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


Round two

Round one

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Ayrton Senna (52%)
  • Juan Manuel Fangio (44%)

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

  1. Alec (@alec) said on 30th January 2011, 15:16

    Since I wasn’t alive to see Fangio race, all I can go on are the statistics. To me, the ones that really count are the percent stats, since all sorts of extraneous factors influenced the length of each driver’s career. Senna might well have gone on to win more championships than Fangio, as could Clark, if it weren’t for a fatal crash. Schumacher might have won less if he had driven in the more dangerous earlier years and come to a sticky end. Fangio could have gone on to win many more if he had not started his career already in his forties due to WWII. All these uncertainties keep leading me back to the “percentage” stats. So amazing though it was to see Senna drive, on a percentage basis Fangio has a pretty clear lead in the statistics over anyone else — even Senna.

  2. As stated here, Fangio was so respected that even his teammate gave him his own car to permit Fangio have a good car (I don’t remember the whole story). On the other hand, Senna was always under Prost and Mansell’s pressure. So he got 3 championships under those conditions. My vote is for him and I hope he ‘ll get the Champion of Champions crown, as a final title he could never get.

    • Roberto said on 30th January 2011, 23:27

      Fangio, or any other driver, could only get a teammate car in special circunstances, and it rarely happened. Fangio had a lot of pressure from other talented drivers, like Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss.

      But you’re right when you say he was respected by his peers. In his last race Hawthorn slowed down to avoid lapping Fangio before the chequered flag. Everyone of those drivers considered Fangio the best.

      Senna, on the other hand, became a legend to the new generations, but he didn’t got much admiration from his peers, like Prost, Mansell and Piquet, due to his lack of sportsmanship

      • Kenny (@kenny) said on 31st January 2011, 4:32

        Admiration no…respect yes. Prost has said that Senna was the best he ever raced against.

        • Roberto said on 31st January 2011, 11:08

          That’s ambiguous:


          “Ayrton was certainly the best driver I ever raced against, by a long, long way. He was, by far, the most committed driver I ever saw. To be honest, I think maybe the best race driver – in terms of really applying intelligence – was Niki, but overall Ayrton was the best, by far. He was very successful in everything that mattered to him, everything that he set out to achieve for himself.”

        • Roberto said on 31st January 2011, 11:09

          But my point was that other drivers disliked him because of his lack of sportsmanship, which is totally the opposite on Fangio

  3. frood19 (@frood19) said on 30th January 2011, 16:20

    when I can’t decide i go for the one with the most points per finish.

  4. melkurion (@melkurion) said on 30th January 2011, 17:42

    This is kind of a rock-paper-scissors thing for me…previous round I voted Jackie Steward over Fangio, so jackie beast fangio, I would have chosen senne aver stewarrt, because senna beats stewart, but in my mind’s eye, fangio beats senna….

    so fangio it is

  5. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 30th January 2011, 18:17

    It is fitting that yesterday the two most successful F1 drivers ever squared off and today the two drivers most often hailed as the greatest finally meet.

    Many will vote who saw neither of them race, almost none both (you lucky, lucky few) and I am one of them. So how to vote, when I’ve been more critical of these two than perhaps a lot of people?

    Looking at the stats, Fangio beat Senna at his own game, in his own specialties. Many people also say how exciting Senna was to watch; Fangio used to literally drift around the corners.

    It has to be Fangio then. Sadly I can only see one actual winner.

    Stirling Moss, so good they named him thrice, Keith?

  6. Hi F1 Fans,

    Can you please just click on The Movie Ayrton Senna fan page like button on the following link.


    I appreciate you kind cooperation.

    with loads love

  7. James_mc (@james_mc) said on 30th January 2011, 21:36

    I believe that Fangio was the better champion. But I voted Senna. Why? Because I believe that in a straight vote Senna would beat Schumacher, but Fangio wouldn’t. It pained me to see my no. 5 eliminate No. 3 and No. 2, likewise No. 6 to No1.

    I accept that my voting is purely tactical but as three of my top four have been eliminated thus far, I feel the need to choose my no. 4 over my no.6 in the hope that 4 beats 5.

    • vjanik said on 31st January 2011, 12:32

      ok im confused a bit from your comment but i gather you do not want schumacher to win. i am afraid there is no way of stopping that.

  8. Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 30th January 2011, 21:54

    I loathed Senna because I was a Prost fan… of course the reason was he (Senna) was just that good. So I went for Senna on this one.

    Not an easy vote…

  9. SennaTheG.O.A.T said on 31st January 2011, 0:29

    I have so much respect for Fangio but Senna is just the Greatest driver ever..
    His talent was unreal.In my opinion Senna is the GOAT and Gilles Villeneuve the 2nd.But Fangio did special things also….

  10. Robert said on 31st January 2011, 1:02

    Yawn. None of this matters one damn bit.

    And Senna will win. Previously undiscovered tribes of the Amazon could tell you that.

  11. skodarap (@skodarap) said on 31st January 2011, 1:48

    Hmmm…wanted to vote Fangio, really did, but that video made me change my mind.

  12. these 2 should have been in the final ….for me at least

    1. senna
    2. fangio

  13. Sasquatsch (@sasquatsch) said on 31st January 2011, 9:33

    Although I never saw Fangio race and saw every race of Senna, I voted Fangio, because I think he is a more complete racer than Senna.

    Based on statistics alone Fangio is the absolute Champion of Champions. Probably only the fact that he drove just over 50 races makes people think he is not as good as some others. But those were different times, when drivers raced in various kind of races besides the F1 World Championship like Formula 2, non championship F1 races, Mille Miglia, 24 hours of Le Mans. Sometimes they even raced more races in one weekend.

    Fangio was a master in everything he drove, excelled in every race he raced in, even at the age of 46, beating magnificent drivers half his age.
    Senna only focused on his Formula 1 career and didn’t race in other races. And, unlike Fangio, Senna made too many mistakes trying to pass other drivers, because he always wanted to win, not matter what, whereas Fangio (imho) drove more mature, taking his time before passing competitors.

  14. spankythewondermonkey (@spankythewondermonkey) said on 31st January 2011, 9:44

    tough one. very tough one. i voted fangio, based on senna’s comments about JMF.

  15. mad79 said on 31st January 2011, 12:19

    i can’t vote!

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