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 (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)

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450 comments on Champion of Champions Final: Senna vs Schumacher

  1. Have all voters experienced the Senna age?
    Dead persons are always deified by the alive.
    I vote to Michael anytime not only for his great talent and skills but also for the great emotion that he convey to us.

  2. magon4 (@magon4) said on 8th February 2011, 9:39

    the mclaren senna drove in 92 and 93 was clearly better than the benetton schumacher drove in those same years. and still, they were almost matched in points.
    and don’t you forget that schumacher ended his rookie year in 3rd position, coming from the 4th best car in the grid 91. and senna was WDC in 91 and ended behind rookie schumacher in the standings in 92, with a better car!
    or do you really want to argue that schumi’s benetton 92 was better than senna’s mclaren in the same year???

    • Brownsugar42 (@) said on 8th February 2011, 14:53

      In 92, Senna out ran Schumacher on many different occassions, the only reason he finished with more points (only 3 btw), is because Senna had 5 mechanical failures, and another retirement in France, when Schumacher slammed into the back of him. So thats 6 races, where he was unable to score points.

      And everybody knows the 1993 McLaren was junk…the Benetton had more pace than the McLaren at a lot different venues. One example of the McLaren’s lack of speed would be the race at Silverstone that year. The Benetton was much faster. So their cars were a lot closer in performance than you think. And Senna still brought that peice of crap McLaren home 2nd in points at the end of the season…as well as having 5 wins compared to 1 for Schumacher…and he wasn’t a rookie anymore.

      • Brownsugar42 (@) said on 8th February 2011, 15:09

        So as I said before…in the two full seasons they raced against each other, Schumacher never showed me that he was a match for Senna, much less a better driver than him. Yeah he could match him for pace once in a blue moon. But during these two seasons, Senna out performed Schumacher and the rest of the grid…and showed more heart, determination, and raw talent…in an increasingly uncompetitive McLaren.

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 8th February 2011, 19:03

        The 1993 Mclaren was junk compared to Williams. But no, it was still a faster car than the Benetton in almost every race.

        They were still pretty closely matched across 1992-4, so I certainly wouldn’t say Schu challenged “once in a blue moon”.

      • Mlracing (@mlracing) said on 10th February 2011, 11:33

        the 93 mclaren wasn’t junk. It had less power (so problem on the straights) and that was the fault of the engine aka ford. The cornering or aerodynamics were good, i think better than the benetton.

        Anyway in exception of the power i think senna really liked how that car behaved.

  3. nuvolari said on 8th February 2011, 12:49

    In a recent poll by current GP drivers who they thought was the best, I’d like to leave this quote by M.Schumacher “If you ask me, Senna is No.1″.

    • joolsy (@joolsy) said on 8th February 2011, 14:27

      Phew what a load of nonsense
      nuvolari said it best!
      Senna will always be the fastest it is/was possible to be in a car.
      That makes him champion in my book.

    • Mlracing (@mlracing) said on 10th February 2011, 11:36

      yeah i also think he has to say that. None of the great drivers says publicly i am the best of all drivers ever driven in f1. I think fangio said senna is the best. senna said?? clark or fangio?? i don’t know. stewart says clark etc

  4. MacLeod said on 9th February 2011, 10:42

    I will not vote because i am abiased I like Schumacher en i don’t like Senna. I drove against Senna when he was young and he was a arrogant bigmouth who had it all. (this was in Carts)

    Now he could drive but he couldn’t win against me so if a f1 driver cannot win from me he shouldn’t be champion of champions.

  5. Dianna said on 9th February 2011, 20:10

    Schumacher without doubt should win this, BUT, there again,it doesn’t matter if Senna wins this — as it is the last race for him to win.So it would be a fitting tribute to Ayrton’s era.
    I am sure Mr Schumacher would graciously agree and be pleased for Senna.

  6. I love this era of information , you ca find absolutly anything on the net, just wanted to thank you for the effort of writing this!

  7. Ayrton1 (@ayrton1) said on 14th February 2011, 9:35

    ¡Senna wins!

  8. Senna for me easily.

    Senna was the fastest ever.
    Senna wins in poles 40% rate
    Senna did’nt cheat in 1990, he got revenge on Prost for 89 and would of won in 90 anyway. Schumi hit Hill in 94 Adelaide, hit Villeneuve in 97, punted DC off in 98 at Argentina and I’m sure there is a couple more.
    Senna won titles against great opponents, Schumi did’nt.
    Senna drove flat out with skill, Schumi cheats left right and centre. 94 Benetton had traction control, removed fuel filter for quicker fuelling, and apparently 4 wheel steering, and hit Hill to top it off for his very tainted first WDC.
    Look at 93, Senna won 5 races still with ford engine, Schumi with ford aswell won 1 race and only beat Senna once fair and square at Silverstone. Then watch Donnington lol.
    Senna died trying to stay ahead of the 3 biggest cheats in F1 history being Schumi, Rory Byrnes and Flavio. The ultimate cheat team. Senna did’nt need to cheat, he punched above his weight in the Toleman, Lotus and the Ford Mclaren. Schumi drove ok in slow cars.
    Senna never did pre season testing, he did’nt need to, he was super quick in any car straight off the bat.
    Schumi spent lots of time testing to improve his car.
    If Senna did’nt die, he would of won 94, 95, 96 and 97 with Williams easily IMO.
    If you look at reliabilty, Senna had it worse, and if his cars did’nt let him down his points per start and finish would have been alot higher. His wins would be higher to (taken from Schumi) if not for his death.
    Put all this together and Senna wins easily.
    Not to mention Senna also helped alot of poor/unfortunate people in his country which shows he was way more human then people think he is.

  9. To those who say Schumacher was best in ’93, the McLaren had 40bhp less than the Bennetton, and then you can watch Donnington and see who was best in the rain!!!!
    Also, all of you are missing a very important point, not only Senna was driving against the likes of Prost, Mansell, Piquet (heck he was even racing Niki Lauda in ’84 and ’85!!), but he was also competing against FISA president Jean Marie Balestre, who was openly and shamelessly making decisions to benefit his fellow countryman Alain Prost (DQ in Suzuka ’89 for “cutting the chicane”, reverting the race official’s decision to switch pole position, just to make Senna start on the dirty side of the track in Suzuka ’90, and prompting Senna’s decision to be the 1st through the 1st corner no matter what, and not as a revenge for ’89).

    Schumacher never had to fight against the decisions of an inescrupulous FIA president, much less, he was in Ferrari, who we all know is always benefited by the FIA.

    I can’t recall who once said “If someone wants to beat Senna, he needs to find a completely different and new way of driving an F1 car, otherwise, there’s just no chance.”

    Schumacher sure didn’t. The whole fitness thing, the unmatched determination, the ruthlessness, and everything that defines Schumacher’s style, was brought to F1 by Senna. There would have never been a Schumacher as we know him, if there hadn’t been a Senna before. Schumacher got everything he is, from Senna. Which is by no means an easy task, but he’ll never be anything more than an imitation. Heck, he even try to imitate Senna’s Suzuka ’90 crash against Hill and Villeneuve!!!

    I have seen them both race, I have read enough books and seen enough movies about them both.
    Schumacher took everything that Senna was as a driver, the good and the bad, and magnified it in all directions. Senna was the Genesis of everything that Schumacher became after Senna’s death.

    I’m glad Senna won, because he is, to me, the greatest ever.

  10. Redwan said on 11th March 2011, 9:59

    Senna easily for me, as much as we look at stats and figures, Senna’s driving was always more exhilarating in a time where F1 had its finest years. Schumacher won a few titles with ease in an era with some very ordinary drivers.

  11. Sub-Zero ZA said on 2nd April 2011, 22:43

    Back and Forth the arguement goes, over who is the better driver.
    Senna was a phenomenal driver, no doubt, but he was not consistent at all!
    Everyone keeps saying that he was racing against much better drivers than Schumacher was, but shows one thing: The fact that he was not good enough to win all the time.
    Prost, Mansel etc. etc. won championships during Senna’s peak, so it shows a lack of cinsistency.

    Schumacher had a five in a row winning streak against great drivers and great cars. Hakkinen was no clown in the seat.
    This debate is so over done, it should be laid to rest, along with the glory of Senna’s great driving.

    I think if we had two drivers like Schumi and Senna racing together at their prime now, it would be a very interesting scenario.

    Schumi won 33% of all of his races he has entered, vs Senna’s 25%.
    Senna has had a much better pole position percentage, but bear in mind, that back then, the qualifying cars were much more powerful than the ones they actually raced it.

    Either way, both are fantastic drivers in their own right, and should both be praised for their acheivements.

  12. Karlito76 said on 12th April 2011, 14:59

    Statistically – Schumacher
    Personally – Senna

    I’d say Senna, If he had survived the crash at Imola, he would become champion for few more times…


  13. Ronnie said on 10th August 2011, 0:31

    This is simple…Schumacher will always be better, ’cause he did not killed himself as Senna did…if he was so good why did he crashed his car like that, i mean accidents happens…but there was a lot of pilots racing that day, none of them crashed, it was Sennas fault, an error…a fatal error. How could you be the best if you commit an error that kills you? the best wouldnt do that, thats why Schumacher is alive, retired with a lot of trophies at home and a legend behind. RIP Senna, he was good, but not as good as Schumacher.

    • Gabriel said on 10th August 2011, 6:19

      This is probably the dumbest comment in all 9 pages.
      Senna’s accident was caused by a mechanical failure. Schumacher had a mechanical failure at Silverstone and he was lucky he only broke his legs because he hit a tire barrier and BECAUSE of Senna’s accident, Michael’s car was much safer. If Schumacher’s Silverstone crash would’ve happened in ’94 against an unprotected wall he would’ve probably died too.

  14. Gabriel said on 10th August 2011, 6:21

    Oh and by the way, Schumacher is not retired, he came back and is racing his 2nd season driving for Mercedes. That shows how much you follow F1

  15. Gabriel said on 10th August 2011, 6:23

    Oh, and he hasn’t had a single front row start or podium finish in 30 races…

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