Winning and Dominance


Valued Member
This morning, I said this:

Alonso has won 32 races in Formula One without ever having a dominant car. That's not just better than Button, that is better than everyone.

But is it true? The top 7 Grand Prix winners (30+) are Nigel Mansell, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher. I'm going to start with the most simple definition of dominance possible, then refine it further. So the first thing I will do is assess wins when NOT in a WCC winning car:


Interestingly, this measure boosts Hamilton's figures despite so many of his wins coming in 2012. Michael Schumacher won more races than any other in years where he won the World Championship.

However, I'm not sure this shows dominant cars. One way to look at dominance is to think of a dominant car as one who wins more than half of the races that season.


Alonso has never sat in a car which has won more than half of its races, which puts him up into second place by this metric. Here Prost and Senna are level and ahead of Hamilton. Hamilton's tally is unchanged.

I do have reservations about this, since Schumacher is being punished, for example in 2000, by his own brilliance in winning races he perhaps shouldn't against an arguably superior McLaren car.

A purer way of dealing with this could well be to look at second drivers. In this case a car is considered 'dominant' if its second driver is the best placed second driver in the championship (if they did not complete a full season, e.g. Ferrari's second driver in 1999 will be the sum of Schumacher and Salo's scores).


Interestingly, that method of determining the drivers who've thrived in non-dominant cars brings out the same order of these 7. We can argue about the relative qualities of team-mates here (Giancarlo Fisichella can look away, while Jenson Button deserves a resounding pat on the back.)

The conclusions I would draw from this are that Michael Schumacher is fantastic whichever way you cut it, and clearly has not won 91 races just by accident. However, it can be seen by both methods of trying to assess dominance that Fernando Alonso has thrived in no small measure despite his machinery rather than because of it, while as you would expect Seb Vettel and Nigel Mansell were the most reliant on excellent cars of the top 7.

Both of these methods to ascertain dominance have significant issues, but I feel that any attempt to draw up an objective ranking would have these issues. Any subjective call would be clouded by the opinions of the contributor to the drivers that we're looking for.

So, was I right? I think it is fair to say that relative to his machinery, Fernando Alonso's record in Formula One is outstanding, but I did state it beats everyone. Not Michael Schumacher, it doesn't.
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