The Power of One


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Over the years a few drivers appear in F1 who seem to be able to lift a team and drive them to new levels of achievement. These men have the ability to lead a team and raise there, often already significant, abilities and push them to new heights. Their arrival also seems to draw others to the team which maintains the momentum and drives the team on.

Here are who I have seen in F1, in the time I have been watching the sport, who have this capability:

Alain Prost - he made an impressive début at McLaren in 1981 and then moved on to Renault where he pushed the team close to winning World Titles. His departure from Renault and arrival at McLaren not only pushed the team but his team mates. He won the Drivers Championship in 1985 and 1986 and the level of his performance drew Ayrton Senna to McLaren to create one of the sports most intense rivalry. Prost won the title again in 1989 before moving to Ferrari who, although winning races, had not challenged for Championships since the 70's. Prost pushed the Scuderia and, without that now infamous incident at the first corner in Japan in 1990, could have won the title that year. A final title at Williams in 1993 was an appropriate reward for the titles Prost missed out on in '84, '88 and 1990.

Ayrton Senna - Senna picked his own route in F1 choosing to drive for the lowly Toleman team in his debut season. Toleman were improving but Senna's arrival seemed to have a galvanising effect on the outfit and he so nearly won a race at Monaco that year. Senna moved to Lotus under less than positive circumstance and took the team back to the winners circle on a regular basis. Lotus were never going to fulfil Ayrton's desire for Championships, for that he had to move to McLaren. 1988 was an astonishing year in F1 where, without the intervention of Jean Louis Schlesser at Monza, McLaren would have won every race. Senna took three titles at McLaren before his untimely death in 1994 driving for Williams. At that time he was being challenged by my next choice...

Michael Schumacher - Schumie's first race for Jordan put him on radar for nearly ever team principal and he was snapped up by Flavio Briatore to drive for Benetton at the next race. Benetton had won races but never looked like pushing for titles, Schumie won two for the team in '94 and '95 before taking on his greatest challenge, Ferrari. It took Schumacher 4 seasons before the team he created around him dominated the sport in a way few had seen before. The German won 5 titles in a row but towards the end of his domination a new man was starting to raise the game of one of Schumacher's former teams.

Fernando Alonso - a quite début at Minardi belied the potential of Spain's first World Champion. He then became test driver for the Renault team before becoming a race driver in 2003. The Renault team had wanted titles since their started in F1 in 1977 and Alonso delivered two in 2005 and 2006 before moving on to, probably, the unhappiest time of his career at McLaren. Although he won races the team and the driver didn't gel and Alonso returned to Renault. In 2010 Fernando joined Ferrari and, although they had won races and even the odd WDC since Schumacher's departure, he seemed to change the focus of the team and push it to new levels of achievement, missing out on two Drivers titles in 2010 and 2012 by the smallest of margins.

You may agree or disagree with my choices but I hope you won't disagree with the basic rationale. Other great drivers have graced F1 but the drivers I have chosen appear to have that indefinable something extra. As we move into the 2013 season one driver has the chance to join these men in proving that the Power of One can raise what an F1 team can achieve, Lewis Hamilton. Does Lewis have that capacity? Next year we will find out.
You could add Niki Lauda to that list FB.
Arriving at Ferrari at the back-end of their disastrous 1973 he immediately impressed Enzo Ferrari after his fist test with the team with his brutal honesty in calling the car a "piece of shit" to the consternation of those around, at a time when one and all working for Ferrari lived in fear of the commendatore. He formed a fruitful relationship with Mauro Forghieri to open an era of domination in a team that hadn't produced a title winner in the previous 10 years.

Then on his comeback he used his influence with Marlboro to effectively force Ron Dennis'hand in the middle of 1983, when his position was that McLaren should enter the TAG/Porsche in the season's last quarter against the opinion of the technical staff, who preferred to wait until the following season. Niki's reasoning being that they would otherwise spend the first half of 1984 fine-tuning the problems inherent to the introduction of a turbo engine in a racing situation. Niki flew to Philip Morris' headquarters in Swit\erland in an attempt to convince them to force Ron Dennis' s hand, and succeeded. That was probably the start of their ennemity as Dennis felt he had been by-passed in an important decision concerning his own team but you can't argue with the results. Predictably the Tag turbo failed to finish any of the races it entered in 1983, but it certainly was ready for 1984, and the rest is history.
Cheers Incubus. My knowledge of Lauda was mainly based on his comeback rather than his first career. I'm sure Niki pushed Mclaren hard, if you read my write up of his '84 season I think Prost pushed him to new levels as well.
I see where you're coming from, but not sure how you come to those conclusions. For instance, I'm not sure how Alonso changed things at Renault any more than Vettel did at Red Bull. They didn't win races before either their arrival, and did the year they arrived (as a racing driver).
I'm not quite sure of your point mnmracer. Alonso won in Hungary in 2003, Trulli at Monaco in 2004. Come 2005 the team was assembled around the man to give him a run at the title and he took it. He's gone on since then to prove he can build and lead a team. Perhaps if Vettel goes to another team and does something similar I will add him to the list but, at the moment, he doesn't make it (and I think Vettel is pretty damned good).
How has Alonso shown at Renault he can build a team more than Vettel has?
Before their arrival, there was no succes, since their arrival, there was. That's the same for both drivers.

I guess I just feel that building a team also involves handling a competitive team-mate, in a way diferent from "have him move over".
I think you're missing the point, I'm looking at the drivers careers and their effect on the team in totality. Vettel is very good but he hasn't proven he can build a team and draw people to said team. As a for instance, Adrian Newey didn't come to Red Bull because of Sebastien Vettel, he was already there but I'd put good money on the fact that Pat Fry has gone to Ferrari to be part of what Alonso might achieve there.
No, I think Fernando's arrival made Renault raise their game, just look how it slipped when he left. Vettel has galvanised things at Red Bull and created a focus point for the team but hasn't yet proven (to me) that he has the same qualities as the chaps listed above. Lewis Hamilton has the chance to prove himself at Mercedes next year, if Vettel were off there I'd have the same view.
Cracking read once again FB You're knocking em out the park at the moment matey. Must be the excitment of the build up to the Doctor Who xmas special!

can I venture a debatable one? Jean Alesi. He single handedly pulled that Tyrell up from shitness in 89 and 90 and to this day I can't remember there being as much excitment around a driver from fans and F1 workers alike. Somehow it just didn't work though and not until his later days can I even blame Jean much for that.
There is of course one man who more than any other was able to lift and rally his team around him in a way no-one else ever did.
In fact he even created it. :)
Pat Fry went to Ferrari to be around Alonso? That is a bold assumption. Ferrari is the most successful better paying team n the paddock. On the other hand Newey declined to go to Ferrari. Maybe he wants to stay close to Vettel. Alonso's is a very good driver but I don't see how he changed the sport. He won a couple of titles at the end of Schumacher's era. He had a good car to do it and yet never was the driver who won most races in a season. His style is reliability. He beat Raikkonen in being the first to beat old Schumi but Raikkonen came back with a vengeance in 2007. Give me the Finn, Vettel or Lewis for entertainment anytime. A guy that presses hard on the pedal to overtake a couple of drivers at the starting line with a bully style (and overdoing it at occasions like in Spa and Monaco) then cynically waiting for 55 laps for the others to run into trouble and cease second or third to add to his tally and stay alive for the last race waiting for a miracle does not make a F1 great driver. Lewis' 4 wins and 7 poles where the second best drive of the year. Except maybe for people who think F1 is not about winning races.
I think you're missing the point, I'm looking at the drivers careers and their effect on the team in totality. Vettel is very good but he hasn't proven he can build a team and draw people to said team. As a for instance, Adrian Newey didn't come to Red Bull because of Sebastien Vettel, he was already there but I'd put good money on the fact that Pat Fry has gone to Ferrari to be part of what Alonso might achieve there.

You are correct Vettel did not build or make the RedBull Team the RedBull Team made Vettel.
Yes coz Red Bull were massively successful before Vettel came along.........what?......They hadn't won a race?....
..Mark Webber was the driver with the most GPs without a win ans they hadn't even finished in the top 4 in the championship? Well I never ;)
I think that was as much to do with the major rule changes as anything else. Webber's results improved into 2009 along with the team. Vettel may well have been the final ingredient in the mix, however, he was not the instigator of the change.
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