In a sport where the debate of the greatest F1 driver of all time has usually focused on Senna vs. Schumacher, I must say seeing Jim’s name raised is refreshing.
While I do agree that comparing drivers across different eras is a fool’s errand, it’s also hard for me not to have an opinion on it. Personally, I just rank him 4th (behind Fangio, Schumacher, and Senna) due to a couple of things.
First, unlike Fangio and Schumacher, he only won titles with Lotus. While that in itself says something (given Lotus’ mechanical maladies), I think it would’ve boosted his stock had he gone to another team and won there too.
Second, and sadly, Jim never got a chance to move (if he ever intended to). He would’ve probably won 2 more titles before retiring had he not died (1968 and 1970). But in any case, that only speaks of potential, which counts for nothing in ranking great drivers. It’s about what they achieved, not just what they could have achieved. And of the 4 drivers, he won the least titles.