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Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Aug 2011   |  5:58 pm GMT  |  67 comments

With this weekend being the 20th anniversary of Michael Schumacher’s debut in F1, there have been tributes aplenty from fellow drivers but none more effusive than from his great rival of the mid 2000s, Fernando Alonso.

“I have great respect for him, he’s one of the greatest or the greatest in our sport,” said Alonso. “The numbers are there and impossible to repeat for us. It’s been a great pleasure to drive with him all these years. I will always remember all the battles with him. It was a priviledge to drive against Michael Schumacher.

“He decided to stop and then come back and now the car is not competitive enough for him to win races, but I’m sure he is still enjoying. There are some criticisms about his results now but I don’t agree with them. Michael was watching the races at home three years ago, now he’s seventh or ninth, but I’m sure he is happy every morning because he is racing in F1. It’s what he wants to do; he’s a driver.

“Twenty years are a lot. If I think of myself it would be 2021 and I don’t think I can do that! I want to congratulate him for these 20 years and tell him it’s a pleasure to race against him.”

The Spaniard wasn’t always so gushing. In 2006 when Schumacher spun during qualifying in Monaco, preventing his rival from taking pole from him, Alonso told Mark Webber at dinner that if the stewards did not punish Schumacher he would lie down on the grid in front of Schumacher’s car to symbolise that the German “rides all over the other drivers”.

In the event this was not necessary as the stewards ruled that Schumacher had spun on purpose and put him at the back of the grid.

Perhaps thinking of this and other moments he wishes hadn’t happened, Schumacher was in philosophical mood this afternoon,

“Taking the 20 years, taking everything that I’ve been doing…. certainly, going backwards, I would do certain things differently, but then in life you have to make some mistakes in order to understand it is a mistake and to sort of set your guidelines..

“All in all, I guess the vest that I’m wearing, that I’m wearing inside me, is pretty white, and I’m pretty happy about this. I don’t have many regrets and overall, I certainly feel very excited and proud of what has happened.”

Earlier he had said, “The rulebook always leaves you certain grey zones and leaves you clear guidelines at some moments. You have always to adapt to those guidelines and to those changes and that’s obviously the limits that you search for and occasionally you may overstep (those limits) and you may take the penalty for it.”

There was a strong show of support and respect for Schumacher from his fellow drivers today. Sebastian Vettel called him his “childhood hero”. Realising he was getting too gushing, he changed tack and said, “I think he’s an OK driver!”

Schumacher’s former team mate Felipe Massa spoke about when he was a boy in Brazil and Schumacher seemed to him to be a phenomenon, taking on and beating the national hero Ayrton Senna in 1994.

“He was first in the championship and I remember Michael very strong and he became very famous in Brazil because he was a young guy who was already quicker than Ayrton,” said Massa.

I asked him to clarify this point; did he really mean to say that in his opinion Schumacher was quicker than Senna?

He took the opportunity to clarify; “I meant he was already breaking Senna’s balls,” laughed the Brazilian. “Senna had more pole positions but Michael was ahead in the championship. I don’t believe Michael was quicker than Senna, no. I think Senna was the most incredible qualifier ever, but I put both on the same level (in terms of speed).”

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67 Comments
  1. PaulL says:

    I’d be surprised if that remark about lying down before Schumacher’s car was a real threat – perhaps a typical hot-blooded remark?

    Mind you, he did say in 2006 that Schu was “the most unsporting driver in the history of F1″.

    I find the Schu vs Senna pace comparison very difficult. They were 8-8 in qualifying in 1993, but I feel as if even that was skewed by certain technological elements (eg, the difference in Ford-spec engines, the McLaren’s introduction of ‘power braking’ for Portugal onwards)
    One of the great sporting shames of Senna’s death was that in 1994 it was likely to be a pure head to head between them AND also because refuelling had been reintroduced, flat out sprints (like Brazil) between the two would have been on the cards.

    1. Bevan says:

      skewed by certain technological elements ?
      “Eh,would that hidden traction control software make it onto your list?

      1. Brukay says:

        Remember Senna had V10 Michael only had a V8 I know who had bigger advantage would not happen today eh

      2. Brukay says:

        PS Much is made of the traction control but people should remember when english journos brought the issue up with Mosely he reminded them others were also using illegal software meaning they would all be disqualified because you could not just pick on one team also it was later allowed in because it was to hard to police until they got better technology to police also the Williams was abetter car with V10 power Bennetton only had V8 in 1994 Michael was the difference as he proved 1995 when he had a V10 also

      3. clyde says:

        v10 ??????

    2. Rob says:

      Read James Allens book on Schumacher (the edge of greatness) and he is quoting exactly what Alonso said to Webber. Webber took Alonso at his word and he kows the guy very well, why shouldn’t we? Cheers

      1. PaulL says:

        So you never use hyperbole in the heat of the moment?

    3. clyde says:

      two broad elements contribute to a good car my friend the engine and the chassis….the benetton of 1994 was by far the best shassis and overall package …. the williams was a dog the only improved the handling in the second half of the season

      1. PaulL says:

        Im willing to agree. Benetton looked a better chassis throughout the year.

      2. James says:

        Williams had best chassis from 1992 untill 1997. THeir 1994 car was almost certainly better than Bennetons as Hills and chubby old Mansell’s poles demonstrates.
        About SennaXSchumacher, Mclaren had same spec engine after the first 4-5 races, IIRC. He should have made better against Schumacher who was a second faster in Silverstone and Spa.
        Watching the 1993 qualifyings, I got the impression Schumacher drives the car more on the limit.

      3. Ollie says:

        it only looked good in the hands of schumi.

  2. ferggsa says:

    Tough question!!!
    More so if you are not a Schumi fan like myself
    Obviously Schumi is a more complete driver, in the sense that he has more control over development, team, politics, etc. that is why he achieved what he has so far
    But he also has a talent/feeling for precise driving that is above the rest and puts him in this very small group with Senna, Hamilton, Clark, Alonso… Vettel?
    I do think Senna had probably a 1/10 notch more raw speed, but lacked the overall control of the rest of the factors
    Anyway, even if they did race together, it is difficult to compare different eras in terms of technology, tracks, safety, etc.
    Would Jim Clark beat Schumacher in a 2006 Ferrari, how about both in a 1963 Lotus?
    I guess heaven would be watching them all in equal cars
    As usual, James, congrats for the best F1 content ever
    FGG

    1. Santiago says:

      i agree with you completely! you can’t compare drivers from different eras, Senna’s death was tragic because beside taking the live of an amazing driver, we could not see the amazing battle these two drivers would have had, Schumi was starting to get really good, and Senna was getting more used to the williams, if he had done this, i think we would remember 94 and 95 as an “all time” greats in f1..

      1. Coefficient says:

        I disagree, Senna was already rattled by Schumacher the young upstart who dared to take him on. Had Senna survived and Schumacher still won the title in 1994 I think Senna would have had begun considering retirement. He may have gone on another year, 2 at the most but I doubt any longer. His powers were fading and Schumacher’s star was in the ascendancy.

        Schumacher is the best driver ever in F1, the numbers say it all. Yeah he had his controversial moments but Senna’s were far worse and more blatant. Schumacher sustained world beating performance for a full decade (1994 to 2004) and was pretty handy either side of that period to boot. His will to win and the ensuing results were relentless!

        Question. How many times in the sport’s history has the title been won without having the benefit of the best car?

      2. ferggsa says:

        Schumi best ever? Yes I agree, but here are some stats form another perspective (results/starts)
        1 JM Fangio wins 45.1% poles 52.9
        2 J Clark 34.7, 45.8
        3 M Schumacher 32.5, 24.3
        4 JY Stewart 27.0, 17.0
        5 A Prost 25.5, 16.5
        6 A Senna 25.3, 40.1 (3rd in poles)
        7 S Vettel 21.9, 31.5 (4th in poles)
        Again, you can not compare different eras, too many factors involved, what if Prost and Senna had not been teammates? one of them probably had a lot more wins, what if Schumi had Senna and Alonso as mates, his total surely would be lower
        Schumi has 91 wins, Fangio only started in 51 races, Scumi has started 80 races more than Senna

      3. clyde says:

        powers fading ???? …he won the last 2 races of 1993 by a country mile lapping schumacher ….his powers couldnt fade in 4 months

  3. zombie says:

    There will never be a agreement on Senna Vs Schumacher argument. Schumacher had work ethics of a fine swiss watch, Senna had more speed than Schumacher over a single lap. If i had to make a bet, i’d bet on Schumacher to win titles, and Senna to clock fastest laps/poles.

    1. Paul says:

      Couldn’t agree more!

    2. **Paul** says:

      Agreed. I’d have Senna as the faster driver, but Schumacher as more consistent/less error prone.

      I think people forget that Schumacher moved F1 racing on, he became a real professional, with his work ethic not just at the track, but also off it, in changing his lifestyle to ensure he was the fitest guy out there and be able to maintain awesome pace on the last lap of a hard race. Everyone has since copied him, but back when he started in F1 there were plenty of people who couldn’t get near him in this respect.

    3. Coefficient says:

      How do we know that Senna was quicker over a single lap?

      Schumacher was still a young developing driver when Senna was competing with him in F1.

      Is it 91 poles to 68 in Schumacher’s favour? I feel that Schumacher in his prime was every bit as quick as Senna in qualifying. Sometimes he would qualify his Ferrari a second quicker than Rubens, sometimes more than that. He may not have started his career as the ultimate qualifier but he started out pretty well and honed it as the years went by. He was mega!

      1. Alex says:

        68 to 65 Poles Schumachers way. Keeping in mind of course that Senna did that in 161 race starts vs Schumacher’s 279 race starts. Senna was also notorious for his rigorous training and Schumacher copied him in many ways. The main thing Schumacher had over Senna was his clinical approach. He was a lot less romantic to watch than Senna but he was a supreme driver. I think Michael’s best year was 1996 at Ferrari where he scored two wins in effectively a billy cart.

      2. clyde says:

        91 to 68 ????

  4. Bayan says:

    Hard to say who would was faster in their prime. It seems that it could go either way. I keep thinking of Senna’s qualifying in Monaco but then i think of Schumi’s quali style laps in Hungary 98 or France 06 and I just can’t make my mind up. Both were ruthless on track and rarely, if ever, settled for anything but a win. I love and never get tired of watching footage of both of them.

  5. goferet says:

    Congratulations to Schumacher for reaching this amazing milestone & a big thank you to him for it was the Kaiser that got me interested in F1 in the first place & if I remember correctly, Schumacher’s domination of the sport, opened the sport to different markets namely the middle east & Asia.

    Personally, I loved Schumacher’s ruthless nature & the way he used to hate losing & that’s why I now hate the fact that he came out of retirement for Interlagos 2006 was the perfect send off.

    Now am surprised on how Alonso got to grip with all aspects of PR after his classy 2007 season, for Alonso used not to speak this way about anybody apart from himself. So I guess well done to him too

    As for the Senna Vs Schumi battle, I see it this way;

    Wheel to wheel racing – Senna comes out on top

    Qualifying – Senna comes out on top

    Wet races – Senna edges it just

    Raw pace – It’s a tie

    Championships & titles – Schumi for he built a team around him & never allowed to get involved in teammate battles.

    But the fact that Schumi didn’t race a teammate of equal caliber in the same car, there will always be a big question mark against him & that’s why Senna is the fans favourite for he was willing to race anybody whereever, whenever while the likes of Prost made it their mission in life to avoid having Senna as a teammate ever again.

    1. Trent says:

      I agree with most of what you’re saying.
      I feel sure Senna was a better qualifier, but I’m not sure that Senna could quite replicate Schumacher’s amazing ability to put flying laps in, one after the other, in a race. Then again, the need to do this came about because of refuelling, and Senna only partook in that for a single race.

      But it’s some of the qualifying gaps between Senna and Prost (regarded by many as THE driver of the mid 80′s) in ’88 and ’89 that are the most telling for me. I don’t think anyone has so annihilated a world champion at the top of his form.

  6. RichardB says:

    i’ll go with what most F1 drivers think – Senna was the quickest.

    Senna was fast in ’94, but if he continued another year i think he’d be past his best. Having said that, if he was in Damon Hill’s Williams in ’96, i’m sure he would’ve been champion.

    just another thought, martin brundle was team-mates with Shumacher and mika hakkinen and he said mika was the quicker man over one lap. david coulthard said the same and i agree.

    1. Arya says:

      Hakkinen will always be remembered as a very quick driver and that’s about it. But in terms of race craft, he was never a match for Michael. Give a good car to both and Mika might beat Michael. Give them a bad car and Michael will give some driving lessons to Mika.

      1. RichardB says:

        I wouldn’t say Michael had particularly good race-craft and Mika’s pass on him at Spa in 2000 indicates Mika wasn’t lacking in that area. But, like you say, Michael was certainly better at getting more out of a bad car.

        I still think Mika was quicker over one lap. As Brundle was team-mates to both of them he’d have much more experience/telemetry information to judge them than me.

    2. Dom says:

      Well it was 2:1 to Senna in the Senna:Haikkenen qualie battle in ’93 in the same car. And don’t forget all the practise Mikka had had on the circuit he outqualified Senna on.

      1. RichardB says:

        i didn’t say mika was faster than senna and i don’t believe he was, i said mika was faster than michael.

      2. Dom says:

        My bad although I don’t think Senna was past his best in ’94 – maybe the FIA would have rigged ’94 in favour of the illegal benetton but Senna would have won a lot of races in ’94 and would have cleaned up in ’95,96,97 in my view. :)

        With the greatest of respect to Hill and DC they were both great sportsman and gentleman but plodders compared to a Senna or Prost.

  7. David says:

    James, I was thinking, with reference to the quotes in the article of Schumacher conceding his mistakes and admitting that he would do things differently if given the opportunity, would it be fair to say that his comeback has been ‘successful’ in an entirely unforeseen way – softening his public image?

    I can only speak for myself, but since his comeback (and in 2011 in particular), I’ve found that Schumacher has been a lot more endearing in TV interviews; laid-back and humble as opposed to the ruthless, often frustratingly single-minded and sometimes arrogant character of his ‘first’ career. I couldn’t imagine the ‘Schummel Schumi’ character of the late 90s/early 00s agreeing to do such light-hearted TV features as the buggy ride with David Coulthard in Canada!

    I wouldn’t want to speculate as to whether this is an intentional move on Schumacher’s part or whether it’s just a pleasant result of him not being in the intense spotlight of the very front of the grid any more, but it’s interesting to consider nonetheless.

  8. Josh says:

    As I said on the PollDaddy poll:

    Faster over 1 lap? Senna.

    Faster over a race distance, with 3 stops, refuelling, intense strategy etc etc? Schumacher, easily.

  9. For sure says:

    I think its a bit too simplistic to put Senna is faster than Schumacher on a single lap or vice versa.

    Its depends on a lot of different variables and the tract obviously.

    Having said that,despite being Schumacher fan, I kinda agree that Senna is the most gifted driver ever.

    As for Schumacher, he may not be that skilled.
    Pace wise, one of the best ever.
    Worth ethic wise, one of the best, if not the best ever.
    Ability to sustain focus and the strength of the heart: the best of the best ever.
    I think that Michael’s strongest point is longevity. It doesn’t matter what you do to beat him, he would keep coming back and win more often than you do, and thats what he did.

    If both of them started their careers at the same time, it would have been truly epic. I think it could go either way. Pace wise Aryton has an advantage but the man who idolized him has other tools to make that up.

    But if I am a team-boss and have privilege to choose Senna or Schumacher at their best, I think I would probably go with Schumi.
    What about you James?

  10. Adam67 says:

    Didn’t Schumacher have a better engine than Senna in 1993? A works Ford versus a customer one?

    Senna was awesome but the whole question of what ‘fastest’ means is a nebulous one… doesn’t Prost have more fastest laps than Senna..?

    1. Brukay says:

      Adam Senna had V10 Williams in 1994 when Michael beat him 2 races in a row Michael was driving V8 Bennetton unfortunately Senna died the next race

      1. clyde says:

        Adam Senna had V10 Williams in 1994 when Michael beat him 2 races in a row Michael was driving V8 Bennetton unfortunately Senna died the next race….unfortunately you forgot to mention that the benetton in 1994 was the class of the field and the fw16 was a dog of a car with extremely twichy handling it was only sennas skill which took it to 3 poles in the first 3 races ….ask james

      2. Brukay says:

        Clyde remember the Williams was the dominant car back then from 1991 ie Mansell also untill 1997 ie Prost 1993 Hill 1996 and Jaques V 1997 Williams did not make dog cars after all Newey was still there in the early 90s sure the Bennetton was a good car but what ever one says about Shumi he was brillant and has a record to prove it. Have alook at an article written by Ashley Cooper in last weeks GP Week about Msc formula 1 debut at Spa in 1991 it is quite interesting. Senna was desperate to drive for Williams he told Frank he would drive for nothing. Jokingly of course.

  11. PASQ says:

    Senna is the ultimate one lap specialist, the greatest qualifier, such a shame schumacher beat sennas record, but this was down to having a more frequent dominant car with weak team mates. Schumacher didnt have the ultimate speed of even Hakkinen but still managed more poles. But i believe Schumacher is stronger than senna on a sunday, the speed seemed more on tap, senna seemed sometimes vulnerable on sunday afternoons, possibly because he pushed the envelope of the car on saturday qualifing! Then again could schumacher ever have pulled out a performance like japan 1989 against
    one of the greatest drivers in equal machinery? I think he would have got flustered and resorted to foul play, Senna redefined the term dig deep that afternoon. Japan 2000 comes very very close but the slippery conditions suited him more, Hakkinen was the best driver in 2000 and deserved the title that year more than 98 or 99! Sennas record of 65 pole positions was sacrilegous to me, the greatest record ever achieved in F1 against incredible strong drivers and not having the best car, i promised myself that i wouldnt watch F1 anymore if schumacher beat that record but the draw of F1 proved greater to me than my love of Senna!
    James please reply to this, you’ll make my day.

  12. Richard says:

    it depends by what measure are you considering the term ‘faster’….over a single lap? in identical cars? over a race distance? to use those elements at your disposal to be faster than the competition?

    it’s always the question everyone asks yet impossible to really quantify unless the two in question are teammates, driving identical cars, both physically and mentally in similar circumstances, and with equal pressure in terms of any championship. otherwise these factors get in the way.

    the magic of the sport is in enjoying the different ways each driver approaches the whole of f1; the weekend, the cars, set-up, qualy, the race, their attitude. in this regard senna became globally heroic because of his pace in difficult conditions or on ‘driver’s tracks’, his untimely death and his mystique, whereas schumacher achieved his through dedication, a new approach to fitness and success and delivering on the team elements within the sport. both obviously were the pinnacle, what’s so wonderful is seeing their entirely different ways of going about the same thing!

  13. Bevan says:

    The mans an enigma for sure,goes from blocking the track at La Rascasse,rightfully heavily penalised but then goes on to come from last position to 5th place at flag fall,”at Monaco no less”,surely one of the great drives of F1.
    I’m rapt the Schu’s still with us.It adds another dimension to the man to see him still head up & pushing for all he’s worth regardless of his midfield car.
    Fingers crossed for an awesome Spa weekend.
    “Can’t wait”.

  14. Edward Valentine says:

    Great piece again James.
    If you look at the times when Schumacher was in trouble or had a problem he would somehow manage to get away with it by either foul or fair means. On raw pace I’d give it to Senna but in terms of all round game I just feel Schumacher shades it.

  15. AC says:

    A slight tangent….

    Not sure quite how to put this, so some latitude please?

    Anyway, I have always thought Schumacher’s reputation was never going to be as high as it could have been had he been able to beat Senna fair and square. He must have almost grown up dreaming of beating Senna to be the best driver in the world. But just as he had that change, he was cruelly robbed.

    Not only that, we the fans were robbed. Imagine a few seasons of Schumacher v Senna? Would Schumacher’s reputation have been different? Senna could be hard and dirty when necessary, and importantly hated by as many as who adored him. So would we fans have looked on Schumacher more favourably had he pulled those moves on Senna rather than the “beloved” Damon Hill?

    I always felt sort of sorry for Schumacher in that he could never ever proved himself by beating a driver like Senna. Essentially, there was no hand over.

  16. Bhaskar says:

    I do understand that there is hardly any comparison as they both have their own pros and cons. The web is full of it.
    But this may help – If I will be watching two movies based on both of personalities, I would find Senna to be not only a better driver but as a better entertainer and an interesting human. Senna dominance was interesting in a lot manner, like Prost rivalry, racing style etc. but Schumacher dominance made F1 almost boring and unfair to Barichello. :D

  17. Jarv027 says:

    James this is an almost impossible vote, its like voting for your mother or father! Id say senna was quickest over one lap but on a race distance they would be equal .
    Get ready for some angry posts ha!

  18. Seb says:

    Senna’s name is legend, no way for him not to have the sentimental vote.
    Schumi is a living legend, one who has some haters, no way for him to not loose votes because of it.

    This is one of those questions that will never be answered, unless these F1 engineers come up with a time machine and we put them both into the same team in 1993 for a test with 1 day of car set up, and then a lap shootout.

  19. AJH says:

    I never had the pleasure to watch Senna trackside so I can’t compare, but why argue who the best was, just appreciate their skills. I watched Schumacher go around Pouhon on the first lap of a damp practice in 2005 I think, totally committed and on a different level to everybody else. A simple moment, but the finest single piece of driving i’ve ever seen. Thanks for the memories Michael.

  20. carlos says:

    Poor Massa, even in the text after the header he is forgotten.. :-)

  21. kowalsky says:

    i think senna was better, but for some reason took him longer to get to his maximun, on the other hand schumacher was fast out of the box. May be the cars were easier to drive when schumi started i don’t know.

  22. JohnBt says:

    Tough one, Senna and Schumi both have their persona.

    But I don’t think there will be another driver who can beat Schumi’s track records in F1 History.

    Racing drivers are a bunch hot blooded folks and they never cease to fascinate me with their opinions which makes it even more colourful.

    But respect goes to Schumi for coming back to F1, what else does he wants to do besides racing. Can you imagine how boring life would be for Schumi if he didn’t make a come back. I empathize with him though.

    Happy 20th years of racing Schumi! and bring on Spa.

  23. Larry Parker says:

    Well, as someone who has both a Senna tattoo and a dachshund named Schumi, and who saw them both win races in person …

    They’re equally great drivers. Because of their backgrounds — Senna the emotional Brazilian, Schumacher the technocratic German — Senna was the more fun to watch, certainly on Saturdays!!

    That said, if I was (say) Ron Dennis in a mid-1990s F1 world without Imola, and personalities didn’t factor into the equation, I might go for Schumi over Senna. Schumi had a driving style honed to the sprints of the refueling era in a way that I can’t imagine even Senna could have bettered. Statistics can mislead, but they don’t lie.

    Of course, Ron adored Senna even despite their many disagreements, and rated Mika over Schumi anyway — so that says something too!

  24. David says:

    James,

    You realize it’s not fair for you to ask this question without weighing in yourself, right?

    Thanks indeed for the memories Michael, and do supply us with a few more!

  25. jmv says:

    I think every Brazilian (race fans and no race fans) will be very very disappointed by Massa’s comments.

    It is clear that he is a fan of MS. Greater than a fan of Senna. In fact I never remember hearing Massa expressing him being a fan of Senna. I believe he once mentioned Fittipaldi as a great hero.

    But to say that Schumacher was popular in Brazil as he was young, upcoming and beating Senna? Then you can only come from the Piquet camp.. but not the Senna fan club.

    Also looking back: Schumacher beat Senna at Interlagos partly due to the faster and illegal refueling technology that Benetton was using.

    And then on top of it all: referring back to the year 1994, calling Schumacher (initially) greater and more popular than Senna… all in one breath?

    I find that insulting to some degree. 1994 was not a year for Schumacher to be very proud of: -the lack of competition because of the passing away of Senna; – illegal refueling technology on the Benetton; – [mod] stuff with traction control; – black flagging and bans at Spa; and to cap it all: driving Damon Hill into the wall to clinch his first WDC.

    Thank you James for headlining Massa’s remarks as a gaffe. I hope the Brazilian press picks it up big time and further presses Massa for clarifications.

    I think MS is an amazing icon for F1, but in my opinion that limits to the incredible statistics he’s laid down..and the resurgence of Ferrari he’s brought about…but not for sporting achievements.

  26. Pushkar says:

    Linux was announced to the world the same day Michael Schumacher competed in his first F1 race!

  27. Mattij says:

    Interesting piece of trivia which I have not seen written anywhere yet: At the mid-point of his 20 year period (Spa 2001) Schumacher won and overtook Alain Prosts 51 victories record. Another interesting piece in the ‘symmetry story’!

    (For the question debated, must go for Senna.)

  28. Darryl says:

    So far everyone has alluded to Senna being at his prime in the Williams. I beg to differ, seeing as we could never know what results Ayrton would have achieved in the Williams due to his tragic death and had only scored DNF’s to that point. Therefore, for me, Senna was in his prime in the McLaren.

    And I would have to say that Schumacher in his Benneton, against Senna in the MP4/7 (pick a model with a Honda engine to be honest here) would not have stood a chance. To back this up, there is a video on youtube of Senna in 89 in his Mclaren compared with Schumacher in his 99 Ferrari at Suzuka. They were almost identical in lap time.

    We kind of have to remember that we are not comparing two different era’s. There was an overlap and there may well have been a series of years if Ayrton had not have been killed but this is purely hypothetical.

    I prefer Ayrton over Michael purely because of Michaels expression of sheer delight when he won at Imola when Ayrton was taken from us. There was no element of regret or sincerity on that day and there has rarely been any since.

    There is a comment that Senna wasnt as good a manager etc, but remember that back in those days there wasnt the army of helpers and physios and advisers etc, this became trendy in the later 90′s.

    So for me, the more complete driver was Senna, the more complete man was Senna. Michael was more ruthless in a mean spirited way (Hungary 2010) than Ayrton and that has always rubbed me up the wrong way. I guess thats why the book was called the edge of greatness.

  29. mo kahn says:

    I think it is wrong to compare drivers or any two individuals in any discipline of life

    Just like you can’t compare artists even from the same Genre it would be wrong to compare drivers or any athletes or individuals.

    Speaking on Drivers one must note that all the drivers brought unique genres to racing:

    Fangio
    Moss
    Clark
    Surtees
    Stewart
    Fittipaldi
    Lauda
    Giles
    Alain Prost
    Nelson Piquet
    Ayrton Senna
    Michael Schumacher
    Alonso

    All of these drivers brought unique packages in terms of approach, preparation and application.

    To assert my point, the contemporary Mclaren driver line up reflects the independent packages each driver brings while Hamilton is Hung-ho, Button is calculatingly precise.

    So, one must enjoy each drivers’ display rather than be caught up in comparisons.

    On the subject of Schumacher:

    Statistically he is the greatest and statistics are not formed by being slow in this sport. Probably our generation does not value that as much as future generations will.

    Enjoy :)

  30. Matt W says:

    Astonishing how fate stepped in to mean the Schumacher/Senna comparison could never be settled. Such an incredible shame we never got to see that battle happen.

    Regarding Schumacher’s current performance, I think the whole F1 world wants to see him have a competitive car next year to see where he really stands in the current era. It is all very well looking at his results over the last 18 months as a disappointment, but until he has machinery capable of regularly challenging for a podium we will never ever know how he stands currently.

    1. Dom says:

      A little bit behind Nico….

  31. Marc S. says:

    Anyone have an idea/leak on what Ferrari’s “surprise” is for Schumi??

  32. jonnyd says:

    as a schumacher fan (based on the evidence and his stunning race performances throughout his massive career) ….Senna was stunning. I think though this was helped by the fact that you could make the cars ‘dance’ due to the tyres and the mechanical grip they had relative to aero.
    Ironically when they went to grooves, and the cars became much more nervous and twitchy, this really brought out some skill and schumacher was visibly quicker.
    Back on slicks, and the cars now are so stable, that advantage has gone.

    its a real shame. bring back the grooves i say. look how much more exciting the races are when theres lower grip levels, and you can visibly see the drivers using their skills.

  33. Look at qualifying for the first three races of 1994 – Senna was around 2-3 tenths quicker than Schumacher, and was 1.5s, 0.5s and 0.6s quicker than Damon Hill.

    Later in the year, in the vastly-improved FW16B, Damon was able to bring the fight to Michael (especially after that traction control software was removed). The fact is that the FW16 was a very difficult car to drive, after two years of developing their design to be optimal for active suspension, returning to passive suspension became a nightmare. Even simply raising the front wing improved the car drastically.

    Sadly, we never got to see what Senna could do in the FW16B. He might have trounced Schumacher for the rest of the year and taken the title… or it may have just made it easier for Damon to match Senna’s pace, and a three-way battle for the title would have ensued.

    The most important part is that Senna was able to take a car that handled very poorly and put it on pole three times in a row, beating Schumacher.

    It’s for that reason that I think Senna would have just had a bit of an edge over Schumacher both in qualifying and the race, if they were in equal cars.

  34. clyde says:

    The closest that one could get to a direct comparison was 1993 when both were using ford v8 engines although sennas was around 30 bhp down on schumachers as it wasnt the latest spec ….yet senna managed 5 wins to schumachers 1 and was a close 2nd in the wdc to prost who was driving a overwhelminghly superior williams renault this superiority could be guaged from the fact that the williams got 15 out of 16 poles that year even though prost and hill were never outstanding qualifiers.

    Moving on to 1994 the new fw16 without traction control and active suspension was initally a dog of a car with inherent handling problems and only sennas sublime skills put it on pole for the first 3 races in fact his teammate hill qualified 4th 3rd and 4th respectively pl note this was the same hill who pushed prost pretty hard the previous year. By comparison schumachers benetton was the class of the field.In Brazi the Benetton pitcrew made a very quick stop for Schumacher, getting him out in front of Senna to lead the race. Schumacher went on to win the Grand Prix after Senna spun out of the race. This sparked speculation that Benetton were using a system to make quicker pit stops than their rivals. In the Pacific gp Senna retired on the first lap of the race after a collision with McLaren driver Mika Häkkinen. Instead of going back to the Williams pit area, Senna opted to stand and watch the cars complete the race to see if he could hear any noises that suggested traction control was being used illegally in the other cars. Senna returned to the Williams pit area after the race suspicious that the Benetton car was illegal after his death all these suspicions were proved right. In Hungary it was discovered that benetton had indeed removed a filter from their refuelling rig therby enabling fuel to enter the car faster and getting faster pitstops.also after San marino illegal launch and traction control was found in the benetton but they claimed that they had not used it during races the governing body also announced that no evidence had been found to suggest Benetton were using illegal electronic systems, but did say that an illegal system did exist, which could be activated at any time. Finally schumacher hit the wall during the final gp in australia and when hill tried to overtake him rammed into hill with his crippled car and won the title by 1 point. That pretty much sums up his speed compared to senna and its pretty obvious who would have won in 1994 if fate had not interviened.

  35. mallamoozoo says:

    Combined quali + race record:

    Senna: (65 + 41 )/ 161 = 33%

    Schui (68 + 91 ) / 280 (end of 2011) = 28%

    1. Brukay says:

      Maybe you did not know that back in the early 2000 FIA changed the qualifying rules in attempt to stop Msc running away from the front row especially after he wrapped up championship 2002 by French GP ie no qualifying engines or tyres ie unlimited tyres as Coulthard commented one time the interest in quali became meaningless so while it is true he had more starts you are not comparing eggs with eggs however in my opinion i do not think Michael was ever a quali ace it was his race pace that got him his results shades of Nicki Lauda i think who spent most of quali on his race pace

  36. kenny says:

    i think schum was the best of all times. not taken anything away from senna the man was onreal but schum just has something about him when u see him race u just think he is going to win he put ferrari on top for years. lots of my friends stopped watching f1 cos the man just could not be stopped. so i say put Michael Schumacher back in a ferrari in 2013

    we should vote on that

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