Champion of Champions in stats

Champion of Champions

The Champion of Champions series has concluded today. Here is the full data on the 32 world champions that featured in the series:

Race wins

Champion of Champions: Wins as a % of starts

Champion of Champions: Wins as a % of starts

Michael Schumacher has the largest haul of wins (91) and a remarkable hit-rate of one in three over a lengthy career.

Of the current drivers, Lewis Hamilton also appears surprisingly high in this list.

Car failures

Champion of Champions: Car failures as a % of starts

Champion of Champions: Car failures as a % of starts

While some might consider this an unusual statistic to include, a driver can’t achieve anything with a car that’s broken down, no matter how good they are.

Drivers of the sixties and seventies tend to fare worst here – particularly those who drove for Lotus.

At the opposite end of the scale Hamilton has benefitted from very reliable McLarens – his first DNF due to a car failure was at Abu Dhabi in 2009!

Schumacher’s reliability is just as remarkable for the fact that in the second-longest career of all time he’s had enviably reliable cars.

Points scored

Champion of Champions: Modern points scored % of starts (excluding car failures)

Champion of Champions: Modern points scored % of starts (excluding car failures)

Comparing drivers points totals is meaningless due to the changes in points systems over the years: a win in 1950 was worth the same as sixth place 60 years later.

So for the purposes of Champion of Champions all 32 drivers had their total points hauls re-calculated based on the modern points system. Then car failures were factored out.

What you get is not a perfect picture of which drivers had the best result: a long time spent in uncompetitive but reliable cars results in a low score (see Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button, for example). But it is nonetheless useful for some comparisons.

Formula One World Champions: Stats

Full stats for each driver (ordered by % of wins):

Name Wins (%) Poles (%) F’laps (%) Failures (%) Points / finish
Juan Manuel Fangio 24 (47.06%) 29 (56.86%) 23 (45.10%) 17.65 20.79
Alberto Ascari 13 (40.63%) 14 (43.75%) 12 (37.50%) 18.75 17.15
Jim Clark 25 (34.72%) 33 (45.83%) 28 (38.89%) 29.17 16.45
Michael Schumacher 91 (33.96%) 68 (25.37%) 76 (28.36%) 8.21 15.30
Jackie Stewart 27 (27.27%) 17 (17.17%) 15 (15.15%) 32.32 16.55
Alain Prost 51 (25.63%) 33 (16.58%) 41 (20.60%) 16.58 14.96
Ayrton Senna 41 (25.47%) 65 (40.37%) 19 (11.80%) 20.50 14.70
Lewis Hamilton 14 (19.72%) 18 (25.35%) 8 (11.27%) 2.82 12.67
Damon Hill 22 (19.13%) 20 (17.39%) 19 (16.52%) 14.78 11.13
Nigel Mansell 31 (16.58%) 32 (17.11%) 30 (16.04%) 32.62 11.98
Fernando Alonso 26 (16.46%) 20 (12.66%) 18 (11.39%) 10.76 11.86
Sebastian Vettel 10 (16.13%) 15 (24.19%) 6 (9.68%) 12.90 10.57
Giuseppe Farina 5 (15.15%) 5 (15.15%) 5 (15.15%) 15.15 15.96
Niki Lauda 25 (14.62%) 24 (14.04%) 24 (14.04%) 34.50 11.99
Mika Hakkinen 20 (12.42%) 26 (16.15%) 25 (15.53%) 24.22 11.33
Kimi R?â?ńikk?â?Ânen 18 (11.54%) 16 (10.26%) 35 (22.44%) 19.23 11.89
Jack Brabham 14 (11.38%) 13 (10.57%) 12 (9.76%) 34.96 11.74
Nelson Piquet 23 (11.27%) 24 (11.76%) 23 (11.27%) 24.51 10.96
James Hunt 10 (10.87%) 14 (15.22%) 8 (8.70%) 29.35 9.68
Alan Jones 12 (10.34%) 6 (5.17%) 13 (11.21%) 28.45 8.52
Jochen Rindt 6 (10.00%) 10 (16.67%) 3 (5.00%) 55.00 13.26
Emerson Fittipaldi 14 (9.72%) 6 (4.17%) 6 (4.17%) 25.69 9.29
Mario Andretti 12 (9.38%) 18 (14.06%) 10 (7.81%) 39.84 8.71
Jody Scheckter 10 (8.93%) 3 (2.68%) 5 (4.46%) 18.75 9.85
Graham Hill 14 (8.00%) 13 (7.43%) 10 (5.71%) 33.14 9.00
Denny Hulme 8 (7.14%) 1 (0.89%) 9 (8.04%) 25.89 11.33
Jacques Villeneuve 11 (6.75%) 13 (7.98%) 9 (5.52%) 22.70 6.77
Mike Hawthorn 3 (6.67%) 4 (8.89%) 6 (13.33%) 22.22 13.37
Phil Hill 3 (6.38%) 6 (12.77%) 6 (12.77%) 27.66 10.74
John Surtees 6 (5.41%) 8 (7.21%) 11 (9.91%) 44.14 10.58
Jenson Button 9 (4.76%) 7 (3.70%) 3 (1.59%) 13.76 7.15
Keke Rosberg 5 (4.39%) 5 (4.39%) 3 (2.63%) 38.60 8.50

Wins: total number of wins, wins as a % of starts
Poles: total number of pole positions, pole positions as a % of starts
Fastest laps: total number of fastest laps, fastest laps as a % of starts
Failures: % of race starts that resulted in a car failure
Points / finish: number of points (under the current points system) scored per start (excluding DNFs due to car failure)

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71 comments on Champion of Champions in stats

  1. ledzep4pm (@ledzep4pm) said on 14th February 2011, 17:23

    Im surprised you didn’t use podiums too, surely that would be a good measure of a drivers competitiveness

    • These statistics, especially the one of the % of points per start, are quite exhaustive and require lots of time to calculate!

    • sato113 (@sato113) said on 15th February 2011, 12:59

      i think he should redo these stats to only include their championship winning year.

      otherwise it skews the results when comparing jenson to hamilton for example, as jenson has had many years spent in uncompetitive cars before winning his champ it looks like he’s not that good in the graphs.

  2. John H said on 14th February 2011, 17:26

    Love the way Prost and Senna are pretty much tied on the first graph.

  3. Lucio Ghigna said on 14th February 2011, 17:53

    Hamilton is simply very fast, but in this classification he’s almost at the top because he’s British.

  4. Of the current drivers, Lewis Hamilton also appears surprisingly high in this list

    Why surprisingly its there in the maths and shows how good he is compared to the rest great feature.

    • macca77 said on 14th February 2011, 19:42

      It’s more because he has been in a top team since day one.

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 14th February 2011, 22:09

        He’s only had one of the best two cars for half of his career, so…

        • bananarama said on 15th February 2011, 1:23

          Always making excuses for Hamilton is like always bashing Alonso (not referring to you in particular).

          Hamilton has been very lucky to go directly to one of F1s greatest teams, others had to move their way up from Minardi or the likes and/or had to help build up a team to the top. Careers are different, I’m not putting down Hamilton for it, but I wouldn’t put him into the Olymp either.

          • Although the fact is that he has spent 3/4 of his F1 career challenging for world titles, and being able to win GP’s in every single year.

            Yes, he has skills, but he has had the best circumstances and best situations in order for him to take advantage of.

            Even Vettel has ‘only spent’ 2/3 of his years in title challenging cars. But the point is, compared with Brabham (4/16 or 1/4 of his cars were title challenging) etc… Hamilton is up there more to do with the fact that he has had great cars his entire career. If during the enxt 12 years, he had a totla of 1 more year challenging for the title and no more years of GP winning cars, then we could compare directly to brabham in points for finish, poles and wins. But while it is easy to look at charts like this and see how one driver has greats stats, you also need to see how he got them, and for hamilton, while skilled (and hence why he is on this list), his numbers are massively inflated compared to other simply due to the quality of the cars provided for him

          • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 15th February 2011, 10:44

            Heikki had the same car in 2008 and did nothing with it apart from that fortuitous win.

            I do understand the point but it seems to be brought in to criticise Hamilton rather than just accepted. Bear in mind that year-on-year Hamilton has had to fight at least 3 other drivers for wins, there may have been many greats in the 1960s but they didn’t all have winning cars at the same time, titles were usually two/three-way affairs, not four/five

          • Maciek said on 15th February 2011, 11:50

            Right, but of course he got to start with a top team not because he lucked into it or had it handed to him, but because very early on they saw in him a talent that they wanted and he obviously didn’t disappoint them, either during his younger days, or after coming into F1.

        • Yes, McLaren always put the best drivers available in their cars. Hamilton was the best driver available alongside the double world champ Alonso. He just happended to be 0.10 secs faster and the greatest rookie ever! Poor Alonso no wonder he blew afuse!!

          • Icthyes, McLaren favoured Hamilton especially during his championship year. Secondly, so he beat a 2nd year who is just an average F1 driver. I like him, but he’s not brilliant or anything. I don’t call beating him brillaint.

            True, but 07 was only 3 way, 08 2 way, 2010 was the only race so far that featured more than 3 drivers till the end.

            Maciek, yes he is talented, but did Alonso start in a brilliant car, no he started with a minardi. How about Raikkonen? no, that was a sauber (pre bmw aswell), or Prost in a dead McLaren (pre dennis) where his best was a 5th place.
            Senna failed to qualify for one race in his debut season in Toleman!

            Many drivers have talent and several should be given top seats, but Hamilton is the about the only driver recently to have landed into a top team and got those cars.

            Derek, and he won races in that year. I’m not saying he doesn’t have skills, I’m just saying that there are many drivers on that list that are great and almost all of them started F1 in a much worse position and he has had the best cars throughout his career, more than any other driver on that list.

            There is a difference between saying he doesn’t have skills and saying that he has got great cars to drive. Many have great skills on that list, but he is the only one to have had the cars he has had.

            Can you name anyone on that list who has had better cars on average throughout their career?

          • Icthyes said on 15th February 2011, 13:17

            Icthyes, McLaren favoured Hamilton especially during his championship year

            And Alonso hasn’t been favoured in all of his championship-contesting years apart from 2007? In fact, go back through history and many champions had #1 status or had people move over for them. Funnily enough the biggest exception is McLaren, who let Lauda and Prost and Senna race each other to the end, yet somehow under the same team principal in 2007 favoured the rookie over the proven double-world champion.

            By the way, there is someone who benefited more than Hamilton from always having the best cars and that was Fangio. I guess because he’s not racing against your favourites you don’t begrudge him that.

          • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 15th February 2011, 13:44

            True, but 07 was only 3 way, 08 2 way, 2010 was the only race so far that featured more than 3 drivers till the end.

            07 was a 4-way actually, Massa was still in it with three races to go (in a 17-race season).

            Perhaps you misunderstand. The championship may have been between a few, but there have been more race winners of late, the significance lying not in number (about 5/6 compared to 4/5 of most years) but frequency (no-one won more than 20% of the races last year and no-one won less than 2). In 2009 there were 6 different winners (only 1 winning one, Kimi), in 2008 7 (3 winning only one), only 2007 was “normal”. Sure there are more races per year and more opportunity for crazy one-off wins but those happened even in the days of 8-race seasons and there’s no evidence of a correlation between doubling the amount of races and doubling the amount of different winners.

          • @unoc

            You could say Schumachers stats are also skewed as although he worked his way into Ferrari from lower teams he got most of his wins at Ferrari while they had by far the best car on the grid. You can argue that Hamiltons Maclaren was the best car but it certainly wasn’t dominating. Also in my mind at least one of Schumachers Championships should be struck off for cheating to the extent of endangering lives! Now obviously the record books can’t be re-written and many of the best drivers have done something untoward at some point (probably due to their competitive behavior) but to bash only Hamilton for having a good car or being favoured is just silly. Also in terms of drivers handed good drives, there are many F1 drivers that although did not land in a top team straight away, spent a lot less time progressing through the ranks into F1. Now from a Stats point of view I can understand your point but there are so many factors to take into account during a drivers career that you could find fault in almost all of the drivers in the list. The Stats are a good starting point to debate the best drivers and are an interesting read but it is impossible to claim a top driver from stats alone. The same can be said for footballers, George Best is certainly one of the greatest ever players but I would put a bet on much lesser players outdoing him in many stats.

          • Both of you are still missing my point, I’m not saying that Hamilton is the only one who’s stats are skewed, or that he doesn’t have skills, I’m merely stating that his stats are the MOST skewed.

            Schumacher is another one, 94 car was a bit….. illigal, and then he had the world revolve around him at ferrari. Both as such had better cars for a great percentage of the time than other drivers on that list.

            My single point is that quite simply
            ‘All are champions, all have skils, some greater than others, but you can only take the percentages as a pinch of salt due to the different paths of each driver’

  5. Griggs said on 14th February 2011, 18:14

    By the way the effort put in to this series of articles has been immense. Including input from the writers and readers was a wonderful example of this site working to it’s strengths.

    I really appreciated it. Some fantastic facts and discussion came out of the last six weeks. We might not have all agreed at times, but we actually got somewhere. Which is a rare thing for an internet based discussion.

    We may still not agree on the outcome, but I’ve learnt a lot about the champions of this sport and I’m sure others have too.

    Senna won the competition, but ultimately the site and it community as a whole won for me.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th February 2011, 20:54

      It really made all of us realise a lot of interesting facts, statistics and oppinions on drivers not all of us know that thoroughly as those of the last 1-3 decades.

      Wonderfull Idea for an off-season past time and really true to the F1Fanatic! And great exectution of it Keith.

  6. kateafan said on 14th February 2011, 18:26

    One of the most outstanding stats is Hamilton’s incredibly low % of car failures. Put simply Lewis has never driven a poor car, a lucky result of his early team link up with a top constructor.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 14th February 2011, 19:11

      In mid-2009, the MP4-24 was almost a backmarker.

      One could say that Lewis Hamilton has been luckier than most, but his talent has certainly shone through, and he’s demonstrated that he thoroughly deserves the seat.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 15th February 2011, 7:15

        Hat off to McLaren for the speedy return to the winner circle though! Some take years to get back, they worked on it for 6 months.

        Still, reliability was possibly one of the key factors for McLaren in the past years. Only last year has broken this trend a bit, as Ferrari got more reliable (only some engine glitches) and Red Bull got on top of that during the season.

  7. Francisco said on 14th February 2011, 18:33

    Amazing JOB, this is an excellent effort!

  8. Lucio Ghigna said on 14th February 2011, 18:39

    Juan Manuel Fangio is simply unbelievable regarding percentages.

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 14th February 2011, 20:13

      One thing that’s surprising is the reliability both he and Ascari enjoyed, close to modern reliability. I guess the cars weren’t built on the absolute edge in those early days.

      • schooner said on 14th February 2011, 22:19

        US Peter. Strange as it may sound, the sport was arguably even a bit safer during that period, as compared to the 60’s and 70’s. Even given the lack of proper safety gear, and the highly dangerous circuits they were racing on. The cars were slower, burlier, and as you alluded to, not as likely to come apart under stress.

        • Adam Tate said on 14th February 2011, 23:20

          Some interesting points you guys have brought up about that. I find that the points per finish chart to be the most revealing in that aspect, Fangio and Ascari are so far up there and I find it interesting that you have to go back to 6th with Schumacher to find the first of the modern drivers on that chart, it really highlights how good those top guys were.

  9. Hamilton is very fortunate to go straight to a top team. Wish him the best in 2011.

    • Icemangrins said on 15th February 2011, 13:10

      The only thing Lewis lacks is the experience. Otherwise he has all the caliber to even drive a brick and bring home the points…… He is great

  10. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 14th February 2011, 22:11

    Well no, he’s not lucky to get into a top team. McLaren didn’t pick him from a bingo machine.

    Fangio switched teams, sometimes in the middle of the year, to have the best car. But no-one rolls this out as a gripe against him…

  11. Why do people insist on saying Lewis Hamilton is “lucky” for ending up in a McLaren? As if McLaren rolled the dice or pulled his name out of a hat. In his entire racing career he’s won in every category he’s competed in… from karts all the way to F1. He wound up in a McLaren because he’s good, & they wanted him. He’s proven that he deserves to be there by winning races every season he’s been here (even in ’09 when the car was an absolute dog) and winning the WDC. Plus, this will only be his 5th season. His performance in F1 is impressive no matter how you wanna slice it. Luck has nothing to do with it.

    • Absolutely. And I think even McLaren were surprised how quickly he became competitive against Nando, took him what, 3 or 4 races? As for Nando, he never recovered IMO. I am not British BTW…

    • I think to an extent he was lucky. He was lucky that mclaren had signed the reigning two time world champion, otherwise I doubt they would have given him a drive. More likely mclaren would have let him develope in a smaller team like Ferrari did with Massa. Even Schumacher had to pay for his first drive at Jordan. Anyhow you need a bit of luck to be successful in F1.

      However it is beyond doubt that Lewis has grasped the opportunity he was given and proved himself to be a very capable driver. I would argue some luck got the ball rolling but class is keeping it going.

    • tobinen said on 15th February 2011, 13:30

      Agreed. To quote Martin Brundle: “the best drivers always end up in the best cars”.

  12. Unfortunately it looks like you guys took my comment in a bad way. He is a very talented driver, and I am not doubting his skill like you guys are assuming. He is a worthy WDC and won it fair. I hope you guys know that there are other drivers just as talented and dont get the same opportunity, which after reading your comments I think you dont.

    • I agree with Franz in that it’s not all down to luck. Far from the fanboyism (not British either lol), the facts show that he is talented, and it’s mainly due to his hard work that got him where he is, and he’s continually proving that he is worthy of this success: almost winning the championship in 07, winning it in 08, bringing the car forward in 09, and challenging for the title in the final race in 2010. And those are only his first four years in F1. He’s not the only one credited for this success, McLaren has done an amazing job to support him, but in the end it comes down to his talent of being able to bring out the best out of their car.

      That said, of course as you said dpod, unfortunately there are many talented drivers in F1 who didn’t (and still don’t) have the opportunity to realize their potential.

      In response to Eric I think it’s more to do with McLaren making a smart choice by investing in him then putting him straight into their team than pure luck. It may have been a gamble at first but they soon realized it was definitely the right choice.

      Looking back, how they managed to lose that championship to Ferrari is very disappointing and was a result of the mismanaging of their drivers and allowing the negativity to grow to the point that the final races were like watching two teams in the same garage! They have come a long way now with Whitmarsh at the helm creating a healthy transparent environment that still allows room for competition.. (sorry for getting carried away and going off topic lol)

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 15th February 2011, 10:47

      Actually we do, you’re making the same mistake of assuming things that you say we’re making.

      My comment wasn’t to you or I would have replied directly, apologies if you have taken offence.

  13. One man alone has the…
    Greatest % of poles
    Greatest % of wins
    Greatest % of Fastest laps
    Greatest number of points per finish.

    How the bloody hell did he not win?

    oh wait.. it was a popular pole….

    nice stats btw

    • Tango said on 15th February 2011, 9:41

      Those stats don’t mean a thing. He raced at a time when you had to be a gentleman racer and being 10 kg overweight wasn’t a problem. And you only had to beat Italian, French, English and German drivers (from 35 to 60 year old).

      • And schumacher drove in a time when you just had to drive the ferrari while having the world spin around you or perhaps an illigal bennetton.

        You didn’t have to be a ‘gentleman racer’. Being a few kilos overweight doesn’t mater in say V8 supercars or nascar or dtm either because they are heavier cars.

        Point is that Fangio absolutely dominated in his day and is by far the best statistical F1 driver ever, yet got smashed by Senna fanboys and people who can’t see past the last 20 years

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 15th February 2011, 21:09

          Point is that Fangio absolutely dominated in his day and is by far the best statistical F1 driver ever, yet got smashed by Senna fanboys and people who can’t see past the last 20 years

          Maybe you can’t see past the stats you just mentioned?

  14. Dipak T said on 15th February 2011, 1:44

    People say Schumachers the greatest of all time, but the stats of the three guys above him in that list are simply eye watering – especially when factoring in % car failures.

  15. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 15th February 2011, 2:47

    how Fangio got away with so few mechanical problems in an era where design, development and construction was as complex and precise as building a Korean washing machine TODAY I can’t understand…

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 15th February 2011, 7:21

      The difference between those cars and the washing machine is enormous, with the washing machine being the more advanced.

      I suppose the reason these guys had good reliability were in the construction philosophy applied. If your not sure, add something extra and it’l hold.

      Only with more precise measuring and knowledge were the constructors able to put in less material, lighter materials etc. Off course they did have to experiment, explaining the unreliability of the decades there after.
      Then with newer materials, more simulation technology and testing and quality awareness helping in the manufacturing the constructors got back to reliability only in the last 2 decades.

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