Niki Lauda and Alan Jones both won championships, then retired and made comebacks. But only one of them added a further title on their return.
Lauda’s entry into the sport in the early seventies came at great financial risk as he took out huge loans to fund places at teams like March and BRM. But it paid off as he was called up to drive for Ferrari in 1974.
He won titles for the team in 1975 and 1977. It would surely have been three on the trot had it not been for his terrible crash at the Nurburgring in 1976, in which he suffered terrible burns to his face and nearly died. He got back in the car for the final races of the season but couldn’t stop James Hunt from taking the championship at the last race.
Lauda fell out with Enzo Ferrari in 1977 and missed the final races of the year after winning the title. After two years with Brabham his motivation had dwindled and despite signing a new contract at the end of 1979 he abandoned his plans and quit Formula 1.
Jones, however, ended 1979 on a high with a competitive Williams underneath him. Indeed, under the strange scoring system of the time he went into the last race of the year having already scored the maximum points available to him in the second part of the season.
He had joined the team in 1978 from Shadow, with which he had scored his maiden win (and their only win) at the Osterreichring. Jones carried his 1979 form into 1980, beating Nelson Piquet to the title. But an angry fall-out with team mate Carlos Reutemann marred the following year and Jones quit the team.
Lauda was enticed out of retirement by Ron Dennis and he won his third race back for McLaren at Long Beach in 1982. The same track was the scene of Jones’s one-off drive for Arrows the following year.
The McLaren project came good as the team switched to Porsche turbo power in 1984. Lauda prevailed in a year-long battle with new team mate Alain Prost. He won his third championship by the slimmest of margins – a mere half-point.
But 1985 was a disaster, riddled with mechanical failures, and Lauda made his final retirement at the end of the year.
Jones, however, still wasn’t done. He returned for the Haas team late that year and contested a full season in 1986. But the car was short on power, and persistently unreliable, leading Jones back into retirement – this time for good.
Which of these drivers should go through to the next round of the Champion of Champions? Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.
|Niki Lauda||Alan Jones|
|Titles||1975. 1977, 1984||1980|
|Second in title year/s||Emerson Fittipaldi, Jody Scheckter, Alain Prost||Nelson Piquet|
|Teams||March, BRM, Ferrari, Brabham, McLaren||Hesketh, Hill, Surtees, Shadow, Williams, Arrows, Lola|
|Notable team mates||Carlos Reutemann, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost||Clay Regazzoni, Carlos Reutemann, Patrick Tambay|
|Wins||25 (14.62%)||12 (10.34%)|
|Poles||24 (14.04%)||6 (5.17%)|
|Modern points per start1||7.85||6.09|
|% car failures2||34.50||28.45|
|Modern points per finish3||11.99||8.52|
|Notes||Badly burned in 1976 crash, withdrew from title-deciding race in heavy rain||Gave Shadow their sole win in 1977|
|Clinched second title for Ferrari in 1977 then left team||Strong second half of 1979 season set him up for 1980 title win|
|Ended two-year retirement to return to McLaren and win third title||Two comebacks with Arrows (1983) and Haas (1985-6)|
|Bio||Niki Lauda||Alan Jones|
1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure
Which was the better world champion driver?
- Alan Jones (4%)
- Niki Lauda (96%)
Total Voters: 589
Read the F1 Fanatic Champion of Champions introduction for more information and remember to check back tomorrow for the next round.
Have you voted in the previous rounds of Champion of Champions yet? Find them all here:
Champion of Champions
- Ayrton Senna voted Champion of Champions by F1 Fanatic readers
- Champion of Champions in stats
- Champion of Champions Final: Senna vs Schumacher
- Ayrton Senna vs Juan Manuel Fangio
- Michael Schumacher vs Alain Prost
- Ayrton Senna vs Jack Brabham
- Juan Manuel Fangio vs Jackie Stewart
- Alain Prost vs Niki Lauda
- Jim Clark vs Michael Schumacher
- Jack Brabham vs Lewis Hamilton
Images © Patrice Tercier (Lauda), Williams/Sutton (Jones)