Senna vs Schumacher – arguments

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    I looked for a former topic on this and couldn’t find one, so sorry if this is an old issue. When comparing drivers, one must be very careful. I’m a Brazilian and people in my home country still compare Senna to Schumacher, saying that he was better than the German has ever been.
    I’d love a thread were we can try to gather logical arguments based on comparable [circumstancial] data. My premise is that Schumacher is not only greater by the pure numbers, but also by closer analysis of the situations, career paths, comparison to team-mates and even comparison to fellow drivers.
    I believe even if one compares Senna’s ten full seasons to Schumacher’s first ten seasons, one will come to this conclusion. Can any Senna fans bring forth arguments to falsify the statement that Schumacher was better and greater in the sport (but most probably inferior outside of the car, in terms of public image)?


    Keith Collantine

    Here’s a couple of previous articles where we’ve had this discussion. The first is a couple of years old:

    Ayrton Senna vs Michael Schumacher

    And those who were around in January last year will remember the ‘Champion of Champions’ final ended up being between these two:

    Champion of Champions Final: Senna vs Schumacher



    To be frank, I think it’s hard to compare the two. I never had the privilege of seeing Senna drive as I started following F1after his untimely retirement from the world, so I cannot contribute much.

    But in my opinion a lot of the fans in the world now seem to deify him. Had he gone through the normal pattern of a driver in decline, before retiring, then I don’t think he would have been held in as high regard as he is now.

    Don’t get me wrong – he’s probably one of the biggest talents the world has ever seen, but I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as the majority of YouTube comments suggest (ZOMG Senna is the greatest hur hur)

    @keithcollantine I still think if you did the poll after 2012/2013 Vettel would’ve placed higher in that tournament!



    Thanks Keith. I’ll just go there to see what went on.
    @raymondu999 It seems to me that you can really compare them year by year, overall, in relation to team mates, in relation to teams, and even the almost 2,5 seasons they raced against each other.



    @magon4 I have no doubt you can compare them in the numbers and statistics, but public perception of Senna has been altered by his untimely death IMO.



    I’ve been watching F1 since 1989 and I can assure you that public perception of those who watched him race has not changed due to his death. Maybe the ones who didn’t see him drive get that impression, but it really is not true.



    If we’re looking at data to compare Schumacher and Senna, try the 1993 season. That year, Senna’s McLaren and Schumacher’s Benetton were arguably an even match:
    – Both cars had Ford engines
    – Benetton had a ~40 horsepower advantage over McLaren due to Ford factory support
    – McLaren had more advanced electronics to compensate for the less powerful engine

    That year, the results were:
    Senna – 5 wins, 1 podium, 6 DNF, 73 points
    Schumacher – 1 win, 8 podiums, 7 DNF, 52 points

    Interesting to note that Schumacher always finished on the podium whenever he didn’t retire, and that Senna was more consistent at scoring points. However, I did not take into account reasons for the DNFs, so they could be mechanical failures, or driver errors.



    What about 1992, Schumacher’s first full rookie year, when he outscored the reigning champion Ayrton Senna? Quite an achievement, and with a slightly inferior car.



    @magon4 – A good point. I did some searching and came up with this:

    Schumacher took 53 points to Senna’s 50 points in that year. However, it’s worth noting that Senna had 5 mechanical-related retirements (failed engine, transmission, electronics) while Schumacher had 2 (failed engine, suspension). Senna also took 3 wins to Schumacher’s 1; conversely, Schumacher had 11 points finishes to Senna’s 8.

    A very impressive rookie year for Schumacher, no doubt, but an unlucky year for Senna as well. If we’re comparing purely on the basis of driver skill, perhaps it would be more useful to compare their “best of” race performances, individual races that defined their driving ability, rather than have the data affected by things (like car failures) beyond the drivers’ control.



    Senna pro’s
    1.) He arguably drove with better competition. Piquet, Mansell & Prost being the mainstream rivals throughout his career.
    2.) He took on the great Alain Prost as teammates at Mclaren.
    3.) His talents as a driver were indisputable.
    4.) His pole record of 40% is incredible beyond belief. Best qualifier ever IMO.

    Senna con’s
    1.) He was a dirty driver who crashed into his rivals on purpose, most famous the Suzuka ’90 incident.
    2.) He was out-scored by Alain Prost as his teammate two seasons in a row.
    3.) He refused to go up against Derick Warwick at Lotus.
    4.) His pole to win ratio is rather poor, he was a bit inconsistent and did crash on occasions.
    5.) He always jumped from best car to best car. He didn’t even want to drive for Mclaren in 1993. He wanted Williams.

    Schumacher pro’s
    1.) He is the most successful driver of all time.
    2.) He brought Ferrari back to greatness after a 21 year slump.
    3.) He too was an incredible driver and racer behind the wheel.
    4.) He won over twice as many races and championships as Senna.
    5.) He was a very dedicated worker and unlike Senna did not jump from best car to best car.
    6.) He was a more consistent and complete driver than Senna IMO.

    Schumacher con’s
    1.) He was involved in a lot of politics with both Benetton and Ferrari. Such as TC or the Bridgestone Tyre saga.
    2.) He too had a handful of controversial collisions in his career (Jerez ’97).
    3.) His teammate was the unquestionable #2 and was often used as his test driver.
    4.) Few people would argue his comeback was a failure to say the least.



    I’m not sure jumping from team to team is a bad thing to be honest. To me, it is a non-issue. Drivers should race where they feel comfortable. Moss used to drive predominantly for British teams and privateers, Senna and Fangio for the best available, Schumacher for teams he could see develop. I don’t think there is a wrong or right in there, although I wouldn’t say that Moss’ attitude was particularly useful or clever in regards to trying to win championships. I would have said the same about Schumacher, but he actually made it work after his brief dry spell.



    To an extend not, but lack of dedication certainly is. If I remember correctly Senna offered Williams a drive for free going into the 1993 season. Talk about lack of basic respect for Mclaren, the team that won him 3 world championships.



    Why did he owe respect to McLaren? He won them 3 drivers championships and 4 constructors. I see where you’re coming from, but he did as much for them as they did for him. If anything, that just shows his dedication to the sport and to succeeding if he was prepared to drive for nothing.



    Man, that’s a hard one!
    Both were fast and nasty. Senna was the hero back in the days I started watching F1 (I’m Angolan and like in Brazil, “everybody” was rooting for Senna).
    I was very young in 1992 (8 years old) but my man was Nigel Mansell, as a 8 years old his moustache could not be ignored. Years went on and by 1994 I was completely taken away by a young man with “weird” name: Schumacher (for a 10 years old Portuguese speaking boy, that was a different and lovely sound) and since then he took over the place of Mansell as my favourite driver, his name, car livery and then driving skills won me over.
    Schumacher’s success and some regrettable moves from his side turned him into the main hating target in Formula 1 history but I was there until I got tired of his dynasty that manage to remind me how big a name Ferrari was (because before him Ferrari sucked for a kid who started watching F1 in early 1990s when it was all about Williams, McLaren and Benetton).
    For me, it’s Schumi but I understand different opinion because the difference is not that big.


    Force Maikel

    I’m going to shoot myself in the foot but I’ve always considered them evenly matched. Both have a quite aggressive style and shared the desire to win. But hey who am I? I find it difficult to compare them!

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