Champion of Champions Final: Senna vs Schumacher

Champion of Champions

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 (46%)

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 (55%)

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)

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450 comments on Champion of Champions Final: Senna vs Schumacher

  1. Greatest ever racing driver: Senna, by a mile

    Schumacher: greatest ever cheat who made it to the top!

  2. VettelS (@vettels) said on 5th February 2011, 20:36

    Without any hesitation whatsoever- Schumacher.

  3. Rhys Coles (@lightmas) said on 5th February 2011, 20:41

    A rather predictable finale 2

    but look how close it is for 3rd place!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. jihelle (@jihelle) said on 5th February 2011, 20:55

    I’ll vote for none of them. One is a fad, the other a cad. Prost, Lauda, Clark, Stewart deserved the honour. Not these two.

  5. anTONIo said on 5th February 2011, 20:55

    For all people who never watched who the best is…

    YOU HAVE TO WATCH ONLY A SINGLE LAP!!!!!

    First lap, EUROPEAN GP Donington Park 1993 period!

    After that, you’re free to vote.

  6. Mads (@mads) said on 5th February 2011, 20:57

    Schumacher it is. He didn’t just take the best offer from the top teams and let them build the cars. He choose Ferrari and build them up step by step. For a driver who could basically choose any seat he wanted i think that was very remarkable.
    I don’t really want to comment on who was the better driver, because they when they raced together they did so in very different stages of their careers. But what i think is the reason Senna looked like the best racing driver of all time (which he might well be) is because when you are the best in a pack of drivers who first of all started driving later then the competition did in Schumacher’s era, which i think makes it fair enough to assume that they were not as good drivers, generally of cause. Schumacher shined though in cars that were safer, easier to drive, TC and much more downforce etc., were rather special. On the time table Senna looked like he was better because he blew the others away with 1,5 seconds in qualifying at times, but when the cars are easier to drive, the gaps becomes smaller and it becomes harder to see who is the really great driver, and who is just an average driver, which might be a pretty harsh word for F1 drivers, but you know what i mean.
    So i chose Schumacher mainly because of the way he dominated F1 year after year.

  7. Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 5th February 2011, 21:20

    This was perhaps the easiest vote for me yet, and yes I watched both drivers race to the peak of their careers. I’d say they were both equally matched for on track selfishness, ruthlessness, the willingness to take risks, the determination to win and driving ability.

    So which driver did it better?

    If MSC just had say 4 WDC’s then it would have been a bit more difficult to choose. A 7 to 3 difference is a bit hard to ignore.

  8. Darren said on 5th February 2011, 21:23

    You can’t deny that both drivers were awesome the way the put a race car around a track, both were relentless in the way they went about things to win (sometimes taking people off the track) both worked their way up from smaller teams which is always a reflection of talent. Senna-well we will never know what he was capable of in terms of championships but in terms of a human he was that and then some, but Suzuka 1990 plays in my mind and will always be remembered when he didn’t let the racing do the talking. His death just makes his story more fascinating. Schumacher- a perfectionist, fast and aggressive, intimidating, always knew who was boss. Numerous incidents, including parking his car at Monaco qualifying sticks in my mind, an opportunist? yes, no question. His first year comeback has fallen short and takes off the edge to his past numbers.

    It’s a tough call, Senna just.

  9. LucienTodutz (@lucientodutz) said on 5th February 2011, 21:31

    You all Senna blind fans, I’ll also tell you that Schu’s as equally fast as Senna at least, and he always was the fastest when it most needed to be in a race… for instance:

    1995 Europe (Benetton)
    A brilliant victory at the Nurburgring that summed up his second championship-winning year with Benetton. In another wet race, Michael came out from his final pit stop 24 seconds behind leader Jean Alesi (Ferrari) with just 16 laps to go. It would have been game over for most, but not for the German who sensationally reeled the Italian in before overtaking around the outside in to the final chicane with only a handful of laps remaining.

    1998 Hungary (Ferrari)
    The race where Ross Brawn famously told his star driver that all he had to do to win was build a 25 second lead in just 19 laps before his final pit stop. As difficult a task as you are likely to get in F1, made harder by the fact that your rivals have the fastest car! But a nifty switch of strategy and a relentless sequence of qualifying-style laps from the German were enough to take the most unlikely of victories.

    2004 France (Ferrari)
    Another Schumacher-Brawn masterpiece, this time at Magny-Cours midway through Michael?s record-breaking 2004 season.
    Ferrari decided to switch Schumacher from his originally planned three stops to an extraordinary four to try and jump the Spaniard.
    In a virtual re-run of his exploits at the Hungaroring some six years before, Schumacher?s unrivalled ability to suddenly up the pace when it matters paid dividends again as he put in a stunning sequence of fast laps in the final two stints of the race to get one over on his future rival.

    …and there are much more, the idea is that Michael could be fast, especially when it needed the most, under pressure, in the fire of a race…

    Michael is the greatest! Period.

    But on the other hand Senna was the biggest natural talent to ever JUST DRIVE a F1 car. It sounds a bit contrare, but you know what I mean. :)

    • Hamish said on 5th February 2011, 21:58

      You do know you’re fighting a fight you cannot win yeah? Not through the basis of your argument but you’re debating with people you’ve never met, never will meet and don’t know what they look like.

      Give up mate, you’re borderline preaching. Respect peoples point of vie and move on. How many words have you typed today, and for what?

  10. Michael Schumacher scored his very first pole position rite after Ayrton’s death.

  11. Dougie (@f1droid) said on 5th February 2011, 21:45

    Senna & Prost.

    Namely, how the 1994 season would have played out had Senna not lost his life at Imola three races in.

    Had Senna not lost his life that day, I believe the following would have played out. Schumacher won the 1994 championship by the smallest of margins to Hill. Are we saying that Senna is the same as Hill? No, therefore Senna would have won 1994. That would have swung the momentum and confidence towards Senna & Williams, rather than Schumacher and Benetton, therefore Senna takes 1995 as well. That makes Senna 5 x WDC and Schumacher 0. Taking the performance that the Williams had during 1996 & 1997, Senna would have snatched those 2 as well. 0 championships to Schumacher and his possie means no trips to Ferrari who remain in the doldrums. Senna 7xWDC, Schumacher zero.

    Prost has one championship less than Fangio. So? Senna had one less than Prost and that didn’t stop him. No, Prost is 4 times WDC, but by all accounts was soooo close to 3 more (’83, ’84 & ’88).

    So, in my book, Senna 7xWDC & Prost 7xWDC, the greatest drivers in Formula 1 History. I’m going to give them both 1988, as Senna won it under the regulations, but Prost scored more points in total.

    ps. Schumacher zero.

    pps. I’m hoping Schumacher makes it 8 before the end of 2013.

    • Burnout said on 6th February 2011, 4:26

      Re. 1994, you’ve quite conveniently forgotten that Schumacher effectively competed only in 12 rounds out of 16. It wasn’t as close as you make it out to be. Yes there still are questions about how legal the B194 was, but it was never proved whether the launch control was ever used.

      • Dougie (@f1droid) said on 6th February 2011, 7:31

        Senna or Hill, Schumi still would have been excluded from those 4 races. History has shown the lengths Schumi’s management at the time (Briatore & Simmonds) would go to, so justifiably excluded IMO.

        • sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 6th February 2011, 9:36

          you’re also forgetting that at some point Senna would have retired.

          I don’t think Senna would have won the 1995 championship. The Benneton (can’t remember the spelling) was a better car than the Williams.

          • Dougie (@f1droid) said on 6th February 2011, 20:34

            Yeah, I was thinking after his 7th in ’97.

            Sure but maybe, with the momentum being in their favour and with Senna’s input, the Williams could have been a lot closer if not better than the Benetton.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 7th February 2011, 0:16

      There is no guarantee that Senna would have won anything else though.

  12. Hamish said on 5th February 2011, 21:54

    Well its the battle of the flawed champions and the two prominant categories of F1 fans – Senna vs Schumacher.

    On a side note one thing that amazes me is they never drove for the same team and between them drove for a large number of the major teams of F1 history.

    Me, I choose Senna, I always will. Senna through his natural talent and determination. Schumacher has that also, yes, but to see it in an era where dependence on technology was not as great made the viewing more of a pleasure and this talent and determination more evident. Sennas driving ability attracted people to the sport. Schumacher being in the best car for 5 years drove people away from the sport. That said you cannot fault Schumacher for this as he was put in a situation every driver dreams of and made the most of it.

    The topic of respect and ethics has come up a lot. The way I see it, F1 drivers are the most competitive people out there – victory is priority. People will say Stirling Moss was an successful ethical driver, but I ask the question – how has he gone in the Champion of Champions?

  13. newskiller (@newskiller) said on 5th February 2011, 21:59

    Both were dirty drivers but Senna cheated less to get his stats.

    • kowalsky (@kowalsky) said on 5th February 2011, 22:51

      that’s a little harsh, the way some talk about two legends.
      Why some fans have to put down the driver they vote against.
      Both were awesome. personally choose senna, but i can understand that some people vote for schumi.
      The decision it’s mostly personal.

      • newskiller (@newskiller) said on 6th February 2011, 8:54

        It’s a major differential.

        You agree it is a personal decision yet you want to ignore the most significant reason people dislike Schumacher.

        It is the reason that quite a number will not be voting Schumacher. It’s what makes him a flawed and lesser champion.

        • David A said on 6th February 2011, 16:34

          Some will consider those reasons, and then have them cancelled out and far exceeded by the positive stuff.

  14. Cristian (@cristian) said on 5th February 2011, 22:33

    Senna was so good at building a team around him that after Prost left McLaren became shortly the second force in the championship to Williams and, after that, the performance droped even more. What did Senna do? Run to Williams as they had the best car. My guess is that the ’94 McLaren was built with some input for Senna- it was a bad car.
    I know that it was a transitional period for them but in a similar period for Ferrari Schumacher fought for the titles and the car improved all the time.

  15. TED BELL said on 5th February 2011, 23:08

    You Senna lovers will always believe that he is the best even though truth be told he went to far and lost his life trying to become the myth that he was.
    It seems that the fans will forever continue the fable of his accomplishments but in the end no one will ever approach what MICHAEL SCHUMACHER has done in Formula One.

    • Burnout said on 6th February 2011, 4:29

      That’s harsh, dude. You can’t blame the man if his steering column fails on the deadliest weekend in recent F1 history.

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