I'm glad you said some people, becuase I'm pretty sure that anyone who knows anything about F1 knows that Andretti revolutionised the way a driver interacts with his engineers in terms of car set ups. Andretti was made for the ground effect era because he truly understood how minor adjustments to a car could dramatically increase performance. More often than not, Ronnie would get himself in a tangle over car set up, tell his engineers to just stick Mario's set up on the car and he'd go out and drive it.
Yes, there were team orders but no, Mario won that title on merit and not only that, won in many different series and types of car. Still winning in Indy Car 14 years after his title. A great driver by anyones standards.
Good choice he use to get a lot of hammering because it was the Newey Williams he competed and it was either
i) He wins because he had the best car
ii) He did not win because he was
Schumacher really used it to his advantage especially when the British press were hammering Hill as well for inept driving
Obviously his reputation went up after he left Williams seeing how Villeneuve made a real mess of his campaign and fortuitous title in 97
Hockenheim 97 " If Damon Hill was still driving for Williams, he would have been leading the world championship " Bernard Dudot - head of Renault sport's comment to why Williams are not leading the championship despite having the best car
His seasons at Arrows and Jordan made the teams look better than they ought to
I would also place Dan Gurney on a par with Andretti, even though he never won a world championship. Gurney like Andretti was competitive in anything that he drove, stock cars, indy cars, sports cars and F1. Alot must be said for any driver, who Jimmy Clark's father said, was the man who Jimmy feared the most............That's one hell of a compliment.
Dan also must be credited with starting a traditon, which is now shared by many forms of motorsport today, after his Le Mans victory.......spraying of the champagne.
I think that Gunnar Nilsson has escaped most people's attention as he died at a very early age from cancer. In the Lotus 78, he proved a very good driver and an excellent backup to Andretti and was maturing rapidly. I felt he was destined to be a WDC some day, but unfortunately was never to be given the chance.
Has Rene Arnoux been mentioned yet? You don't get 18 poles and 7 wins without being fantastically quick. It's such a shame he is more well known for breaking down in the Renault, and being a nuisance in the Ligier.
This thread is a bit confusing. I think in terms of the OP a number of drivers have been mentioned who didn't reach their potential who were actually highly rated in their day. Of the latest entries in this thread, Cevert is a fine example of a hot tip to take a title or two had he lived. Damon Hill may have gone on to further glory had he kept his seat at Williams, or landed a seat with a top team, instead of ending up in the Arrows and Jordan in the twilight of his career.
My point is that the OP calls for nominations for the most under-rated driver of all time. Whether or not drivers like Hill or Cevert were under-rated by some they are hardly contenders for that title. Methinks we are overdue for the Poll list but I don't envy the task RasputinLives has set himself in compiling the list. Best of luck there then.