Anyone can talk about numbers all thay want, numbers of wins, poles, pod
iums etc, etc, etc. I'm a huge fan of Michael and Ferrari. He's brillian
t in all conditions and ruthless like Senna. He's a thinking man in the
car like Prost Clark and Stewart. And he's a team player who, most of th
e time, gets the most from his equipment.
He's had his flaws, like blowing the title in '97 when he drove into Jac
ques, and took himself out. He blew it because, had he bided his time an
d been more sporting, instead of being a fool, he might have re-passed J
acques like the McLaren team did.(Williams was out of tires, and Villene
uve was on used *** from a practice session). He had Monaco in '96 an
d and pressure races where he folded like that day in Jerez in '97 and S
uzuka in '98.
He's had brilliant races, Spain '96, USGP '03, Monaco '97 and he's won p
ressure races, Monza '00 and Monza '03.
I think the most amazing thing about Schumacher however, is the length o
f time that he's stayed on top. There's a span of 10 seasons between his
first and most recent titles(94-03) matching Lauda(75-84). He's won 6 t
itles an lost two more on the last day.
He's had 10 straight seasons of multiple pole positions which is a recor
d, although Senna also is tied for the record of 10 consecutive seasons
of at least one pole position. Senna still holds the record for poles 65
-55, but Michael has also matched his record for wins from the pole with
29 a piece, so he has made the most of his poles.
He holds the record for wins without the pole 41-34 to Alain Prost, so h
e can win without the pole.
He's won a race for 12 straight years. He has won multiple races in a se
ason for ten years matching Prost and has had back to back wins in a sea
son for 10 straight years a record. His longevity at the top has been am
azing. No he hasn't had the best equipment.
Nobody ogled over the B192, B193 or B194 and alot of people thought that
the Williams was better than the B195. The F-310 was a joke and the F31
0B and F300 were mediocre at best. He probably had the best car in 2001
and 2002. And let's not forget, nobody else has won in the last 20 seaso
ns in anything but a Williams or McLaren. And remember where Ferrari and
Bennetton were when Schumacher got there.
Benetton hadn't won in their 11 year existance and Ferrari hadn't won in
its last 17. Prost won in a car in '85 that Lauda came out of retiremen
t and spent three years developing, and had won the title with it the ye
ar before. Senna won in '88 but the team had won three of the previous f
our titles. And in '88 Prost set a record with 105 points scored, but Se
nna won the title with 94 points, because the scoring rules droped 18 of
Prost pionts and only four of Senna's. Talk about a hollow title.
Niether Senna or Prost, who also had first rate designers and teams, sho
wed that they could take a team that was down, and lead it to the top an
d keep it there. Schumacher did it-twice. Benetton rotted because he lef
t. McLaren started to lose their way before Senna left. Then there's Fer
Michael had stayed at Ferrari when they weren't winning. He didn't aband
on them like Senna did McLaren, and it paid off. They've stayed on top l
onger then anyone. Five constructors in a row, that's a record 4 drivers
in a row that ties the McLaren record for a single team.
No other driver has won back to back titles more then once. Michael has
been able to do it for two different teams.
Also, when one talks about the quality of the competition, there's nothi
ng like competing with ones self. In 2000 Michael tied the record for bo
th wins and points. He tied or broke both records for each of the next t
wo years. That's never going to happen again. Even with this scoring sys
tem the 144 points and eleven wins is going to be a mountain to climb. W
inning a majority of the races? All drivers have had that opportunity th
at won titles, no matter what the length of the season. Fangio did it th
ree times, twice each for Ascari, Clark and Stewart, once for Mansell an
d Four times for Schumacher.
Do I think Michael is the greatest? Yes. By what measure? Senna, Fangio
and Clark were all better qualifiers. Clark and Lauda and Stewart were a
s good a drivers as there were to develop cars around. Senna, Prost, Lau
da and Fangio all had tremendous consistentcy. In the rain? Fangio, Stew
art, Clark and Senna were all brilliant. Overtaking was a specialty of S
tewart and Fangio, and they were both good in traffic.
As a complete driver to build a team around that's not winning and keep
it at the top, qualify consistently well, get the most from the car, ins
pire the team, keep the fight going to the last round, run quick in all
conditions, go through traffic and make very few errors, and stay right
at the top for more than a decade? I'll take Michael. If he's 22, I know
that he can still win a rain Soaked Spa. If he's 34, I know that he can
win a wet US.
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