Just how do you rate the greatest driver of all time?


Valued Member
Why do wise men doubt themselves so much, when fools are ever-confident

It is a science vs religion thing here.

There is no way to reliably ascertain the G.O.A.T. across eras. To start with, usually World Champions come and go as you would expect, their competitive careers overlapping. But there are two years (1959, 1994) which represent clean breaks, where no previous World Champion raced.

Secondly, no-one can ascertain what was the best machinery. Was the F2004 better than the MP4/4 in 1988? Well, the McLaren led more laps in the season, but didn't have to pit for fuel. Also the F2004 had a jaded Barrichello in the second seat while the MP4/4 had Senna and Prost.... The list goes on.

Of course, the "religious" can just say their favourite driver is the best ever! Therein lies a problem in society as a whole. Saying "I don't know" often is considered to disprove a theory compared to an erroneous full explanation, even though it suggests a greater degree of correctness.


Valued Member
That sounds like something i would start doing Galahad, only to realise half way through it was an impossible task. Although to be fair, comparing drivers to their teammates is probably the only way to quantify a drivers quality. We know Alonso's>Massa, Kubica's>Petrov, Sutil's>Liuzzi, etc.

Hamilton > Kovalainen > Trulli > Alonso = Hamilton.

[2008/9, 2010, 2004, 2007]


Not a Moderator
Valued Member
Hamilton > Kovalainen > Trulli > Alonso = Hamilton.

[2008/9, 2010, 2004, 2007]

Precisely. Though you can argue whether Trulli in 2010 is the same as Trulli in 2004 was. But even then it's a fool's errand. Different cars suit some drivers better than others. Look at Patrese vs. Mansell at the start of 1991, compared to 1992.


Sidecar racers have the biggest cojones
God Galahad.I watched Moss and Fangio live but never Nuvolari.
My all time favourite in Jim Clark (RIP) But I would never say he was the greatest of all time.


Valued Member
Precisely. Though you can argue whether Trulli in 2010 is the same as Trulli in 2004 was. But even then it's a fool's errand. Different cars suit some drivers better than others. Look at Patrese vs. Mansell at the start of 1991, compared to 1992.

Of course, just making a point!


Race Winner
It's strange, in F1 it's impossible to say, yet in Moto GP the received wisdom is that it's Valentino Rossi, just because he's been champion both in the old 500cc class and the modern four stroke era, that and he's one more races than anyone else, ever.


Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Even comparing team-mates is risky, as team orders have always been part of the sport, in some eras more overtly than others, but always present.

When asked "who is the g.o.a.t?", my advice is to do as Galahad suggests or follow the old adage: "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt".


Staff Member
You could do it for the current grid by getting all drivers to drive an understeering car, a neutral handling car and an oversteering car on a power circuit and a technical circuit in the dry and rain.

Not going to happen though :D


Hans Heyer
It is hard to say who was the best of all time, but you can say who was the best of their era. Georges Boilliot (something like that) was the first person to win two GP, Ferenc won just the 1906 GP l'ACF. Carriciolla won the European Championship three times, and Fangio the world championship five time. I could go on, but I would bet a fair price that courtesy of down-force, and a being a product of extensive training since 8 years old, today's drivers are better, yet would crash a Lotus 49 or Maserati 250F if they in earnest tried to beat the original lap time by Clark/Fangio.


Podium Finisher
The only thing with that is if Bruno Senna was that good then he wouldn't have been with Hispania....

Having only recently got myself around to reading Tommy Byrne's biography I'm wondering whether this statement really stands up. Judging by his testing results compared to some big names he was quite clearly on the pace, but his personality and judgement let him down. A few times this last weekend the point was made that both FA and MW started off in Stoddart's Minardi cars, so filling a seat in a lowly team certainly doesn't mean that you aren't any good. Not everyone is fortunate enough to leap straight into a McLaren!

As for this thread's topic... were do you even begin to start. Just uncorking the magnum of worms that is "what does 'greatest' mean, anyway?" is a topic that could keep us occupied for years. Then to try measuring it quantitatively... :twisted:


Valued Member
Of course, tc, and I think putting an in-prime Fangio or Clark into an RB7 would lead to no end of confusion and them being unable to beat Seb Vettel's time.

G.O.A.T.s are for fools in any sport. Even in individual sports it is foolish - in tennis it has been said that it is Roger Federer because he's won more majors than anyone else, but Rod Laver missed several years to go pro. In football, Diego Maradona never won a top-level continental club trophy (either the European Cup or the Libertadores). He probably couldn't tackle as well as Beckenbauer either! And the effect of the rose-tinted memory is such that even in an objective sport, the semi-recent is chosen.

Look at football's G.O.A.T.s and Argentine midfielder/strikers. Messi vs Maradona vs di Stefano. In Barcelona, they'll say Messi. In Madrid, they'll say di Stefano. In Naples, they'll say Maradona.

F1 is the same. The answer to G.O.A.T. in Brazil, France and Germany will be markedly different!


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
I would just like to say, sticking my neck out, that statistically Michael Schumacher is the greatest of all time. Shame we only get to see his shadow racing in the Mercedes today :(

Cue lots of people to point out "he had the best car", "he benefited from team orders", "the drivers he was up against weren't as good as at other times in F1", yadda, yadda, yadda. Simply, he rewrote the record book.

Click this link just to see what he has achieved http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Schumacher#Formula_One_records


Valued Member
Statistically, as you say, FB, there is no doubt.
  • He's won 1 race less than Senna and Prost combined.
  • He's won more races than Mansell, Stewart and Alonso combined.
  • He's won only 2 less races in the 00s than Alonso, Raikkonen, Massa, Barrichello, Hamilton, Coulthard, Montoya and Button combined.
  • From 2000-04 he won 48 races and did not win 37
  • He's led 5000 laps in F1, and is the only driver over 3000
  • He's achieved more poles than Senna, and more than double anyone else.
  • He's won more races from pole than anyone else.
  • He's won as many races not from pole as Alain Prost won total.
  • He won more races in 2004 than Mario Andretti, James Hunt and Gilles Villeneuve won in their whole careers.
  • He won races in 15 consecutive years, only Prost has won in 10 in-a-row
  • He is the 16th youngest man to ever win an F1 race, but the 11th oldest since 1980.
  • Only two people have ever won 6 or more races at the same circuit - Senna at Monaco and Schumacher at Suzuka. And Barcelona. And Spa. And Imola (7). And Montreal (7). And Magny-Cours (8).
  • He's won as many races in France as Denny Hulme in his entire career.
  • He's won more races for Ferrari than anyone else has won period.
  • He's the only person to win more than 15 races for Ferrari (he won 72!)
  • Adding together the wins of Ferrari's next 7 winners [Lauda, Ascari, Massa, Raikkonen, Barrichello, Villeneuve, Ickx] gives less wins for Ferrari than Schumi alone.
  • He achieved 19 successive podiums.
  • He achieved 7 successive wins.
  • He's won 79.8% of the Grand Prix ever won by German drivers.
Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Schumacher.
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