Jim Clark vs The Rest

Viscount

Pole Sitter
Contributor
I recently came across this interesting graph by Sean Kelly (F1 statistician and SPEED editor) which I thought I'd share. He compared how if Aryton Senna and Jim Clark had not died in their primes and went on to compete in as many races as Michael Schumacher had until the end of 2011 (287 races) whilst continuing at the succes rate they had throughout their careers (wins, poles & fastest laps), how their stats would compare to Schumachers.

http://peterwindsor.com/2012/03/22/tfl-slide-12/


As we currently have 5 other world champions currently on the grid, I thought I'd see how their stats would compare to the three drivers above if they all went on to start 287 races like Schumacher whilst continuing at their current success rate. (I only included their stats up until the end of 2011 like Sean Kelly's graph, to calculate their win rates etc.)

Jim Clark vs The Rest.jpg


Obviously Vettel clearly stands out most among the current drivers as he's fortunately been in a competitive car for most of his short career so far, whereas Button at the other end of the scale has spent most of his much longer career so far in uncompetitive cars so his success rate is not as high. I do think it shows that for any of them to beat Schumacher's achievements will be an incredibly difficult task.

Jim Clark still stands well above the rest in all three categories which I find most impressive considering the danger factor and higher rate of mechanical failures in the period that he raced.
 

Wombcat

Podium Finisher
You do realize that to get to 287 races Clark had to keep racing till Imola 1983? Which is highly improbable.
Meanwhile I agree that due to the fact that there were more race per season in the 90s/00s than in the 60s the totals don't tell the whole story, but percentages are more meaningful.
Juan Manuel Fangio has even better percentages than Clark BTW. (24/51 wins, 25/51 poles and 23/51 FL. And most importantly 5 out of 7 championships). Now that are some impressive percentages. He'd have won 135 races if he'd carried on that way.
 

Vortex

Race Winner
How does it change if you don’t include Schumacher ‘second F1 career’ at Mercedes? These years have certainly harmed his averages stats.
The longer the career the harder it is to maintain high averages too.
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
Interesting compilation, Viscount. Thanks for the effort.

Although I don't think it possible to accurately compare one era to another, I have always said that Clark was the greatest driver that I ever saw. That is especially true when you take into account the depth of talent that was in F1 at that time. You need only look at the starting grids for the 1968 South African GP and the 1967 U.S. GP to see what I mean. You will see such names as: Brabham, Graham Hill, Rindt, Stewart, Hulme, McLaren, Gurney,Surtees, Rodrigues, Siffert, Amon etc. Not a single mug among them.
 

Wombcat

Podium Finisher
How does it change if you don’t include Schumacher ‘second F1 career’ at Mercedes? These years have certainly harmed his averages stats.
The longer the career the harder it is to maintain high averages too.
He'd still be well below Fangio. His winratio is a bit better than Clarks' though (Clark on ca. 34%, Schumi on 36%).
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
Fangio's numbers are nor quite as clear as they seem. In his era, you were allowed to take over a teammates car in mid-race if you car failed, and you would get your final position points. Fangio availed himself of that provision on more than one occasion. In later eras, he would have been listed as a DNF.
 

Wombcat

Podium Finisher
Fangio's numbers are nor quite as clear as they seem. In his era, you were allowed to take over a teammates car in mid-race if you car failed, and you would get your final position points. Fangio availed himself of that provision on more than one occasion. In later eras, he would have been listed as a DNF.
Ture, but for poles and FL that doesn't matter.
And Fangio got 2 shared wins as far as I know (3rd race in 1951 and 1st race in 1956). Even with them discounted his winratio is well up on the others (22/51=43%).
 

Viscount

Pole Sitter
Contributor
You do realize that to get to 287 races Clark had to keep racing till Imola 1983? Which is highly improbable.
Meanwhile I agree that due to the fact that there were more race per season in the 90s/00s than in the 60s the totals don't tell the whole story, but percentages are more meaningful.
Juan Manuel Fangio has even better percentages than Clark BTW. (24/51 wins, 25/51 poles and 23/51 FL).
Yes it would be unlikely that Clark raced for that long with there being so fewer races each season back then but if he had he'd only be four years older than Schumacher currently is. I don't know why Sean Kelly chose number of starts rather than percentages, but I think because Senna and Clark's careers were cut short he was just trying to show what they may have achieved if they had a full career rather than just comparing their stats to each other.
 

Viscount

Pole Sitter
Contributor
How does it change if you don’t include Schumacher ‘second F1 career’ at Mercedes? These years have certainly harmed his averages stats.
The longer the career the harder it is to maintain high averages too.
Well as Schumacher hasn't won, been on pole or set a fastest lap since his return and it's based on his total rather than average, his numbers wouldn't be affected. Everyone else's numbers however would be lower (by 13%) since they would 2 less seasons to achieve wins, poles or fastest laps.
 

Wombcat

Podium Finisher
Well as Schumacher hasn't won, been on pole or set a fastest lap since his return and it's based on his total rather than average, his numbers wouldn't be affected. Everyone else's numbers however would be lower (by 13%) since they would 2 less seasons to achieve wins, poles or fastest laps.
If Schumacher hadn't returned, then he'd have raced 40 races less. Which means 247 races with the same amount of wins. Do the same math and Clark would have gotten 84 wins in 247 races. Well, waddoyouknow. That's less than Schumacher.
So yeah, it does matter.
 

Viscount

Pole Sitter
Contributor
If Schumacher hadn't returned, then he'd have raced 40 races less. Which means 247 races with the same amount of wins. Do the same math and Clark would have gotten 84 wins in 247 races. Well, waddoyouknow. That's less than Schumacher.
So yeah, it does matter.

I get the impression that this is coming across as trying to say Jim Clark is the best driver ever. In the episode in the link where he talks about the graph he only chose those particular drivers as it was on the anniversary of Senna's birthday, Jim Clark was the presenter's favourite driver, Schumacher is currently racing and holds the records in those particular categories. As you said, Fangio had an even more impressive success rate.

I just wanted to compare what the current top drivers could achieve if they continued at their current success rate.
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
The lengthy season of today has the power to massively swing statistics. If you have a totally dominant car, in theory you could win 16 - 20 races, especially as the cars are so much more reliable today.

So, while the extrapolation may provide some insight as to the current drivers relative to each other, I believe the validity stops there.
 

The Artist.....

Champion Elect
The stats seems of forgotten about Fangio. The stat king of kings.
... And of course Alberto Ascari! - He won 9 consecutive races that he entered, 2 consecutive championships, and then never finished another race! 13 wins from 33 races is phenomenal (Although still not matching Fangio's 24 from 52 races!
 

sportsman

Sidecar racers have the biggest cojones
Contributor
Interesting compilation, Viscount. Thanks for the effort.

Although I don't think it possible to accurately compare one era to another, I have always said that Clark was the greatest driver that I ever saw. That is especially true when you take into account the depth of talent that was in F1 at that time. You need only look at the starting grids for the 1968 South African GP and the 1967 U.S. GP to see what I mean. You will see such names as: Brabham, Graham Hill, Rindt, Stewart, Hulme, McLaren, Gurney,Surtees, Rodrigues, Siffert, Amon etc. Not a single mug among them.

Agreed SF. I did see Clark and Fangio, Moss etc race live and Clark was in my opinion the best I have ever seen.
This short video of an onboard from Oulton Park in 1963 is very revealing.Note that there are no kerbs to run over, gearchanges are fully manual and need double declutching complete with heel and toe technique.
 

Greenlantern101

Super Hero And All Round Good Guy
Contributor
I went for a we run 2 summers back to look at Jim Clarks Statue in Kilmany.
Its tiny, must be 1/3rd life size, either that or he was just a wee chap. What a let down.
Wish I was as ancient as Sportsman ;) so I could of seen him race.

320px-Jim_Clark_Memorial_974.jpg
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
A very interesting look at what if. From what I've read about Clark though, I think his time at Lotus was nearing an end come 1968. Had he survived the season, I think there is little doubt that he would have been world champion for a third time but there has been a lot of speculation since that he would have called it a day at Lotus at that point.

Would Clark have stayed in F1 after 8 years and with such a close relationship to one team? Who knows. The fact is, that he was incredible in almost any make or model of car. The chances are, he would have won Le Man in sports cars (which Chapman had boycotted since the early 60's over a falling out with the French officials) and Clark would have loved I'm sure, another crack at the British Rally. It's all fairly academic however.
 

Bill Boddy

Professional layabout
Contributor
I seem to remember that Clark would have liked to race in the Le Mans 24 Hour but Chapman was against it because of the danger due to the disparities in the speeds of the cars involved.

In F1 we are used to seeing cars running at more or less the same speed ; there have still been a number of occasions where a driver has been fooled by how early the slightly slower car in front of him has to apply the brakes. When the speeds on the straight can be forty or more mph with drivers who (at that time) were very varied in their skill and experienced it can become a lottery.
 
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