Jim Clark – The Greatest of all time ?

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    Recently came across an article about Jim Clark which really puts his talent and domination into perspective.

    You can read it yourself, but here is a some mind blowing stats;

    “Out of the 72 F1 races Clark started, he only finished 49, and he won more than half of those (25 wins). Of those 49 finishes, 32 were podiums, and 40 were points scoring. In a career that lasted 8 seasons he only finished out of the points 9 times (Points were awarded too the top 6 finishers at this time).”




    He is without doubt the greatest F1 driver ever. Those stats prove it, but look at his F2 stats and the non championship races (50ish starts…19 wins and only 4 times out of the points – when he didnt retire).

    He also one the Indy 500 once and finished 2nd twice.



    Those stats don’t really prove that he is the greatest of all time. There’s an Argentinian 5 time champion, name slips me, who had similar and in the case of podiums, better stats even WITHOUT his retirements being taken into account.



    Its fair to say Clarks the best of his era, like Fangio was the best of his. Clark’s Lotus cars cost him as many championships and ultimatley his life, where as rules of the day allowed Fangio to take over his team mates car when required. But thats how it was back then, comparing drivers of different eras (even if its a matter of years!) is hard and, to my mind, a silly thing to do.

    But regarding Clark, he’s who I would have wanted to win this websites recent Champion of Champions (Fangio being 2nd ofc) if it had just been me voting ;)



    Clark is the fastest driver in the entire F1 history and I am not afraid to say that. I don’t know how much do you know about Clark and his career but if you look into it you will find out that I’m right. Don’t look at his statistics (although it’s also impressive), but his fantastically driven races that would make the other look like rookies. I’m not a crazy Clark fanatic, I have studied the sixties well and to me that’s the best episode of Formula1. I will give you one example of Clark’s “alien” driving.

    It’s Italian Grand Prix 1967:

    He started on pole. On the first lap he lost the first place but on lap 2 he’s back on the front. On lap 13 his tire punctures. He limped back to the pits. He joined the race a lap behind the leaders. Fighting his way hard through the fields, on lap 61 he’s back again in lead. He drives flawlessly but on the last lap he runs out of fuel and finishes the race on third place!

    That sunday Clark made all the others look like rookies but he finished the race in third position. It’ not the best number in statistics but statistics often don’t tell the full story. If someone still has some doubts, check out the British GP 1965 when Clark won the race with oil pressure problem. For me Clark is the greatest driver, and behind him are: Stewart, Schumacher, Fangio and Prost.



    For those who might not have had the chance to see it, here’s a link to the BBC documentary JIM CLARK : THE QUIET CHAMPION..




    Cant compare drivers per generation, any driver before the 90s is a mile better than any driver today, since they drove on hard race tracks in a car that if you made a mistake, you died. Now you make a mistake, the computer fixes the problem, and worst case you hit a wall with 70G of force and walk away, and most of the current tracks are made for kids and the PS3`s.

    Who is best of that time, hard to say, stats are pointless, unless I know how many people he raced against, and how dominant the car he drove was.

    When I look back, I like Lauda the best, his forth place in Monza after returning from his crash at the ring was epic.. that is my only reasoning ;)



    Spa, 1965.
    All that needs to be said really


    You’ll never be able to compare drivers between eras. Drivers of Clark’s era raced in more dangerous cars on much more dangerous tracks but drivers of today are fitter, faster and their skills are much more honed through analysis, training and the sheer number of races that take place these years.

    But in the context of the times, Jim Clark was arguably more outstanding during his career than anyone else has been before or since. While you’ll never be able to say whether he was the greatest of all time, he is certainly in that ultimate God-Tier of drivers occupied by only the best 3 or 4 ever.



    Being old enough to have seen Jim Clark drive, I am pretty sure that he was the best driver I have seen.



    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.


    Keith Collantine

    This article from earlier this year shows Clark’s statistical achievements in context with those of other champions:

    Champion of Champions in stats



    It’s tough to call Clark the G.O.A.T. when I’ve never seen him race. His stats look fairly impressive, but there are many great drivers with great stats. I also will never buy the argument of Clark, Fangio and Ascari raced in a more dangerous era, therefore they are better drivers. Clark probably is one of the best ever, but it is tough to say.



    There’s no such thing. But if I had to choose, it would be Clark.



    I find it slightly irritating when people say you can’t compare between eras therefore you can’t say who is the best driver definitively.

    Surely that is obvious in a discussion because 1) things have changed so hugely in the last 60 years and 2) people have different criteria to mark out greatness, but that does not mean a person can’t have a particular gut feeling about who is the best in their eyes.

    There are many criteria to establish who is the best i.e. dominance in an era, competition of other drivers, championships, racecraft etc and I am one of those who despite being born thirty years too late to see him race think Jim Clark is the greatest F1 driver of all time. What I have read and documentary footage I have seen of him is just incredible. If I had to do a top 10 it would probably look something like this (Piquet or Andretti could be an alternate at the bottom)


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