Ayrton Senna voted Champion of Champions by F1 Fanatic readers

Champion of Champions

Ayrton Senna, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 1991

Ayrton Senna, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 1991

Ayrton Senna has been voted the all-time Formula 1 Champion of Champions in a poll of F1 Fanatic readers.

The six-week-long series debating the greatest champions of all time saw over 20,000 votes cast and 4,603 comments posted.

Senna was picked over Michael Schumacher in the final round of the elimination tournament with 57% of the vote.

Given the differences between the drivers, the cars they had and the eras they drove in, finding a winner that a large majority agreed with was always likely to be impossible.

It would be too easy, and rather simplistic, to say that the choice of Senna was entirely down to his charismatic appeal and the untimeliness of his death.

Senna exploited the opportunities that were presented to him. In Formula 1 you will never win a world championship without a car that’s good enough to deliver it.

He had such a car from 1988-1991. In that four-year period he won three world championships, and lost the other because his principal rival drove into him.

The rest of the time he punched far above the weight of whatever he was driving.

In his first season he nearly won a race in a Toleman and in his final full year he won five races up against the devastating Williams-Renault FW15Cs.

Aside from his exceptional record – particularly his astonishing tally of pole positions – a recurring point in the discussions about Senna was the darker side of his talent. Particularly the crash with Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1990 that sealed his second title.

That cynical and dangerous act cannot be glossed over. But nor can we ignore that two of the other most highly-rated champions – Schumacher and Prost – won titles in similar circumstances.

We cannot say whether the races Senna never drove would have enhanced or diminished his reputation as a driver.

Judged solely on his record: for his strangle hold on pole position, for his wet weather genius, for his overtaking prowess, for taking on and beating a multiple champion in ‘his team’, and for the races and titles he won against top-drawer rivals, Ayrton Senna is a satisfying choice as Champion of Champions.

But he ‘greatest champion of all time’ argument is one that’s impossible to resolve. Hopefully this series has provided an entertaining and original angle on it, once which you enjoyed participating in.

See the Champion of Champions in stats to compare how all 32 F1 champions stack up.

Here’s a full breakdown of who won each round of Champion of Champions:

Champion of Champions - complete voting record

Champion of Champions - complete voting record

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

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190 comments on Ayrton Senna voted Champion of Champions by F1 Fanatic readers

  1. YosemiteSam said on 14th February 2011, 21:13

    Can someone tell me how to make the tourney bracket used in this Champion of Champions event, I have a tourney of my own I’m working on and would like to utilize a similar bracket. Thanks

  2. Crispin said on 14th February 2011, 21:32

    Jim Clark was the best racing driver ever, and always will be. Jim was just so quick!! He outclassed Jackie Stewart almost infinately. Had he not been killed, Clark would have won a hell of a lot more titles.

  3. Great fun this contest, Keith. Even tough I don’t think this will settle the question of who is the greatest for good!

    And for the people who think Ayrton won because of his tragic death: then you never really saw him drive. Because he has was a truly remarkable driver.

    And btw: Clark also died tragically. As did so many others.

  4. These votes don’t mean anything, Senna was not the greatest driver, he was too much of a dirty driver like shumi.

    Prost should have won :)

  5. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 14th February 2011, 22:21

    I have to admit, I do feel a little disappointed with this. Senna absolutely deserves the title and it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that he would win. But I think a lot of people voted for him simply because he was Senna without really considering who he was up against or how he measured up to them. As has ben said, any of the final four deserved to win. Personally, I consider Fangio to be the greatest champion alive because he did everything Senna and Schumacher did, but he did it forty years before them.

    • Roberto said on 15th February 2011, 0:39

      but he did it forty years before them.

      And when he was in his mid forties, competing against drivers in their mid twenties

  6. Very predictable eventual winner, but nonetheless a very fun poll, thanks Keith!

  7. Roberto said on 15th February 2011, 0:36

    In that four-year period he won three world championships, and lost the other because his principal rival drove into him.

    Not true. Prost went to Suzuka 89 with 76 valid points, Senna with 60. Thus Senna’s only chance of being champion was Prost not scoring any points in any of the last two races (which did happen) AND Senna winning both (which didn’t, as he crashed in Australia). So, even if Senna was granted the win at Suzuka, he had no mathematical chance of being champion.

    • Ze Baude said on 15th February 2011, 2:03

      You can’t consider what happened in Australia as what would have happened if Senna still could be champion. Thing is, we will never know…

      • Roberto said on 15th February 2011, 15:50

        That’s pure speculation. History is not about IFs. What DID happen is that Senna crashed in Australia, and it had nothing to do with Suzuka.

        In any case, Prost had a much better chance of taking the title in 90 than Senna in 89

  8. Daniel said on 15th February 2011, 0:41

    Lost “because his rival drove into him.” Ooh, controversial.

  9. Ze Baude said on 15th February 2011, 1:56

    Well, Senna is the best, so nothing more deserving.

  10. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 15th February 2011, 2:13

    Fair enough I think we have seen some decent decision by the members of F1F,it was tough to draw a line between the top 4 drivers but eventually I think Senna deserve it,we will never know where his & Clark career would have end if both haven’t had their accidents.

  11. rabbit (@rabbit) said on 15th February 2011, 4:41

    Senna , Prost , Schumi , Clark and Fangio are great drivers . They raced in different eras and had their own strengths and weaknesses . It would be unfair to place one above another .

    So just sit back and enjoy their talent .

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 15th February 2011, 5:12

      I agree with you. It has seen a lot of bickering, but stilla great series nonetheless. And it helped to fill the void until the new season, just under 4 weeks to go!

    • OK rabbit, but from the 5 drivers you mentioned, only 2 are contemporary at their peak of form: Ayrton and Prost. More importantly, they were team mates for 2 years, each one winning from the other. That’s, for me, the most important factor when comparing F1 drivers. The same applies to Vettel winning 2010 F1 WC against Webber and not against Massa … in a Ferrari! I know you know what I mean. ;-)

  12. rabbit (@rabbit) said on 15th February 2011, 4:43

    It would be nice to have a poll to see which drivers you have seen racing .

  13. alexf1man said on 15th February 2011, 7:24

    Does anyone know the dates of the HRT Monza test?

  14. kowalsky said on 15th February 2011, 7:26

    i think was a very good poll. And the results are as good as any i’ve seen, or even better. People in the blog are knoledgable and make it worth it.
    It is imposible to judge drivers from different eras, but one thing is clear. The top six, whatever way you want to put it is:
    senna
    schumacher
    fangio
    prost
    clark
    stewart

  15. OldKaiser said on 15th February 2011, 9:28

    Well, we always knew it will be Senna. Im suprised it s just 60 or so votes more than Schumi. Too many people rate drivers based on their character, but it isnt Miss personality competition. And I find it stupid since no one is more like Senna than Schumacher, just as no one is more like Schumacher than Alonso (charactervise).
    But nice discussions and good idea from f1fanatic.
    Let s do this again in few years , maybe when Schumi wins his eight WC we will have different results. Just maybe.

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