Champion of Champions: Ayrton Senna vs Jaun Manuel Fangio

Ayrton Senna vs Juan Manuel Fangio

Champion of ChampionsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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)

102 comments on “Ayrton Senna vs Juan Manuel Fangio”

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

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

    1. senna
    2. fangio

  3. 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.

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

  5. i can’t vote!

  6. Well, I’ve voted for Fangio. Never saw him race except on film and I grew up with Senna. Fangio’s stats are second to none, thats a better than second place per race he finished people! Unbelievable. Roy Savadori said about the 57 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring “He was taking 10 seconds a lap out of those Ferraris. Look, a second’s a lifetime. When you talk about 10 seconds, it’s something you can’t believe…’d look at it and say “He can’t do that”. But he did. He was driving like I’d never seen anybody drive before. Normally he was placid, but he was really trying. And to say that about Fangio really means he was trying. It was incredible. And he was so loved. What did they do afterwards, Hawthorn and Collins? They were all over him. It was as if they’d bloody won. They were so thrilled, so thrilled, because everybody loved the guy. I reckon they got hell from Ferrari.” Sums it up pretty well I think.

  7. Fangio. Senna had too many shortcomings and went over the limit too often, something Fangio never did.

  8. They raced in different times. Different competition, different cars and different technology. Fangio also had far less starts so measuring result percentages becomes very inaccurate. I mean if I had 2 races in F1 and had 1 win would I technically have better stats?

  9. Part of being a Champion is what you are as a man, as a competitor, not just how good a driver you are. Fangio drove with class and brilliance. Senna drove with brilliance as well, but as less of a gentleman. Ask Prost.

    I’ve seen them both race, numerous times. And I know in my heart and my gut that if I had a winning car and could only put one of the two in it to save my life, I’d pick Fangio any day.

    And while I’m at it, I’d like to quickly take isssue, Keith, with the comment on Fangio’s side of the summary, about Collins handing him the title. Rather makes it sound as tho Collins did all the work whilst Juan Manuel went fishing. I know Collins got out of his car to allow Fangio to finish the race, thus securing the title for Fangio, but if one understands the points system in those days, one understands that Collins had a snowball’s chance of the title, since he needed not only the win but the point for fastest lap as well–and Moss had that point cinched as he was far faster than Collins’ pace. Moss that day was faster than everyone, including Fangio, as Fangio finished second. Bur second place was good enough to win the Driving Championship. Fangio was the one with the true shot at the title, not Collins, and I believe Collins had to have realized that or he never would have given his seat to Fangio. It is true that without Collins’ magnanimosity Fangio could not have won the title, and I give Collins due credit. but it was hardly “handing” the title to Fangio.

    1. Senna was a very good driver, Fangio too. They raced in different eras. In Fangio’s time, people were very afraid of getting hurt and they often didn’t go beyond the limit because that would mean a fatal crash.

      Besides, Fangio raced in top teams only. Through his career, he had a fifth sense of what were the best team to be. Senna raced some good years, including the last one, in teams struggling to get a good result. Yet he got a handful of them.

      Fangio himself said that Senna was the best. Statistically, he may be inferior to Fangio, yes. But there is a lot more than pure numbers in racing.

  10. Ayrton senna all the way. Senna had racing dna. No one can match him.

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