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?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

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

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450 comments on Champion of Champions Final: Senna vs Schumacher

  1. Old F1 Fan said on 7th February 2011, 1:14

    For me it is Senna. His performance while winning the pole at Monaco speaks volumes about his greatness. Driving the same car as the great Alain Prost, he beat the latter by over a second and a half. Donington 1993, Adelaide 1993 (both in the rain) also speak eloquently about Senna. Suzuka 1990 was for Senna a way to address an injustice (changing of the position of the polesitter’s car) that he felt Jean-Marie Balestre had done him.

  2. More talented driver would be Senna, the champion of champions based on the record has to be Schumy.

    Regardless of his shenanigans, after all he learned them from Senna!

  3. George said on 7th February 2011, 6:21

    Senna , they were both great,masters of driver tracks like suzuka, spa and monaco, but senna outqualified his teamate in the 1988 monaco gp
    , by more than 1.5 seconds!!, and not just any teammate PROST, when has shumacher outqualified by that margin, irvine, rubens or any other, (VETTEL OR WEBBER, alonso over massa). Dont forget monaco 84, estoril, donington

    senna proved to be a greater champion, he was ruthless but proved on ocasions to be a greater man, this was the guy who stopped on the track to help Coma , the guy who rode with mansell on the side of the car after he retired, the guy who said on the radio he missed alain prost, the guy who was riding with a austrian flag the day he died in honor of ratzemberg.

    Senna Simply the best

    • Zeus_m3 (@zeus_m3) said on 7th February 2011, 6:40

      Prost’s goal is always drive as slowly as possible to score maximum points. So in this case when Mclaren was so dominant and he knows he won’t be senna in Monaco, he would only need to beat the 3rd place guy and he can score second, so I doubt his motivation to reduce the gap from 1.5 second to 0.01 second.

  4. Stefan said on 7th February 2011, 6:56

    I can’t choose because I wasn’t watching F1 when Senna, Prost were racing… and I wasn’t even born when Fangio dominated in the 50s.

  5. Ronman (@ronman) said on 7th February 2011, 7:39

    Senna was the man, he is the man, and will always be the best… simply….. even Schumacher will tell you that much…

    as for third in my opinion it must be Fangio, because at the time…he just made history.

    I rode recently in a 50s era racer as a passenger, no seat-belt, cresting 140kph… it’s not for the faint hearted…so you must respect these guys

  6. Pionir (@pionir) said on 7th February 2011, 8:24

    Without Senna’s death it’s arguable it would be Senna 7 titles vs Schuie’s 5 (at best) as Senna would probably have won in 94-97 with the dominant Williams.

  7. nosajm9bys (@nosajm9bys) said on 7th February 2011, 9:26


    People only rave about Senna because he is a dead World Champion…

    Similar to Prost and Fangio. How can Fangio win, no one in this forum saw him race, only going on about what the old timers have said, …ok and for those of us that have 50’s F1 video see him race, but then……he is a famous dead. Sorry for being “cold” to some, but it is fact. Sorry.

  8. magon4 (@magon4) said on 7th February 2011, 10:42

    a couple of years ago, i went through the trouble of comparing schumacher and senna’s careers, year by year, only taking into account the first 10 seasons of their career (because of senna’s premature death).
    and this is what i came up with:

    qualifying: senna was slightly stronger than schumacher, all in all, even if you take into account that schumacher had less dominant cars most of the time, compared to senna (remember, i’m looking at end of 91 to 2001 for schumacher).

    strategy: schumacher wins clearly here, for senna there was only one strategy: to win! his % of car failures can’t be only due to the car, some of it is due to mishandling the car (which i know many people put in favor of him instead of against him)

    sportsmanship: senna was slightly superior here. i always felt he was arrogant, and so do most people think of schumacher. and senna did do some sleasy things, but schumacher just did a tad more. not a huge difference here, though.

    race speed: this is where schumacher has a little bit of an advantage. he was just capable fo performing at top level for an incredible amount of laps; once again, you can see that as senna’s passion, but schumacher was near to perfect in race days. he converted 68 poles into 91 victories, whereas senna won 41 times after getting 66 poles – that’s just too much of a loss.

    physical preperation: senna was a pioneer in this field, and schumacher (a great senna-fan himself) imititated him and thus surpassed him in this field.

    one-on-one: schumacher could have been WDC in 94 even if senna had lived. everyone will admit that it’s not absurd to think that way, and that would have silenced this debate. but we’ll never know. and don’t come with the “he only beat hill by one point” thing, you all know that’s not true.

    so i would say they were pretty much tied all in all, but there is one big difference:
    schumacher was able to help his teams develop better cars and became world champion with benetton (4th best team when he joined them) and ferrari (3rd best when he joined them). when he left benetton, the car went back to being 3rd or 4th.
    senna got a seat at lotus, the 3rd best team, and scored 6 victories in 3 years there, not being able to improve the team. he had to switch to mclaren o become WDC, and when that team declined, he had to switch again to try to get more titles. this is the opposite way compared to schumacher, and is what defines the difference for me, pro-schumacher. not the 7 titles! it might sound strange, but it proves that schumacher was more of a team player, and senna more of a loner. senna needed to win and know that he had won it; schumacher knew that he relied on the team to win.
    and for me, the brazilian gp 1994 is an example of schumacher actually beating senna on his home turf. benetton DID NOT have the better car that day, and schumacher, even coming from 2nd place, completely dominated senna that afternoon. imola was looking the same way when tragedy stroke.
    so here you have it; senna will win the vote, but schumacher should win it.

    • Cristian (@cristian) said on 7th February 2011, 10:48

      great post magon!

    • qazuhb said on 7th February 2011, 11:04

      and don’t come with the “he only beat hill by one point” thing, you all know that’s not true.

      Could you please explain how do we all know this is not true?!?

      • magon4 (@magon4) said on 7th February 2011, 13:18

        schumacher drove the hell out of hill, only losing to him in japan. he did lose 18 points and two races (probably another 20, with Hill losing 8), so it could or should have been at least a 30 point difference.

        • Brownsugar42 (@) said on 8th February 2011, 9:09

          What about 93 and 92? Schumacher was no match for Senna then…Senna embarrassed Schumacher (and the rest of the field in Donnington 93). He had some very impressive drives in a dated McLaren. You can’t just look at the 3 races in 94 to judge the better driver. Senna and Schumacher raced two full seasons together in 92 and 93.

          Neither Senna or Schumacher had the best car…yet Senna had more wins (8 to Schumacher’s 2), poles (2 to 0), and total points (123 to 105). As well as having more mechanical failures than Schumacher (9 to 6) this includes retiring from the lead in the 92 Canadian GP.

          I still haven’t seen a better driver than Senna. Schumacher is great no doubt…but his Ferrari years were a joke, the best car on the grid (by far) 00-04, then in 05 when the car sucked…Schumacher was no where. Just like last year, the Mercedes was garbage, and Schumacher didn’t have team orders to rely on, so he got embarrassed by Rosberg, and by the rest of the field.

          Senna always showed his raw speed, and talent, regardless of the car he drove. 84 Monaco. 16 poles, and 6 wins…in a Lotus that had nothing for the Williams and McLarens of the 1985 through the 87 seasons. As well as leading the points in 87 in sub-par machinery. A true champ gets it done no matter what he drives.

          My vote goes to Senna.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 8th February 2011, 19:10

            but his Ferrari years were a joke, the best car on the grid (by far) 00-04

            If you watched those years, you’d know that that’s only true for 2002 and 4. In 2000, the Mclaren was equal, in 2001, Mclaren and Williams were regualar challengers, and same for 2003, with Williams probably even faster.

            then in 05 when the car sucked…Schumacher was no where.

            He finished 3rd, ahead of Montoya, Fisichella and both Toyotas, who had faster cars and Michelin tyres.

            the Mercedes was garbage, and Schumacher didn’t have team orders to rely on, so he got embarrassed by Rosberg, and by the rest of the field.

            He is 41 after all, and didn’t do as badly as you think. The “rest of the field” certainly didn’t embarrass him, and although Rosberg was better, Schumacher was matching him by the end of the season.

            And Barrichello/Irvine/Massa/Brundle/Patrese definately weren’t going to beat Schumacher in the same equipment no matter what happened.

    • Maciek said on 7th February 2011, 11:31

      Nice analysis.

    • nosajm9bys (@nosajm9bys) said on 7th February 2011, 12:08

      Very good analysis, and up to you for taking out the time to do it. As I said before, people are up on Senna just because he is dead, I’ve always said it. No doubt, he is good, but not better than Schumacher.

    • newskiller (@newskiller) said on 7th February 2011, 17:57

      “and don’t come with the “he only beat hill by one point” thing, you all know that’s not true.”

      Quite he didn’t beat him, he bounced him.

    • olivier (@olivier) said on 7th February 2011, 18:29

      Brazilian GP 1994:

      Benetton had 2 advantages for that race: traction control and an illegal fueling system. Senna was leading but after they both pitted, Schumacher was quicker and rejoined ahead. The Williams car at the beginning of ’94 was but no means the best car of the pack, it had passive suspension problems and aerodynamical issues that were only sorted out well into the season …

  9. nuvolari said on 7th February 2011, 11:31

    Correction on Magons’ point about Brazil 94. Schumacher DID have the better car. The Williams FW16 at the beginning of the 94 season was to quote Adrian Newey ” a Dog of a car. How he (Senna) was able to extract the kind of performance that he did was something that we thought should not have been possible)”.

    Before Senna spun out on laptop 52 (or was it 53) he was closing the gap to Schumacher.

  10. frood19 (@frood19) said on 7th February 2011, 12:16

    this was not my favoured final. i would have chosen clark vs. prost. i voted for senna because i think he faced sterner competition and their point per finish (the ultimate arbiter for Champion of Champions) score is very close.
    it’s almost expected that senna and schumacher make the final. today, they are the most famous drivers in the sport.

  11. night_shade (@night_shade) said on 7th February 2011, 13:20

    For me it was a difficult choise, because I like Schumacher and Senna too….finally I chose Schumacher….

  12. Daniel Chico (@daniel-chico) said on 7th February 2011, 13:47

    For me, this poll is emotion vs reason. I’ve read all the comments (381 so far) and I would abstain. I have seen all of Schumacher races and most of Senna’s. But, I have to admit, based solely on emotion and even if I was not brazilian, i would vote on Senna. After each of MSC wins (all the technical perfection and errorless driving) I would turn off the TV and not think of it until the next race. On the other hand, each of Senna’s wins (Interlagos 93 is the best example) inspire me ’til today.

    It took me some time to write this for my english is not so good. Sorry for any mistakes…

    • magon4 (@magon4) said on 7th February 2011, 14:04

      i think the emotion can be tricky. since you are brazilian, you’ll be emotional about his many great races. the gp you refer to was a home gp, so the emotion was even greater because of it.
      schumacher has had quite a few emotional races, including his 94 win over senna in brazil. spa 95, barcelona 96, a race at nurborgring, silverstone against hill, there have been quite a few epic races, but people forget them because there have been so many non epic race wins. if he had 40 wins, he might be more apprecciated.

  13. He-man said on 7th February 2011, 15:47

    Senna is obviously better. Schumi can’t even beat Rosberg and gets sick when he’s in the simulator.

  14. A-Safieldin (@) said on 7th February 2011, 21:20

    One of them bored us half to death and the other entertained us more than we thought was possible. Senna is like the Muhammad Ali of F1 he was great to watch nice personality but at the end of the day over-rated. If Schumacher was Brazilian and picked fights with people and Senna was German and won 7 WDC’s and had no history of villainous teammates this pole would be skewed towards the German- or in this case Brazilian Schumacher.

  15. MagillaGorilla said on 7th February 2011, 21:52

    @ Keith Collantine

    Hey Keith How did you guys make that tournament bracket? If you can tell me or direct me in the right place that’d be great.

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