th January 2011, 11:29

    For some reason, I can’t vote. I click on the name I want, but nothing happens.

    Anyway, let it be said that I’m voting for Fangio. It’s not that I don’t like Senna, it just feels right to vote for Fangio. Sure, they’re both South American. They were both their best in their day. They even both have slang named after them (“Senna” is cockney rhyming slang for a tenner – a ten-pound note; to “go for a Fang”, or a drive, is named for Fangio).

    But what separates Fangio from Senna is that there has been a glut of excellent champions of late. Senna capturing the hearts and minds of the crowd. Prost with his beautifully smooth driving style. Schumacher with his unprecedented seven titles. And in the sheer weight of all tis brilliance, it’s very easy to forget one critical factor: Fangio did all of that forty years before anyone else. He’s an institution, comparable to the likes of Don Bradman and Jesse Owens.

  8. DavidS (@davids) said on 30th January 2011, 11:30

    Looks like Senna might win this one, which will mean it’s Senna v Schumacher in the final round.

    The ensuing flame war will generate enough heat to power a major city. Readies popcorn.

  9. rampante (@rampante) said on 30th January 2011, 11:36

    Sadly for too many people here Fangio is just a figure from the history books and that combined with the over sentimentality for Senna can only lead to one winner here. What would be interesting would be a breakdown of the age groups of those voting. Fangio was the very best, even while Senna was still driving and nothing changed until a certain European in a red car changed all that.

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 30th January 2011, 12:06

      Agreed, rampante. But I’ve tried watching Fangio’s old races. They’re usually just grainy highlight reels, but you could really see just how good he was.

      Put into context – Moss is considered as one of the all-time greats, arguably the best to never win a title. A very big reason for that is that he came 2nd three years running – to Fangio.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st January 2011, 16:04

      I am glad it does not seem to be that easy a victory for Senna.

      I never really got into the Senna fan thing. Liked Prost a lot as well, then saw Schumacher actually beating Senna and Ayrton having trouble getting to grips with that.
      Then I found out about Fangio having not 2 or 3 or even 4 WDC to his name, but a grand total of 5 in a time a lot of drivers died before even competing in that many seasons.

      That is a legend to me, so i voted for Fangio. And Moss agrees.

  10. should be the final!

  11. JMF-thebestever (@jmf-thebestever) said on 30th January 2011, 12:01

    Voted for Fangio truly the greatest in his time every race could be his last you had to have something else to be able to drive so fast.

  12. JamesC1991 (@jamesc1991) said on 30th January 2011, 12:19

    Voted for Fangio a 5 time world champion in that era when it was so so dangerous is amazing and would never vote for someone who deliberately drove into someone like Senna did

  13. kowalsky (@kowalsky) said on 30th January 2011, 12:22

    voted for senna. Both are great and i can understand if some fans go for fangio. It’s a matter of personal feeling i supose.
    I saw senna race since the begining, and his driving style is very much what i expect from a top racing driver.
    His qualifying, was the most impressive ever, and i consider that the essence of the sport.
    During the prost vs senna years i went all out for the brazilian, son i might be a little bias.
    But anyway, he paid the ultimate price, while going first, with all the pretenders right behind. How do you beat that?

  14. Fangio said the greatest ever was Senna

    • Pedal to the Vettel (@pedal-to-the-vettel) said on 30th January 2011, 13:13

      Check up youtube and put in ((Ayrton Senna visita a Fangio)), at 0:39 he talks about Fangio being the greatest driver in F1 history and an idol for every f1 driver.

      Every modern day driver might say Senna is the greatest ever, while Senna himself says Fangio is the greatest.

      • exactly, Senna said Fangio was the best driver in history…Senna was not history yet

        when he became history, Fangio said that Ayrton was the greatest racer ever

        217 professional f1 drivers agree

        • Daniel said on 30th January 2011, 22:56

          How many drivers are going to say that they themselves are the greatest?

          Montoya immediately comes to mind as an answer to that question, but otherwise… we can’t look at who Fangio and Senna said was the best in this battle because they wouldn’t vote for themselves!

    • Roberto said on 30th January 2011, 13:27

      Fangio didn’t say that, though he was a Senna fan. He did say Jim Clark was the best ever after Clark died.

      Fangio won 5 WDC in different cars, often changing teams for external reasons (not because he jumped to the best teams, as some people say, or else, why he didn’t drive for Ferrari in 52/53?).

      People also forget that Fangio won his last title aged 46! He was 20 years older than his greatest rival Stirling Moss. How do you guys think that affects performance? I mean, Prost once said he couldn’t compare himself with Lauda, because Lauda at 35 y/o couldn’t be as fast as Lauda at 25. Imagine being 45 y/o and driving so fast you’re breaking sucessive lap records at the Nordschleife in 1957

      Fangio drove with many teammates which had the same car, but none of them could even come close to his percentage of wins and poles.

      Everybody talks about Senna being the fastest man on qualifying, but i’ve never seen anyone mention Fangio in that respect, even though his pole percentage of 56% totally crushes Senna. His win percentage is almost twice as much as Senna’s.

      There’s no doubt of who’s the greatest of them all, but of course, Senna’s going to win for purely emotional reasons

      • kowalsky (@kowalsky) said on 30th January 2011, 14:00

        as i said before. I am bias on senna because i saw him race. But if i had seen the maestro in action, i could have more ways of making another choice.
        From the drivers i saw since 1981, senna was the one that captured my imagination the most.

  15. mename2332 (@mename2332) said on 30th January 2011, 12:33

    NO NO NO – THESE 2 SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE FINAL!

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