Are these drivers actually really talented drivers?

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    Ben Furtula

    Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and many other drivers have won their championships in particually the most dominent or best car. So are they actually really good drivers? And if they didn’t have a particually dominent car would they actually win a world championship?


    Schumacher has proved his ability time and again throughout his career. It’s a bit of an insult to club him with Vettel and especially, Button. Of his seven championships, Schumacher had a dominant car in two and a half season (half of 2001, 2002 and 2004). In 1994, 2000 and 2003, he had what was probably the fastest car, but not by much. In 1995, he had the second fastest car. He has had seasons like 1996, where the car was a truck, and he got four poles, three wins, and finished 3rd in the championship behind the all-conquering Williams duo. Or 1998, where he took the title fight to the last round in a car which started out at 1.5 seconds behind the McLarens.
    Vettel has a long way to go still, and last year he did put some really good performances when the going got tough. His performances in the STR3 in 2008 were superlative, to say the least. Button is a bit of a mystery. He’s a well-rounded driver, with a smooth and copybook style of driving. However, I haven’t seen him step up his performance when the setup is bad, or the car is not according to his liking. His driving style is not very adaptable to different situations. He also complains too often about problems. This is probably why I don’t consider him world championship material.


    Senna won his championships in the best car in those three years. Yet we don’t argue his talents.
    Mansell won in a dominant car. The good old Jim Clark drove some exceptionally fast cars.
    It has always been like that.
    Why would he be worse because of that? What car he drives doesn’t make him a better or worse driver. Would Schumacher have been a 7 time world champion without his dominant cars? No. Would Vettel have been a three times world champion? No. Would Senna? No.
    But does that devalue their achievements? I don’t think so.

    Prof Kirk

    Mark Webber is still yet to finish higher than 3rd in the WDC, despite having “equal” equipment to the tripple world champ.


    All through the history of the sport the best drivers have gotten the best cars. Fangio, Clark, Stewart, Lauda, Prost, Senna, Schumacher, even today with Alonso and Vettel…the best drivers of each generation all had the best car at some stage, that doesn’t happen by accident.

    Rarely does a driver win a WDC in a poor car. The last time I can think that a driver won the WDC in a car which genuniely had no right doing so was probably Prost in 1986. I’m not counting 1994 and 1995 in this as in 1994 Benetton had more than a few tricks up their sleeve and in 1995 they managed to get hold of a Renault engine.


    Yes. Button isn’t a great example because his car was only dominant during half of the season. Schumacher obviously did brilliantly in less able Ferraris too, and against evenly matched McLarens. And Vettel was dominant in 2011, but arguably his car was not (although it undoubtedly was in his hands in qualifying), and in 2010 dominance was generally tempered by unreliability.


    Mark Webber is still yet to finish higher than 3rd in the WDC, despite having “equal” equipment to the tripple world champ.

    Statistics like that don’t tell the entire story. Let’s take another world champion, Schumacher and compare his team mates using a single statistic. Win ratio’s.

    Considering Piquet won his race for Benetton in 1991 before Schumacher drove, I’m not counting him. For the 1994 season, seperate statistics for Letho, Verstappen and Herbert. I’m only counting Irvine’s 1999 wins from the races Schumacher competed.

    Here we see that Nico Rosberg triumphs over Schumacher by a stunning 1 to 0 ratio. 100% more wins than Schumacher.
    Massa won 2 races to Schumacher’s 7. That’s only 28.5% of Schumacher’s wins.
    Barrichello won 9 races to Schumacher’s 48. That’s a mere 18.75% of Schumacher’s wins.
    Irvine won 2 races (another 2 with Mika Salo as team-mate) to Schumacher’s 16. That’s 12.5%.
    Herbert (don’t forget his 1994 races, but Schumacher won no races in 1994 with Herbert alongside him) won 2 to Schumacher’s 9. That’s 22.22%.
    Verstappen, Letho, Brundle and Patrese all were destroyed by Schumacher and score 0 to 5, 0 to 3, 0 to 1 and 0 to 1 respectively.

    This means that Rosberg is Schumacher’s most successful team mate, followed by Massa, Herbert, Barrichello and Irvine. Verstappen and Letho didn’t even manage a win in a WDC winning car. Barrichello didn’t win a race in 2001, while Schumacher won 9.

    Historically, however, Barrichello has been considered Schumacher’s best team mate, Irvine a one-hit wonder. Rosberg has won that one race, which is still Mercedes’ only win post-comeback. Verstappen and Letho didn’t drive that many races and much like Brundle and Patrese were not exactly considered as terrible drivers. Massa went on to challenge for the WDC in 2008 and has shown to be able to keep up with Kimi and Fernando (at times). Herbert is considered a very unlucky driver in general, but his wins in 1995 were somewhat lucky, with Schumacher and Hill retiring in both, as well as other leaders for his second win, he was never considered to be a front-runner like Schumacher, Hill etc.

    I’m sure you could do the same for the other WDC’s team mates and find some interesting, but useless statistics. The best car surely helps, but as their non-WDC winning team mates show, it’s not only the car. It’s not just the engine or tyres. Dominance is not just the other teams doing badly, or your team doing things rightly. Button lost his advantage halfway through the 2009 season, but fended off a storming Red Bull and Barrichello in the second half none the less. Vettel never led the standings in 2010 until after the last race, when it matters most. As much as statistics don’t tell an entire story, they do deterimine the WDC on a completely objective basis: who has scored the most points. How you do this, is up to you.


    If someone thinks that Schumacher and Vettel aren’t really talented, here are a couple of things to consider:

    1. Schumacher more or less dominated Formula One during 1994-2004. He won races every season, claimed seven championships and the only seasons he wasn’t fighting for the championship were 1996 (Williams dominated) and 1999 (injury). The question is: Which drivers during this era do you rate above Schumacher? And if the answer is none, do you really think that there were no talented drivers during 1994-2004?

    2. How do you rate Mark Webber? I think most of us would say he’s good, but not a top driver. Webber and Vettel have been team mates since 2009 and during that time Vettel has had 27 wins while Webber has had 9 wins (33,3 %). Also Vettel has claimed three championships while Webber’s best result in the championship is third. If Vettel isn’t talented, then we can’t rate Webber very highly either. Oh, and if you were even considering Häkkinen for the first question, please note that Coulthard managed to claim 50% of Häkkinen’s wins during their partnership.


    Um Yes…………… Vettel and Button are talented, as for the Schu…………. is that a real question??

    As mentioned we dont doubt Ayrton’s talent and for me the greatest driver ever to have drove F1 so I am not sure how Michael’s talent is in doubt. He put F1 to a new professional level (over Senna) with nutrition and fitness. Just because he has won more does not mean he is the greatest, but this fella is an all time great.

    Fangio is a great but so is Stirling Moss, but he didnt win one did he!! Sir Jackie a great but so is Jauques!!

    I can see your point that would some drivers have won a WDC if not in the car they were in?? Answer is no. There are many drivers that could and should have won a title based on talent (Webber should have got 2010 and Gerhard Berger (among others in the 80/90’s if it werent the freaks of Senna/Mansell/Piquet/Prost) but I dont think a “bad driver” makes it to F1. Certainly is some shift in talent (for me Alosnso still the best out there), he has 2, Seb 3. I bet if you ask the forum 80% would say Fernando the best driver!!

    Yes there has been some drivers that got to F1 when maybe they should not. But there is no such thing as a “Bad F1 World Champion” !!!!

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