Champion of Champions: Ayrton Senna vs Michael Schumacher

Champion of Champions Final: Senna vs Schumacher

Champion of ChampionsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Champion of Champions: Ayrton Senna vs Michael Schumacher

After almost 20,000 votes, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher have been drawn against each other in the Champion of Champions Grand Final.

In a way it’s quite appropriate, as it presents one of the great unanswered questions of modern Formula 1.

Namely, how the 1994 season would have played out had Senna not lost his life at Imola three races in. And how much longer these two would have gone on fighting for race victories and championship titles.

Their achievements in Formula 1 are sufficiently well known (and have been covered earlier in this series several times already) that they hardly require repeating.

It’s down to you to pick which of these drivers stands out among F1’s 32 title winners as the Champion of Champions.

Cast your vote below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Ayrton Senna Michael Schumacher
Ayrton Senna, McLaren, Hockenheimring, 2004 Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2004
Titles 1988, 1990, 1991 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
Second in title year/s Alain Prost, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell Damon Hill, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello, Kimi R??ikk??nen, Rubens Barrichello
Teams Toleman, Lotus, McLaren, Williams Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari, Mercedes
Notable team mates Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger, Mika Hakkinen Nelson Piquet, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello
Starts 161 268
Wins 41 (25.47%) 91 (33.96%)
Poles 65 (40.37%) 68 (25.37%)
Modern points per start1 11.68 14.05
% car failures2 20.50 8.21
Modern points per finish3 14.70 15.30
Notes Won three titles in four years with McLaren Missed several races in 1999 after breaking his leg at Silverstone
Controversial clash with Prost sealed second title Retired in 2006 after 11 seasons with Ferrari
Killed in third race for Williams in 1994 Returned with Mercedes in 2010
Bio Ayrton Senna Michael Schumacher

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

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Ayrton Senna (54%)
  • Michael Schumacher (41%)

Total Voters: 806

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Third place play-off

In true World Cup fashion there’s also a play-off for third place:

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Alain Prost (45%)
  • Juan Manuel Fangio (51%)

Total Voters: 715

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You need an F1 Fanatic account to vote. Register an account here or read more about registering here.

Read the F1 Fanatic Champion of Champions introduction for more information.

These polls close on February 13th.

Champion of Champions – voting so far

Champion of Champions table
Champion of Champions table (click to enlarge)

Thanks to Emory McGinnis for producing the Champion of Champions table.

Champion of Champions

Browse all Champion of Champions articles

Images ?? Honda (Senna), Ferrari spa (Schumacher)

450 comments on “Champion of Champions Final: Senna vs Schumacher”

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  1. in my opinon Senna was the better driver. He was around when competition was at its strongest with Prost, Mansell in full flow

    1. There is another example of “myths” Nigel Mansell…A good driver but never in the same league as Prost and also Nelson Piquet. He was much better than History seems to remember and my guess is because he just wouldn’t play into the hands of the media and that caused him to be labled as he has. The stuff with is son has made an even bigger reputational damage. In even cars on even days Piquet was often the better man and many of you Senna lovers have been brain tainted. So yes to Prost and quit the Mansell stuff he was just OK.

  2. Fangio over Prost, both had tough teamates throughout their careers but Fangio could never be beat unless a car failure took it from him. Let’s see anybody else get 5 WDC’s in 7 seasons and never being lower than 2nd over the season. ((The 8th season doesn’t count since he only did 3 races out of 11 grand prix’s until he retired.)) Nobody in the history of F1 can have the same amount of respect as Fangio, he was the first “Special One” on the tarmac.

    If Fangio get’s 3rd it will show his achievments are still recognised through modern day f1 even after 60 years on!
    In the next 60 years will people recognise Senna and Schumacher’s talents as much as now and still put them above the likes of Fangio, Clark, Stewart, Brabham, Lauda, Ascari etc…

    In 60 years time I don’t think Senna or Schumacher will be able to hold on to the number one or number two status since it wont just be a childhood memory, but a chapter in the history books just like Fangio.

    The voters will hand it to somebody else in the future who will be special in F1, but also has that fanbase backing him (or her) to rack up the votes.

    I don’t really care for the Senna vs Schumi poll they are all champions, I just flipped a coin instead, and it picked Senna.

    1. In 60 years time footage of Senna and Schumi’s driving will be even more easily available than it is today. So even though it won’t be a childhood memory, people can be more objective. Honestly, most of what we know about Fangio is from the record books, former drivers and historians .

  3. This is really hard. See, I probably would have put Stewart and Prost just ahead of these two. But since it’s between these two, it’s a really tough one. Senna had to fend off Mansell and Prost, Schumacher had to fend off Hakkinen at his best and Raikkonen.

    It’s difficult.

  4. Senna died in the car…that will always mean he gets a part of the emotional vote… I think Senna is in the top 3 of greatestb drivers ever , after Jim Clark in number one, and Schumacher in number 2 IMO.

    SO , I voted Schumi, even though I know he won’t win this due to emotional issues…but looking at the stats… Senna is only ahead on pole percetage, not on point per finish, points per start (even though schumi had more starts) or number of titles or wins or number of poles… so looking at the oure statistics, one would have to vote schumi, but I know loads of people who were hammering on statistics in previous rounds will vote Senna purely based on feeling… And I get that feeling, the man was phenomonal, but in my case, even feeling says Schumacher was the better WDC, he might not have been purely as quick on speed as Senna, which shows in the pole percentage, BUT he was a mch more complete racing driver….which shows in every other statistic! And yes , he had the best car for 2002 and 2004 by miles and miles, but so did Senna in 1988 and 1991…

    I still think Jim Clark would have kicked both their arsses, beceuase he had raw speed, but was also a “complete driver” but since I can’t vote for him, I’ll go for my number 2 ( no pun intended) and vote Schumi :)

    1. And on to he “losers”round, my vote went to Prost. I’ve stated in previous polls why I rate Fangio top 10 material, but not top 3 material, and I will stick to those reasons. Prost is in my list the number 4 driver of alltime, do he gets my vote….FYI, my list of greates WDC’s would be:
      1) Jim Clark
      2) MIchael Schumacher
      3) Aryton Senna
      4) Alain Prost
      5) Jackie Steward
      6) Nicky Lauda
      7) Alberto Ascari
      8) Jack Brabham
      9) Nigel Mansell
      10) Nelson Piquet

      1. sorry, forgo Fangio, haha, he should be at 8 , before brabham :S

  5. Schumacher wins this for me. Had a better season in a inferior car to Senna when they went head to head in 1992, let down by reliability in 1993 and had was beating him in 1994 before fate interveaned.

    1. Sennas reliability was awful in 92

  6. Heart says Senna, but my head says Schumacher. I went with my head on this one. I think I’d like to see Schumacher win it because I have the feeling Senna will win simply because he’s Senna. I won’t deny that the man was a legend, but Schumacher did twice as much as Senna and deserves recognition for it.

  7. For me, Clark is the greatest ever as the absolute fastest and untouchable driver of his era. Closely followed by either Juan Manuel Fangio, the maestro, and Ayrton Senna, who inspired admiration from the whole of his homeland, and who left a hole as large as Jim Clark did.

    Therefore, for me, I pick Ayrton Senna.

  8. My hands shaked when I voted on both of the poll. As every four deserve to be the best F1 Champion ever.

  9. i think senna would have lost 1994 to MSC, in all the three races he did he spun in the first one, starting from pole. in the second he collided with someone again, third he was very unfortunate to meet with a fatal accident.

    MSC on the other hand never made back to back errors in races, he raced hard but minimized errors. in my books MSC wins this one. but getting killed in a race gets Senna Sympathy that let’s one to vote on impulse, justifications are made why to vote for him even though shallow. but the real analysis w/o bias will get MSC the vote anyday.

  10. Senna. No doubt.

  11. Senna. He was fast, and who knows where he´d have gone if he had lived. His percentage of poles is staggering. He faced Prost, Mansell, Piquet and others. Schumy, although awesome still, did not have much competition in my POV. Hakkinen, sure, but Raikkonen was still young.

    Senna gets my vote, not just because he is Senna, but because I think he was the better driver. Too bad he died so young.

  12. Schumacher at his best was a perfectionist. Senna at his best would take risks that other drivers would not.

    1. I would say that driving one’s car into another and parking on a corner during a qualifying session are fairly risky maneuvers.

      1. I don’t remember Senna parking on a corner during a qualifying session …

        1. Ah, but you surely remember the perfectionist doing it…?

  13. Keith, thank you for this poll.

    My compliments to the regulars here…you are a knowledgeable and insightful group. It’s been a pleasurable learning experience reading your comments.

    Senna and Fangio get my votes.

  14. Yasser Mansour
    6th February 2011, 5:52

    First of all I’m not voting because simply I didn’t watch senna as i was a 5 year old.

    anyways I would like to raise one point about this championship, I liked the Idea but there is something that is making it or the final result of it “false” , look at the round 3 drivers .. They’re all “historic” drivers except schumacher who is still driving.

    my point is that people have very big appreciation and admire to those early drivers that they aren’t REALLY comparing them with todays drivers , many people saying driving today is much easier then the past , but isn’t this the case for all drivers now? and if someone rises amongst them ( aka vettel ) then surely he is a special driver just like the “old” ones.

    I’m just saying that current drivers are have got it just like the old ones did. I think the result esp at round 3 doesn’t simulate the truth.

    excuse my weird English , not my first language.


  15. It’s a difficult one.

    Something I want to explore is what kind of results would Senna have achieved had he not died. He was with Williams, who at the time had the best car.

    1994 – Damon Hill was able to win races against Schumacher and was even within shot of the championship. Would Senna have done better?
    1995 – Williams again had a top car capable to winning races. This season would’ve been a straight duel between Senna and Schumacher…would’ve been thrilling.
    1996 – With Schumacher in a sub-par Ferrari and Williams having the best car by far, Senna would’ve easily won it.
    1997 – Best car in the field again, probably would’ve beaten Villeneuve, although it would’ve been close, as Jacques’ form was superb at the time.
    1998 onwards – Did not have a strong car, my guess is that he might have retired at the end of the season, as he would’ve been 38 years old.

    If Senna won 94, 96 and 97, he and Schumacher would’ve been on equal WDC titles (6). The clincher would’ve been 95, which if Senna won, would’ve made the WDC tally: Senna – 7, Schumacher – 5.

    But, I guess we’ll never know.

    1. dare I say it, but who’s to say senna wasn’t intended for Ferrari instead of Schuey?! Certainly if Senna had’ve won ’94 and/or ’95 it might have changed things entirely.

      but again, as you say, we’ll never know.

      Senna and Prost got my votes… loved that era!

      1. Because Ferrari were in a bad way at that time, and he was with Williams who produced better cars at that time. I don’t know how receptive Ferrari would’ve been to Senna, especially after what happened in 1990.

        If that was the case, Senna wouldn’t have had a title winning car until 2000, by which time he would’ve been 40.

      2. Schumacher wasthe only driver willing to take on such a challenge with the belief he could help transform them into a winning team.

  16. Wahoo I just tied the results in the 3rd place play off!! In regards to Senna V Schui, if Schumacher didn’t drive so dirty last season in his return, he may have got my vote, but for that he is tainted, although the pass on Alonso at Monaco nearly makes up for it.

    1. Yeah, that was a Pass! Shame he got punished, otherwise it would’ve been one of the best passes of the year

  17. Schumacher, because he actually did everything Senna was supposed to have done. It’s not his fault he died before he could, but we know for sure that Schumacher did them. We don’t know for sure Senna would. Personally I think that’s why Schumacher gets to much hate from Senna fans in particular; he’s the only guy who challenges Senna as “greatest ever” (unfair to Prost, who is overlooked too much) who can actually be compared with him (as opposed to Fangio, Clark) and has the achievements (not stats, not the same thing) to make a better claim.

  18. Oh and can we dispense with the ‘Schumacher is tainted’ nonsense when we’re comparing him with Senna? They were both as ruthless on the track and both nice guys away from F1.

    1. Agreed, Senna’s death seems to have softened our opinion of his ruthlessness on track. Reminds me of a quote in the Batman movie – “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

      As for the vote, I went for Senna, but truth be told, I wanted to see Fangio and Clark in the final. And even those two great men rank behind Gilles Villeneuve on my list. And I’m surprised to see the third place playoff being so even – I thought Fangio would walk it.

    2. No. You may not like it but Schumachers cheating is a major differentiator. This is about who was the better champion and cheating taints Schumachers records.

      1. Well, then it taints Senna too.

  19. I’m sorry to say this, but Senna’s votes come form people that:
    -hate Schumacher
    -didn’t ever see Senna racing but heard he was great
    -think Schumacher’s rivals are lesser than Senna’s and so that is enough to cast a vote
    -ignore Schumacher’s skills at building a team around him, skills that Senna lacked
    -condemn Schumacher’s crashes with rivals but forget Senna did that too and in much more dangerous situations
    -ignore the statistics(except poles because they suit their vote)
    -were Senna’s fans from his days
    -melancholy :)
    -Senna’s dead and after his death this hero image was created around him; ironically, Schumacher’s disadvantage is that he’s alive
    -people that think that the greatest things happened in the past and ignore when they see them right in front of their eyes
    -some few people who actually have decent arguments that he may be the best( let’s not ignore that Senna really was one of the best ever)
    -people who watch F1 since 2001-2004 and don’t know what Schumi has done before, like beating Senna in his rookie season
    -people who don’t understand formula 1

    1. Hypocrisy comes easily to Schumacher fans.

      1. Bad memories too

      2. Define that term and find out that it does not stand. And look through the posts and you will see that it points the motives people tend to vote for Senna. The main motive is I liked him in his day/ heard he was great but I’ve never seen him driving/hate Schumacher/ ingore statistics they don’t matter,skill and talent does( as it is something that you could measure).

    2. It’s not like people are voting for a Hamilton or Raikkonen over Schumacher, Senna is widely accepted as being one of the most talented and greatest champions ever and many people, me included think he is better than Schumacher.

    3. -people that think that the greatest things happened in the past and ignore when they see them right in front of their eyes…..

      Where is he now?
      Rosberg had twice the points this season

      1. You totally missed my point.
        “-people that think that the greatest things happened in the past and ignore when they see them right in front of their eyes…..” is something that applies not only in f1. And Schumacher returnes after 3 years in an era when age is more an issue than it was at previous come-backs. You cannot judge Schumacher for this last year because he is trying to prove something different and he’s doing it because of the love for this sport, putting his reputation at stake. He should be acclaimed for his bravery, not attacked from all corners. We all know he isn’t like10 years ago, he also said it, but he still can do great things and I bet this year he will be much better.
        ANd about Rosberg – he isn’t exactly Yamamoto you know. He claimed the fastest lap in his first GP.

    4. Totally agree with Cristian

    5. In other words: “anyone who disagrees with me is wrong”.

    6. Sorry, but I voted for Senna because I DID watch him race. I saw him become champion 3 times. Not only that, but Senna also built a team around him, much like Schumacher, and much like Alonso these days. And pardon me, but many of the reasons you posted make perfect sense. Yes it´s emotional. I´m from Brasil and he IS a legend here. He helped MANY people so of course things are going to get emotional. That´s part of what makes him so dear to many, and part of why he is considered the greatest. His victories carried weight with them. I remember clearly, in 1993, his victory in Brasil. It was phenomenal to watch. So who cares if it´s emotional? who cares if we are melancholic? to those who voted for Senna because of these reasons, no one else comes close. Schumacher is good, sure, but he did not captivate people as much.

      1. Not only that, but Senna also built a team around him

        Seducing Ron Dennis and Honda doesn’t really count.

        1. And why not? He did the same thing in Lotus and then McLaren.

          1. I think Icthyes is getting at the fact that Mclaren didn’t transform under Senna in the manner Ferrari did under Schumacher.

  20. Schumacher. For his desire to win championships is and will be unequalled. And to me his flaws make it entertaining to watch and follow. Just imagine that he won everything without ramming into others, without Rascasse-gate, traction control gate, fuel fill gate… and all the other controverses… We’d only be debating his arrogance here.

    That and his seven worldtitles!

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