How would you rate Britains 10 WDC's ??

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
This could prove to be somewhat controversial however it could also be quite interesting. On the eve of the British GP, Motorsport magazine has a great article on each one of the 10 British world drivers champions plus an opportunity to vote for who your favorite is. Obviously, and as discussed on many occasions on the pages of this and many other sites, comparing drivers across the years is like trying to compare oranges with apples and so on.

If you were asked though, how would you place them into a top 10? Which criteria would you include and which would you overlook?

F1 drivers of the last 20 years only find time to try their hand at other series when their F1 career is over and done with but in order to earn a crust or mainly because they just loved racing, drivers of old would turn their hand to vastly different types of vehicle sometimes even on the same weekend, would the modern driver have the same ability to drive anything, anywhere?

Here is my top 10, starting at number 10:

Number 10 - James Hunt I guess he was the driver who did more than anyone else in Britain to lift F1 from the sports pages to the front pages but in terms of F1, his Championship will always be accompanied by the words "ah yes but... If Lauda hadn't had his accident". Briefly shone for a couple of years and then fizzled out.

Number 9 - Mike Hawthorn It becomes difficult to judge a driver when all you know about him is what you've read or the very small amount of grainy, black and white footage that exists of his driving. Britain's first world champion in an era when to sit in an F1 car was to invite death on a regular basis deserves some respect even though the stats don't tell all. From what I'm given to understand he career and health were hampered by a series of crashes before eventually the loss of one too many colleagues lead to him calling it a day after clinching the title.

Number 8 - Jenson Button Made a strong debut with Williams but then too many contract issues and seemingly bad advice left his career short of what was expected. Faster than Villeneuve in what was regarded as the Canadians own team and had the same sort of impact on joining what many regarded as Hamilton's team at Mclaren. Took the Brawn to the top step by using his experience coupled with a car that was the right one at the right time. The problem with Button for me is that it could have all been different.

Number 7 - John Surtees Like Hunt he only lead the world championship for a few laps at the very end of the last race of the season having not lead at any previous stage. Having (as is always written) made the jump from an awesome two wheel career to take the F1 title it does make him pretty unique in motorsport. Again, from what I understand, he was regarded as a difficult and irascible man to work with but he got the job done.

Number 6 - Damon Hill The first son of a champion to take the title and often regarded as the "nice guy" of British motor racing. As his father faced the task of rebuilding a team in the wake of the death of a legend so Damon had to do exactly the same. 22 wins in 115 GPs puts him up there among the best and had he not had the contractual issues with Sir Frank leaving him scrabbling around for a drive in 1997 it could have been more. (not forgetting the heart break of Hungary and his spell at Jordan). Sadly it all fizzled out in his final season at Jordan when he had perhaps one year too many.

Number 5 - Lewis Hamilton Seldom if ever has a driver made such an impact on his debut and created so many column inches in the press and on the web. You only have to look on CTA to see who the subject of most conversations is about, almost every race weekend. 18 wins in 98 races so far in a Mclaren that at times has been fantastic and others not so puts him slightly ahead of Hill in terms of achievements. His career has a way to go and potentially further titles to add to his one so he could be far higher in the future.

Number 4 - Graham Hill The only driver to have won the big three and Mr Monaco. Would he have won the 68 world championship? We'll never know but I have to say it was unlikely. From what I've read he was a very technical driver who could spend ages sent a car up to his way of driving which in itself is a skill.

Number 3 - Nigel Mansell Like him or loath him, our Nige was the Brit for the 80's. Always dramatic and often seen as a moaner, he has one of the best records of any driver. He should and could have been a world champion 3 times but for his battles with some of the legends of the sport. A mistake in Mexico and then "that" blow out cost him in 86 and simply not being as good as consistent as Piquet cost him 87. Finally, when he got the car right and the head right, he wiped the floor with everyone before flouncing off to America. Let's not talk about comebacks.

Number 2 - Jim Clark Oooh I hear you say. Controversial. I know for a fact that had I been a young lad in the 60's, as he was my mums, Clark would have been my hero. Such was his impact on motor racing that his death shocked the world. As I believe Dan Gurney put it, "if it could happen to Jimmy then what chance do the rest of us have". My mum actually kept the Express newspaper announcing his death in case she ever had a son so that she could show him who Jim Clark was. Having said all that though, while he was a natural driver of fantastic skill, much in the same way Schumacher had a whole team to himself in the early 00's so Clark was very much the same in the early 60's. It's been written that the width of the DFV engine block was determined by the width of Jim Clark's seat !!!.

Number 1 - Jackie Stewart Three World titles, a podium in only his second race, a win in his first season and the man who would go on to pass Jim Clark's score of 25 wins (later passed by Mansell as well). Often remembered for his campaign to push for F1 safety and for his corporate savvy that doesn't sit well with the lovers of the swash buckling buccaneer drivers his record speaks for itself. Another driver who called it a day after loosing one too many friends I think he could very well have had one or two more seasons in him. When placed side by side to Clark, I think he comes out slightly on top and that is from one of the worlds biggest Lotus fans.

Now, what does everyone else think?
 

sportsman

Sidecar racers have the biggest cojones
Contributor
I would swap Clark and Stewart with Clark taking top spot.This is based on Clarks remarkable records in the Tasman Cup series down under where he won the championship in 1965 1967 and 1968.
Stewart won in 1967.
My avatar does show my all time hero so there may be some bias in my post.
 

Mephistopheles

Banned
Contributor
I would rate them in order of the number of Championships have won I wouldn't know how to do it any other way unless I did in order of whether I like them or not and in that case Hunt, Hawthorne, and Mansell would be way way way down the bottom lower even than some none world champions in fact they wouldn't even be on my list...
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
Interesting that you place Surtees that far down the list and Damon above Mansell.
 

Mephistopheles

Banned
Contributor
Okay I will gethinceri
  1. Surtees, cuz he won on bikes and cars
  2. Damon cuz he started on bikes and even though he started F1 late he still managed to be champion and knew when to quit
  3. Jenson cuz he was my choice as natural successor to Hill
  4. Clark cuz he was just brilliant
  5. Hill cuz he was Damon's dad and he had a dry sense of humour
  6. Stewart cuz he is a proper bloke and talks a lot of sense
  7. Lewis cuz he is quick
  8. -
  9. -
  10. -
  11. -
  12. -
  13. -
  14. -
  15. -
  16. Mansell cuz he bored me stupid
  17. Hunt just a rich playboy who smoked to much and cheated on his wife
  18. Hawthorn cuz he knew he was ill and raced knowing he was destined to die young anyway which made him dangerous and I blame him for the crash that killed so many people at Le Mans 1955 and although he blamed himself initially he changed his mind the next day.
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
Let me explain--

Surtees, IMHO, only won the WDC because Clark's Lotus blew up on the final lap and Surtee's teammate, Bandini, rammed Graham out of contention earlier in the race. If he had hung up his goggles immediately after his horrendous accident in the Lola T70, I would rate him higher. Instead, he soldiered on. In 1967 and 1968 he had what was generally acknowledged to be the most powerful car on the grid, the Honda, yet only won one race with it (Monza in 1967, which should have been Clark's win). I find it hard to see past 1969, when he led BRM and they were far less competitive than in 1968 and 1970 with Pedro Rodriguez as their leader, and Chaparrall, who were likewise far more competitive in 1968 with Jim Hall as their driver, and 1970 with Vic Elford.

As for Mansell, his WDC was won in the car that had the most driver aids ever seen in F1, rendering the driver a much smaller part of the equation. Beyond that, he was completely averse to the "grunt work" that makes a great driver--the testing and sorting out of a car to get the maximum out of it.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
Interesting points S_F.

Obviously I envy you having the chance to have seen these guys race.

I think because of my only knowledge being in the form of things I've seen on TV or read, I rated Surtees higher because of his all round ability and took in to account the difficulty of being so multi-skilled. The fact he also won the Can-Am championship and several endurance races shows he was at least a very capable all rounder.

I know what you mean with your point on his 1969 BRM Season. Having read Tony Rudd's biography in which he talks about the development of Ground Effect and the fact that they had to hide their work from Surtees because they knew he wouldn't want team resources being diverted from his car in such a way. Rudd had an office set up in secret to develop the car and as he said Surtees found out about it and got BRM to stop the work. In response, Rudd quit BRM and took his work to Lotus. Wonder how that went?

BRM Ground Effect Car
 

no-FIAt-please

Champion Elect
Premium Contributor
1. Jim Clark - His record speaks for itself, he was incredibly fast in anything and when he had he chance he took the championship with maximum points. He was fast in all sorts of cars but that isn't why he's in my #1 spot, his exploits in F1 alone deserve that.
2. Jackie Stewart - Brilliant both on the race track and off. He also took the most championships out of any of the drivers here. Also he still has an opinion of matters in F1 nowadays and unlike other past champions (*cough* Lauda) he doesn't make stupid statements.
3. Nigel Mansell - A fantastic record in which the only thing missing is more titles. Somewhat unlucky but he didn't help situations with his complaining. Still he was excellent outside of Williams with a debut win for Ferrari and Rookie of the Year and CART champion in '93.
4. Graham Hill - The Hill with two championships. People also never seem to mention that he finished second in the WDC 3 times. He really was Mr Monaco with 5 wins.
5. Lewis Hamilton - My favourite driver. His attacking and exciting driving style is what drew me to him as a fan. He was brilliant in his first F1 season was robbed of the title that year. He often finds himself in trouble for being agressive, as a true fan of his I'd rather see him fail driving the way he wants that to than succeed by being careful. I can only hope that he continues his success for many years to come, although when he leaves F1 I don't know who I'll follow... :(
6. Damon Hill - I won't talk about his relationship with Schumi... Like his father he was accustomed to finishing 2nd in the WDC, twice in fact. Hill has a good record, not the best but certainly nothing to turn your nose up at, a great driver.
7. Jenson Button - How things have improved since 2009... He's certainly fufilled the potential he showed during earlier F1 years such as 2004, although the doubters had reason to doubt, only the year before his championship he looked uninterested and was bested by Barrichello. But he's turned that all around now, a great driver who on his day is unbeatable. Button also gets bonus points because his first F1 win was also the first ever race I saw.
8. Mike Hawthorn - I can't say I know too much about Hawthorn. His 8th place is based soley on his record, but props to him because he retired on top, the way it should be...
9. James Hunt - Well I know who would top Kimi Raikkonen's list, even if it is for pure personality. I think Hunt is remembered as much for his outgoing nature as he was for his on-track exploits. Drink and drugs before a race would be condemned nowadays, lucky for him he lived in the 70s. Of course if we are realistic Lauda's injuries secured Hunt the 1976 title (even then not by much!) but he was still an extraordinary F1 driver.
10. John Surtees - The man who was king both on two and four wheels. But this is about how I rank British F1 WDCs, similarly to Hawthorn I don't know much about Surtees and therefore his record puts him in tenth for me.

Bear in mind I have yet to see any of them race in action and have only witnessed Hamilton and Button on television (which is soon to be remedied).
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
I think its fair to say the consensus is that the two Scots are one and two. With a fair wind I expect Hamilton could join the top three.

It's sad that this criteria acts as a rolling stone...
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
OK, I'll have a go.

1 - Jimmy Clark: 1965 Indianapolis 500 Champion. Enough said.
2 - Mike Hawthorn: I've always respected the 50's drivers a bit more. Being the first Brit must count for something too.
3 - Jackie Stewart: Obviously an incredible driver, but he probably did more than anybody to safeguard the future of F1.
4 - James Hunt: Somebody's gotta give Hunt some love. Just imagine driving a Formula One car in the state of mind he found himself in quite often. His win in the Hesketh alone earns him this spot.
5 - Graham Hill: When I think of the old school racing driver, G. Hill pops into my mind immediately.
6 - Lewis Hamilton: Overcame more obstacles than he's given credit for. Faces more scrutiny than any other driver in history. Blisteringly fast even without the best machinery.
7 - Nigel Mansell: Not exactly a loveable character, but he possessed great speed in great cars. Would've been bumped up a spot if he had been able to hold off Fittipaldi at Indy in 1993.
8 - Jenson Button: Unbeatable on his best days, but they are too few and far between.
9 - Damon Hill: Worthy champion, but probably could have done a bit more.
10 - John Surtees: I know he was a great motorcycle champion, but I have conveniently ignored that.
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
I've taken the liberty of tabulating the results so far to achieve a combined list. I've simply added up each placing that every driver has received to get a total. Lowest point total wins.

#1 - Jimmy Clark - 15 pts
#2 - Jackie Stewart - 20
#3 - Graham Hill - 35
#4 - Lewis Hamilton - 48
#5 - Nigel Mansell - 49
#6 - Damon Hill - 58
#7 - John Surtees - 59
#8 - Jenson Button - 67
#9 - Mike Hawthorn - 69
#10 - James Hunt - 75
 
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