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?â?ńikk?â?Ânen, 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 ?é?® Honda (Senna), Ferrari spa (Schumacher)

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

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  1. I have major respect for Schumacher as I do most drivers. I prefer Senna’s driver style, admire Schumacher’s talent and achievements, but hated seeing the way he drove this year, defensive is one thing, Schumacher’s style was that of a sore loser. Not to say Aytron was any better, but if we are voting for purest driver, well we’re in the wrong comp, because those drivers were knocked out in the last round

  2. Wouldn’t have either in my top 4 so … forget it

    1. well informed decision I hope, who’s your top four?

    2. I almost agree. Both these men don’t make my top 3. My top three would be Gilles Villeneuve, Fangio and Clark.

  3. My vote has just pushed Prost ahead of Fangio, 235 to 234

  4. Senna for me

    Its a close run thing though, but what taints Schumi for me is the thought of Ferrari team mates being asked to move over while they were in the lead and the Benetton team cheat allegations of running TC in 1994 and being guilty of tampering with the refueling system to speed up pitstops.
    Schumi went to Ferrari who were rubbish at the time and turned them around?.. Thats a bit of in insult to Brawn, Byrne etc. I think they would have turned the team around without him, however Schumi was the final piece of the jigsaw, and the best driver around at the time who could of gone there.
    Would Senna have gone to Ferrari in 1996 had he lived? I doubt it… Too long into his career at that stage to start with a team who were rebuilding.
    Looking back at the stats, it does seem that Schumi spent more of his longer career in better cars. 1 year at Toleman, 3 years at Lotus (a team in decline) and the MP4/7 in 1992 meant that Senna spent half his career in substandard cars (His career didnt fully span 10 years due to Imola)
    Like a said, its close for me but those are my reasons for choosing Senna

  5. my vote is for Schumacher, i have seen in many different condition and proved,and Senna is legend but still i have rarely seen his race except some .


  7. Brilliant work Keith. That finally decides who was champion of champions!!!

    1. You got that right, “who was”, not “who is”,..MSC

      1. exactly…in our days Schumacher is the worst driver on the grid…he will not make a Q3 next season

        1. Another piece of comedy gold! Keep it up!

  8. And I would point out that Senna has also the advantage of some people that hate Schumacher. In the first round there actually were 100 votes for Farina against Schumacher. Farina was not the best in his day and 100 people voted just against Schumacher, not for Farina.

  9. Small correction Keith. Shouldn’t the poll question be “Who was the better world championship driver”, not “Which…” ?

  10. Ayrton Senna , Simplesmente o Melhor de Todos !

  11. If we look at the car failures, it’s incredible to see Senna being champion 3 times. Yeah, obviously his rivals had similar % of car failure, but you have also to consider the level of these guys (Prost, Mansell vs Coulthard, Hill… out of comparison). He died and for this accident car safety was improved in all racing sports. In some way his death allowed Schum, Hakinnen and Kubica(in Canada)survive the serious crashes they had.
    Senna managed to win in tracks without all the fancy things you can see now, with MANUAL STICK (and now some people claimed the F-duct was dangerous for having one pilot’s hand busy), mastered the rain, destroyed the clocks for pole position. Schum is great, but he had no opposition for the 94 title. The master was already gone.
    As I said before, and I think this poll should be commented on TV (BBC probably?) this final result of the Champion of Champions is like the final title Senna deserved, a postume crown gave by the people who saw him racing and started a passion for F1. I was 5 years old when I started to see this, his amazing races were transmited in Peru at 6am and I didn’t mind it was Sunday and my parents wanted to sleep cause of a tiring week. I just wanted to see “magic”.

    1. Senna managed to win in tracks without all the fancy things you can see now, with MANUAL STICK (and now some people claimed the F-duct was dangerous for having one pilot’s hand busy), mastered the rain, destroyed the clocks for pole position.

      Clark didn’t have any sort of aero aids on his cars and Fangio raced on narrow crossply tyres. Yet most people reading this site think Senna and Schumi are better champions than both of them. We can only compare drivers to their contemporaries. So talking about a manual gearbox is not a valid argument.

  12. why people shoul pick Senna…..
    1- Monaco ’84
    2-Donnington 93

    there are loads of reasons but those 2 are enough to beat any1

  13. Statistically Schumacher should win this. But I am voting on speculation here.

    We were robbed of Sennas full statistics by his tragic demise in 1994. If you think about the team he was at at the time he would probably have sewn up the championship for at least the next 4 years (making him a seven time champ!) Schumacher would not have won at least his first two and Damon Hill and Jacques Villenueve won’t have won theirs.

    Who knows where he would have gone next, or if he would have retired, but a driver like that certainly wouldn’t have been without an awesome driver in an era where there were quite alot of average drivers.

    Michael Schumacher is probably the biggest beneficiary of Senna’s death. Schumacher is a great driver, but Senna was and always will be the best. R.I.P.

  14. The previous post said everything
    “Senna was and always will be the best”
    And I need see the documentary SENNA.
    Senna forever and ever

  15. I voted for Senna, because I think he was better with inferior cars/difficult conditons. Yes, Michael had incredible races like Barcelona ’94/96, but remember races like Suzuka ’03, where he only had to finish eight and just managed that?

    Also, Senna scored basically no poles for ’92 and ’93, and it still took Schumacher that long to overtake him.

    1. But what is more important? Starting first or finishing first?

      1. Driving a car that doesn’t break down 1 in every 20 races?

        1. The point is that that Schumacher did take so long to get 65 poles, but that isn’t as important as the little time it took to take more than 41 wins.

          1. Yup, let’s not forget he beat Prost’s record before the ridiculously dominant Ferraris of 2002 and 2004 were there to drive.

    2. Some stats to tell how by 2001 Schumacher was already better than both Prost and Senna.

      Table below lists how many races it took for each of the drivers to achieve the race win count milestones and the season they achieved it in.

      Senna Prost Schumacher
      ——- ——- ————
      Win # Race# Race Race #
      1 17(1985) 21(1981) 18(1992)
      10 71(1988) 60(1984) 50(1994)
      20 87(1989) 85(1985) 76(1996)
      30 120(1991) 130(1988) 110(1998)
      40 158(1993) 157(1990) 136(2000)
      50 – 195(1993) 155(2001)
      60 – – 172(2002)
      70 – – 194(2003)
      80 – – 206(2004)
      90 – – 247(2006)

      1. Schumacher was already past Senna’s and Prost’s record of wins before he got the “unbeatable” Ferrari of 2002.

  16. Ayrton is the best, for sure. For me, that is. On raw speed he was a truly great driver, only matched bij Clark. Guys liks Schumacher, Prost, Stewart of Lauda came close because they have other skills. But on raw drivers quality, Senna and Clark are the best for sure. So I’m going for Senna.

    Michael is one of the top 5 greatest for me. But a certain lack of competition wich was there in a big part of his best years, makes him hard to compare to other great drivers.

    In comparison to Fangio I voted for Prost. Fangio is great obviously. But Prost stands out for me because he was winning so much in such a competitive era.

  17. Teammate comparisons. Past teammates finishing positions also included to better reflect their capabilities.

    84: Senna 9th Johansson 17th
    85: Senna 4th de Angelis 5th Johansson 7th
    5 points between 4th and 5th.
    86: Senna 4th Dumfries 13th Johansson 5th de Angelis 24th
    87: Senna 3rd Nakajima 12th
    88: Senna 1st Prost 2nd Nakajima 16th Johansson 25th
    3 points between 1st and 2nd.
    89: Senna 2nd Prost 1st Johansson 12th Nakajima 21th
    16 points between 1st and 2nd.
    90: Senna 1st Berger 4th Prost 2nd Nakajima 15th Johansson 36th
    91: Senna 1st Berger 4th Prost 5th Nakajima 15th Johansson 36th
    Shumacher 14th Piquet 6th
    MSC did 6 races that year and teamed up with Piquet for 5 races. In those 5 races, MSC scored 4 points with 2 retirements (1 engine 1 collision) vs. Piquet’s 4.5 points with no retirement.
    92: Senna 4th Berger 5th
    1 point between 4th and 5th.
    Shumacher 3rd Brundel 6th
    93: Senna 2nd Andretti 11th Hakkinen 15th Prost 1st Berger 8th
    Andretti and Hakkinen’s points combine would rank 9th place. Out of the 3 races Hakkinen
    partnered Senna, he out-qualified Senna in the first race, but only scored 4 points (with 2
    retirements 1 spun-off 1 brakes) vs. Senna’s 20 (1 retirement engine).
    Shumacher 4th, Patrese 5th, Brundle 7th
    32 points between 4th and 5th.
    94: Shumacher 1st Verstappen 10th Brundle 7th
    On the 3 races that MSC and Senna competed together, Senna got 3 poles but retired on all 3 (spun off, collision, unknown reason) while MSC won all 3.
    95: Shumacher 1st Herbert 4th Brundel 13th Verstappen 31st
    96: Shumacher 3rd Irvine 10th Brundle 11th Herbert 14th Verstappen 16th
    97: Shumacher 2nd Irvine 7th Herbert 10th Verstappen 21st
    98: Shumacher 2nd Irvine 4th Herbert 15th Verstappen 23rd
    99: Shumacher 5th Irvine 2nd Herbert 8th
    Missed 6 races plus brake failure in British GP. On Races where he entered, scored 44 points,
    while strategically gave 4 to Irvine. Irvine scored 40 points, and Hakkinen scored 54. Irvine
    was really strong that year and we can never know whether he could have done better than
    Irvine in the races he missed, but if he managed to do as well, he would have ended up with more points than Hakkinen.
    00: Schumacher 1st Barrichello 4th Verstappen 12th Irvine 13th Herbert 17th
    01: Schumacher 1st Barrichello 3rd Irvine 12th Verstappen 18th
    67 points between 1st and 3rd.
    02: Schumacher 1st Barrichello 2nd Irvine 9th
    67 points between 1st and 2nd.
    03: Schumacher 1st Barrichello 4th Verstappen 22nd
    04: Schumacher 1st Barrichello 2nd
    34 points between 1st and 2nd.
    05: Schumacher 3rd Barrichello 8th
    06: Schumacher 2nd Massa 3rd Barrichello 7th
    41 points between 2nd and 3rd. Barrichello lost to teammate Button by 1 place and 26 points.
    10: Schumacher 10th Rosberg 7th Massa 6th Barrichello 10th
    Only scored half the points Rosberg did. Massa also lost to Alonso by huge margin while
    Barrichello beat Hulkenberg convincingly.

    When you talk about quality of competition, drivers is one important factor, but you can’t ignore the car factor, i.e. weaker driver like Hill driving a fast 94 Williams may be as strong as Prost driving a slow 91 Ferrari. Senna did face legends like Prost, Mansell, and Piquet throughout his career but not always does all 3 of them have the equipment to win championships, and when they have, Senna did not always come up on top. What I mean is during Senna’s championship years, he did beat Prost twice and Mansell once with very similar equipment, which are some of the greatest achievements in F1, but Senna did not consistently beat the other 3 with similar equipment because usually only 1 of the 3 has the car to compete on that particular year.

    Teammate comparisons are still the best way to compare drivers. Senna only lost to his teammate Prost once. MSC lost 3 times. He lost to Rosberg convincingly, but pretty much matched Piquet in his first few races. Senna partnered with Prost for 2 out of his 9 year career. Won once and lost once. Schumacher never had as strong a teammate (except the fading Piquet). Other than Prost, Senna had only Berger (you can count Hakkinen and Hill if you want, but I excluded Piquet as MSC’s notable teammate) to compete with for 3 seasons, and Senna beat Berger quite convincingly except 92. I personally rate Barrichello and Massa higher than Berger, and out of the 7 seasons MSC partnered with Barrichello/Massa, only in 04 was Barrichello able to get within 40 points of MSC. MSC’s other 2 teammates Patrese and Irvine (combined for 5 seasons) were also better than Senna’s other teammates. All I can observe is Senna was as good as Prost while MSC never had a legendary teammate. Senna’s advantage over Berger was not significantly better than MSC’s advantage over Barrichello/Massa.

    In absolute success terms, Senna finished in top 2 5 times during the 6 years which he had competitive machinery and won 3. MSC finished in top 2 10 times during the 10 years which he had competitive machinery and won 7. Take out the 2 years (02 and 04, I personally think MSC in 02 is hard to beat regardless of who his teammate was that year because he nearly doubled Barrichello’s points) when he had superior equipment and not good enough of a teammate, still won 5 out of 8 tries, and in those 8 years he faced faster cars with maybe weaker drivers (Hill, Villeneuve) or similar cars with fast drivers (Hakkinen, Raikkonen, Alonso, Montoya), which I argue, equals the challenge of a strong teammate with the same car. In addition, having a dominant car with strong teammate means your worst finishing position is probably 2nd because only 2 cars are capable of regularly winning (Senna 89). On the other hand, to achieve 2nd when there are 2 strong teams means you have to at least beat 2 drivers (your teammate and the champion’s teammate) having similar cars (06) or even superior cars (97 98).

    During 91 to 94 when Senna and MSC competed against each other, they were very closely matched, and even if Senna lived to win 94, that would make Senna a 4 times champion vs. MSC’s 6. And it would be Senna beating MSC in a superior car which should not affect the conclusion of our comparison much.

    1. Hear, hear. I’m sick of the “Senna would have won in 1994” brigade. Yes, in a car that makes the RB6 look like a Minardi.

      1. eh? Hill didn’t to to badly then did he? Not saying I’m subscribing to some serious what if-ing but if Hill could get that close maybe Senna would have gotten closer or further, eh?

        Also to take Senna’s career further, if Senna had kept on driving we don’t know how much further he would have got. We must assume he’d have challenged in 1995, if he’d stayed at Williams that long he could well have won 1996 and 1997. More convincingly than the drivers that did.

        1. Hill did seemingly good in 1994 because he got 4 of his 6 victories that year when Schumacher was banned/disqualified and another one when Schumi got stuck in 5th gear for most of the race

          1. Was that the same year that Benetton were allegedly using illegal traction control and had removed the fuel flow-control filter from their re-fuelling rigs?

            I’d like to add another “anti-schumi” point (even though I actually voted for him in the poll):

            Why was Schumacher allowed to keep his wins and poles from the ’97 season? He was DQ’d from the Championship for obvious reasons, but for some reason his points, wins and poles (I guess fastest laps too) are allowed to stand as official in his career stats. That to me seems extremely bizarre, and should probably be removed to show fairness and common sense…

          2. Yeah someone asked that in an earlier CofC instalment. As far as I’m concerned, this is about comparing their achievements as drivers and expunging Schumacher’s 1997 stats would make that more difficult and less representative.

  18. Lots of great comments for and against both drivers!

    For me, the stats balance the argument too much to ignore. It’s really a heart vs head scenario, and the heart sure is winning!

  19. Senna is probably my FAVORITE driver of all time, but I have to say that even then I think MSC was still a slightly BETTER driver. And also why do people never mention Prost in the Ayrton vs Schumi battles, Prost was just as good as Senna was!

    1. Schumi should have been a clear winner …Sympathy overrides everything else my friend

      Even if Kubica goes head on against Senna today, Kubica will beat Senna hands down.

      1. Or hand down in case…….too early?

        1. in this case*

  20. Schumacher. But while when going up against Prost, it might be close. Up against Jackie Stewart, it might be close. Against Schumacher, too many people will vote against Schumacher because of the “bad taste in the mouth”-syndrome. So I predict Senna will win.

    Not a bad winner, but the way the votes have gone, not the correct one.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly!

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