France's second-best racing driver
17th November 2010, 18:26 at 6:26 pm #128544
I’ve just been watching an old episode of Top Gear (s13e05), which featured Olivier Panis. Now Jeremy Clarkson jokingly referred to him as “France’s second-best racing driver”- presumably after Alain Prost.
But is this true. Personally I rank Jean Alesi above Panis. So had Clarkson forgotten about Alesi, or just wasn’t being serious, or is this what he actually thinks. Really my question is, is there a case for calling Panis France’s second best F1 driver, rather than third or even fourth?17th November 2010, 18:35 at 6:35 pm #151743
Interesting point. I’d always assumed Panis had just won more races/got more podiums than Alesi becuase Clarkson had said that. However, looking at the stats now it isn’t even close:
Panis won one race (Monaco 96): Alesi won one race (Canada 95)
Panis had 5 podiums: Alesi had 35!
Panis had 76 career points from 157 starts: Alesi had 241 points from 201 starts.
Panis never finished higher than 9th in the WDC standings (96+97*): Alesi managed 4th twice (96+97*)
* – considering Schumacher’s disqualification.
My conclusion is that Jeremy was being polite, though 3rd best in your whole country is nothing to be ashamed of, and to win the Monaco GP is a great achievement!17th November 2010, 18:48 at 6:48 pm #151744
According to some, Alesi was one of the unluckiest drivers in F1. His one win should have been many wins and he was a match for any of the top flight drivers of the day.
Panis never got the chance to shine quite like Alesi did, given that Panis was in less good cars, but there is probably a reason for this. And, with all due respect for Panis, his one win was an exercise of keeping the car on the road and bringing it home.17th November 2010, 18:50 at 6:50 pm #151745
And, according to Wikipedia, he chose to go to Ferrari over Williams because of his racing passion. He’d have been in the dominant car of the 90’s!17th November 2010, 19:03 at 7:03 pm #151746
Francois Cevert?17th November 2010, 19:13 at 7:13 pm #151747
Alesi, Cevert, Arnoux, Depailler, Laffite and Pironi could arguably be rated higher than Panis.
“According to some, Alesi was one of the unluckiest drivers in F1. His one win should have been many wins and he was a match for any of the top flight drivers of the day.”
I’ve always believed that people make their own luck but felt that Alesi was always better than his statistics suggested. He was completely loyal to Ferrari and I felt given a betetr car he may have won championships but that’s just my opinion and who knows he could have got a great car but then been like Fisi :P17th November 2010, 19:16 at 7:16 pm #151748
Panis was unlucky with his 97 crash which hindered his racing ability, but up until then he was supreme in those underperforming Ligier and Prost cars..his start of the 1997 season was brilliant, he would’ve been the 99-Frentzen in that season if he hadn’t broken his legs..but that’s a case of ‘what would’ve been’ which, shame to say, is the same as far as Cevert is concerned
I think Alesi was the best French driver after Prost, but being half-italian, which was obvious in his driving and passion for racing (which was not at all bad, I loved seeing him drive and Canada 95 was brilliant for me), I rate Arnoux as the second-best French driver17th November 2010, 19:54 at 7:54 pm #151749
To say that Alesi was “half-italian” is a little bit like saying that Hamilton is half-grenadian or Prost “half-armenian”. Alesi was born in France and though close to his sicilian origins has never said or implied that he could be anything but French. I wouldn’t rank him as “France’s second best racing driver”. Laffite was better, Arnoux as good and Jean Behra certainly is the most worthy of this honour.17th November 2010, 20:44 at 8:44 pm #151750
I was merely referring to his driving style, which was more Italian than French..it came out wrong..anyway, nothing taken away from either of them, I generally rate French racing drivers very highly and, among other seemingly odd preferences, I consider Prost to have been better than Senna..but that’s another discussion17th November 2010, 22:26 at 10:26 pm #151751
French drivers ranked by number of wins:
Arnoux is definitely the second-best from a statistical point of view – although ironically he scored a win in 1982 by disobeying team orders, clearly considering himself to be the #1 French driver!17th November 2010, 22:48 at 10:48 pm #151752
sbl on tourParticipant
my favorite frenchies were/are
cevert, depailler, pironi, arnoux and henri pescarolo
and had alot of respect for jabouille
didnt much care for monsieurs prost, tambay, alesi, but my numero uno has to be
that little twerp who snubbed mb on the grid on sunday……
sblot18th November 2010, 6:06 at 6:06 am #151753
I always thought he had been referring to Loeb as France’s #1….18th November 2010, 8:47 at 8:47 am #151754
But is this true. Personally I rank Jean Alesi above Panis. So had Clarkson forgotten about Alesi, or just wasn’t being serious, or is this what he actually thinks.
It was just Clarkson being Clarkson. You can’t read too much into his comments.18th November 2010, 11:17 at 11:17 am #151755
” And, with all due respect for Panis, his one win was an exercise of keeping the car on the road and bringing it home.”
I disagree. He was quickest in the dry morning warm up, overtook four cars on track and on some laps was four or five seconds quicker than anyone else. Yes, he was lucky that Hill and Alesi retired, but he was catching Alesi at over a second a lap anyway.
Other great french drivers, how about Jean Pierre Wimille? He was held in very high regard just after the war and could have been the man to challenge Fangio were he not killed in 1949.18th November 2010, 11:52 at 11:52 am #151756
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